Keep your stress levels low and the fun factors high as you balance work and family during the summer months.
Summer is finally here—and that means you get to put a pause on the nightly homework, enjoy the added daylight hours, and plan family vacations. Yet, it also means all kinds of camps, lessons, practices, games, tournaments, tutoring, and requests for play dates. When you add managing your family’s free time to all of that, summer can feel as stressful and overwhelming as it is warm and welcoming.
If you are beginning to wonder how you will manage to get the housework done, get to the kid’s activities on time—and maintain your sanity—you are not alone. Address these six stressors head-on with the included strategies to help you enjoy yourself more and stress less this summer.
Stressor #1: Household Chaos
To conquer the chaos, start with a basic schedule for the family. Create blocks of time that include chores, balanced by playtime, electronic time, offset by quiet reading time, etc. Display the chart for all to see, and next time someone asks ‘what’s next,’ have them read the schedule and let you know.
Different from the schedule, a checklist is another powerful stress-relieving tool. Create a personal chart for each child showing their daily responsibilities (make bed, brush teeth, pick up toys) and chores (age appropriate household duties). The checklist provides kids a daily structure, and gives you the go-to source as you teach your kids responsibility. When they ask to turn the television on, have them ‘check their list.’ This way, it will be their own actions, or lack there of, giving them the answer.
Stressor #2: No Babysitter
Avoid the stress of finding last-minute childcare; coordinate your vacations with your daycare far in advance. For emergencies, keep a list of five to ten sitters and their schedules—college sitters or a neighbor for late nights, part-time nannies with free days during the week, or a fellow parent you can swap services with later.
Stressor #3: The Overcommitment Trap
The summer months offer prospects of so many fun activities and things to do. Keep in mind: it’s okay, and may be necessary, to just say no to some of them. Even the fun stuff can lead to stress, especially when your schedule is overloaded. Choose wisely from among the backyard barbeques, lake days, get-togethers, and other activities and do what you think your family will really enjoy.
Stressor #4: Tossing and Turning
Whether your sleep is interrupted due to children up overnight, a project at work, or a new puppy, if you don’t get enough sleep, you’re missing a chance to take a break from stress. We’ve all felt the consequences: drowsiness, irritability, and a fog that just won’t lift. Don’t allow the lure of late summer nights to consistently pull you away from a full night’s sleep. Listen to the experts and get at least
7 to 9 hours each night.
Stressor #5: No Time for a Break
Indeed, staycations, and now even playcations, are the buzzwords for the new vacations of choice for those who can’t spare the time or the funds for a week off of work. Besides, either of these ‘cations’ may be better for your stress level anyway. (Have you ever heard of the person who comes back from their overly busy vacation saying they need a vacation from their vacation?) With that point taken, the key is to make time-out or recreation the primary focus—even if only for a few days—and get the benefit of vacations without all the hassle of leaving the area.
Stressor #6: Information Overload
With all of the ways of communicating—email, texts, phones, videos, and photos—while brilliant, also result in us processing more information in one week than perhaps our great-grandparents did in their lifetime. The overload that can happen with all of the information we see and hear can be stressful, so take the time to unplug.