The sound of waves crashing on the beach, the feeling of the warm summer sun on your skin, the excitement and sparkle in your children’s eyes as they experience something new and fascinating … this is the making of precious and beautiful moments.
Unfortunately for many of us they are now merely distant memories.
Many of us are returning, or have already returned, from some sort of summer break. Whether you had time off work or were lucky to get away with the family, you are now probably facing the challenges associated with getting back into routine.
Work has started up again for you and/or your partner, and soon the school year will too. You’ll be back to juggling all those balls. You have noticed your summer tan has started to fade, along with any sense of calm you acquired during the break.
The summer break is exactly that. A break from your daily routine, where there is no work, no school, no strict bedtime routines, no endless household chores, and no daily grind in sight!
There’s ample quality time as a family, and time to re-connect with that part of you that often gets buried under the daily pressures of normal life. Parents are more relaxed when on holidays, and children happily soak up their parents’ positive moods, along with all that summer sun and ridiculous amounts of ice cream!
A holiday does wonders for your mind and body. The question is how do we keep that awesome holiday feeling alive when faced with the challenges and pressures of day-to-day family life?
Is it possible as parents to reduce the stress and pressure of our daily lives so we can hold onto that positive holiday feeling all year around?
Here are 6 tips to help you keep that holiday feeling alive
1. Keep that fire alive within yourself FIRST!
Whether it is the combination of sea air, sun, the time off work, or simply the fact you don’t have to be anywhere the next day, a summer getaway does wonders for your mood. You and your partner are more relaxed and more patient as there are less outside pressures and commitments. While on a family holiday you witness the wonderful benefits of your calm and more relaxed attitude on your family. Everyone benefits from your more positive mindset. You realise how invaluable it is, and how it has enabled you to better tackle the curve balls that parenting inevitably throws at you.
As a parent you are one of the most important people in your child’s life. You are responsible for nurturing them and fulfilling all their immediate needs. But this can’t be done effectively unless you’ve nurtured yourself first! Let’s not kid ourselves, there’s no possible way you can fill your child’s cup up if you are running on empty. Exhaustion, frustration, resentment and even anger come into play. These feelings quickly undermine your ability to experience the ‘joy of parenting’.
If you find it hard in your day-to-day life to maintain a positive attitude then it’s probably an indication that you are running on empty, and you need to make time for yourself. Yes of course, easier said then done!
It’s hard to remain positive when you make little time for things that make you happy. Realistically, you can’t spend the same amount of time as you use to (pre-children) doing the things that you love, but it doesn’t mean you don’t do them at all. You must find a way to adjust and incorporate it into your family schedule. If you feel your daily routine is burning you out, then you owe it to yourself and your family to change it. It starts with you!
Do things that make you happy. Exercise, read, write, paint, sing, dance, get back into gardening … whatever it is that you’re passionate about, whatever it is that lights your fire! Re-ignite it and hold onto that fragile flame tightly, as life’s pressures will always be ready to scuff it out! Remind yourself that it will make you a happier parent, and this happiness will inevitably trickle down to every member of your family.
Furthermore, having that fire burning within yourself will enable you to more effectively light flames within your children’s hearts. You are teaching by example. Keeping that fire burning within you is the first step in keeping that holiday feeling alive.
2. Ensure your basic needs are met
It’s obvious a healthy balanced diet, regular sleep and exercise are the three basic needs that need to be met in order for you to feel good in the long term. As a busy parent these three basic things are not always easily attainable. If these basic needs aren’t met then, suffice to say, it’ll be really hard to keep that ‘holiday feeling alive’.
The only solution to busy parents is that you prioritise fulfilling these basic needs above other things. Everybody needs to have these basic needs met in order to function properly, let alone to do the hardest job in the world!
So make sure you eat right, sleep when you can and try and incorporate at least 15- 20 minutes of exercise three times into your week. It will undeniably benefit you, and therefore benefit your family.
3. Disconnect in order to connect!
Life with children is full of challenges; it requires hard work, patience and commitment. And often it’s easy to lose the joy of parenting because we’re stressed and feel pressured by work, school and other commitments. It’s hard to find time to connect with your family on a day-to-day basis as these commitments dominant the course of your family’s day.
Thanks to smartphone technology some of these commitments follow you all the way home, and encroach into your family time, some even into your bedtime routine! You must make a conscious decision to disconnect from these commitments when you get home, and make an effort to connect to your family.
Evidently, it is so much easier to remain connected to your family when you are on holidays. While on holidays there’s time to really listen to each other. This connecting allows for love, understanding and patience to flourish. Unfortunately, holidays don’t last forever.
But, fortunately these positive feelings are not restricted to just holidays. They can exist beyond sandy beaches and time off work! These positive feelings can thrive in our day-to-day lives.
Yes! Even when your four-year-old clobbers his brother with a piece of his wooden train track, or when you’re running late and your two-year-old refuses to get in her car seat! There’s joy in parenting everyday. It’s just harder to find that joy when you are being pulled in multiple directions.
So you’re wondering, how do you suppose I remain connected to my family and children when I am so exhausted, and there are not enough minutes in the day?
One approach you could take to ensure you remain connected with your family is to try and spend at least 10-15 minutes of one-on-one time with each child a day. Be sure you disconnect from technology first! No TV, no phones, tablets or computers — just talking and listening.
Try doing the same with your partner. It’s surprisingly harder than it sounds! Another thing you could do is ensure you spend at least part of a day on the weekend doing something as a family. These weekend experiences will bring you closer together, and help you keep alive that positive holiday feeling. They will allow you to disconnect from that daily grind, and provide you with opportunity to re-connect with each other.
Additionally, you could plan ahead. As a parent a family organiser or plan will help ensure you don’t feel so rushed, reduce your stress levels and give you some sense of control. But as you know children are very unpredictable! You must be always willing and able to keep soldiering on when things don’t go to plan! Having a plan can help you tackle all your commitments, but most importantly it will allow you to factor in time for positive connecting with your children.
Another important step is to let go of any obsession with being the perfect parent you may have. Life with children is messy, loud and unpredictable. The house will not always be tidy (despite your endless efforts to try keep it that way); dirty laundry will pile up (even if you are washing every second day).
In the words of the beloved Frozen Princess Elsa: “Let it go!” Let any obsession with perfection go! You’ll be much happier, and discover new reserves of patience. Day-to-day you will be in a better frame of mind, and better able to remain connected with them.
4. Spend time with Mother Nature
The special thing about holidays is that a great deal of time is spent outdoors. Therefore, it is no surprise that people feel great when on holidays. Time outdoors in nature significantly improves an individual’s mental and physical wellbeing. Research reveals that time outdoors normalises hormonal function, helps set your body’s internal clock (therefore improving sleep), increases your levels of vitamin D and significantly improves mental wellbeing. These important facts are often oversighted in our modern technology-dominated lifestyles.
It’s important you ensure your family spends a significant portion of each day outside; go for walks, visit local parks or simply play games in your backyard. This will boost your family’s mood and energy levels. It’s not quite like being on holidays but it’ll give you and your family a chance to recharge, and reconnect to that holiday feeling once again.
5. Try different things
Experiencing different things and new environments alters your mind and mental wellbeing. We can see why it’s so much easier to feel great while on holidays. The environment is new, and you are exposed to different experiences. There’s a special novelty to each day while you’re on holidays.
Daily family life is not as exciting, it is structured and it needs to be so. Otherwise things won’t function effectively. Structure and routine is important, especially for households with young children. It provides your children with a sense of order and security. However, this monotony can get draining, and therefore boring.
There are countless ways you can add variety into your family’s life without actually impacting on the ‘general routine’. Try to incorporate new and different experiences for you and your family at least once a week! On the weekends try a new type of cuisine, go to new places, a new park, a museum, a new beach … the possibilities are endless. The new experiences and environments will invigorate you, and your children’s minds and senses. These new experiences will boost your families confidence and mood, as well provide an opportunity for that ‘holiday feeling’ to be a regular part of ordinary family life.
6. Frame precious moments
Reflecting on happy memories improves your mental wellbeing. A picture has the power to induce those same emotions that were captured in them. Try framing a picture/s of a precious moment you captured on holiday. Frame it and hang it in a place where you can view it on a daily basis. This picture will not only remind you of that beautiful moment, but it will also do wonders in keeping you centred. Especially on those tough days! Simply staring at this picture, and taking a couple of deep breaths at a few points in the day, can help you de-stress and gain some perspective.
These pictures will benefit your children also. They too will be able to reminisce about those happy moments, and those positive feelings of love and connection that were captured in those pictures will warm their hearts and bring smiles to their faces. Reminiscing about these beautiful memories will positively help keep that holiday feeling alive within you and your family.