Friday, June 6, 2014

summer survival tips for the easily overwhelmed parent

So you made it through the school year. You’ve made it through the toddler years. This is the time when it’s supposed to get infinitely easier, right? Not so much. Even though my kids are older now (8, 9, 11) I still find myself doing lots of kid managing and directing. It’s different now that they do their own laundry and (mostly) take care of their own personal hygiene. But, it’s still hard. And as summer vacation is just around the corner, I realized I’ve got to get ready for the season ahead. This mom needs a plan. Maybe you do too?

As a stay at home/work from home mom the beginning of summer marks the beginning of my busy season. It’s not busy like it is during the school year. It’s busy like there are always three kids who I love very much around here and they often get all up in my business busy.

It can make a introverted type like myself feel very claustrophobic. 

If you are prone to feeling easily overwhelmed, then you know what I’m talking about. The constant activity and noise of children can put even the most mild mannered person on edge. It’s an adjustment to go from quiet days at home to the rush of summer activity. 

So we must make a plan.

This is how I survive the summer noise as an easily overwhelmed person:

  • Clear clutter. Visual clutter just compounds the clutter of life, at least for me. And it seems like a few messy piles combined with the noise of kids fighting (yes, they do that) is enough to put me over the edge. I need some visual order in my day, especially when the kids are being kids and the noise level is like a jet engine taking off in the backyard.
  • Get dressed. It’s a no brainer but easy to overlook. But when I’m not dressed and washed up and wearing a bit of makeup I feel crummy all day long. I’m in a much better frame of mind if I have taken the twenty minutes to make myself clean and presentable. It’s a little thing that translates into a very big thing by the end of a busy day with kids at home. 
  • Plan for quiet. When the kids were small quiet time was mandatory. We all seemed to need just a bit of a rest in the afternoon. Even though they’re older now we will still build a bit of quiet into our daily routines, if for nothing else than my sanity.
  • Live large. In the summer the world is your oyster. Or whatever metaphor you’d like to choose. We take advantage of the largeness of outdoor space this time of year. If it’s just the backyard that is enough. But there’s a park down the street with a huge grassy field. It’s always mowed and therefore very inviting. We can take a blanket and lunch and get a change of scenery. 
  • Don’t multitask. I seem to be at my worst when I have to do too many things at once. This is a tough one; as a writer I need to write. While the kids are at school I have the luxury of uninterrupted writing time, but when summer rolls around that is harder to come by. I honestly don’t know the days will look and how I’ll get writing in, but I do know that when I’m being a writer I can only be a writer. When my kids need me, I have to put everything else away.
  • Be mindful of projects. This goes back to the multitasking thing. I tend to be a bit impulsive about projects, and then very neurotic about finishing them. This doesn’t blend well with family life. If I know a project will be too time consuming or demanding, I’ll wait to start when the kids are gone for the day or even back to school. An unfinished project can become a trigger for me to feel overwhelmed.
  • Get a hammock. Or find another away place that you can be alone, if even for a few minutes. We splurged on a great hammock a few years ago and that has been a life saver for me come summer. Even though it’s big enough to fit most of our family, we have a strict one person in the hammock rule. And because it’s so big, it makes cocoon around whoever is in it. It’s the perfect place to hide away and still be able to hear the kids if disaster strikes. 
  • Plan for time off. Trade kid watching with a friend for an afternoon. Then go do whatever you want, no housework allowed. For me this is as big of a deal as the hammock.
  • Make a plan. A lack of plan seems to bring on a lot of additional stress for me, and for one of my easily overwhelmed children. We always make a summer list, we might not get to it all but it’s a great jumping off point. And if we have a loose structure to our week, we all breath easier because we know what to expect. It’s simple, but the routine provides a bit of comfort for the easily overwhelmed person.
  • And finally, take proper care of yourself. Getting enough sleep fuels me, a lack of sleep intensifies any overwhelming situations. So does hunger. And along with that, getting up early before the kids are up is a key thing for me. I need that quiet time with a book and a cup of coffee to gear up for the day. I know not everyone needs that slow wake up, but I just can’t seem to get around my crankiness if I’m up at the same as the kids and miss out on alone time. It doesn’t have to be long, twenty minutes can be enough to take a deep breath and be ready to take on another summer day.

I am a mom who loves her kids and also feels easily overwhelmed by her kids. That is not a bad thing, it’s my reality so I’ve got to plan for it. Maybe you’re in the same boat. You feel prone to stress, you’d classify yourself as an introvert, you feel easily overwhelmed by the noise of life and kids. That is okay. It’s not a deficit. It’s something we can learn to live with, and even thrive under. We just need a plan.

These are the tricks that work for me, maybe they will help you out as well.

1 comment:

  1. My last comment vanished. Trying again. : ) just wanted to say that these tips are gold. Great food for thought as we begin our summer. We are wired the same.


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