Many dads are looking after their kids all day every day during the school holidays, with very little chance of any rest and relaxation. But this can lead to parent stress. You need to be able to get some time to yourself, however small, so you can recharge. Otherwise things will get miserable quickly.
According to a survey, 94% of parents say they don’t get enough time to themselves over the summer holidays. Some think people will accuse them of being selfish. But looking after yourself is important, and a happy dad will lead to happier kids.
Ways to reduce parent stress
Getting me-time is key to enjoying summer, and this is how you can do it:
1. Schedule regular me-time
Set aside some time each day where you banish the kids to another room and you can relax. If they are of school age, they can keep entertained for 15 minutes at least! Set them up with pens and paper, craft stuff, the telly. This is when your Netflix subscription pays for itself.
Whilst they are happy, grab yourself a cup of tea, have a sit down, read, watch telly yourself or do anything else that helps you sit back and relax for a bit. Making sure you do this every day means you give your brain a chance to slow down again from being on constant entertainment mode.
2. Do child swaps
Negotiate with family and friends to take the kids for a time. Swap kids with friends so they look after yours and then you look after theirs on another day. Make the most of your local parent network and arrange alternating days where you each care for all the kids. It gives the adults a much-needed day off every so often and the kids have a fantastic time with their friends.
3. Challenge the kids to make up their own games
You can quite easily burn through all your favourite board games in the holidays. When they’re bored of the same things, get them to create their own. This gets them using their creativity and can really keep them busy for a while. Whilst they’re doing this, you an relax and feel that parent stress ease.
4. Get up early
Get up 15 minutes early and have a coffee in the garden or in the kitchen alone, while you listen to your favourite podcast, Spotify playlist or just the general hum of the day starting up. This will set you up for the day.
5. Get the kids tired
Wear out the kids in the morning with a really long walk or by going swimming. With any luck, they will want to rest in the afternoon so you can put your feet up for a few hours too.
6. Get organised
Keep a summer planner calendar to work out what every family member is doing each day. This will show you which parent is working or doing something out of the house, which holiday clubs the kids are going to and all the other events booked in for the holidays.
It reduces parent stress levels and shows where there’s the odd day you can make more time for yourself too!
7. Every minute is valuable
Make the most of even the small pockets of time you can grab. If your kids are happily engaged by themselves, make the most of it with a small block of self-care. This might be a15-minute exercise video on YouTube, phoning a friend to let off some steam, doing a bit of DIY or anything else. See looking after yourself not as treat, but an investment in being a happier, calmer parent.
8. Share parenting more evenly
If you live with a partner, make a list of all the little things you both do to keep your home going. Then compare both your lists and look at ways to share the jobs more evenly, including looking after the children over summer. Even if you are the stay at home parent, the intensity of the summer holidays can be too much. Ask for help. Maybe your other half can take annual leave or use flexitime to give you a break.
9. Don’t worry about keeping the house tidy
The world will not stop if you don’t do the dishes right away. The carpet will still be there for vacuuming later. Kids are messy, there really is no point tidying after every activity. If it is a choice between dusting and sitting and relaxing for ten minutes, choose the latter. Every single time.