Are you counting down the days until the school holidays start?
Or approaching the holidays with a mixture of emotions, like: excitement, relief, maybe a little bit of dread? Because although you love your kids and enjoy spending time with them, let’s be honest – it can be hard work having them at home all of the time, for weeks.
The constant noise, mess, and intensity that comes with long days with little ones can overwhelm even the most resilient Mum!
I know that’s how I felt on Boxing Day 2019 after months of busy-ness, in a record drought on our farm, and looking ahead at another month before School and Kindy went back with four little boys 5 and under.
I knew I needed to make an attitude adjustment to shift my focus from overwhelm to embracing this precious season of my life. I needed a MINDSHIFT! So, I documented the good, the bad and the ugly from 30 days of the school holiday period with our boys – to reflect on, learn from, and to share. Because if I’ve learned anything from publishing The Art of Trying, it’s that there is so much power in sharing our stories to help others.
Here’s my top 5 tips from that time to help you shift from overwhelm and find calm in the chaos:
1. Change your expectations (and be kind to yourself!)
If you’re anything like me, you are too hard on yourself, and create undue stress through unnecessarily high expectations. Put simply, stress is the difference between expectations and reality. So what can you do about the stress of unmet expectations? Either change your reality, or change your expectations. I have fallen into the habit of creating a myriad of expectations throughout the day and then feel stressed if they are not met. Let’s face it – most things don’t go as expected with four little people!
So my work in this area is to change my expectations, and also to lower them. For example, stop expecting I can get the boys to the car and buckled in within five minutes and instead allow them 10 minutes. And expect that juice is going to get spilled on the floor at lunchtime, rather than being disappointed when it does. And be OK with myself if I don’t get to all the activities I was going to do with the boys. All our children really want is our time and attention. It’s wonderful to do the ‘doing’ with them but it’s more important to do the ‘being’ with them.
2. Choose your attitude
The way a day unfolds for me, how much I embrace and enjoy it, 100% comes down to the attitude I adopt. ATTITUDE = Thoughts + Feelings + Actions, expressed. It’s a composite energy that you express through your thoughts, feelings and actions.
I’ve learned that a poor attitude = poor energy I put out = poor results = things are annoying and hard work.
In contrast, great attitude = positive energy I put out = things flow = things feel easier = more perspective and enjoyment.
Therefore, we have to choose our attitude when we wake and continue to choose it over and over again during the day when we’re with the kids. Because whatever attitude we express, they feel it and react to it!
3. Create space for you
Whether it’s a walk before the kids wake up, or a built-in coffee break to coincide with Playschool on the TV, a call to a friend, or something else, it’s so important to create a space in your day that’s dedicated to you. Whatever it is that brings you joy or re-energises your inner being – factor in space for it, and educate your children that it’s your time. Of course that doesn’t mean you won’t be interrupted (possibly multiple times!) but I have found that by explaining to our boys what I’m doing, and why, it teaches them to respect my needs as an individual. I’m an early riser and love to get in a spot of exercise and some morning mindset rituals before the morning routine kicks off in our house! It makes a big difference to my day and has a flow on effect to everyone.
4. Practise gratitude
There is a simple practice that you can easily incorporate into your life that works seemingly like magic: the practice of gratitude. People have completely changed their lives by practicing gratitude. It has certainly had a profound impact on my life since building a gratitude practice into my daily routine.
The more gratitude you deliberately think and feel, the more abundance you receive. To receive, you have to give. It’s universal law. And gratitude is simply giving thanks. When you are in a grateful state you can’t be feeling negative feelings at the same time.
To get started, reflect on and write down 10 things you feel truly grateful for, and why. This can be anything, or anyone, from your PAST, in your PRESENT, and also results manifesting in your FUTURE – like an outcome you’d like from your day or week, for example. Here’s some suggested formats to work with:
I am truly blessed to have ____what?______, because ____why?______.
I am so happy and grateful for ____what?______, because ____why?______.
I am truly grateful for ____what?______, because ____why?______.
With all my heart, thank you for ___what?_______, because ____why?______.
If you’re having a hard time getting to 10 blessings (it gets easier with time, I promise!), here are some gratitude subject ideas: health and body, work and success, money, relationships, passions, happiness, love, life, nature and planet earth, material goods.
5. Planning and preparation is key
We’ve all heard it many times before that planning and preparation is key. And it’s really true! Do the thinking once, reap the rewards later. Like having a meal plan, which saves so much mental energy during the week! Or packing the snacks or nappy bag the night before. Allowing plenty of time for unexpected events like toilet stops and injuries. Even just mentally preparing for the day by having a loose routine or plan in mind can shift your energy from an overwhelmed, reactive state to a more positive and responsive state. As much as we don’t want to abide by it at times, do the planning and everything seems to flow much more easily!
There is no such thing as a perfect Mum. I believe we are all doing our best, in the best way we know how, from the place we’re at. My philosophy now is that as long as I’m striving to become a better version of myself every day, and helping my children to do the same, then I’m doing OK. In the first four years of motherhood I devoted every speck of my energy to my babies. It did not serve me well as I eventually hit a figurative wall. There is nothing selfish about looking after your own physical and mental wellbeing first – it is absolutely essential in order to be the best version of yourself you can be!
What I know for sure now, without question, is that everything about parenting starts with me – from within.
If you are needing a mindshift check out my new eBook School Holidays MINDSHIFT . It’s full of juicy goodness that has helped me enormously to make my own shift in mindset from overwhelm toward embracing the school holidays.