(5-7 minute read)
Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. The summertime, kids at home, all day long thing is hitting hard. Welcome to the longest days of the year, quite literally.
The sudden jump to having kids home all day long can bring on more stress than a parent already feels. If you’re home with the kids, you may wonder, how do I keep them entertained ALL DAY LONG? Or, if you’re working, you may question, what do I do with my kids now when I’m at work?
You have trouble concentrating on what you’re trying to get done or do with the kids. And your sleep, that’s probably being disturbed fairly often. And on top of that, your feelings that you’re not doing good enough are leaving you tossing and turning in restlessness. You’re becoming easily fatigued just trying to keep up with the kids. Then when the kids need your attention, their screams and tugs and cries make your muscles tense up and the irritability is coming in hot.
Then, all over again, for the 100th day in a row, the cycle repeats itself and you have trouble concentrating on what you’re trying to get done or do with the kids…..But some days it’s even worse. Like the days you need to run to the grocery store. You’ve been worried about it all week. You have to get in the car with your kids, then get them in a cart, and it lasts too long every time. The feeling that you can’t get away from them makes you panic.
So how do you get through this? How do you enjoy the days you have rather than anxiously count down the days until the kids are at school again?
There are many things you do have control over that you can do to help with the anxiety.
Figure out the things you always do before bed or when you wake up. What’s your routine? Is it a nighttime bath, brush teeth, read stories and bedtime for the kids? In the morning, do you let the kids lay in bed with you until you’re ready to get up, then get some water and start making breakfast?
Routines are helpful because they allow you to foster the habits you want until they become natural. When you have your routine, you’re not left wondering or worrying about what to do next. Instead, you know what’s coming up and you’re ready for it. Routines are just as good for kids as they are for adults.
This may sound like a generic answer, but it’s an answer because it really helps. When you imagine exercise, you might think it means hitting the gym hard and burning all those calories. If that’s what best for you and what you can do, awesome. Go for it! But not everyone has to exercise that way. Do what works for you. Put your spouse in charge for 20 minutes and take a walk around the block, sign up for a yoga class and go to it, or look up an exercise routine on YouTube and do it.
Exercise is an important part of your day because kicks in those endorphins and improves sleep, both of which reduce stress. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), says that all it takes is the first five minutes of your aerobic exercise “to stimulate anti-anxiety effects.”
This is also a great one for your kids too. Kids have a lot of energy, a lot, a lot of energy. Find ways for them to exercise too and put their energy to good use instead of driving you up the walls.
Check out “47 Fun Family Summer Activities in Logan” for more ideas on exercise for your family.
3. Good Sleep
One thing that will help a lot with getting good sleep is your routine. As your body gets used to your routine, it will naturally know when bedtime is coming up. Because you know how long your routine usually takes, you can begin it early enough that you can get to bed on time too.
Another thing to remember – no screen time before bed. The light and brain activity used from scrolling through your phone wakes your body up rather than helping you fall asleep. Try to have your alarms set, social scrolling, and texts replied to 30 minutes before heading to bed.
4. Healthy Eating
This doesn’t need to be a big sudden change, but every meal, you can find ways to add nutrition. Do your kids want a milkshake on a hot summer day? Try blending up frozen fruit and yogurt instead. Do you want spaghetti for dinner? Try substituting the noodles (or mixing them) with spaghetti squash, a lot of times kids can’t even tell the difference. Are you kids begging for a yummy snack? One of my favorites as a kid was “Ants on a Log,” celery, with peanut butter in the center, and raisins (the ants) lined up on top.
5. Make Some Time For YOU
This time is far more likely to happen if you schedule it in. That could mean nap time is “me time,” or sending the kids in the backyard for 20 minutes. Sometimes, it’s locking yourself in your room for a few minutes (after checking on the kids). Have your spouse watch the kids for a night so you can read a book, plant the garden, or take a cooking class with your pals or even on your own.
As a parent, you want to enjoy the time you have with your kids because each day is a new day and the past days are done. Dealing with anxiety is something many do every day – but every day doesn’t need to be a hard day. As you continue to make these steps of dealing with anxiety part of your routine, they begin to fall into place and each day you find yourself naturally doing things that help to reduce anxiety.
If you feel like you still don’t know how to manage your anxiety or need more ideas,
come in for a FREE Discovery Visit with one of our therapists at Cache Valley Counseling.