Stress and the holidays – managing expectations and family dynamics

April 20th, 2024
stress over the holidays

Navigating the school holidays: managing expectations and family dynamics

For many children, the countdown to the summer holidays is already on – six weeks away from the classroom, no more exams, no more trigonometry, and a whole month and a half of fun and endless possibilities.

However, although the school holidays are often portrayed as a time of joy, relaxation, and family bonding, the reality for many parents can be quite different.

For one thing, there’s one tiny issue that many of us have which prevents us from joining in with the six-week dream of unbridled joy and no responsibilities – a job.

Sometimes it’s such a pain being an adult, isn’t it?

The truth is that the school break brings with it a host of challenges for many parents, and in this blog, we’ll explore some strategies for dealing with stress over the holidays in ways that minimise anxiety and maximise enjoyment for everyone involved.

Set realistic expectations

One of the biggest sources of stress over the holidays is the pressure to create the perfect experience for your children.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling like you need to plan activities every day to keep them entertained and this pressure is exacerbated by all the smiling photos of perfection you see on Instagram.

However, it’s important to remember that 1) social media isn’t a realistic representation of people’s lives, and 2) it’s okay for your children to have some downtime now and again. After all, school is tiring!

Setting realistic expectations with your children about what the holidays will look like, and spacing out fun activities, will help them no end in knowing what to look forward to and when they will have some time to chill out.  

Communicate with extended family

Family dynamics can become particularly complicated during school holidays when there’s pressure to spend time with extended family members.

Conflicting schedules, differing parenting styles, and unresolved tensions can all contribute to this stress.

One of the ways to combat this is to take some time, before the holidays begin, to communicate openly with extended family members about your plans and expectations. Be honest about what you’re able to commit to and don’t be afraid to set boundaries if needed.

Practice self-care 

We go on about this one a lot but it’s so important.

Taking care of yourself is essential during the school holidays, especially when you’re juggling the needs of your children around everything else that still needs to get done. 

Make time for activities that recharge your batteries, whether that’s going for a walk, reading a book, or meditating.

Remember that it’s okay to ask for help from trusted friends and family members if you need a break for a couple of hours.

Getting a bit of extra help

If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or struggling to cope with the stresses of the school holidays, know that you’re not alone.  

Here at The Therapy Room, we have a lot of clients who are parents struggling to manage the school holidays and the stresses of parenthood in general.

Therapy can be a really valuable tool for managing these situations and developing coping strategies.

Our therapeutic approach is based on the understanding that people are complex and lead complicated lives.

We can provide you with a safe and supportive environment for you to explore your feelings and develop practical solutions to deal with family dynamics and manage the whirlwind that is being a parent.

Tailored to your personal needs, we make a commitment to structuring and working for you as an individual.

Let’s help take some of the stress away.


Founder Jay L Pink Ad.Prof.Dip MBACP PC MNCS (ACC) established The Therapy Room to offer high quality, expert counselling and therapy services to people of all ages, as well as to couples for relationship and partner counselling and groups for corporate and family therapy. Jay’s commitment to anyone visiting The Therapy Room is to unconditionally respect values, lifestyle, background and beliefs, offering a discreet and professional service tailored to their needs.

Therapy is held either in-person at The Therapy Room in Northampton or online.

To organise a booking, please visit our bookings and payment page.