The stresses of summer holidays as a parent – the effects on you and parent anxiety
As a child, the summer holidays were that golden, long-awaited time of year – six weeks full of endless possibilities, sunshine and fun.
However, when you become a parent of school-age children, this time of year can bring its fair share of challenges and anxiety.
There will be some moments of relaxation and treasured family time, but sometimes this season can cause a lot of negative feelings to arise.
In this series of blogs, we will explore the effects and stresses that summer holidays can have on parents and offer some tips on how to navigate them.
Are summer holidays as a parent really that hard?
You may be reading this blog thinking that you are the only parent to feel this way.
In fact, that assumption couldn’t be further from the truth.
Here at The Therapy Room, we speak to a lot of parents, both as individuals and as couples, who have come to dread the summer holidays.
These days, juggling childcare and your own wellbeing is hard enough when the schools are open. So when they close, this can lead to a lot of people feeling overwhelmed and wondering how they will balance everything they have got going on.
Guilt and comparison
Theodore Roosevelt once said that “comparison is the thief of joy” and there has never been a truer saying.
It’s so easy nowadays, in a world driven by social media, to compare ourselves to others and to feel disheartened as a result.
In five minutes of scrolling through Instagram in the middle of August for example, you will see five-star holidays in the Caribbean, trips to theme parks, laughter, joy, and smiley family photos that look the picture of perfection.
What you don’t see however, are the bad days – the tears, the tantrums, the stress behind closed doors, the parents in the five-star suite close to breaking point. Because who posts those kinds of photos for the world to see?
A lot of parents often experience parent anxiety and guilt and compare themselves to others during the summer holidays. The pressure to create the “perfect” summer for their children, fuelled by social media and societal expectations, can lead to feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt.
- We all compare ourselves to others from time to time but try and make a conscious effort to remember that what you see online is a snapshot in time and not the whole story. You are doing your best for your child during the summer holidays and that’s all that matters.
- The idea of something being “perfect” doesn’t really exist and if you strive for a “perfect anything”, you are just opening yourself up to disappointment. Focus instead on creating meaningful experiences and treasured memories rather than trying to meet unrealistic standards. Embrace the imperfections and appreciate the joy in simple moments spent together as a family.
- Surround yourself with a supportive community of parents who understand and validate your efforts.
Limited “me time”
As a parent, it is hard enough to get “me time” when your children are at school, so having them home makes finding the time for self-care and personal pursuits even harder.
The lack of structure during the summer holidays can also disrupt a parent’s routine and without the usual support systems in place, your mental and physical wellbeing can suffer.
- Establishing a daily routine for your children, including set mealtimes and bedtimes, can provide structure and give you more predictable moments to relax and recharge.
- Make an effort to prioritise self-care by carving out time for yourself, even if it’s just a few minutes each day. Engage in activities that rejuvenate and energise you, such as reading, exercising, or pursuing hobbies.
- Meditation is also a great tool in the search for moments of inner-peace. Headspace and Calm are both particularly good apps with sessions on each ranging from quick one-minute resets to longer, more relaxed recordings.
How can therapy help?
The way you are feeling about the summer holidays is valid and if you come to therapy with the aim of getting help to navigate your way through this period, you will not be the only one to be doing so.
Here at the Therapy Room, we know that a “one-size-fits-all” approach doesn’t work which is why we spend time exploring your unique issues, in order to work on effective and long-lasting solutions.
We do this by providing a safe, non-judgmental and empathetic space and by offering the unique insight of a trained therapist that will help you make sense of your negative feelings and allow you to find solutions.
Remember that despite being a parent and having children who rely on you, you too deserve to feel happy and to enjoy living life.
If you are unsure about seeing a therapist, contact the Therapy Room for an initial chat. This will allow you to talk freely and openly about the issues you are experiencing and allows us to recommend a course of action.
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.