You’ve made it. The first day of term has arrived and as you pop your children on the minibus or do the school run, you feel a 100 tonne weight lift from your shoulders. It’s over. The schools are back. Why then are you not filled with the feeling of peaceful tranquillity likened to that of a meditating Buddha? Why do you feel as though an electric current is running through your body, which is being held up by the clothes you are wearing as you are so tired you can barely stand? Because you need to recover.
Many families won’t feel like this. Many families will long for the holidays to be never ending, dread the early morning rush and cry a silent tear as they wave their children off at the school gate. I always thought I would be that mum. But our lives are different. We are parent carers. Parenting is not simply planning exciting days out, holidays of a lifetime and art and craft extravaganzas. Instead we plan specialist activities around medication timetables, regular physio and sensory needs. We seek out the more accommodating attractions and leave at the earliest hour to avoid the crowds. We hope for a reduction in medical appointments so our children can enjoy a break from being examined and prodded. And many of us plan all this whilst trying to accommodate the needs of neurotypical children as well. It’s actually mind blowing when you think about. You’ve been parent, referee, doctor, physio, OT and nurse for six weeks. It’s time to think about you…. so here are a few ideas on how to have a post summer holidays detox.
1. Stop. Just stop. Stop moving, stop thinking and sit with a cuppa for 10 to 15 minutes. It may feel unnatural and may feel like quite a challenge. But you need to change gears and slow down. You’ve been running at 100 miles per hour non stop for 6 weeks. It’s not sustainable to live like this long term. It’s not sustainable to live like this short term come to that! Take a breath and start “walking” again. Your body and mind need to recover. There are a while range of mindfulness apps that can help with this.
2. Have a long hot soak in a bath with no time limit or distractions. Use candles and oils, add some luxury. Washing doesn’t always have to be an essential task, but a treat as well.
3. Put your headphones on, blast some music and do a little cleaning. Clean your space and mind, remove some chaos.
4. Going food shopping. On your own. Enough said.
5. Start prioritising your diet again. I dont know about you, but i’ve eaten way too many pizzas this summer and more chocolate than Willy Wonka could make in a year. Buy nice healthy food that you can batch cook so it’s always easy to choose the healthier option from the freezer. I’ve recently changed my diet and removed all red meat. I feel more comfortable and enjoy looking after that small part of me!
6. Go for a wander around the shops. No lists, no time restraints, just you. And buy a coffee you want to drink rather than rely on it for an essential caffeine hit. Put some time in your diary and stand firm! When the schools go back the medical appointments start flooding in as everyone plays catch up. If you can ring fence just a morning or afternoon your mind and soul will thank you for it!
7. Take a nap. And another. And another. Goodnight.
8. Remember that long lost hobby you had that disintegrated the day school broke up? Get back on it! Run, swim, sew, paint, read. Whatever it is, hobbies can be hard to justify when you’ve just spend six weeks feeling like a professional zoo keeper keeping the kids under control at home. You’re not in the habit of attending that yoga class every Thursday. Make sure you do! Your body needs this!
9. Meet that friend you haven’t managed to see for six weeks. Reignite friendships and reduce your isolation. Parenting children with additional needs and disabilities can be extremely lonely. Your child needs a specific environment to be able to flourish and it can be very hard to find other families who need that exact same environment. Especially if your child prefers to play alone… get your diary out people!
10. Read the news and catch up on world events. The world hasn’t stopped turning during the summer holidays, though it may well have felt like it. This will help you gain perspective and ground you in amongst the everyday chaos that you face.
All these suggestions will help you feel like you have taken back control of the little things in life, and hopefully inspire you to put yourself first for a bit. It’s not going to happen over night, it may take days to come down from the intensity of the summer. But you will, you got this. Make room for yourself and your patience and energy will increase ten fold.
Thanks for reading,