Do you dread summer and feel overwhelmed by the extra pressure?

I don’t remember the summer holidays as a time of joy or laughter. I remember my mum being stressed, juggling so much, and putting us in whatever club had space. My mum found having young children hard, and we all do. But as a mum whose intention is to break cycles, I know that isn’t how I want to feel or how I want my children to feel — like a burden making my life hard.


Now, let's be honest. Of course, we are going to be stretched thinner over the summer. Summer will make me even more grateful for how fortunate my kids are to have such an amazing school and free education. But with the right support and strategies, my goal is to create a summer that not just my kids love, but I do too. I hate that post that says we only have 18 summers, but we do, and I want my kids to remember me as a mum who was fun, laughed a lot, and loved being their mum. Here are some tips for the summer:

1. Getting organised

One of my favourite tips I learned when I became a mum was that those mums who look like they have amazing lives and are always doing fun things plan them. Print out a 6-week planner and schedule everything — work, self-care, fun days out, fun days in, time to exercise. Having a plan helps bring clarity to your days, and having clarity helps us feel calm.

2. Manage expectations

No one has a perfect summer. There will be mood swings and meltdowns, and you will make a lot of snacks! The house will be messier than normal. I love using affirmations because they help calm your nervous system. Mine will be, “A messy home is a happy home, and it's only 6 weeks.” Write it everywhere and repeat it as much as possible. The science behind this is our brain can’t tell the difference between the truth and a lie, so if we are saying, "I can’t cope with the chaos," our body will start responding like we're being attacked. An affirmation will give an alternative view and stop that from happening.

3. Adjusting work hours

One of the most amazing things in recent times is that for lots of us, it’s given us more flexible working hours. Adjusting your work hours during the summer can give you more time with your children while maintaining productivity. If you’re a morning person, get up early and work. If the evening suits you better, agree with your partner that a few nights a week once they get in, you will be working from 5-9. Be flexible where you can.

4. Get comfortable saying no

As mothers, we can do anything, but not everything. Summer is just 6 weeks, so use it as an excuse to say no. Find ways to buy calm, so if something feels too much, offer to do it in September. Finding it hard to say no often comes from needing to be liked. If you are feeling overwhelmed by new boundaries, I suggest noticing what negative thoughts come up when you are considering saying no.

Now I want you to write down those thoughts and then think about what you would say to a friend if they were telling you those things. The most critical voice we will ever hear is the one in our head, so starting to notice and reframe negative thoughts is the first step in creating boundaries that help you build a magical summer and a magical life.

5. Make time for child-free time

One of the best ways to recharge our batteries is to spend time with high-vibe friends. It's great to do this with our kids, but there is nothing better than an uninterrupted conversation with someone who just gets us. Make sure you make at least 2 child-free plans over the summer, whether it's a date night or a walk with a friend. Our friends are often the first to drop off the to-do list when we are overwhelmed, but a good friend’s energy will give you more energy.

6. Mum guilt Is such a waste of energy

As mums, we can feel like we need to be perfect all the time, and when we’re not, we worry we are going to damage our kids. There will be times when you lose your patience when you’re not present, and you just want to scroll on your phone. Your kids will watch more TV than normal. Remember, this is a holiday, and holidays are about taking your foot off the pedal. What makes cycle-breaking parents different is we have the power of repair. Talk to your kids about feeling overwhelmed, tired, making mistakes, and needing a minute to sit down. When we make mistakes, we show them it’s okay for them to make mistakes.

7. Glass balls and plastic balls

One of my favourite mindset shifts is to think of glass balls and plastic balls. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, write a list of everything you need to do in the day and then underline which ones are glass and which ones are plastic. Focus on the glass tasks, the ones that can’t be dropped, and forget the rest. Remember, no child ever grows up and says, "I had such a happy childhood because my house was always tidy, the washing was always put away, and my mum cooked fresh meals from scratch every day."

8. Delegating tasks and outsourcing

One of my favourite hacks is, when I get back from holiday, taking my washing to the launderette. It’s not so essential if it’s sunny, but during a week of rain, getting that extra washing dry can tip me over the edge. I have a cleaner who takes the summer off, and that’s a reminder that I need to plan for that because the house is going to get messier, and I already find that overwhelming.

Give grandparents notice when you need help. A lot of the time, the reason grandparents don’t want to help is because they have a routine and they get anxious about change. My mum loves to have my kids, but she doesn’t like it sprung on her. This can be very frustrating, but also just being aware of when she gets overwhelmed has helped our relationship.

9. Make time for little moments of self-care

My number one tip is to take moments to just breathe. It sounds so simple, but a minute of box breathing can reset the most overwhelmed mind. If the sun’s out, get outside and have a coffee in peace while the kids watch TV. Over summer, it’s a lot harder to find moments of calm, but if we want summer to look different, we have to do things differently.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Brighton, BN42
Written by Natasha Nyeke, MBACP, Couples, Fertility, Perinatal, Low self esteem
Brighton, BN42

Natasha Nyeke is a therapeutic coach and couples counsellor. Her Imperfect Mum community helps to normalise matrescence—the transformation we all go through when we become mothers—and supports women in becoming the mothers they needed.

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