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Summer Stress: How to reclaim your summer of family fun

Summer is known for long lazy days by the pool, family vacays, and endless neighborhood bbq’s. Unfortunately, sometimes the days are too long, the vacays are more stressful than relaxing, and bar-b-que hosting becomes overwhelming. Sometimes our expectations of how great summer will be just aren’t met.

Those last few weeks of school have most parents begging for a reprieve from the early mornings and hurried afternoons. We crave a break from the routine of everyday life. The first few weeks of summer often meet our needs, giving us exactly what we have been hoping for, but by mid July our mind begins to change. Any number of reasons can have us counting the days until school starts back up. We miss having a routine, our kids overwhelm us, childcare is complicated to find everyday, if someone has even one more melt down because of Fortnite you will lose it., and I mean lose it. The list is long when it comes to why we start counting down the days until school starts.

Beyond the everyday struggles there is an even bigger, and more difficult issue that can creep into our summer fun…it’s not as fun as we thought it would be. Frequently, we have grand ideas for this season. Outings with kids, fun family time spent bonding around campfires, and vacations that everyone enjoys are what we envision. We imagine having time to do all the things we can’t get to during the usual hustle and bustle of the school year, but somehow that time hasn’t materialized. No one appreciated the carefully planned vacation you put together. The kids would rather play video games with their friends than roast s’mores. The expectations we had, even the unconscious ones, aren’t met and we can end up feeling agitated and disappointed.

If you’re feeling less than impressed with how summer is going, here are a few tips to get you through this second half of the season.

Know your expectations
I mentioned that some expectations are unconscious. This is because logically we know everyday won’t be one big family fun party. We know vacays are stressful, and we know our kids value their screen time above all else. We know this–logically. Emotionally, however, we wish for the best. We want things to go smoothly. We want all the great moments life has to offer, even when we know it’s unlikely. It’s okay to have expectations, and it’s healthy to dream big. But own it. Know what you’re expecting and communicate that to your family as often as possible. No, not all of those expectations will be met. However, you have a much greater chance of achieving them when you know what you’re hoping for and everyone around you does too.
Have clarity about why you want this so badly. Ask yourself why this is so important to you. You may find that a pattern emerges that can help you adjust your priorities not just in the summer but all year.
Grab some perspective and appreciate the moments.
It’s easy to get lost in disappointment. Wishing things were different can take up a lot of time and energy that could have been spent brainstorming how to make things better. Rather than falling down the rabbit hole of how you wanted your summer to go, seek out a new perspective and focus on the moments that are meeting your expectations. Let yourself sink into the feelings of joy and connectedness that you experience, even if they aren’t as regular as you hoped.
Prioritize
What things bring you joy? What moments are the most fulfilling? What line items are the most important to you? Make those things a priority, and make those priorities non-negotiable. This may require you to let some things go, and accept they aren’t going to happen. That’s okay. You’re trading something less important for something more valuable.
Relentlessly remind yourself of your top goals. If your goal is to be relaxed and happy with your summer, remember that when you start feeling otherwise. This can help you refocus and let go of those stressful thoughts as you look for ways to be joyful.
Stay away from comparison
Expectations often come from comparing what others are doing to our own daily life. As you know, social media makes this all too easy. Remind yourself that social media is the highlight reel, while your life is the behind the scenes footage. The two can’t be accurately compared. Don’t let yourself get caught up in “shoulds” that you gain from comparing your summer to that of other people’s.

Summer time may not be as glorious as we dreamed it to be when we were begging for it in winter. Luckily it doesn’t have to be. We can still enjoy this season, with all the struggles that accompany every season. Too often we believe all our problems will go away ”when” — When school’s out, when you have more free time, when you get out of town, when it’s warmer. It can be shocking to realize this is not the case. This summer take control of your thinking and make the most of every day!

If you feel like this is impossible, or the summer blues are hitting harder this year, give us a call. Noyau’s therapists are experts in their field and can help you move through this and every season.

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