By Fredrika Syren:
After 3 weeks off for the holiday, my kids just went back to school, my husband left for a business trip, and I’m back to board meetings, deadlines and phone calls. We had been out of town staying at someone else’s home for the entire time. As our trip neared the end, I started to feel blue. I guess I was not the only one because all three kids told me on more than one occasion that they did not want to go home. When I asked why, they said it was more fun and less stress.
I totally agree because, even though while out of town both their dad and I had to work a couple of times, for sure it was far from our normal day-to-day life. No stress getting kids into bed early because, with no time to keep, we could sleep in. Breakfasts were slow and we ate together instead of my running around getting kids fed and dressed, their teeth brushed, lunches packed, etc. As a matter of fact, everyone slept late, so I could drink my morning coffee or tea in peace. We took walks, went to the park, read and played games. No real plans — just what felt good on any given day. This made the kids happy, so little fighting occurred, and we parents felt happy and calm.
On our way, back I started to think about how I could keep the “vacation mode” going and how to create less stress for my kids.
My good friend Cori is a wonderful mom, and her patience with her kids is an inspiration. She pretty much always refuses to stress. She would rather take her time and be a few minutes late than rush her kids around. I see how that can be better for the kids. I hate how I hassle my kids in the morning to get to school, and hear myself repeatedly saying “hurry” and “we’re going to be late” when in fact we almost never are. But I guess I fret about not having them at school in plenty of time. The strain of getting there can just be too much, so from now on I will try to not stress my kids to get to places and will be more patient when they are slower.
I admit I am one of those women who tries to be super mom. I try to be a great mom and a great wife; and I must have a perfectly clean house, bake cookies and bread from scratch, and provide creative learning games and art for my kids — all in one day. I have come to realize that this is just not doable and not very realistic; and, yes, it adds to my being anxious, which in turn makes my whole family’s life stressful. These days, not only do I ask my kids to help, but I also have my husband help me clean in the evening. I’ve learned to ask for help when I need it. No shame in that at all.
Too many times I’m too busy with work (since I work from home) or cleaning or cooking to play with them or look at them swinging super high. It’s no secret that kids crave attention, but we parents must remember this attention should be cherished since our children are young for only a very short time. So, I will try my hardest to stop what I’m doing and give them my fullest undistracted attention.
Our day-to-day routines are pretty boring and the same-old-same-old, so when on vacation with the kids, life is exciting since we never know what fun we will have, right? Well, I have found that when I break our home routine to do something different, my children love it. The other day we took them to the beach after school and had a picnic dinner. Of course, I can’t do that all the time, nor would that be as much fun as periodically surprising them with something different as a way of keeping the vacation feeling going.
There are many more ways to keep that “vacation bliss” going even after you return home. For me, it can also be as simple as scheduling more me time or getting a good night’s sleep. The bottom line is that it’s all about maintaining less stress and that free time state of mind.