Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tips for avoiding summer meltdowns

Tips for avoiding summer meltdowns
By: Marissa Anteby

Our lives are so scheduled and organized, that even our downtime is mapped out and orchestrated. Well, it's time to undo some of the tension and give yourself a well deserved break.

I've compiled a short list of things you can do to make your life AND your summer vacation easier. If you do nothing else this summer, try at least one of these tips.

Tip 1: Get the household chores out of the way early in the day. By all means, feel free to recruit the kids to help pick up toys or neaten up their rooms. Getting your children involved with shared tasks will foster cooperation and a unifying sense of responsibility. Even trips to the grocery store or doing laundry can be turned in to a game instead of dreaded errands. Remember you can transform anything in to a leisure activity if you approach it with a positive attitude.

It's important to set a time limit. For example; make a commitment to yourself, that each day by 12:30pm, no matter what you are up to on your list of "Must Do Today", you will head out to the beach, park, friend's pool, or wherever else you can breathe in some fresh air and unwind.

Tip 2: Plan your activities before you go out the front door. What have you always wanted to do but never had time? What was your favorite part of last summer? By thinking ahead, you avoid the pitfalls and possible tantrums that ensue when kids (and/or adults) are cooped up in a hot car circling around trying to find the place you thought was only a short car ride away. Perhaps you want to visit an amusement park, go to the local lake, go camping in the backyard, read a book under that pretty oak tree you saw, get a massage, or play board games on the porch. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you have driving directions and everything else you need for all activities before your day starts. Most of all, don't forget your camera.

Tip 3: Think of quick and easy meals and snacks that the whole family will love. The less complicated your recipes are, the less likely finicky eaters will complain. Add to the light atmosphere with little flags or colorful toothpicks that jazz up otherwise mundane fare. Just make sure you have all the ingredients that you'll need, before mealtime. You can stock your pantry at the beginning of the week with standard staples that you know you'll be needing. Summer meals are not complete without dessert! Go big and frivolous. Spraying whipped cream on anything is a snap to do and brings out giggles every time.

Don't forget special drinks. Summertime is the perfect time to pull out your blender and whip up a batch of frozen drinks. Fresh fruit smoothies are healthy and refreshing.

Tip 4: If you've cut down on your days or hours that you normally work, be sure to notify clients or co-workers that you will be unavailable during specific times. Once you have established your "non-working hours," stick to them. Don't tell your boss or others that it's ok to call you on your cell phone "if it's really important." Let your calls roll over to voicemail and Do NOT turn on your computer.

You will perform better at your job when there is clear delineation between work and play. Both are important. Everyone needs a break in order to avoid work-related burnout.

Tip 5: Make sure to leave time for yourself. Whether that means running out to the gym before the kids wake up in the morning or taking a bubble bath at 10 o'clock at night, get some alone time in. Preferably every day. Yes, come on, you are able to brush your hair every day... then why can't you add in 10 minutes to go for a walk and watch the clouds floating by? Really, you have an excuse for not being able to find 10 minutes? Think of it like a daily ritual to re-charge your battery so you'll have more energy for planning all those playdates for your kids!

I promise you, you'll be a better mother/sister/daughter/friend etc. if you clear your mind for a few minutes each day. You'll have that much more room in there to listen to everyone else's problems, and you will have more patience for them too.

Tip 6: Consider investing in something that will enable you to have mini 'staycations' throughout the summer. This is when you get away without ever leaving your property. Possibilities include, a swimming pool, hot tub, tent, covered back patio, patio furniture, or barbecue pit. You may find that your kids hangout more at your house, and this means less carpooling and arranging alternate activities. Hooray, maybe you will finally get a chance to sit down at home after all.

As you would on a traditional vacation, leave your worries behind...they'll be there for you when you get back!



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