My name is Olivia, and I’m suffering with ‘Summer Holiday Parenting Fatigue’ (SHPF).
It’s a recognised medical condition. OK, it’s not, but it should be and certainly could do with a 24-hour hotline for emotional support. Particularly when you’re chiselling off Alpha Bites from your dining room table, negotiating a four-bear-deep assault course and contemplating the three loads of washing that have been staring you in the face for the last *ahem* two days. At 10pm. When you kinda wanted to eat and, y’know, have a bit of time to yourself? How we all laughed.
Perhaps you recognise a hint of this child induced madness? Or perhaps your house is pristine (by some kind of wizardry) but have been suffering compassion fatigue after being asked 13,456 times if your eldest child can eat a ginger bread man that you’ve said no to 13,455 times already? All whilst breastfeeding your youngest standing up and partially clothed – because you can do that now!
And don’t get me started on CBeebies favourite ‘Topsy and Tim’. Have a day off Joy, we all lose our shit sometimes! Even when your children are suspiciously calm to the point of suspecting Valium. That woman clearly needs to write a book on parenting – and I clearly don’t.
Anyway, enough about our Joy. I just wanted to remind you that you are not the only parent to feel fed up and burnt out. You will be one of many parents checking the calendar as to when term starts again, and double checking. Triple checking? I saw you!
This might be because you should have bought a new rucksack already, can’t remember when that pesky inset day is or are home schooling and are celebrating when everywhere isn’t packed anymore (you home-eders are my heroes, btw) but it could also be that you’re bone-achingly tired and need a break.
I get it! You do need a break from the sometimes mundane and always full on world of parenting. And by the beginning of September – the tank is on empty – or perhaps has been on empty for for the past four years and you’ve been playing “fuel light bingo” ever since.
So, let’s not dwell on the problem and seek a solution. My proposal to the parenting world is a “Self Care September”. Your children have returned to school, nursery or if homeschooled perhaps a slightly less manic and action packed schedule. The routine of daily life with children has resumed but you’re *still* feeling your eyes sting with tiredness, your brain unable to create logical sentences and your entire body scream for the life enabling “parent petrol” also known as coffee.
Not a new idea – practicing self care – I know. But when did you last do some? When did we actually follow our own sage advice? During busy periods like the summer holidays, these plans of relaxation and acts of self love (sounds dodgy?) can disappear faster than an open packet of carrot puffs at a packed playgroup.
Right now (well, after I finish this blog) I’m going to book a spa afternoon break for my partner and I, father of my two children and heroic rescuer in the moments of parenting chaos described above. I was bought it for Christmas and will have only taken me nine months to book – but dammit it’s happening.
I also pledge to ask for more help, even if it’s just so I can have a 20-minute breather shop in Boots on my own or a hot shower that lasts for longer than 3 minutes or one of those mythical child free lie ins I keep hearing about. They sound nice don’t they?
Lastly, I pledge to print some of the photos from our adventures and blissfully happy times from this summer (of which there have been many) AND create a photo album. It’s been absolutely corking and we’ve made memories to last a lifetime – no wonder I’m tired!
What are your pledges for self care? When was the last time you planned in some breathing space and time alone? Do it now, and do it without a single shred of guilt, my fellow imperfect parents. As a wise person (who is definitely not myself) once said “you cannot pour from an empty cup”.