By Jennifer Landis, Editor, Mindfulness Mama
Summer vacation is here, and if you’re a mom, you’re probably already dreading having your kids home all day long until fall comes and school starts again. Don’t spend too much time stressing out about having your kids back — summer vacation can actually be good for you. Let’s take a closer look at what summer vacation does for your mental health.
Soak Up the Sun
One of the best parts of summer vacation is that you don’t have to plan your trips around your kid’s school schedule, so you can spend plenty of time soaking up the sun that you’ve been missing throughout the school year.
Vitamin D isn’t just a letter — it’s actually good for your mental health. Studies have found that not getting enough of the sunshine vitamin puts you at higher risk for depression. For individuals who are already at risk for mental illness, this vitamin D deficiency can exacerbate the problems experienced with depression and mental illness.
Enjoy Time to Travel
Summertime is ideal for travel, and while travel can be stressful with children in tow, it can also help to improve your mental health. Travel helps to boost your happiness — both during the trip and even before you leave. Travel is also a great form of stress relief. Stress negatively affects both mental and physical health, which makes it hard to be a good mom. Taking care of yourself is just as important as taking care of your kids — it’s easier to take care of them if you’re in a good mental state.
If you’re traveling by plane, now is the time to start talking to your kids about what they’ll experience during their first flight. Flying the first time for kids can be a scary experience. Share information with them about the flight, and ask questions to help them articulate what they’re feeling — young children often find it difficult to express what they’re feeling, especially with something new.
Take Time for Yourself
Summer camps and trips to grandma aren’t bad things, especially during summer vacation. You’re so used to your kids being at school, so it’s important to take time to yourself during their summer vacation.
Self-care for moms is essential for mental health. We’re all guilty of putting everyone else first — it comes with the territory of being a mom — but doing it for too long without taking the time to take care of yourself will leave you exhausted and burned out. If you get burned out, you won’t be able to enjoy your time with your kids during their vacation.
Plan yourself a spa day, a lunch with your girlfriends or whatever you enjoy to give yourself a break.
Stick to Your Schedule
It’s tempting to let your kids sleep late and stay up late on summer vacation because they can’t do it during the year, but letting them get off their schedule can end up with them not getting enough sleep. As a result, you can leave your kids grumpy and sleep deprived. Sleep-deprived kids tend to act out and be hard to control, which makes summer vacation more stressful for you.
Keep to your bedtimes and morning schedule. Your kids will feel better, and it will be less stress for you. Plus, it’ll be easier to get them ready for school once the new school year starts.
Keep the Kids Occupied
Bored kids are more likely to get into trouble than those who are occupied. You’ll need to plan some activities to keep them occupied during the day when they’re home instead of at school. Play to their interests, but give them plenty of new activates to choose from as well.
If it’s sunny outside, focus on outdoor activities, like playing in the sprinkler or swimming. If it’s raining, arts and crafts or indoor activities are great alternatives.
The more occupied your kids are, the less you’ll need to stress out during your vacation. Don’t let them get bored, and you won’t have to worry about whether or not they’re getting into something or getting themselves in trouble.
Summer vacation is a great time of year. You get to spend more time with your kids and explore both local and distant destinations without worrying about school schedules. It can be a stressful time though, especially if your kids get bored or you don’t have enough planned activities to keep them entertained. Television can only keep them entertained for so long.
Don’t let yourself get stressed out though, and make sure you take some time for yourself throughout summer vacation — whether that means getting up a few minutes earlier in the morning so you can enjoy your coffee or sending your kid to grandmas for a day or two so you can treat yourself to a spa day.
Jennifer Landis is a mom, wife, freelance writer, and blogger at Mindfulness Mama.
She enjoys yoga, red wine, and drinking all of the tea she can find. Follow her on Twitter @JenniferELandis.