OK, so looking after children during typical British summer holiday weather would try the patience of a saint, right? As parents, we tend to look forward to school holidays so that we can have a couple of months free of homework and school runs, but then quickly find ourselves a little adrift with no routine and with increasingly fractious children who seem to know only a few phrases, such as “I’m bored!”, “He/she started it” and “I’m hungry” (what, again?).
As I write this, the skies are grey, with more rain forecast, my partner is at work and I have 4 children in the house (2 teens and 2 youngsters), and so I feel your pain, I really do. I wanted to share how mindfulness, with a healthy dollop of self-compassion, is helping me right now, and if you find that information helpful in your own situation then that’s awesome.
In this four-part Summer Holiday Survival Guide, that will be released over the coming week or so, I will share my tips to help you keep your sanity, covering:
- Dealing with boredom (here, in Part 1)
- Coping with long trips (Part 2)
- Adding to the piggy bank of patience (Part 3)
- Not just surviving, but thriving (Part 4)
Perhaps the most useful thing to know about boredom (drum roll here) is that there’s nothing wrong with it. Children, and indeed adults, have grown very used to almost constant stimulation in an age where omnipresent technology can satisfy our need for entertainment instantly and so we’re even more susceptible to feeling bored if for some reason we’ve been parted from an electronic device for more than a few minutes.
You most likely do your best not to allow your child too much technology-time, but it’s so tempting, particularly when the weather isn’t conducive to outdoor play, to allow relatively unrestricted access to TV or some other device to keep your child occupied. If nothing else, summer holidays are the perfect opportunity to practise being really firm with our boundaries, giving our reason for saying “no” and then sticking to our decision. What helps us to do this is to remember (and forgive me for saying it again) there’s nothing wrong with experiencing a moment of boredom. Once we’ve made it clear that there’s nothing wrong with feeling bored, and ask them with curiosity how it feels for them, it’s perhaps a great moment to direct a child towards activities such as reading, art or making music, if they’d prefer to find something to do rather than to feel bored. A child will often announce that they’re bored as if it’s one of the worst things in the world to be experiencing, and our ability to model an OKness with feeling something difficult is what will really set the scene here. In fact, a willingness to feel difficult feelings is one of the most fundamental lessons a child will learn from us.
In a blog post, it’s hard to really give a full sense of what I mean by ‘modelling an OKness with feeling something difficult’ so feel free to comment or message me if you’d like some clarification. Alternatively, it’s something I write about in great detail in my book, ‘Awakening Child: A journey of inner transformation through teaching your child mindfulness and compassion’ which has just been released. It’s available on Amazon if you’re interested.