Now more than ever families have such packed schedules that your calendar may feel more like an obstacle course than a routine. Between basketball, cross country, orchestra, girl scouts, youth group, volunteer work, homework, play dates and more you can find yourself feeling stressed out and exhausted before you have even gotten to Wednesday! Today’s family is always on the move. Of course, the argument can be made that each of these activities is beneficial to you and your child but at the end of the day we must remember to incorporate healthy rest and stress management during each busy week. Here are some helpful tips to explore with your family in regards to activity, stress levels and self care:
- Check in with your family about their stress level. Asking questions about what activities your child most enjoys, his or her current stress level and feelings about each activity can help determine which calendar items to prioritize and which can be cut from your schedule. You may often hear that children are resilient and don’t experience stress as adults do but consider that your child may be stressed out and simply is not communicating that feeling well to you. Your child may be grateful for the conversation about feeling overwhelmed and ways to be less busy.
- Schedule down time. Blocking out time in your calendar for your family and rest at home is crucial to teaching self care to your children. Family time allows for improved relationships and communication between family members as well as development for family traditions and building memories with your kids. It can be difficult in your busy week to see the need to trade an extracurricular activity for down time at home but your one on one time with your children can be what helps them develop strong bonds with each other and self care routines for their own families in the future.
- Prioritize and balance your calendar. Do you and your family feel as though your time is pulled too thin and if so what activities or obligations could be removed from your weekly schedule? It is easy to get pulled in to the “we must do it all” mentality but it is important to have a balance between extracurricular activities and time spent at home. It is okay to say no to activities. Saying no is difficult but it is also difficult to feel exhausted and disconnected from your family throughout the week. Remember, just because you CAN do something does not mean that you MUST do it. It is okay to say no and by saying no to an activity you may be saying yes to necessary time with your family at home.
- Work to set a good example for your family. By modeling stress management skills for your child, you can teach him or her good habits for adulthood. Every family is different so find what works for you but some starter ideas include family game night, taking a walk, quiet bedtime routines including a hot bath or bedtime story, sharing meals together or setting an earlier bedtime so that your child can have adequate sleep to better handle the next busy day.
You know your family and routine better than anyone else. Taking time to establish self care routines can help you prioritize your activities and find a way to feel closer to one another and less exhausted at the end of the week. Start small; what is one way that you can incorporate self care into this week? Each small step is a great move in the right direction and know that you and your family are worth it!