Ever notice how the summer hustle of kids being out of school and off their schedules, combined with rotating vacation schedules in the office, and the additional household chores of endless grass-cutting and mulching leave moms and dads exhausted at the end of summer? Avoid the end-of-summer burnout and savor those last precious days. I’ve combined a few tips to help you cease and desist in the constant rush and just take a breather. Like any working mom, I know that I can’t do this alone. I looked to and leaned on some experts and other bloggers to help make sense of the topics. Click away and enjoy!
Tip 1: Chill Out.
I recently read an article about “chill zones” being the next big thing attracting the younger workforce and keeping them. While I don’t necessarily subscribe to the idea of “chill zones” at work (Talerico Group, in general is a pretty “chill” place to work), I love the idea of having “chill zones” at home and a commitment to clear my head. What might that look like? At home, it’s that hot cup of coffee that I get to enjoy when both kids are still sleeping, or, even more miraculously, the ice cold adult beverage at the end of the day, enjoyed on my front steps as the sun sets. My “chill zone” at work is stepping outside without the phone and breathing in fresh air as storm clouds swirl and summer breezes tickle my nose.
Tip 2: Use the Out of Office responses.
There is a lie that came with the advent of smartphones and instant messaging. The lie says that we must always be available to everyone at all times. People, usually, we do NOT need to be available at all times. Start slowly, picking one day over the weekend to put the Out of Office Assistant on your emails or phone, and then work your way up to reasonable expectations. Feeling some trepidation about starting? Read this article to get some ideas. I especially loved “the Handoff”. If client service is important to you (it’s important to most of us), set up a plan with a coworker who also feels the same pressure to provide back up on the “off” days. And, if all that pressure is self-induced, you may need to take Tip 3 seriously.
Tip 3: Unplug.
This is a big deal.
So big that in about 15 seconds, I found this.
We are so connected to each other, and to strangers, and to corporations, and to distractions, by our mobile devices, that sometimes we forget that there are actual people around us yearning for our interactions. Our human interactions. Avoid end-of-summer burn out by making a commitment to unplug and spend some time looking up and out, rather than down. Addicted to the device? I get this, and so do a lot of other people. Google the term and get more than 67 million queries! Start small. Place the devices in a drawer in a different room for an hour each night after work. Gradually increase the time and distance from the device until you get an entire whopping Saturday to enjoy the green grass, blue skies, and delish scent of barbeque ribs wafting from your neighbors house down the block. Feeling brave? Do something fun and make an unexpected neighborly visit! (Pro-tip: Bring beer or brownies.)
Tip 4: Do something fun.
Every summer, I think to myself, “I will take the kids to the zoo, the beach, Kennywood, etc.”. I plan the day. I envision the laughter and the fun we will have. And as the day draws near, I’ve endured one too many toddler breakdowns to make the drive worth it and I call it off. But this summer, I think, it will be different! I’d requested some back up from a couple of family members and will make it happen!
But, it doesn’t have to be so difficult. It doesn’t require all the packing for a week or day trip, depending on the ages of your kids. Fun can be had in your back yard, or at a local park. Do something fun—just one something fun—before summer is over. By doing the first three things on the list, ‘chill out’, ‘out of office response’, and ‘unplug’, you may have carved out a little time to enjoy the great things waiting for you in your own backyard. If you’re close to my backyard, check out what Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania has to offer before the end of summer!
Tip 5: Prepare.
Fall is coming. School will be back in session soon, and along with that comes a whole new host of challenges. But the next season, and the one after that, and the one after that, doesn’t have to steal your calm. We don’t actually have to succumb to the rush and craze of each season—we can displace the anxiety and appreciate the current moment.
One way to hold off on the anxious frenzy of activity is to prepare yourself, and your family, for what will take priority, and why. Maybe it requires a family calendar meeting to schedule the most important things. Perhaps it requires some difficult and important conversation with coaches or other parents about what’s most important for your family, and why certain things won’t happen like they may want.
The best thing you can do to maintain that place of peace and calming for you, and for your family, is to prepare—prepare your schedules, prepare others for your participation or opting out, and prepare your family for making priorities clear. This will help them tomorrow and in ten years!
Holly McIlwain, M.S. is a working mom of two and committed time maximizer.