In the past few weeks, I have noticed with my children and family, that we are all a little bit tired, a little bit crankier, and definitely more short-tempered than normal. I have found we are just pushing through to make it to the end of each week. Plus, I don’t think the unrelenting heat has helped the situation either!
But now that the finish line is in sight and the Easter break is nearly here, our gaze has turned towards how to squeeze catch-ups with friends, Easter celebrations, and all the chores and errands that have been postponed until we have some “time” into 4 days. I am just adding to my current exhaustion thinking about it!
So many aspects of our daily lives are governed by expectations – those set by society, family and the harshest ones are usually set internally by what we think we must live up to. It seems now that during the times when we should be decompressing, we are still surrounded by self-imposed expectations – just different ones:
Rest and Relaxation. Quality Family Time. Disconnect and reconnect. Unplug. And the dreaded never-ending ‘to-do list’ to catch up.
I am almost feeling forced to relax, connect with my family and unplug. But in the same way as when someone tells you to calm down (handy tip: no one will ever calm down by being told to calm down!), feeling the expectation to relax can sometimes fill you with more anxiety and stress than you had to begin with!
My family is lucky enough these holidays to be taking a week off to go away to the beach. My reflex action is to fill our days with tours and activities (we are going to a new destination, so there will be some exploring to do), demand that no screens be taken with us so we can ‘unplug’ and react irrationally when our ‘quality family time’ gets interrupted by squabbling children. I find the more jam-packed our ‘normal weeks’ are, and the more I am pushing to tie up loose work ends before I go, the more pressure I am putting on myself to create this idyllic, Insta-worthy holiday for my family. A plan, I am sure, is going to fail!
Now, awareness of these things doesn’t directly lead to a change in behaviour, but what I am hoping for, is that when my children flop onto the couch and start to play their Switch, argue over who is going to have the last hot cross bun, or when I am sitting by the pool scrolling on my phone, that my first reaction won’t be a catastrophic nightmare of a ruined holiday. Maybe I can catch myself and reframe those thoughts to be more accepting of how each of us relax and unwind in our different ways.
I am also going to try to be kinder, reminding myself that a great holiday isn’t filled with non-stop perfection, but with both active and relaxed moments that fulfil the needs of everyone in our family. It is an impossible expectation that we will go from a non-stop frantic pace to a Zen-like state just because we have ‘holiday’ written on the calendar. I know I won’t come back from my 5 days away as a new person, but I will have had 5 days to be present with my family, not worry about work to do when I get back, and just slow down, even if it is momentarily.
Whatever your plans are for the upcoming break, I hope that you can join me in being a bit kinder and relax some of those self-imposed expectations. We can connect without totally disconnecting, we can rest in the way that leads to relaxation for us, and quality time spent with our family needs to fit in with what works best for our family. But the final and most important support I can offer is to make sure you have a good supply of Easter Eggs and bunnies!
Until next time,