Now that the holidays are a distant memory I am able to take a step back and really consider the school summer holidays and their effect on my mental health.
If I am being totally honest I struggled with my mental health almost the entire duration of the school summer holidays. And although it pains and upsets me to admit it, I really didn’t enjoy them this year. I didn’t anticipate how difficult it was going to be with a 5 and half year old and a 7 month old baby. The age gap made it near impossible to do anything that they both enjoyed.
Most of my days were filled with guilt. I felt guilty for not spending enough time with H, it was his summer holidays, his break and it was filled with me saying “We can’t do this or play that because I need to look after your brother.” Then there was guilt for not spending enough time with T. It felt like more often than not he got sat on the living room floor surrounded by toys or left in the pram for the day if we did venture out.
I felt guilty that the house was a complete mess and that I rarely managed to cook proper meals. I couldn’t write and blog as I was feeling so overwhelmed by everything, not a moment to myself and just wracked with guilt!
I spent most of my days desperately trying to split my time fairly between the boys. T had pretty regular naps so my morning would be playing with him and H, only, not doing anything that H wanted! Then as soon as T went up for his nap it would be this manic rush trying to cram as much time in with H doing what he wanted to do. This would repeat during the day until the mad dinner time rush and I would only get a minute to breath when my husband arrived home at 6pm!
I still look back and feel like a crap mummy for this years rubbish summer holidays but having spoken to a few friends I have realised I am not the only one who has struggled. A few mums have said that they really struggled keeping children entertained for the 6/7 weeks even without the age gap!
I think there is so much pressure on parents to have the most amazing summer holidays, filled with breaks away, days out and lots of activities. But the reality is that this is not really possible! Firstly, it’s bloody expensive and two it’s mentally exhausting!
Having come to the start of the new school year and thinking about the school summer holidays and their effect on my mental health makes me realise what incredible pressure we all put on ourselves! I made myself so poorly by trying to do everything and provide what I believed was the perfect summer holidays! Obviously I couldn’t sustain it and started to struggle.
Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I hated every moment. I did enjoy a lot of our days together, we had play dates with friends, saw family and chilled out together. Plus we did have an awesome last week of the holidays as my husband had the week off and we had several amazing days out. Also, with my husband off I was able to take a few moments to myself here and there which really eased the pressure.
Since H has returned to school I’ve realised how much I crave routine. It seems to stop my anxiety reaching the crazy levels that it did and in fact I think it helps us all.
My mental health has improved dramatically this past week. I have caught up on housework, I am writing, working and functioning so much better overall. My mood has lifted and it feels like the sun has come out again. I can see my purpose, I am excited about things and enjoying time with my husband and my boys.
I am sure you’ve seen that post floating around on social media about there only being 18 summer holidays in your child’s life so you need to make the most of them! As if there’s not enough pressure!
I am going to equip myself so much better next year and try to not beat myself up too much about not doing everything that I want to. There’s no such thing as perfect!
I know my boys are not bothered at all about this years holidays at all so why should I be?!
If you do ever find yourself in a position where you are struggling Mind are a fantastic charity that can help. Click here to get in touch.
Try and enjoy everyday. Worrying only steals today’s joy.
Lots of love,