How to stay calm this summer holiday

Tomorrow is the last day of term for my two. Then we’ll be together for six full weeks of holiday fun.

Optimistic me is happy about this.

I’m looking forward to spending more time with my kids and we’ve got tonnes of fun stuff planned – Longleat, London, camping, moving home (eek), endless days at the beach.

But realist me is a little anxious.

I lost count of the number of times I whispered: “Six weeks!” to my husband through gritted teeth this weekend. Whenever the kids were fighting, tantruming, bickering, giving me the run around.

I know there will be (many) times over the holidays where I’m going to have to take five or ten minutes to restore my sanity and keep my mental health in a good place.

Much of it will come down to making sure I’m looking after myself. Not them. It goes without saying that as a mum I expend most of my energy keeping my kids happy and healthy. But I certainly don’t do the same for myself.


You know how it is when you’re in charge of two small humans – there never seems to be enough time for a wee, let alone lunch. But giving in to this spiral of selfless martyrdom is where I always fall flat on my arse.

Because when you’re tired, hungry, thirsty, busting for a pee, you’re not in good-mama mode, you’re in angry-dinosaur mode. Your unmet needs are playing on the reptilian part of your brain and any slight irritation will push you into full-blown T-Rex.

I found the excellent Everything’s Awful and I’m Not Okay checklist by Kristen Dreaper on Dropping Keys. Her version is a comprehensive checklist for sufferers of depression and you’ll find it here.

Mine is a mini-version of that list, adapted for stressed-out parents:

So if you’re feeling crappy and you’re about to lose your sh*t – again – try working through this self-care checklist to make sure you’ve tended to your own needs.

Parents’ destress checklist

Have you:

  1. Had a glass of water recently?
    Drink one now. Imagine if your child hadn’t had anything to drink all day! Drink something.
  2. Eaten something?
    Eat something healthy and tasty. The kind of thing you’d prepare for your kid on a good day.
  3. Had a pee recently?
    Seriously, the world won’t come to an end in the two minutes it will take for you to empty your bladder.
  4. Had a shower yet?
    Go get clean. Do whatever you need to do to guarantee ten minutes to yourself in the bathroom. Get your head under the hot water and enjoy a rush of oxytocin as the water massages your scalp.
  5. Got dressed?
    Put on some fresh clothes and you’ll feel more energized. Your kids will also take you more seriously if you’re out of the Mickey Mouse PJs.
  6. Stretched your body?
    Release the tension in your muscles with some stretching. Stretch out your neck, do some shoulder circles, hold a yoga pose, turn up the radio and dance around the kitchen. Do something to make your body feel good right now.
  7. Sat down with your kids?
    Have you been running around after everyone else all morning? (Silly question) Stop. Just for five minutes. Sit next to them on the sofa. Snatch a quick snuggle or a hand squeeze. Reconnect with your kids.
Parents' destress checklist

A gentle reminder to look after yourself. And gratuitous peonies. x

If you like the checklist and think it might work for you, here’s a printable version. Maybe stick it on your fridge for those times when you need reminding to look after yourself.

Hope you have a great summer holiday whatever you’re up to. And if you’ve got any destressing secrets of your own, please share them in the comments.



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