When the kids are off school, it’s easy to neglect your own needs and turn into a slave to the whims of the little people. But now more than ever you need to conserve your energy to cope with the long car journeys, the chasing around beaches and woods, the organisation and planning required to keep all your plates spinning merrily. Self-care is important when you are looking after others, be it with skincare products, healthy food or a spa day to recharge your energy. It absolutely means you join in and have fun too, with time of to lounge by a pool with a book for good behaviour.
Here are five ways to embrace wellness and keep your cool this Summer.
1 – Enjoy good food
It’s easy to throw all good intentions out the window and let your self-restraint go AWOL in the summer holidays: a diet consisting of chips and ice-cream is usual at this time of year, never mind the large glass of cool rosé in the garden once everyone is finally in bed.
We’re not advocating you play the 1950s housewife, nibbling salads while everyone else scoffs delicious barbecued whatnots – that would be backward and boring. But food high in salt and sugar, never mind alcohol, completely lacks nutritional content, making you hungrier and lacking in energy. Eating more fruit, vegetables and protein isn’t about a beach-ready body, it’s about feeling good, and should therefore apply to the whole family.
Another rookie error I’ve made over the years is allowing kids to choose their own food from the restaurant menu – anything for a quiet life, right? But, assuming you’ve read Lord of the Flies, you will know that children are all about immediate gratification: in their world, pizza and chips every night is a perfectly sensible option. By saying yes to everything, you’re basically making a rod for your own back.
Ideally, even when on holiday, try to remember the 80/20 rule - 80 per cent of what you eat should be nutritious and 20 per cent 'sometimes' food. This applies to everyone, not just you. Have healthier snack options to hand (popcorn, apples, olives and nuts to stave off the hunger cravings). Encourage them to try new things such as seafood and bribe them with treats other than ice-cream – staying up an hour later or doing some activity they love.
2 - Look after your skin
You’re so busy chasing them around the beach with sun cream and hats, it’s easy to forget to take care of you own skin’s needs. If you are on the beach or out and about all day there are three basic rules: drink lots of water, find a good sunscreen, and embrace the shade – if there isn’t any shade, create your own with a wide brimmed sun hat and/or a clever arrangement of sun umbrellas.
There’s no reason why you can pick a fabulous sun-cream for yourself – no one needs to know it costs more than basic kid’s waterproof sunblock – and some of our favourite spa brands have upmarket SPF factor creams.
In the heat, you will need to cleanse and exfoliate properly before piling your skin with enriching moisturisers. Make spa at home part of your wind-down routine on a summer evening rather than automatically reaching for wine and Netflix.
3 – Walk in Nature
One sure-fire way to reduce your stress levels is to find somewhere cool and calm. Perhaps there are some woods near you or a nature reserve with plenty of shady trees. If you live in the city, pack a picnic and hop on a train to somewhere leafy. There’s nothing like shade and winding paths to slow down the pace. If you’re lucky, there will be plenty of opportunities for den building, while you sit on a stump and indulge in a spot of forest bathing, the new mindfulness craze that is said to lower your stress levels and improve your health.
4 – Love in the moment
Yes, they may be driving you up the wall and costing you an arm and a leg in wet wipes, but in the blink of an eye they will be off to college, doing things you will never see (or want to). The cliché ‘they grow up fast’ is horribly true. It’s hard to appreciate the cuteness of your child when they’re smearing ketchup on the wall or trying to swim to France - which is why we take so many photos to admire later, once they’re safely tucked up in bed.
Sometimes it’s obvious, but often we need to remind ourselves to notice those moments a camera can’t capture – the funny things they say or do, the way the top of their head can the best smell in the world. Call it Mindful Parenting if you like: there’s probably a book on it out there somewhere…