Summer Survival

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I’m not going to lie–I’m in a pretty big panic right now. I feel worse than I have at any time since my daughter was born. For the most part I’ve avoided postpartum depression and anxiety since my second child was born, but now as summer sets in and everyone is supposed to be relaxing and enjoying the great weather, I feel anxiety clutching at me. My son is off preschool for the summer and there is no child care in sight until Kindergarten starts in September. I’m faced with almost three months of full time mothering. At the same time my daughter is going through some sort of painful nap transition so has gone from an excellent sleeper to a haphazard one. She was awake until 11:30 last night and up again at 6:30. Her once regimented naps are all over the place. My son is acting out due to a lack of scheduling and familiarity. And I. AM. LOSING IT.

Summer isn’t always the blissful time we expect it to be. In my head the summer is long, lazy, sunny days full of fun trips to the beach and the pool. It’s about camping and BBQs and a slower pace of life. Reality doesn’t really match up. So far it’s been tantrums and missed naps and boredom and desperation. Having a baby who needs naps makes going on outings challenging but we go stir crazy staying at home all the time. My house is a mess and I’ve gone from getting a daily break while my daughter napped and my son went to preschool to  having a child with me every moment.

Summer can be scary, because while we expect it to be a season of self care, sometimes it’s the opposite. Sometimes it triggers a relapse in mental health struggles that you thought were long ago put to rest. It can help to know that it’s not only you. You’re not the only person who can’t seem to find their footing when you wake up on the first day of summer vacation.

It might be time to get back to basics. Commiserate with those other parents looking sodden and sunburned at the water park. Carve out some time to be alone. Plan activities that feel manageable to you, even if that means staying pretty close to home. I have to remind myself again and again that my son can have a wonderful day even if we don’t have some major summer adventure. Summer can be an opportunity for mindfulness–enjoying the flavour of a local strawberry, lying in the grass, lounging on a patio. And if all else fails know that September isn’t too far away. You’ll get there. You’ll make it. You’ve got this.

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