Tips to Survive the Summer

Tips to Survive the Summer

I wanted to write down a few thoughts for survive the summer if you or someone you live with is neurodivergent. It can be a difficult time, often with a change in routine and warmer weather. (At the time of writing this it is none-stop rain, even though it is technically the summer holidays here in the UK!)

This can seem like a long stretch of time, but I hope these tips might help ...

Tips to Survive the Summer

Acknowledge and know your own needs

This has to be one of the most important things I think anyone can ever do for themselves. And it really isn't as easy as it seems, I know. When we do learn what our needs are we have some much more opportunity to stay well-regulated and to also meet the needs of our loved ones. We also model that it is important to prioritise our own needs - that this isn't selfish but simply essential. Do you need some peace and quiet at some point in the day? Do you need to talk with friends every day? Do you need to be outside in the fresh air every day? Most of our needs are something that will help our loved ones also, or usually at least, do them no harm. If they really can't join you for that early morning walk, can you arrange a time to get your needs met at another point in the day?

Remember, it is essential to meet your own needs.

Tips to Survive the Summer

Know the needs of the rest of your household

On a similar note, it is really useful to know what the needs are of the rest of your household. How can you help them to meet their needs while not ignoring your own? This can be quite the balancing act and it might mean a great deal of compromise from everyone in the house. Discussing this with everyone and allowing everyone to state their needs, and also see the needs of others is not only a great life lesson but a huge step in taking some of the pressure off yourself. You don't have to be the only accommodator of everyone's needs. Allowing everyone to take and give is great practice for them and you. If people know that their need will be met later in the week, they may be able to manage early in the week when someone else is getting their need met.

In allowing everyone this space, we are offering wonderful coping and negotiating skills.

Tips to Survive the Summer

Plan but also leave space

It can be so helpful to have somethings planned in advance, be this a holiday or a day trip or even some activities to do at home. Having some things, you know you are doing on a particular day or week, or just ready to grab when needed can take some of the pressure of you. However, this can get tricky when we plan for every moment of the next 6 weeks. When we are excited about all of the plans and forget that people get drained, the weather is unpredictable and sometimes we are just not in the mood. Then the plan can go completely out of the window, and we can become resentful, annoyed, and disappointed. Also, sometimes we underestimate the time an activity will take and that can throw our plan into chaos. I think the antidote to this is to leave some space. Leave some time in the plan to do something spur of the moment, or to rest, or to be bored (I'll get onto that in a moment).

So have a plan, but don't plan every moment.

Tips to Survive the Summer

Being bored is okay

I know, I know, you want to shout at me about how I have no idea how excruciatingly difficult it is for you when you or your children are bored - or worst of all, when you all are. I get it - no I really get it! But (and hear me out) sometimes it is okay to be bored. Great things can come out of boredom. Also, mediocre things can come out of boredom but that Is also okay! You don't owe anyone your productivity all of the time! Sometimes it is okay for kids to say they are bored. You could even create a list of options for them to try when they feel that way. If they still can't find anything to do, it is a good lesson in know this too shall pass. All feelings are fleeting, some are stronger in the moment than others and knowing that you can tolerate difficult feelings can build resilience. Of course, there are always exceptions to every rule, and you know your family best.

Allow the possibility for boredom being okay.

Tips to Survive the Summer

Keep routine

I would suggest that it is helpful to a large degree to keep as much routine as possible. You might want to make softer boundaries around some rules, like bedtime or snacks, but can you remember that feeling of back to school the night before a new school term? Not only some anxiety about going back to school and feeling unsure about the new social order, and the prospect of masking (when you didn't even realise that was a thing) but also not being able to get to sleep at a reasonable time because your regular schedule had completely gone out of the window? Just me? I like the idea of boundaries being an elastic band, they can move and stretch but they never break. Do you go to bed a reasonable time just because you have work or school the next day? Or does it benefit you to have a (somewhat) regular schedule?

Perhaps things shift a little over the summer, but I would try and keep the general flow in an order that promotes everyone's wellbeing.

Tips to Survive the Summer

It doesn't have to Gram-worthy

Finally, don't feel pressured into having the most Instagram worthy summer. I know it has been said a million times but what gets shared on social media is most often someone's highlight reel. You aren't going to see the moment before they took the photo when everyone was bored or the moment afterwards when everyone is having a meltdown. No one is living their best most exciting life 100% of the time.

You don't owe anyone perfect.