Whilst the long summer holidays are eagerly anticipated by children the world over, it's undeniable that for many parents, the time can be more relentless than restful.
Will Williams, Europe's leading Vedic meditation expert, explains: "There is a lot of pressure for parents to entertain the kids, whilst simultaneously juggling their own schedules. This can genuinely have an adverse effect on wellbeing, leading to an increase in cortisol (the stress hormone). If left unchecked, this in turn can mean short fuses and lost tempers, not the ideal state of mind to spend the holidays in."
Dubbed FOSH (Fear of School Holidays), this pressure is something that many parents across the UK will be experiencing as the end of term draws closer. With this in mind, Will has shared the following tips, designed to help parents and children to last the distance as harmoniously as possible:
A recent study revealed that the 80% increase in aerobic capacity gained during the academic year is typically lost over the summer holidays. This inactivity in children is proven to cause immediate damage to physical development, mental wellbeing, attention span and academic performance. "If you usually work out, try adapting your routine to allow the children to take part too" suggests Will. "This way, none of you miss out." There are also lots of good sports clubs across the UK, allowing children to make new friends whilst also being active.
Share the load with other parents:
Don't be ashamed to reach out to other parents, to see if a group of you can take it in turns to host play dates, to give one another a break. "Occasional breaks of solitude are actually really good for you, as they allow your brain time to reboot and unwind, meaning you are recharged when you're reunited with the kids. Take them outdoors if the weather is fine."
Meditate on giving your child the tools to calm down:
As the simplest form of meditation in existence, the Vedic practice taught by Will is cited as bringing about the biggest and most measurable changes amongst children: improved academic performance, calmer and more balanced behaviour and greater creativity. "It also has known benefits for parents", explains Will, adding that the practice is 250% more effective at reducing anxiety than any other technique, and is credited for a 42% reduction in sleep disorders. "It naturally increases feel-good chemicals, as well as being four times more effective at delivering present-moment awareness than any other technique". If you're looking for something that you can do as a family to benefit your wellbeing, the courses run by Will for children and parents could be the solution. It is also worth noting that Vedic meditation has proven effects on those suffering with ADHD.
Don't let the screen-battle ruin your holiday:
With countless studies suggesting that the adverse effects of too much screen-time can lead to a reduction in academic success, sleep deprivation, vision problems, and behavioural issues, it's unsurprising that it causes parental concern. That being said, "it's important to find a healthy and happy medium" explains Will. "Like it or not, our children are growing up in a digitally savvy age, and technology is a part of the world around them. The key here is establishing a routine, so that it doesn't seep into the entire day."
Find some time to prioritise yourself:
As all parents will testify, it's easy to let the school holidays fly by in a flurry of child-time. However, taking even twenty minutes to reclaim yourself is vital. "A 2015 report actually discovered that guilt-ridden efforts to spend as much time as possible with children may be having the opposite effect of what they intend" warns Will. "Instead, take the time to recharge, have a glass of wine, meditate for twenty minutes twice a day, enjoy a soak in the tub. Just take time to be you, and your kids will thank you for i".
For further information on Will's meditation courses for children, see willwilliamsmeditation.co.uk.