Summer is here: the sun is hot and the kids are squealing. Everyone else seems so excited for summer… so why are you dreading it? Here are 10 tips for a cool summer for you and your family. This article is continued from last month’s article: 10 Tips for a Cool Summer Part 1. Go check it out if you haven’t already!10 tips for a cool summer #fibroparenting #fibromyalgiamagazine Click To Tweet
This article first appeared in The Fibromyalgia Magazine, July 2017. Get the digital copy of the magazine from Pocketmags.
10 Tips for a Cool Summer
Enjoy the Nights
My husband and I have a massive yard which the kids and their friends refer to as ‘the field.’ During our family’s Spring break this year, my husband and I worked each day for several hours in the backyard fixing it up. We wanted to start enjoying it more than we have in the past.. We added a garden, repaired the patio, trimmed the woods, and built a fire pit. Since then, our backyard festivities have been a huge success. Each weekend our backyard is filled with our friends and the kids’ friends listening to music, roasting marshmallows over the fire, and playing in the “field.” We plan on our summer nights being the same with a few added activities.
Some activities for these summer nights will include glow sticks and flashlights from the local dollar store. The internet has tons of ideas for glow sticks, to include glow sticks in bubble solution, making fairy lights in a glass jar, glow in the dark bowling or ring toss. Most of these ideas are super easy to prepare. The flashlights will be for “flashlight tag.” If you’re like me, and you somehow skipped your childhood and don’t know what this is, I will explain: Each kid gets a flashlight to find other kids hiding. Once a kid is “tagged” with the light, that person is out. My husband played this as a kid and always enjoyed it. Once my kids learn how to play, I’m sure they will have just as much fun and love it as he did.
Another fun idea that I discovered over Spring break was fire packets that turn your campfire different colors. I found and purchased packs of ten online. Simply toss the unopened package into the base of the fire, and the flames turn green, blue, purple, and other colors. They last about ten minutes each, so a pack should easily get you through one night. All the kids were fascinated and entertained with it. I must admit the adults had fun with them, too.
Expect Flare Days
No matter how much fun you have this summer, there will, inevitably, be a flare day. A flare is when the body experiences an increase in symptoms, or has heightened pain. The flare can last a day, week, month, or longer. There is no way to make it better other than old fashioned time and rest.
No matter how much fun you have this summer, there will, inevitably, be a flare day. Prepare for the flare days while you feel okay and never feel guilt during the flare.
During a period of a flare, you may experience episodes of guilt. Guilt for not being able to play with your kids. Guilt for not taking them somewhere. Guilt for not being able to clean the house or whatever else you’d like to do and simply cannot. The guilt list can go on and on, but do one thing when you start to feel this way – stop it. Whether your flare lasts a day or a month, do not play the guilt game. It does not help you in the least bit and will only deepen your depression, worsen your pain and/or stress your body more than it already is.
To help ease the pain and still make the day fun for your kids, prepare a flare list and/or flare box. A flare list is a running list of activities you only do when you have a flare, and can be done with little movement (remember you are to be resting and taking it easy on your body). Activities can include:
- a special movie with snacks
- board games
- playing electronic devices
A flare box, like a flare list, only comes out on a flare day. It contains special little treats that the kids can have during your flare day, and can be used together with your flare list. Items in a flare box can be purchased from the dollar store and should be collected throughout the year. The box can include:
- coloring books
- crayons, markers, colored pencils
- travel size games
- action figures, or
Don’t limit what’s in your flare box or on the flare list to the examples above. Let your kids suggest ideas or you can browse the internet for ideas. As long as you’re resting, the possibilities are endless. The key here is to have these ready to go BEFORE you have a flare, so you you’re not stressing out when the time comes.
As stated in last month’s edition 10 Tips for a Cool Summer Part 1, each day should have a routine. Not a schedule of specific times and activities, but a rough draft of the day so your kids know what to expect each day. Just as it’s important to have breakfast, brush your teeth, or clean up your toys after playing, it is equally important to have a daily rest period. It doesn’t mean you must take a nap, but if you want to and are able to do so, please take a nap! More importantly, resting time means taking a time out –with your kids – to refresh the body from the day’s activities.
For me, I hit the exhaustion wall around 2:00 each day, and if I don’t rest I will be spent until bedtime. If, however, I’m able to lie down for a little time to recharge my battery, it’s easier and less stressful to make it through the rest of the day. Sometimes I fall asleep, but not always. Either way, my mood changes less drastically, and my senses are not easily overwhelmed, and I’m not snippy with family and friends. This is especially helpful for those nights we spend outside discussed above!
During resting periods, encourage your kids to rest with you. Read a book with them, watch a short show together, or just talk. This is a great opportunity to bond with your kids, and you never know what they might want to say to you. Give them your ears while the rest of your body rests. It will thank you later!
Why Routines are Important with a Chronic Illness
If you’re like me, the last task you want to tackle after a day in the sun is dinner especially if it involves cooking over a hot stove. And if you don’t have dinner planned, add to the stress figuring out what to eat, finding the ingredients, and spending the next thirty minutes to an hour cooking it. That’s a fast way to kill your afternoon and your fun day. What if you’re having a flare? Or you have an onset of symptoms during the day? What then?
Easy answer: meal planning. During a day when you feel up to it, make a mean plan for the coming week. This should include the shopping list. Plan meals that are easy to make, and take advantage of slow cookers, or instant pots. The bonus to a slow cooker is that you can throw in everything in the morning and set it to cook for the day while you are out AND there’s no hot stove! This saves you time, money, and headache. Freezer meals and batch cooking are also time savers in the kitchen.
Sometimes plans fail, so what options are there? Have a ‘be your own chef’ night and let the kids make whatever they want for dinner. If that’s not an option, sandwiches, breakfast foods, or microwaveable dinners are always winners.
Keep It Simple
Last, but definitely not least, remember to keep it simple. Your days don’t have to be elaborate or filled with costly activities for your kids to have a good time. They won’t remember how much money you spent on their games or activities, but they will remember how much fun they had playing with you. Those are the moments to strive for.
For all the activities listed above and more, please follow my Summer Fun Pinterest board.