It’s getting to be that time again—the kids are back in school, pumpkin spice lattes have started to fill the air, leggings and ankle-length yoga pants have cycled back into being Boca mom fashion staples.
And let’s not forget the beautiful color changes…and by that I mean license plates! That’s right, we’re in South Florida after all. Year-round residents may be lucky enough to experience gorgeous weather on the regular—the best being late fall and winter of course—but there are some downsides to living in paradise.
Our population grows tremendously during the cooler months and while that may be good for our local economy, it can be stressful for families simply trying to go about their daily lives. Everything seems to become a competition—cars on the road, restaurant reservations, and endless event obligations.
I reached out to local licensed marriage and family therapist, Dr. Lori Lundin-Fish, Ph.D., LMFT of Palm Beach Therapy Center, for tips on how parents can keep their cool and stress less over the coming season.
When you’re on the busy roads…
When winter residents start to migrate down to South Florida for “season”, many people (including me) have trouble managing their anxiety on the road…especially if you’re a busy mom with a screaming toddler in the backseat.
Lundin-Fish recommends these tips to help cope with this type of stress and anxiety:
- Breathe. Always breathe. Not just shallow breaths. When you inhale, reach deep into your belly and take your time when you need to exhale. Remember, there is never any rush. Not in the car and not with your breath. It is not your responsibility to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. Be patient with yourself and take your time.
- Be mindful that driving a car can be dangerous, so it is important to be self-aware and vigilant. People create the situations they find themselves stuck in. Just because you’re trapped between two cars and stopped at a green light does not mean that situation will impact your life in any significant way. Though it may cause some mental discomfort and frustration at the time, these are the types of problems you will likely not remember a week from now.
- Acknowledge your successes. That’s right! If there was a time when you felt you could have reacted negatively on the road and didn’t, you should be proud! You’re a mom who handled a difficult situation in a calm and responsible adult manner. Time to celebrate!
When a seasonal resident comments negatively on your parenting style…
The one time you let your kid have their tablet at dinner in public! (Ok, not just the one time…)
This is frustrating to deal with and can even feel debilitating sometimes, especially when you’re burned out and exhausted. And letting your child have screen time at a restaurant so you can eat a hot dinner in peace is no crime. I hear you mama—we’re all just doing our best.
Lundin-Fish notes that people are social beings in nature and many make comments that can be perceived as critical in an effort to be helpful, though the words may seem judgmental and negative at the time. Remember, you can never control another person’s actions, but you can control how YOU choose to respond to others. No one knows your child the way you know them. And no one knows how busy and demanding each day truly is as a parent…unless they’re one too. Have confidence in your choices as a mom and know that you’re doing a phenomenal job.
When your social calendar fills up too much…
Starting a new school year right before season can be exciting and chaotic at the same time. As active parents, we’re not only responsible for supporting our families financially, but we also tend to participate in our children’s school events. Not to mention PTA meetings, countless sports games and music lessons, and the occasional charity event. It seems as though there is never a right time to prioritize your personal needs.
According to Lundin-Fish, “there is never a right time!” It is your responsibility to be accountable and prioritize self-care. In fact, part of self-care is setting boundaries and maintaining a (somewhat) balanced lifestyle to avoid burn-out. Try to be aware of and accept your limitations. It’s okay to say “no” sometimes. In fact doing so could be the best decision you can make for yourself and your family. As time passes, you’ll likely gain more confidence in setting boundaries as you’ll find the reward is far greater than the risk.
May you stress MUCH less this season, mamas. I’m rooting for us all!