Just as your children can't wait to be out of school for the summer, you can't imagine how you're going to cope. Don't get me wrong. We all love our kids, right? Whether you work outside the home, work from home or are a stay-at-home mom, you've got to admit that the prospect of having them under foot (and under your skin) all summer is a bit daunting.
So if you're looking forward to a stress-free summer, look for ways to make the best of the situation. After all, perimenopause and menopause is stressful enough, thank you very much. Having your kids home all summer long is stress on steroids (or hormones, as the case may be).
There's the dread "I'm bored" from school-age children all day long, and from college-age kids all night long. It's enough to make a grown woman cry. (Of course, anything can make you cry when your hormones are in a constant state of flux.)
Deal with the rising thermostat (internal and external)
As if hot flashes weren't bad enough, your internal temperature is competing with the external temperature for a Guinness record. You can turn down the A/C at home, but you may find the rest of your family wearing thermal underwear in the house.
One way to cope with both the kids' boredom and your own boiling body is to head to the nearest watering hole. I'm not talking about the neighborhood bar (although, while alcohol can trigger your beloved hot flashes, an occasional glass of red wine can be quite calming). I'm talking about a pool, lake or beach. This will help you cool off, in more ways than one. You can simply escape underwater. You'll be both out of the sun's harsh rays and out of earshot from your kids' whining. Sweat, dunk, repeat.
Escape from reality, one book at a time
You also can escape from reality with a few good summer reads. Yes, I mean the type of books you may consider covering with a brown wrapper (and I don't mean a kid's schoolbook with a paper-bag book cover). Of course, you've got to be careful... a book along the lines of Fifty Shades of Gray can turn you into Five Hundred Degrees of Hot Flashes.
While a trip to the library may evoke major eye rolling from the kids, keep in mind that local libraries have many programs geared toward students home for the summer. And your college-age kids can consider taking online courses during the summer months, or simply play catch-up (or get ahead) on their regular course load.
If you have teenagers home for the duration, you've got a hormonal double-whammy. Your hormones are all over the map and, with summer's skimpy fashions as an enabler, their hormones are kicking into high gear. It's nature's cruelest joke, and you're the punch line.
Let's face it, your kids probably aren't exactly thrilled about the prospect of spending their vacation with their Jekyll-and-Hyde mother, either. I suggest taking time to be honest with your teens about your perimenopausal and menopausal journey. Talk to them about not personalizing your emotional highs and lows or every time you seem agitated or out of patience. Many women find that sitting down with my Menopause Symptoms Chart is helpful. You may find that your teens are experiencing some of the same things you are as their hormones are fluctuating, too. Finding a common ground helps to calm down those dueling hormones and encourages support instead of more stress.
Teach your kids about self worth (and what a dollar's worth)
My advice? Encourage your teen to get a summer job. Whether it's babysitting, mowing lawns, lifeguarding at the community pool, working as a camp counselor or scooping ice cream at the corner store, it will help your teen find a productive purpose each day – and teach him/her the value of the almighty dollar.
Summertime is also a great time for volunteerism. Many high schools encourage or require a certain number of community service hours prior to graduation. Volunteering also teaches your children the importance of giving of oneself, and giving back to the community.
If you've got kids home from college on summer break, you've got to set some ground rules. While they were away at school, they could come and go as they pleased. Now that they're back under your roof (and under your house rules), this could be problematic. Let's face it, you're not sleeping great as it is, with night sweats and insomnia. Add to that the angst of staying up to make sure your kids arrive home safe at night (or morning!), and you'll be starring in the next zombie flick.
Try to take a deep breath, kick your feet up, kick back and relax. According to research published in The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, exercise significantly reduces feelings of anger, confusion, fatigue, tension and vigor. So, grab your tennis shoes and take a walk. You can find many ways to cope with your menopausal stress. Otherwise, you might be tempted to kick the whole brood out of the house.
So if you want to avoid a total breakdown during summer break, try a few of my suggestions. If all else fails, take comfort in the fact that in a few months' time they'll be back in school and your life will be back to normal (with the exception of your hormones, that is).
Suffering in silence is OUT! Reaching out is IN!
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