Kinda funny how one date on the calendar can bring on an onslaught of so many thoughts.
Freedom. Flags. Gratitude. Patriotism. Red, White and Blue. National Anthem. All of these thoughts bring peace… but there’s more.
Cookouts. Neighborhood parties. Sparklers. Glow necklaces. Watermelon. Pool fun.
Grocery shopping. Food prep. Cleaning up. Traffic. Travel. Crowds. Heat.
I always look forward to July 4th and enjoying our annual family activities, but I have a confession to make. And I’m a little embarrassed to admit it.
One of the things that stresses me out every year in the early morning of the 4th of July is whether or not I’m going to be able to secure the necessary lounge chairs at the pool for our family. Yeah, I know. Pitiful. But seriously – who wants to spend all day celebrating the 4th of July at the pool, without chairs to sit in?!
That’s a pretty minor thing to get stressed over, don’t ya think? (Actually, don’t answer that) But we all have different stressors, whether big or small, that cause us anxiety over any holiday, and July 4th is certainly not immune to stress.
Here are a few tips to enjoying your 4th of July holiday this year, and hopefully avoiding letting trivial annoyances stress you out and steal the joy from your celebrations:
* Be willing to put aside work for at least this one day. Not only physical work, but even thoughts of work. Make a commitment to yourself, and your friends, family or loved ones, that you will devote this day to celebrate freedom with them.
* Try to avoid locations where large crowds are gathering in order to avoid traffic jams, overheated attitudes, and long lines. For example, scope out a place ahead of time to see a fireworks show from a short distance away, rather than being right in the middle of it. You can enjoy the sights and sounds of the show, without getting stuck in the crowds.
* Toss out the idea that you and your kids need to all have perfectly matching 4th of July outfits and be photo shoot ready when the day begins. Photos of the holiday will be a sweet fun memory, with or without matching flag shirts, and some of the best memories might be the ones where the clothes have watermelon stains all over them.
* Be realistic about how long your kids can hold up and don’t expect them to stay behaved and excited for longer than reasonable. Pack extra snacks, water bottles, goodies, veggies, and toys to keep them from getting hungry and cranky.
* Don’t try to be the Betty Crocker of 4th of July. Undertaking the task of a festive yet complicated holiday dessert, and actually expecting it to look like the magazine photo, is a certain recipe for stress. Either try the recipe out a few times before the holiday arrives, or make something you are familiar with and confident in preparing.
* Remember that pets have a heightened sense of hearing and they don’t like fireworks. Animals could panic, bark uncontrollably, chew through leashes, claw the ground, run into traffic or even have a seizure. To prevent unnecessary stress, leave your four legged family members safely at home.
* Don’t forget to wear sunscreen – and reapply often. The fun will end when the sun goes down, but a painful burn last for days.
No matter what your plans are for the 4th, remember that no matter how your day turns out, we have many freedoms to be thankful for. Choose to focus on the blessings, instead of the blunders, and always love the ones you’re with. And stay cool!
THE RANDOMLY DRAWN WINNER OF MONDAY’S STRESS LESS SUMMER SURVIVAL GIFT BAG IS:
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