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Looking after yourself through the summer holidays

Caring Families Aotearoa’s Therapist, Rob Surtees, is an avid believer in Caregivers practicing self care in order to provide the best care for tamariki. He is also our organisation’s resident car enthusiast, which provides inspiration for his anology of ‘always keeping your tank full.’

Keep reading below to hear Rob’s message for you this holiday season.

The last time I wrote about self-care, I used the metaphor of running on an empty tank to describe the importance of self-care, and what we need to do to keep our tank full. We are coming to the summer break and once again looking at how we can “keep calm and carry on” to get through this time.

So where does your fuel gauge read? Full, empty, or somewhere in between?


What needs to happen to fill your tank, to get your fuel gauge to full?


With a full tank you can go the distance; be resilient. Filling your tank can show others that you are as important as everyone else in your whānau.

Explore how your family can ‘go to the gas station together’ to do something that will fill everyone’s tank.

I also used the term, slow down and you will get there faster. This happens all the time. We may pass a car, using a lot more gas, and at the next set of lights, that car we passed is beside us. Slowing down uses less gas and helps others traveling with us to slow down as well. We see a lot more around us if we just slow down.

Get someone else to drive – this may be setting up play dates with other caregivers, and alternating days so you each have breaks.

For those of you who use PACE (Playfulness, Acceptance, Curiosity, Empathy), remember to pace yourself. This saves gas; maintains gas reserves, so again you can go the distance.

Look at ways everyone can enjoy the journey. Plan your days so young drivers without a license have something to look forward to. It can be helpful to have visual prompts, like a countdown to a nice day out. This will help to fill tamariki’s tanks as well.

Remember many young drivers need a road map. They don’t like surprises, they need to know where to turn, long before they get to the corner. Have a plan of how your journey over the summer break will happen. It often can be helpful to enlist all family members to be part of forming this road map. That way they are more likely to stick to the map if they have been part of its planning.

There will be bumps and potholes along the way as young drivers often don’t have the experiences we would have hoped for. With a full tank you will be able to help them navigate their way.

Preventative maintenance is also best practice. When I put my car in for its scheduled service it’s less likely to break down. The same happens for relationships; taking a bit of time to maintain and service the relationship makes it less likely that the relationship will break down.

I wish you all the best for the summer holidays and safe journeys to all.


Rob Surtees

Caring Families Aotearoa Therapist