Anything can spark it off: one year, it was when I'd made a record 97 cheese toasties in a row, and I couldn't stand the sight of my Breville any more. What, this was my purpose in life, to scrape burnt cheese off an iron plate just so I could re-use it again in another five minutes?
Another year, it was sparked off by a heat wave, when I was trying to save money on the electricity by not using the air-conditioning so much. Whatever I saved in the money, I'm going to have to spend 300 times that amount on the counselling my children will need to get over the horrible things I was saying to them when I literally went into melt-down.
This year, I was doing pretty well until yesterday. Although my kids are older now, which definitely makes it easier, we moved house at the beginning of the Summer, and they've had no friends to play with, and nothing much to do for approaching two months.
Between the local library, and shlepping them around on a million and one errands, we haven't been that bored. But now, the library is closed for its Summer holidays, and I ran out of steam to make yet another excursion to the zoo, or to the park, or to the shops.
This summer, my kids have been taking it in turns to complain about what a bad mother I am, taking them away from all their friends; or how much they 'hate' the new place they are living in. Or how much they hate me, for ruining their life.
It's like when Yaacov split his family up between two camps before his encounter with Esav; in the back of his mind, he knew at least one would be OK. And it's kind of been the same with me and the kids. For as long as I could tell myself that 'at least one is managing the move OK', I could take the abuse the other one was doling out.
But a couple of days' back, they both decided to attack at once, and it wasn't pretty. If this was a 'proper' aromatherapy blog, I'd tell you how I dunked them, or myself, in a big vat of sweet marjoram, and everyone instantly calmed down. But it's not.
After half an hour of being told the most horrendous things by my kids, I cracked and turned into the demented shrieking monster mother of August. What was even more terrible, is that even that didn't get them to shut up.
As much as I yelled at them, they were giving it all back.
After half an hour, we were all hoarse and exhausted from all the effort of trying to find new, horrible things to yell at each other, really loudly.
But you know what? It seems to have really cleared the air, and everyone is walking around much calmer now. I'm not saying I recommend it in any way shape or form, but once it's actually happening, then G-d has to have hidden some good in it somewhere.
With that intro, let me share a few of my tips for avoiding the August crazies, or at least minimizing them as much as possible:
- If you have aircon, use it - better to spend the money and avoid your house turning into a carbon-copy of Gehinnom
- Don’t spend hours cooking - make cooling, quick foods like salads, sandwiches and smoothies
- Get the people in your house (including yourself and your husband!) to have relaxing footbaths with a few drops of a calming or feel-good essential oil, like lavender, chamomile, mandarin or grapefruit
- Ease up on your usual rules - better they eat five ice-pops in a row then start smashing their sibling's head into the radiator to get back at you for saying 'no'
- Remember, 'this too will pass' - only a few more weeks, or days, and you'll get your sanity and space back
- Be kind to yourself when you do have an attack of the August Crazies. It happens to everyone, and if you avoided actual bloodshed and only threatened to lock them in their room for two weeks, you're actually doing pretty good.