I swear I wake up in some weird, mom-style Choose Your Own Adventure story every day during the last month of school. I check my calendar and think I’ve got plans under control, but still, it feels an awful lot like this:
“You’ve wandered into a school gym full of parents. Are you
A) There for an awards ceremony but just realized you forgot to tell the grandparents?
B) Ten minutes late for a just-scheduled performance and fuming over another “extra” on the calendar?
C) Looking for your child’s missing gym shoes, but when you see the crowd, you wonder if you forgot some ceremony or performance?
Choose your own adventure in mom-stress and/or mom-guilt.”
So how’s a mom to make it through the last month of school with her sanity and sense of humor intact? Here’s my take plus some thoughts from other awesome moms I know.
1. Get lost in your kids’ joy. The kindergarten art show, the recital, the sports banquet–seeing your child glow will make all the extra energy worth it. Let’s be honest, right up until the moment you arrived, sweaty and frustrated because you fought through insane traffic, you maybe almost wished this moment away. Guilty here. I can be a champion grumbler, but when my kids grin from stage, they captivate me. I become that clapping, cheering, proud mama, lost in the wonder of their hard work and joy. What if your kid isn’t on a stage or getting an award? Do not let the May celebration atmosphere slip through your fingers. Go celebrate that course they buckled down to pass or that “Well done!” from a teacher because they showed maturity. Those accomplishments are every bit as worthy of a victory lap, even if nobody but you see them.
2. Put down the camera and the guilt. You do not have to be historian/curator of every May-time extravaganza for your entire extended family. Yes, grandma is sad she is missing this, so do send her a picture or buy her the video, but YOU need to absorb the sights and sounds directly. Even if you do record, don’t watch that live event through the tiny display on your phone. Yep, the picture will be wobbly and imperfect without you staring at the screen, but you will have laid down direct memories through your own eyes and ears. And if you’re the one who misses the event and must rely on another’s wobbly, imperfect video? Lose the guilt, cuddle up with your child to watch, and have them tell you all about it. They will remember sharing that moment with you.
3. Check the calendar often, but accept the inevitable: something will get missed. Every day during this crunch time I tell myself, “You are going to forget something and have to figure out Plan B. But somebody else is going to forget something, too. Everyone is overwhelmed.” Happened yesterday. I forgot an appointment and had to rearrange. Meanwhile, a teacher forgot to send home paperwork. But know what? It all worked out in the end. (And P.S. The vast majority of teachers, many of whom are also parents, are NOT trying to make our lives harder. They are working overtime to help our so-over-it kids to finish strong. Let’s extend some mercy, grace, and VISA gift cards.)
4. Invest in self care. Encourage your family to do the same. Christy B., a mom friend who’s also a teacher, shared, “To cope with the end of the school year, I’m taking more time for quiet reflection. I need that ‘down time’ to keep it together!” Ain’t that the truth? Spend a few minutes praying or reflecting (check out this short devo). Grab your tunes and hit the hammock, or go lay in the sun for a little while this weekend. Cancel a non-essential appointment in favor of a movie with girl friends. And don’t forget that our kids need to know it’s ok to work hard and then play hard, too.
5. Never underestimate the power of puppies, fresh flowers, wine, coffee, and mini-bundt cakes. So many friends chimed in on the power of savoring the good stuff to help de-stress and find joy. Now, on the puppies, I’m NOT advocating getting one this month–nobody needs the stress of a new pet right now no matter what
my kids your kids are saying. Just get your cuddle-fix with somebody else’s fluffy friend. And as for treating yourself? I like what my friend Kristy S. has to say: “Nothing Bundt Cakes for breakfast.” That and a massive cup of coffee should at least get us through the morning, right?
And speaking of breakfast, I’ll close with a convo I had with my sis-in-law, Amy. She’s a mom of three, a pastor’s wife, and a biology professor. Translation? The month of May hits HARD, but she gave me one genius tip: “Teach your 11-year-old how to make waffles, and she’ll make you breakfast-for-dinner every night of the week.” That’s a strategy I can embrace!