surviving end school year

Hang on, fellow moms. The end of the school year is approaching and this is going to be a bumpy ride.

I was chatting on Facebook with some mom-friends this week about how spring used to bring such feelings of happiness. Winter cold is quickly fading and summer sun is just around the corner. But now that we have school-age kids it’s a whole ‘nother story.

May is a chaotic jumble of concerts, presentations, final projects, track meets, sporting events, plays, and so much more. Now that I’m a widowed mom, it feels even heavier. I no longer have my husband here to divide and conquer when it feels like too much. How do I juggle a week with six evenings full of kids’ activities? How do I choose when two things fall on the same night as often happens with kids of various ages and interests?

May can feel like a whirlwind of chaos, lacking any of the joy it used to bring with the budding of new flowers. The other day someone asked me if I could do something for them in May and my first reaction as I pulled out my calendar was, “Probably not.” This guy has no kids and not much respect for the work of a busy mom. He could not understand how I could be busy “all day?” or why one more thing was not going to fit in my life right now. I didn’t have time to educate him and, frankly, getting arrested for assaulting him with my calendar is frowned upon.

So how do we do it? What’s the secret to surviving the end of the school year madness?

While I’d love to have a magic bullet that makes May a delightful tiptoe through the tulips, I’m being honest here. The best things I’ve stumbled across to survive to the end of the school year are simple and yet not always easy.

Breathe. It sounds silly but I’ve been including this advice in a lot of my blog posts lately–mainly because I keep forgetting to do it. We forget how breathing deeply can steady our nerves and make us stop when stress starts to amp up. When you start to feel lost in the month ahead of you, take a moment to really breathe.

Focus on just today. Jesus offered us great advice on worry: “So don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will have its own worries. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34 NCV. Jesus when he walked on the earth experienced what we experience and the busyness of life surrounded him too. He knew we’d need to hear that focusing on today was enough. Maybe you need that reminder right now in this busy season.

matt 634

Break big things you need to plan for into smaller pieces. When I look at the whole calendar, I can start to have trouble breathing right now. Totally serious. And yes, I do need to plan for some things beyond today, like my son’s graduation. But one of the best pieces of advice in handling overwhelming projects came from Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory’s new book Overwhelmed. They talk about breaking big, overwhelming tasks into smaller pieces and then into steps to accomplish each piece. And, make sure you celebrate when you finish a piece. It’ll help you feel accomplished and keep going to the finish line.

When possible, ask for help…and accept it! As I looked at my son’s graduation, I felt lost. Not only is my baby growing up and I don’t have my husband here to hold my hand through that, I had no idea what to do first when I imagined “Plan Party.” Fortunately I have a great group of girlfriends who were willing to sit down over coffee with me and plan. We figured out just how many pies we needed (since he is not a fan of cake) and they volunteered to help make those. They helped me make lists of food, drinks, paper products, and other things I needed to plan for and buy between now and then. I even have phone calls I need to make all written out. Now I have lists of things to do, one at a time, over the coming weeks. So much less overwhelming than “Plan Party” which was nebulous and too big for me to face alone.

We can do this, moms! Our kids are counting on our smiling faces to be there at those recitals and performances. They want to hear us cheering in the stands and not sobbing in a corner. Take a moment to breathe, focus on one day at a time, plan ahead in do-able chunks, and ask for and accept help. You can make it to summer vacation!

Next week I’ll have tips for enjoying busy seasons like this. For now, share your tips for juggling end-of-year craziness in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.

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