It never fails that this time of year I see seemingly endless posts from parents who are “limping towards the finish line” at the end of another long school year. And it’s no mystery why. From what I can remember of my school days, I wonder how my parents survived! It seems as the days get longer, attention spans get shorter. Add to that the flurry of end-of-the-year projects and gifts that are due, and you have the perfect storm on your hands. Here to help in what small way I can, I have compiled a list of end-of-the-year tips to help parents avoid as many meltdowns as possible (of both the child and parent variety) and ensure that we all cross that finish line relatively unscathed and with most of our sanity intact.
End of the School Year:
7 Tips to Avoid Parenting Stress
1. Plan Ahead:
You know that the end-of-the-year crunch will inevitably arrive, so start planning early! Stock up on craft supplies for projects, and set aside a jar of money for those last-minute expenses (class gifts, etc.). I liked one mom’s plan of saving $5 a week beginning the first week of school, so that by the end of the year, there was usually plenty of money there to cover costs. (Spoiler Alert: She almost has enough money saved to cover her child’s college tuition using this same tactic!)
2. Maintain a Schedule:
While researching this topic, one of the pieces of advice that made the most sense to me was sticking to your schedule. Although it can be hard as the days get nicer and the freedom of summer is just around the corner, sticking to your schedule can go a long way in helping your children know what is expected of them. Have you had a policy that homework comes first when your children get home? Don’t stop now! Is bedtime a firm 9 o’clock on school nights? Keep it up until the last day of school!
This tip is great for both parents and children, and it can even be collaborated upon! Set up a calendar or other type of organization system that works well for your family, and as the end-of-the-year tasks begin to roll in, decide what you will do by what time. This is a great lesson on time-management, work ethic, and personal responsibility for your children (e.g. Work on a longer-term project a little each day, but do smaller tasks on a more immediate basis), and it also works wonders for your sanity!
As Dr. Becca Ballinger reminds us, sometimes, end-of-the-year meltdowns are inevitable (Who am I kidding? Meltdowns can be inevitable any time of year!). I believe both adults and children alike have experienced this at some point in their lives, but if you find your child in this situation, it can still be an opportunity to pass along a positive message. Tell your child about a time when you felt similarly, how you fixed your problem, and what you learned from the situation. This will allow your child to feel less alone in the moment, and it can also help him or her in the future when similar emotions arise.
5. Give Yourselves a Break:
During this hectic time of year, emotions can run especially high. Try to tell yourself that both you and your children might say things to each other out of frustration, and try to let these small things go as much as possible. Remember that every moment is a chance for positivity.
As much as I have just told you to stick to the schedule until summer is absolutely, positively upon you, I never said anything about using your imagination, and doing just that can be great for our patience and happiness. Psychologist Jane Hittleman reminds us in this article about the power of our minds and how a visual trip to a relaxing space can calm us – allowing us to better cope with the stress the end of the school year can bring.
Sometimes in the midst of a stressful situation, the smallest victory can bring much-needed levity. Celebrate those successes! Maybe that means having pizza one night for dinner, or staying a few extra minutes at the playground. Whatever works as a small motivator for your family without disrupting the grand scheme of things, do it! You all deserve it for another year well-done (or survived, anyway)!
What do you think? What strategies work best for you and your family when end-of-the-year stress hits your household? We would love to hear from you in the comments!
Author: Emily Karth, Writer and Teacher at A Grade Ahead