About this time of year, I start seeing the horrible-end-of-the-school-year-parent posts crop up. You know the ones: where the blogger laughs about how they sent their kids to school with dirty clothes, a lunch consisting of broken graham crackers and wilted carrot sticks, and a sad reading log that hasn’t been signed off in weeks. While I’ve definitely had a laugh in the past at my own shortcomings, I have to admit, I’m personally getting a bit weary of the “we’re all awful, so let’s own it, laugh, and shrug” type Internet musings.
Now I’m far from the most organized parent you’ll find, but I am here to tell you that I’m still at it, making my very best effort to encourage my kids to end the year strong. So if there’s hope for me, there’s hope for you. Today I thought I’d share 5 tips that are helping me make it until that oh-so-amazing Last Day of School two weeks from now!
Tip #1: Keep up your Menu Plan & Grocery Shopping
It’s amazing to me how far the ripple effects of taking time out to plan meals and grocery shop go! Here are just a few of the benefits:
- We eat better. It’s easier to eat nutritiously when you’ve planned ahead to do so! Eating better means we feel better and have more energy.
- We save money. Grabbing take out is no longer a temptation when you have a delicious dinner in the slow cooker.
- It helps us stick with a routine. Having a family dinner in place each night helps structure our after-school activities.
The simple act of planning and prepping your meals will help make you feel more in control and organized, even when your energy is waning. Keep it up!
Tip #2: Keep on Top of Kids’ Papers
I know, I know – it’s a drag checking those folders when you’re just so over it! But I’ve seen a number of very important announcements pop up in my kids’ folders in recent weeks: Spelling Bee announcements, birthday invitations, special celebrations, field trip reminders, and talent show tryouts just to name a few.
Continuing to take a few minutes out daily may save you a lot of headache at the end of the year! (I know because I’ve been there, done that.)
Tip #3: Watch your Attitude
Look, I’m getting as tired as the next guy and I want summer to be here NOW, but I also know my kids follow my lead. If I’m dragging and complaining, I can expect they’ll be dragging and complaining. Do your best to stay upbeat (in some cases, like mine, coffee may be required!), and focus on what you need to do for the day.
Parents, if you’re really finding yourself dragging, hit the gym or maybe just the neighborhood for a daily walk. Drink your water. Eat well. And for goodness’ sake, get some sleep.
Do those things you vowed to do for yourself at the start of your kids’ school year. It’s not too late to put those habits into practice now.
Tip #4: Stay up on the Essentials
I am not going to blame you if you don’t feel like undertaking a monster house clean right now. But, I’m finding that keeping on top of a few tasks can really pay off in making me feel more in control and my days more organized.
Here are the tasks I find I need to stay on top of for sanity’s sake:
- Keep the entry clean. I love walking home to find a clean space. If the first thing I see is a mess when I walk in, I’m grumpy! What area(s) in your house do you find make you happiest when they are clean?
- Keep the kitchen clean. A clean kitchen means space I can easily cook dinner and prep kids’ lunches.
- Do some laundry. OK, I’m notoriously horrid about sticking with a laundry routine, but I have been working hard about making sure we have enough clean socks and underwear. (Essentials, you know?)
Of course, this is my own list. I bet you could identify 3-4 tasks (even small ones) that make you feel good if you stick with them. What are they? Write them down!
Tip #5: Plan a Reward
Want to keep the motivation high these next couple weeks (or however much longer you have)? Come up with a special celebration to look forward to at the end of school. Maybe it’s going to the movies that first weekend home, or a camping trip in the backyard, or throwing a party for the neighbor kids. Make it a rule that you’ll celebrate if you can finish the year strong.
I’ve written before about why I feel motivation is overrated. I truly think it is! We as humans put way too much stock on motivation to see us through. But our emotions are fickle and it’s so easy to fizzle. Instead, start valuing determination, persistence, and consistency. By ending the school year strong, you’ll strengthen your ability to see something through, even when you don’t feel like it. And isn’t that a trait you’d like to see your kids grow up with?
A final note. I’ve been working on this post off and on all week, as I’ve had time and ideas. Well last night, something just awesome happened. My son won the 4th grade Spelling Bee at his school! This involved hours of focused study, drilling words, and more than a couple late nights. It could have been so very easy to say, “don’t worry about this, it’s optional. It doesn’t matter.” But the truth is, it mattered a lot to my son. Even though I’m tired and so ready for summer to be here, I’m so grateful I dug in and did what it took to help my son prepare for this moment. Winning the Spelling Bee wasn’t just a highlight of his year, but one of his proudest achievements to date. It’s possible there are still victories both small and large in store for your kids this school year, too.
So from one tired end-of-year school parent to another, let’s keep going. We can do this and do it well.