It happens the same way every year. You would think I would be ready for it, expecting the onslaught of papers coming home, projects due, last-minute field trips, and end of the year concerts, parties, and assemblies. One would think.
Instead, I find myself scrambling. By end of May, I’m wound tight, running from place to place, unsure we can actually fit it all in and survive. Jen Hatmaker nails it perfectly in her post-Worst End of School Year Mom Ever (you can also see her Today Show interview here.) She gets it.
In an effort to be proactive I’m doing something about it. I don’t want the rest of the year to feel like a vortex sucking us all down. Not this year. This year I’ve got a game plan.
Here are 10 things to do today to get ready for the end of the school year
1. Get rid of as many papers as you can. You know the deluge is coming. The art projects, the worksheets, the reports with stickers on the front. Clear out what you have now so you will be ready. And this does not mean just moving it to a new pile or basket. Be ruthless and get rid of anything you don’t need. File away the things you need. Do we even file anymore? Well, you get the idea. Purge the papers.
2. Create a space. The last weeks of school the kids will be coming home with full backpacks ready to empty them on the kitchen table five minutes before dinner. Not this year. Get a basket with their name. Better yet, a box. You can even let them decorate it to get excited about all the things they will be bringing home. Give the box a home and tell them all end of the year stuff goes right in their special box. Set aside a time you can go through it together, preferably not while stirring spaghetti sauce and setting the table so you can give all the appropriate ooohs and aaahs.
3. Gear up. Now, hear me out on this. I know the end of the year feels like the last time you would want to stock up on school supplies. But trust me on this. Make sure you have some glue sticks and markers that still work. Have a few sheets of poster board around or some coloured paper. Those last-minute, end-of-the-year projects will be a lot less stressful if you can avoid a 9 pm Wal-Mart run. Just think of it as getting craft supplies for the “I’m bored” days of summer.
4. Clear the calendar. Here’s your chance to get ready. This is not the time of the year to add in extra, unnecessary events. That calendar is going to fill up fast and without warning. It’s not the best time to have a stressful dinner party or extra appointments. Clear what you can to make room for what’s coming.
5. Track it. Now that the calendar is cleared, track the incoming dates like it’s your job. Find out when the band concert or the end of the year recital is going to be. Notice hasn’t come home? Check with teachers or the school secretary. They’re usually in the know. If a notice comes home or an email comes through with a class sharing or end of the year hoopla, get it on the calendar right then. Maybe even on two calendars. As much as I like the calendar on my phone, I can’t give up my amazing wall calendar. You can even set reminders in your phone now. These dates are important and out of the usual routine. Be ready. Knowledge is power.
6. Wash backpacks and lunchboxes. By this point in the year, they’re pretty gross. Do yourself and your kids a favour and wash them now. This is also a great way to make sure they will make it until the very last day. Also, tell the kids to check lost and found for water bottles, sweatshirts, anything they may have lost track of.
7. Get shopping. Teacher gifts are handled differently everywhere. Find out how things are done and get shopping. What you will purchase isn’t much different now than it will be in a few months. This is an easy thing to check off your end of the year list. Get what you need. Wrap it up and put it in a designated place. Also, set up a phone or email reminder a week before the last day so you know where you put everything. You’ll be so glad you did.
8. Invite the Grandparents. With graduations and end-of-the-year assemblies, make sure you pass along important dates to the Grandparents or other special people who would want to come celebrate. Giving them the heads up early will ensure you don’t forget to invite someone special.
9. Food stock up. The last few weeks get crazy, but we all still need to eat. Make a double batch of whatever you’re cooking and put one in the freezer for an easy meal when the days are packed. Stocking up on healthy packaged snacks and quick meals helps too. When you run home from work and school pickup, to head right out to sports and have to go back out for a science fair you’ll be glad you have dinner already prepped. Stocking up is also a big help for packing lunches those last weeks of school when the cabinets are usually looking pretty bare.
10. Pick one thing. As a family, pick one thing you will look forward to doing when school gets out. It can be a day at the pool together or ice cream for breakfast. Have something relaxing you can look forward to doing together after all the craziness has passed. You will all be glad to have that special something to look forward to!
And a final word of encouragement for you fellow parents: You will all make it through this. No matter what the end of the year looks like, no matter how much chaos or calm you find, you will all make it through for another year.