Ahhh, springtime. Birds chirping! Allergies! A rogue snowstorm! Spring break! The end of the school year. It seems like only yesterday the kids were in their new clothes and fresh sneakers as they hopped on the bus for the first day of school. But now spring is here, and the end-of-the-school-year crunch is on. And it still has a lot on its agenda. Any semblance of the slow-motion family time we enjoyed over the winter holidays is gone. A rather ordinary January and February are merely memories at this point. Hope you had a nice spring break because it’s a crash course in wrapping things up from here to June. Kid activities, school and extra-curricular, are kicked into high gear at the speed of a cheetah!
The relatively manageable routine of school and activities that we established over the past eight months of the school year is suddenly out the window. It has been replaced by music programs, band concerts, field trips, dance shows, standardized tests, registration for summer activities, spring sports practice, track and field day, weather cancellations and reschedules, volunteer opportunities, school arts night, and many other things, all squeezed into about two months. The chance of multiple activities for multiple children falling on the same night is pretty much guaranteed. When the parents’ divide and conquer strategy doesn’t work and no carpool can be found, they start having to choose, trying to be as fair to each kid and activity as possible.
Layer on the usual dentist appointments, work commitments, and family activities. At least a couple members of the family are bound to get sick with the up and down fluctuations of Minnesota spring weather! Birthdays and birthday party invites don’t stop during the end of school rush. The end of the year teacher gifts is at the top of the to-do list. Don’t be late for Muffins with Mom for Mother’s Day! One of the parents is likely to have a business trip. All of a sudden the kids’ clothes and shoes are too small and they are asking where their shorts are for that one 70 degree day we had, so you quickly order some spring and summer clothes. (But don’t put away the winter jackets because you know you’ll need them at least once more!)
Pets need vet appointments and cars need oil changes. Here’s hoping you don’t get stuck with a flat tire! You’re also responsible for bringing a lasagna to the family gathering on Sunday. Did you remember to file your taxes back in April? You can try to keep in touch with friends and return your Mom’s phone call if you can find the time. You’re also overdue on a couple of unread books to return to the library just so you know. Note to self, Thursday is ‘Bring your stuffed animal from home’ day at childcare. And if you’re fortunate to not have any family emergencies, health struggles, financial difficulties, or be caring for an aging parent, count this as a blessing.
It’s like we’re trying to squeeze every last bit of fun and learning into April through early June and who am I to try to get in the way. I try not to panic and simply hold on for the ride! It’s at this point that I live on grocery pickup, cereal for dinner, and my Google calendar! I may also stop consulting the school lunch menu and start letting the kids eat at school every day to shortcut lunch making!
Dinner, as we rush out the door to a school program, is sometimes a yogurt squeezer and a banana. Well planned meals, exercise, a clean house, and patience are often the first sacrifices made during this end of the school year hustle. If I were hoping to squeeze in a haircut for myself, best of luck to me. This is not the time for perfection, my cell phone to die, or my Mom brain forgetfulness to escalate.
As the last day of school approaches, I pride myself on the fact that my head is still attached. My kids are relatively clean and dressed most days. I remembered to wash the kid’s black pants for the music program and found last year’s glove for softball. A contribution to the arts night silent auction basket has been purchased and sent to school. All the permission slips are signed and returned. I requested time off so I can attend the 5th-grade portfolio presentation. The hats and gloves have been tucked in my purse for track and field day – just in case. I added sunblock to my Target list since even though it’s still chilly. The sun has been out a time or two, evidenced by our first touch of sunburn.
Hang in there, mommas. Summer is right around the corner. I can’t promise your busy-ness will let up when the last school bell rings, or ever actually. There are, after all, lots of summer sports and activities! But at the start of a new season, I encourage you to give yourself some grace and do your best to embrace the busy. You may think you’re a jack of all trades, master of none. But you’re getting it done and that’s what counts.
Take a deep breath of the [finally] warm breeze and think of the outdoor activities and family time you will get to enjoy this summer. Dinner on the deck and playing outside are in your future! The kids seem to love every minute of all of these end-of-the-school-year activities, well except maybe the standardized tests! There’s nothing they like better than spotting you from the stage and giving a little wave when they see you in the audience of their band concert. The small things are the big things, even if you feel incredibly busy doing it. And don’t worry if you don’t get around to putting away all the leftover school supplies and papers the kids bring home stuffed in their backpacks. In just a few short months you have the start-of-the-next school year rush to look forward to!