Do you see that—that bright dazzling glow straight ahead in the distance? That’s the light at the end of the tunnel. You’re almost there. You (oh yes, and your children) have almost made it to the last day of school.
If this is your first rodeo, you may be (adorably) thinking that as the days go by, from here on out the school year will just gently, gradually come to a peaceful end.
Look around at your fellow parents with more experience. You may notice they’re tightening their ponytails and doubling up on their Wheaties. They know all too well that the end-of-the-school-year can feel like an endurance challenge.
There will be ceremonies, performances, parties, projects, and papers—all requiring supplies, research, special outfits, volunteers—from now until the end of school.
You thought the holidays were hectic? Tighten your ponytail.
Of course, this time of year is full of joys, accomplishments, goodbyes, and gratitude. Knowing that the homestretch is more of a full power sprint than a relaxing stroll, you (and your children) can finish strong.
Mariam Gates is a mom of two teenagers from Santa Cruz, California. She’s a Harvard-trained educator with more than 20 years of experience working with children. She is the founder of Kid Power Yoga, and the author of several bestselling kids’ yoga books. Gates’s newest book is “Breathe with Me.”
She offered her advice on navigating this time of year.
The Epoch Times: What are some ways parents can finish strong?
Mariam Gates: The burnout and overwhelm this time of year is real, for everyone. The first step to finishing strong is to acknowledge that it really is an intense time of year (matched only by perhaps the beginning of the school year, but that at least has a lot of newness and freshness to motivate you).
Remind yourself that everyone is feeling this way (whether they are showing it or not) and know that it is temporary. It is so easy for me, personally, to think everyone else somehow has it together and is thriving. If I can remember that I am not alone, I can handle things with a bit more ease.
The Epoch Times: How do you encourage your kids to finish strong?
Ms. Gates: It is so important to teach our kids to be good at endings. If there are special teachers or coaches that your child wants to give a gift to or a card, it can be a helpful way to have them learn how we acknowledge people who mean something to us and how we say goodbye to one experience so we can move onto the next. When my kids were little, they would dictate a card (I would do the writing) and they would then decorate it.
The benefit to this time of year is that the weather is improving, so I also find that when burnout is happening, getting outside in the afternoons and doing some activities that get the blood pumping and get all of us out of our busy minds is really helpful.
The Epoch Times: What strategies do you use to get through the increased busyness this time of year?
Ms. Gates: Let go of perfectionism! That can mean something has to be picked up at the store instead of made, or maybe you need to send your kid to one of the million activities with another parent (especially if you have more than one child’s end-of-year you are juggling). Asking for help, and letting whatever you do or do not do be enough is the only way to get through it.
There is no perfect way to do this time of year, and for better or worse, in 12 months you’ll have another chance.
The Epoch Times: How do you make the last day of school special for your kids?
Ms. Gates: If there’s time we do a fun breakfast. Usually that last day is special no matter what because everyone knows it is such a different kind of day. If there are people to thank and acknowledge we do that in whatever ways we can (even just a verbal thank you is plenty) and then if possible, we have an outdoor activity with friends in the afternoon. Part of what is tricky about this time of year is that there are also goodbyes.
Even if everyone will be together again in the fall, the classrooms will change, the teachers will change and so no matter what, you are saying goodbye to this set of circumstances and this year. So, I like to have a way to be together casually with friends and other families as a way to mark that ending.