Here in Austin, just a little bit past Cedar Fever, comes End of Schoolitis.
Its symptoms include whining, delusions of martyrdom, lost field trip permission slips and generalized malaise.
And that’s just among the parents.
Among the kids, it’s a mashup of giddiness, distractedness and difficulty with the perception of time. The last days of the school year can seem incredibly long, as if the fabric of space time has stretched and stretched, making the fibers of moments magnified.
It’s tough to hang tough in the waning days of May and the flickering early days of June. End of Schoolitis is contagious across many platforms of education, public, private and homeschool. Its spread knows no bounds. It can make the most diligent scholar stumble and the most distracted student blend in amongst the distracted throngs. They say that the descent off of a mountain is statistically the most dangerous portion of the journey.
So it can seem with the end of school.
But a few tips along the way may ease the path. A few tricks of the trade that might just keep the symptoms of End of Schoolitis manageable.
1. As much as possible, try to keep the routine running. In our world, there are so many evening events associated with the end of the scholastic year. Banquets, parties, recitals and celebrations make for late nights and hiccups in the usual trajectory. It leads to a whole new level of chaos in the mornings. In our house, we get ready to start our homeschool day and school books have gone missing, pencils have disappeared and shoes have experienced the Rapture. But when I keep our pre-bedtime prep more consistent, even when the evening has gone long and the fatigue level is high, it certainly helps the next morning not feel so frantic.
2. Keep a countdown. Have a Mason jar with a specific number of treats to match the number of days left on the school calendar. Let the kids eat one each day as the countdown progresses, just like you would on an Advent calendar at Christmas. Matching a treat with a visual reminder that you’re getting close to the finish line can be just the boost a sputtering psyche needs.
3. Set the tone. Yep, end of school can get stressful. Yep, end of school can feel like a never-ending flurry of events and expectations and episodes. Yep, end of school can feel like a race to which somebody keeps adding additional mileage. But that’s why we’ve got to be the grown-ups. It’s a great time to teach kids about stress management, diligence, and good administration of anticipation of summer break. If we’re stress bombs, our kids will model that. If we check out emotionally and mentally, our kids will too. And if we show them how to handle a crazy few weeks with patience and humor, they can model that too.
4. Cut everybody some slack, yourself included. Let’s face it, we tend to build layers of complexity into a lot of areas in our lives that really don’t have to be there. If you’ve been packing homemade, fresh organic lunches for your kids all year, but now the time crunch of the season is pressing in, let it go. Slap a Lunchables in the backpack. If you’ve been trying to make your kid look like a fashion plate, let it go. Perfectly coordinated outfits , homemade cupcakes, spectacular, original teacher gifts and Pinterest-worthy projects aren’t worth the stress in a season that is already action-packed.
5. Celebrate it. It’s weird, isn’t it? Sometimes the seasons that are supposed to be so fun and happy can get buried under a ton of tired and a burden of busy. Capture the moments. Celebrate the wins. Cheer, clap and encourage. My running partner Jessica and I have a particular half marathon that we dearly love and have run several times. We so appreciate the crowd coming into the last quarter mile of the race, that crowd that celebrates at the finish line. But let me tell you, it’s the handful of folks who hand out water and cheer us on at mile ten, mile eleven, who really help us make it all the way. We know the finish line is in reach, but it’s still out of sight. Those people who help remind us that we’re almost there are gold. We can be that for our kids and for ourselves, those who celebrate the moments at mile ten, mile eleven, when the fatigue is kicking in, when the finish line still seems a way off, when the need for a celebration is high.
You’re coming around the curve, parents. You’re getting close to the home stretch. Just a few more practice spelling lists to go and you’ll be landing this thing. Stay loose, stay hydrated, set the pace and lead the way.
Summer time, baby. It’s almost here.