“Mayday” is recognized as an international radio distress signal used by ships and aircraft. It is derived from a pronunciation of French m’aider, from venez m’aider ‘come and help me’. But you don’t have to be a boater to be familiar with the term.
In fact I believe right now many mothers are issuing their own ‘mayday’ calls as they struggle to survive the school year. Let’s be honest, the transition from spring to summer is anticipated by every school age child; but it’s not without a cost. And, we Mommas are usually the first to pay.
On our way out
The very first and very last months of school are always the most challenging. As the year draws to an end, parents are focusing on camps, summer vacation plans, stocking the refrigerator, and childcare. In the midst of preparing for all of this there are field trips, testing, after-school activities, concerts, and class parties. There are also teacher gifts, summer clothes, flip flops and sunscreen to buy. There are more “To do’s” than there is time.Not every task is urgent or even necessary. #SurvivingTheSchoolYear Click To Tweet
It’s hard in the midst of the crazy to keep ahold of the important things. Here are a few of my tips for staying on top of things and making sure you survive the school year and the summer that follows.
Don’t lose Jesus. It sounds simple and even a little ridiculous. But I bet you can think back on a time when you came close (in the midst of a busy and perhaps stressful time) to losing yourself some Jesus. Your we’re close to behaving or speaking in a way that didn’t even come close to what Jesus modeled. If the graphic tee holds true (“This Momma Runs on Coffee and Jesus”) what happens when we lose one of the two?
When things get busy, other things can fall to the wayside. And, if you’re anything like me it just might be your one-on-one time with God. And when then goes out the door, for extended periods of time, so can our “Jesus Girl” status.
If we have any chance of making it through the next several weeks with our pride, sanity, witness, and family, intact we’re gonna need a whole lot of God time in our daily lives. Spending time with Him on a regular basis allows us to make sure that His voice is the loudest one speaking into our lives. Time with Him goes a long way to ensuring our attitude is Christ-like.
Spending regular time with God also helps us to hone in on what He is saying; it helps us learn to discern His will and His direction for our life.
Let’s not be foolish in following someone else’s cues. In this instance, imitation isn’t a form of flattery as much as it is a form of disobedience.
What God has planned for me will be different from what He has planned for you. It’s important that both of us be able to distinguish this. Make sure you are taking the time to listen to what God is trying to tell you.
Tokens of Appreciation. If you’re like me and never wrote out that note for Teacher Appreciation Week, now is the time to make amends and show your appreciation. Let’s not over complicate things. Here’s my approach:
- Trip to Homegoods for cute cards that are half the cost of what you’ll find in the card shop or the grocery store. I buy them all in one trip. Teachers, teacher’s aide, daycare provider – check!
- Hanging baskets – perfect for the season, easy to transport, and calorie free!
- Write a nice note, then deliver card and flowers before the last day of school so as to ensure you don’t forget them at home. (Been there, done that.)
Number Your Days. Even though the Weatherman and I share a family calendar via our iPhones I still make a printed calendar that runs from the end of May through the first of September. It shows every end of school activity, camp, lesson, birthday party, summer trip, meet the teacher open house, and first day of school. A copy of this goes on our refrigerator and to my Mom (as she watches the girls over the summer). It makes our lives easier and less hectic when everyone knows what the plan is and doesn’t have to search all over to find it. You can easily create your own calendar by using a pre-existing Word template.Summer break is a good time to leave a little blank space on the calendar. You don't have to do all the things. #Margin Click To Tweet
You Can’t be Everywhere. There are so many activities at the end of the year and most of them are good, fun things. Sometimes, Momma, we have to say “no”. The truth is we cannot do it all and trying to do so will only add to the crazy. It will leave us frazzled and cranky; it will ensure that we enjoy none of it by trying to do all of it. If you’re like me and a child of the 80’s, let’s remember the refrain: “Just say no!”
You can do it, I have faith. And, all the other mother’s will be jealous they didn’t have the courage to do the same. Also, doing so sends a message to our kids about how we choose to spend our time and order our days.
Set the Tone Early. There’s a lot to look forward to with summer vacation; but, if we don’t set down some ground rules, layout expectations, things can get squirrelly fast. That can spell bad news for Momma. Now is the time to create an image in your mind of what a successful summer vacation would look like for you and your family. Once you have that image in your mind, use these tips to help put your plan into action. There is no reason you shouldn’t also enjoy summer vacation.
- Their mother, not their maid. Now is the time to setup a chore chart if you’re not using one already. And, if you are using one, this is a good time to update it. I believe that chores are good for kids. Not only does it teach them responsibility and ensure that they understand they are an active member of the family, but it also prepares them for the future by revealing to them all that goes into keeping a home. Whether you are raising sons or daughters, our kids need to know how to take care of themselves and their home (whatever shape or size it is), they learn these things by seeing and by doing. Select age appropriate chores and whether you use a chart or a list, include them in the creation. Show them what you expect, how the work should be done and give them a chance to ask any questions. Chores in our house include cleaning their room, making their bed, cleaning their bathroom, feeding the dog, cleaning up the yard after the dog, pulling weeds and watering plants. I’ve also included wiping baseboards and dusting. Also, don’t forget to make the completion of chores a requirement for TV or computer time. Both are good motivators.
- School is out, but learning is not. The long days of summer can result in a fair amount of lost ground when it comes to academics. Whether we’re talking about multiplication tables or reading ability and comprehension, the summer shouldn’t be a break from either. Talk with your child’s teacher about what areas they need to work on over the summer, ask their recommendations for good reads, math apps for the iPad or tablet, and grade appropriate workbooks. Most of the local bookstores have a great selection of workbooks for kids starting with Pre-K. Taking time out to focus on academics will only help your child to succeed next fall.
- Be intentional about your time together. Summer break means longer days and a slower pace. Use this time to be intentional with your kids. Whether you want to create a new habit or just taken advantage of the different schedule this is a great time to do so. For example, my oldest and I are going to work on reading through the New Testament together over the summer. The late summer evenings are a great time to lay in bed and take turns reading through chapters; we’ve already started in the book of Matthew. We are committed to helping our youngest learn to read over the summer. Following her teacher’s advice, we bought two series of Bob Books and are already on our way. The skills she is learning then translate into our Bible story time each night as she recognizes new words. With both girls I am using a version of the Adventure Bible.
I hope this Monday morning, as the kids are counting down the days of school, you are feeling a little more equipped and prepared for the days ahead. You’ve got this Mom, I have confidence in you. There is no need for a “mayday” today.