Family Engagement

Minimizing End-of-Year Stress

December 9, 2014

We're having a snow day today -- the first of the season -- and while I'll wish we'd gone to school come June (when we'll make up the day), I admit that I needed today.  My kiddos needed it more.  Things are crazy busy in a normal week with myriad practices, clubs, and don't even get me started on homework, but add in the concerts, performances, gift exchanges and canned food/PJ/book drives and I'm just...exhausted.

I've made a few executive decisions to simplify this year, for example:

1.  No baking.  Well, not much. Other than the baking I do for family and a few friends, I'm not  doing the whole "make a dozen cookies for each teacher" thing.  Instead, I'm buying candy, putting it in a bowl, and placing it in the teacher's workroom with a "Thanks for your hard work!" card.

2. Sticking to routines.  It's tempting to stay up to enjoy the lights or to catch one of the many holiday specials on TV, but exhausted kids are stressed kids so we're clingingly tightly to routines wherever we can.  

3.  Saying "Thanks, but not this year." A lot. 

4.  Thoughtfully considering the ways we give.  In past years, we've purchased for Toys for Tots, the Giving Tree at our Church, the local food bank, as well as the various Secret Santas and drives at school and work.  This year we decided to really focus our energies on the Giving Tree. Otherwise, unless requested items are things we already have in the house (like canned food), we are going to pass.  

5.  Making time to make the most of what we choose to do.  That means simpler meals (grilled cheese FTW!) but eating together when we can.  It means driving two blocks out of my way home from picking up from practice to enjoy the lights in the neighborhood. It means taking this snow day to make a batch of Snickerdoodles (just one, not 8) with my kiddos so we can watch the snow (well, it's more like sleet today) and enjoy the smell of cinnamon and sugar while we watch Minecraft videos. (Frosty isn't really their cup of tea anymore.)

What about you?  What do you do at school and home to minimize the stress and make the most of this crazy time of year? 

This piece was originally submitted to our community forums by a reader. Due to audience interest, we’ve preserved it. The opinions expressed here are the writer’s own.

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