Freshly returned from a week away from the daily grind and slogging toward summer, we're in the midst of a mind-numbing spring slump. The end of the school year feels close, yet so far away. The final weeks of school can leave even the peppiest of us feeling apathetic and overwhelmed. Our motivation is shot.
How do we pull it off, keeping our kids on track and our eyes on the prize--the more leisurely pace of summer? Here are seven helpful tips to rally--yourself and your kids-- to eek out the remainder of the school year:
Break it Down
The prospect of another two months of rousing sleepyheads out of bed and auto-piloting a mess of kids through carpool is simply depressing. Rather than letting anxiety or malaise over the monotony get the best of you, organize your to-do list into manageable chunks. Make a list of what needs to be accomplished this month, in addition to the usual work and family obligations--for instance, registering for summer day camps--and focus on checking those boxes before looking ahead.
Assess and Reassess
First, set judgment aside. Now, check in on progress you've made on New Year's resolutions. Pat yourself on the back for promises kept, and for the rest? Reset your intentions and start anew. New goals will leave you feeling energized and ready to go. Having a purpose beyond getting everyone fed and out the door is highly motivating.
Find Fresh Air
You can't go through this purgatory period start-to-finish without a bit of relief. Consider that simply being outdoors is all you may need to feel refreshed. It's easy enough to get a fix well before June if you can walk or bike your kids to school. Or, instead of running errands on Saturday, pack the kids (and a few extra layers and an umbrella, if need be) and head to a beach or the woods to peek at what Mother Nature's been up to since you last took a look. Studies show that being outdoors significantly improves mental health, reducing stress and boosting positivity, too. Who couldn't use a boost like that right about now?
Look for new and interesting ways to engage with the people in your life--without loading your schedule or over-committing. Being enthusiastic, motivated and active brings a sense of happiness and strength, which in turn will motivate you to power through with a little more pep in your step. I've recently started sharing a morning run with a co-worker, and I'm realizing that the time together is as good for my soul as it is for my body.
Ease up on your Expectations
Unlike the start of the new school year--when you had grand plans to laminate a mother load of educational printables and create a family calendar color-coded by category and kid-- you're no longer in it to win it. Cut yourself some slack, and just aim to get the job done. Forget perfect and go for fun. A killer playlist can get you pumped for a workout, and works just well for picking up your morning routine or making short work of cleanup. You can let a lot more slide when you're having a good time.
Create Vacation Anticipation
Research shows that the best part of a vacation isn't the actual time away, but rather the anticipation of it. [http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11482-009-9091-9] The effects of "vacation anticipation" boosted happiness in study participants for a whopping eight weeks--which turns out to be just about the amount of time before most families' summer break kicks off. Get your kids excited by pulling them into the planning process--tossing around ideas for what they'd like to do and see. Whether you're planning a get-away or a relaxing staycation with a few local jaunts, start building anticipation.
Call for Back-up
With an end to school-year demands in sight, it's all about team effort to get to the finish line. Enlist your kids, your friends, and your mother-in-law. If your child is old enough to work an IPad, he's old enough to slather cream cheese and jelly on bread. Add an apple to his handy work and call it lunch. Don't stop there. Book a sitter to run carpool while you grab a night out with friends. Find one who will also make dinner and do the dishes, too. Go team, go!
If all else fails--you're staring, slack-jaw at another sign-up sheet and thinking of far-away places--do as my seven-year-old recently advised, "Just breathe, Mama." We're almost there.