For “differently-wired” kids and their families, the end of a school year is often a frantic and stressful time. Parents have many more commitments to manage, and our kids are often finding it much more difficult to stay calm and regulated.
What’s a parent to do in the face of all this stress?
Hold on to what’s familiar…
As summer vacation looms, the daily routine at school can change a lot, with end-of-school year exams, assignments, events, performances, field trips, parties… Meanwhile, kids get excited as they anticipate the fun that summer will bring. All of this change – even if it’s positive – can lead to stress and anxiety.
It’s vital to stick to the routines that help to anchor your child’s day. This gives children a feeling of consistency and predictability in the midst of change.
...Let go of what’s less important
We can sometimes tie ourselves in knots trying to maintain high standards at home. Parents need to give themselves permission to let go of those standards sometimes. During especially busy times, letting go can be a sanity saver.
Making your “survival plan”
I hope these examples can be a starting point for adapting your routine so that you’re holding on to the essentials and letting go of extra expectations.
* Maybe your priority for your child is exercise and fresh air. Swimming on a hot weekend day is fun, but an overcrowded public pool may add too much stress; a bike ride in a quiet wooded park or jumping on the backyard trampoline would be a better option. There will be time to visit the pool once school is over.
* You may prefer to feed your family fresh, homemade food, but find that making dinner and preparing the next day’s lunches fills up a lot of your evening. Buying healthy, pre-packaged convenience foods for a couple of weeks may give you more time to connect with your children in the evening.
My colleague Penny and I have created a free printable guide to surviving the last month of school. You can download it here (and be sure to read Penny’s blog about how she has learned to survive the last month of school!)
Photo by Michal Jarmoluk