Yesterday a friend said to me, “May is the new December.” We were not talking about Christmas. We were hashing out the busy schedules of kids these days and how the month of May poses many challenges for families with school-age children.
Think about it. The days are longer, winter is behind us, and the outdoor world is inviting us to play. Spring fever is in the air! Now add homework, book reports, research projects, band/chorus concerts, dance recitals, performances, field trips, final exams, graduation, school sports, community and travel teams, yard work and countless other end-of-year activities. It’s no surprise that kids get tired, cranky, and just plain stressed out.
Communication can be the first step in keeping your sanity (and sense of humor) this time of year. I keep a large monthly calendar on the food pantry door. I figure they will bump into it every time they grab a snack. In case they ignore the calendar, I also have a giant white board for posting the schedule of the week. Again, “location location location” is the key, therefore it hangs prominently in the kitchen. Every Sunday night I write out the week’s schedule, color-coded for each family member. Sometimes I throw in a comment like “Cash in Dad’s winning lottery ticket” just to make sure everyone is paying attention. The white board helps all family members see the big picture, but also allows us to tackle the week one day at a time. Since we started using the white board, we have a more peaceful household and roll with the busy schedule with less stress.
The second part of surviving the busy spring season is making sure we all get enough rest, parents included. While it may be tempting to stay up late now that the days are longer, our bodies still need a break. We put an emphasis on getting to bed early, even with a busier than normal schedule. A microwave heating pad is an excellent tool for reducing stress and promoting sleep. It can also be used to relieve sore muscles from extra physical activity. Kids of all ages love the whimsical animal designs of Maine Warmers’ corn-filled microwave heating pads. While my kids are reading before bed, I zap the Alligator and Cozy Owl in the microwave for two minutes each and deliver to them. The nurturing heat is the perfect way to wind down a busy day.