Photo courtesy of rdragan79

By Beth Groh

Ahhh… the end-of-the-school-year countdown…

A downhill slide?

Or an uphill climb?

Depends on who you ask, eh?

My kids may be counting down the days to summer.

But sometimes I feel like screaming, “Could I just have one more week here, please??”

Why?

Hmmm… could it be track meets? Field trips? Easter preparations? Mother’s Day? Spring programs? Awards ceremonies? Graduations? Prom? Baseball games? Etc., etc.

You would think–after 13 years of having at least one child in preschool, elementary school, junior or senior high—I would have this end-of-the-school –year thing down to a smooth science.  Hardly.

But I have learned to brace for it—and prepare for it—so, as we sail through these milestone moments, I can snag a few “Mama memories” along the way.

A few tips I’ve learned along the way:

–Prepare in advance for the “biggies”.

If you’re on tap for serving the big family meal for Easter or graduation, prepare what you can ahead of time and freeze it. Plus, avoid guilt trips at all costs. Gladly say “yes” when guests offer to bring something. Don’t feel obligated, either, to dig out every favorite family recipe—four or five dishes is plenty.

–Shop ahead of time in this season for the birthdays, Mother’s Day gifts, Easter cards, etc. Otherwise, they’ll either get (a) forgotten or (b) become a distraction amid other events.

–Simplify daily routines.  My biggest time-saver? Easy grab-and-go sack lunches. I spend a few minutes on the weekend to prep: 1) Put veggies in individual plastic bags. 2) Divide pretzels or other snacks in snack bags for the week. 3) Make do-it-yourself “uncrustable” peanut butter & jelly sandwiches (using a handy Pampered Chef gadget) so the sandwiches can be bagged and individually frozen in advance. 4) Grab an apple or fruit cup on a school day, and VOILA, lunch in one minute!

–Don’t just mark your calendar with events—but with the “to do’s” leading up to it, too. For example, mark the day to MAIL the Mother’s Day cards (or even to buy them!)—don’t just mark the day itself.

Do I heed my own advice?

Well, not always… even as I type I’m remembering that I need to schedule NOW to get our daughter’s prom dress altered—not something you want to remember the night before!

But my goal for this end-of-the-year season is this: emerge in June with a full supply of memories (and photos!)… not just a full calendar of crossed-off days from April and May.

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