Juggling the Many End-of-Year Events: Some Tips

This is a busy time of year for families.  It seems that every activity has an end of the year event, so parents and children are hurrying to recitals, chorus and band concerts, ball games and graduations.  Hopefully, these events bring pride, joy and satisfaction.  I hope that your child is beaming from the stage, and that you are relishing the moment.

But all these extras can cause stress even for the more mature and resilient among us.  Yesterday I got home in the late afternoon after a day of activities, and I got snappish when I heard that my young adult son was coming to dinner.  Yikes, what would we eat?  My husband wisely stayed calm and told me to take a nap. That reset my system and allowed me to enjoy the serendipity of the day.  Dinner went fine.

*  First consider yourself.  You need to be resilient to help your children get through all the fun.  Notice your own perfectionism and see if you can let go of it some.  Try to get enough rest.  Try to tune into your emotions and your body during the day.  Are you tense, worrying about the event to come, having difficulty staying in the present?  Take some deep breaths and try to stay in the moment.  It is the only moment you really have any control over anyway.  If there are activities that you know are renewing for you, try to keep them despite the busy schedule.  Perhaps you meditate, walk the dog in a pleasant park, enjoy listening to music, or savor reading a mystery at bedtime.

*  For many families with quirky kids all this change of routine can be very stressful.  Here are some ways to manage the demands.  If you have a child who is easily upset by changes in routine, try to anticipate with him.  Be the planner for him.  When you get the notice about the concert or whatever,  put it on a family calendar.  Preview the day with your family, preferable the night before.  The fewer surprises the better.

*  Let go of some of your own expectations about routine.  You might eat a lot of take out for a week.  Or if you are very good at planning, you might be able to take some dinners out of the freezer that you made ahead.

*  Consider whether all of your children can manage the schedule.  You might have a child who rolls with the punches and can smoothly move from event to event.  But you might also have a child who does not do that well, or who might not enjoy his sister’s dance recital.  Can you let go of family togetherness enough to hire a sitter for the child who would be unhappy and disruptive in the recital?  You might need to divide and conquer.

*  Also consider the stresses on the performers.  Children who tend to get anxious and rigid under pressure can find the band concert or graduation worrisome.  If this is the case, let the adults in charge of the event know so that they can be reassuring.  Make sure that your child knows exactly what to do.  Lastly, consider whether it is wise to invite the extended family to this event.  Perhaps that would only put more pressure on your anxious child.  Grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins can come for cake afterwards.

I hope that this gives you a few ideas to help ground yourself and your children in this season of celebration and transition.  Let me know on Facebook what your ideas are for coping with this time.

 

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Photo credit:  Focus Photography on Flickr

Comments

12 Responses to “Juggling the Many End-of-Year Events: Some Tips”
  1. Hey Carlyn – Like these ideas. I think it is important for parents to follow their child, some aren’t cut out for all of the hustle & bustle and have follow their own drummer! We seem to applaud the outgoing ones and worry abt the more introverted ones, when really there is a range of normal.

  2. dr.cstone says:

    Hi Kathy,
    You are so right that there is a big range of “normal.” Considering what your child can do with grace is helpful to all concerned.
    Thanks for your comment.
    Regards,
    Carolyn

  3. Hi Carolyn,

    I like that you remind parents to take care of themselves first. It’s much easier to prepare kids for schedule upsets and make contingency plans when you’re well-rested enough to think clearly and stay calm.

    P.S. I always love it when my husband is wise enough to tell me to take a nap. 🙂

  4. These are great tips and (I think) right on target.
    I love that you are reminding parents to take care of themselves and to be aware of their own emotional reactions to all of the end of the year busy-ness. And also to be aware of how well their different children may cope with changes in routines and other expectations. Figuring out how to navigate it all in a way that is right for your particular family (which may look different from other families) is key. And all needs should be considered, including the parents’
    Thanks for this very helpful post,
    Warmly, Allison

  5. Carolyn,

    Oh, this post hit home for me–particularly the reminder for parental self-care and some good assessments of whether or not every child should attend every event. I think that modeling for our children how to listen to and respect their true strengths and weaknesses (rather than smashing them into some pre-determined box), is a wonderful way to help them become healthy adults.

    Warmly,
    Ann

  6. dr.cstone says:

    Hi Barb,
    I agree that packing in too much “celebration” without time for self care can take all the fun out of it. And yes, even a brief nap is very renewing.
    Thanks for your comment,
    Carolyn

  7. dr.cstone says:

    Hi Rachelle,
    It’s so true–it’s pretty hard to give what you haven’t given to yourself. Hard to remember as a parent because so many parents feel guilty or self-centered when they take time for themselves.
    Thanks for your comment.
    Carolyn

  8. dr.cstone says:

    Hi Allison,
    Thanks for your comment. It is wise to remember that every family has its own needs and will manage these obligations in their own way.
    Best,
    Carolyn

  9. dr.cstone says:

    Hi Ann,
    I definitely oppose “smashing children into pre-determined boxes.”
    🙂 But seriously, that’s how it feels sometimes, doesn’t it? It’s so freeing when parents can let go of the expectations of themselves and others and make choices that are best for them and their children.
    Thanks for your comment.
    Regards,
    Carolyn

  10. JoAnn Jordan says:

    Self care is so important! End of year performances can be stressors for some children. Encouraging children to appropriately verbalize or vent their anxiety is a wonderful way to help prepare them for the future.

  11. Arlene Johnson says:

    Great reminder that we each need to engage in self care. I liked your comments about considering what is important for each member of the family. Sometimes we think more about togetherness rather than considering what is best for our children.

  12. dr.cstone says:

    Good point Arlene. We can get caught up in the ideal of a whole family event, lovely togetherness! Then it’s so disappointing when one member just can’t do it. Better to be realistic ahead of time. Thanks for your comment.
    Regards,
    Carolyn