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On Parenting
Posted at 11:25 AM ET, 06/13/2011

End of (school) days madness

There’s a reason parents need a long summer break. It’s to recover from the last weeks of school.


My own calendar has two end-of-school parties, two teacher gift coordinations, two recitals, a potluck, a parents bagel breakfast and one playgroup graduation ceremony complete with mortar boards and diplomas. This does not include the stressful coordination of several cobbled-together summer programs managed in between the requisite graduation ceremonies.

Have I mentioned that neither of my daughters are in official school yet? I’ve heard it gets worse. Much worse.

I’m not saying these event were not adorable and sometimes reached the sublime. (A bunch of two-year-olds in flopping mortar boards? Pretty great.) But too much of a good thing can give you a stomach ache, or, in this case, an ulcer.

So, as a public service to parents as we head into the last days of the academic year, I humbly direct you to two recent pieces that suggest that we stop this end-of-school-days-madness.

The first, is from Maura Mahoney, writing for the Chevy Chase, MD edition of Patch. Its title gives you a good idea of her point of view, “The End-of-School Frenzy: Make it Stop!”

The second is from mother of three Jennifer Folsom and a partner at Momentum Resources, a professional placement agency that specializes in flexible and part-time work options (read: juggling parents). The Post had a story on these agencies recently.

Excerpts below.

From Mahoney’s piece:

“The execution of all these year-end rituals and ceremonies divides the parents into two groups. The first group, hollow-eyed, sleepless, and developing early arthritis from typing too many pleading e-mails, are the volunteers. To their horror, they have discovered that they are all alone in that category, and that no one is responding to their cries for help.

The second group is avoiding making eye contact with the first group and dodging behind trees and serpentining through the school parking lot. Are they just too busy at work, or did they become burnt out on the volunteer front by Diversity Night (or was it Family Fun Night?). Maybe they are just self-important, selfish people, or maybe they are practical, savvy survivors with no time for this nonsense. It all makes for an interesting question. You can contemplate it while you’re estimating pizza totals for the fourth-grade “School’s Out” party or while ordering the T-shirts for the 150 kids on the swim team.

Each event is, in itself, lovely and special for the kids. Each teacher and coach involved is deserving of support and public thanks. Each sports season had its share of sentiment and achievement, each activity its moment of truth and accomplishment. No doubt, they all deserve some measure of recognition and applause. But, taken all together — all at once, it’s too much.”

From Folsom’s piece:

“After a weekend of activities that nearly killed me (and put the whole family in a stressed-out, tense, over-tired mood.....weren’t weekends supposed to be restorative?) I put my foot down.

To take control over the last two weeks of school I:

Told the swim team coach we’d show up in two weeks when lacrosse post-season play was over. ....

Called the preschool director to see if my 3-year-old’s presence at a 7p.m. Year End Program was really required. It wasn’t...

Had the older boys each pick one of the daily year-end “fun activities” (field day, beach reading day, paper airplane contest day) for Mom and Dad to attend. ... As my dear business partners reminded me, we’re going to have a LOT more time together this summer!

Relaxed about school projects. ...

After all, isn’t that what this whole school, learning and parenting thing’s about anyway?”

Ladies, thank you for the good advice.

How about you? Do you have strategies on how to reach summer without a nervous breakdown?

By  |  11:25 AM ET, 06/13/2011

 
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