End-of-the-Year Crazies!

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If your kids are in school, this month is bound to make you crazy!

May is without a doubt the craziest month of school--no matter how old your kids are.

May includes Teacher Appreciation Week, graduations, field days, end-of-the-year performances, end-of-the-year parties, talent shows, teacher's gifts and SO much more. 

If you have older kids, May is full of finals, big projects due, and extra award assemblies.

It seems like every day of the last two weeks of May are jam packed with fun, fun, and more fun!
(For the kids, of course! For teachers and moms, it's fun, fun and more stress!)

On top of that, sports are wrapping up. So, you also have football parties, soccer parties, dance recitals, award ceremonies for your track star.......

And is it just me? Or was every friend of your child born in May? We have more birthday parties in May than any other time of year!
(Okay, don't ask me what month my birthday is in....It starts with M and ends with ay.)

I call this "The End of the Year Crazies!"
This time of year, it would just be easier to set up a tent trailer outside of my kid's school.
I mean, if we are going to live there, we might as well have a shower and coffee maker close by!
Warning: Principals do NOT appreciate this. 

My oldest child is now 15, so I have been doing "The End of the Year Crazies!" for awhile now.
The older the kids get, the crazier it gets! Trying to juggle this month, and working part time can get a little out of control!

There are things that I do each year to make this time less stressful.  I want to share them with you. 
I am also on a tight budget, so keeping the costs low during May can also be a challenge.
Here is how I try to stay sane and within budget: 

1. Baking. I bake large batches of cookies and goodies early in the month and freeze them. They are great to pull out in large batches for a class party. Or, I keep lots of cute goody bags and boxes around to put a few cookies in for teacher's gifts, a coaches thank you, etc. The trick here, is keeping my family OUT of the cookies! So, I typically put them in my garage meat freezer to keep midnight munch-y hands from getting to them! But I would be lying if I said I have never caught my husband in his underwear out in the garage sneaking frozen cookies in the middle of the night! 

2. Gifts. When I am at Target, Michael's, etc. throughout the year I always pick up extra journals, diaries, and other cute stationary items on clearance that would be great gifts. I also buy a stack of graduation cards, birthday cards, and gift bags to have on hand. I have bins in my closet that I keep all the items in to grab quickly for parties. Okay, call me a cheap skate, but did you know that you can get great books that look brand new at your local Goodwill? I walk through Goodwill often looking for brand new or new looking books. They are just a few dollars, rather than $15! Pair a great book with a $5 gift card, or a beautiful journal with a bag of homemade cookies and you have a great gift! And having things ahead of time saves me time and money, because an extra trip to the store always ends with way more in the cart than I ever intended!

3. Being organized! This month, more than any other month, keeping my little calendar in my purse up to date and current is a must! I also have a yellow bin in my kitchen where I keep all my kids important school papers accumulated that week. Sunday nights, I make sure to go through the papers, pulling out any field trip forms, permission slips or any other papers that need signatures. I sign the ones that need to go back to school and use it as an opportunity to remember what is going on that week. And, we make sure we keep the upcoming week's class newsletter for each of my kids at the top of the pile! 

4. Class Parties. I have been a room-mom for 10 years now. When I first started, it was important to me that I made all the goodies, had party themes, organized over the top games, prizes and did everything matchy-matchy. Thank God Pinterest did not exist then! I didn't ask for much help and felt like I needed to do it all on my own--and homemade! Well, guess what? Ten years later, I have finally figured out that the kids don't care if I spent 6 hours shaping cupcakes into diploma's, they just want a stinkin' cupcake. And the world isn't going to end if you buy the cupcakes from Walmart! In fact, there were a few occasions that my "creations" turned out so ugly that my kids were probably begging me to stop at Walmart rather than serve up my ridiculous treats!

ASK FOR HELP! Other moms want to be involved and, quite frankly, they will like you more if you ask for help! Nobody likes that mom who makes everything perfect, does it looking great and has really well-behaved kids. Oh, did I say that out loud? Send out a note or email at the beginning of the month to all the parents. Spell out the things that you need help with.....Teacher Appreciation, End of the Year Parties, etc. Ask people to sign up for things, and they will! Put people in charge of games, prizes, goodies, drinks, etc. Ten moms all doing a little something is so much easier than one mom trying to do it all herself.  And you may luck out and get some Pinterest mom who LIKES making cupcakes shaped like diplomas or enjoys carving bingo games out of watermelons! 

5. Sports Parties. We try to keep our running around to a minimum by only allowing our kids in one sport at a time. But, that said, that means in May, we have three sports wrapping up at a time. As much as I would love to get each of my children's coaches a nice gift card, financially, it gets too expensive. If you are the team mom, it is easy to send out an email and ask parents if they want to donate toward a gift card to a sporting goods store, a restaurant, a movie, etc. Most parents are willing to chip in $5-$10 for a gift card and collectively, that makes a pretty nice gift for a coach. With May being such a crazy and expensive time of year, I often suggest that rather than a large pizza party, our team just passes out goodies to the kids at a park near their final game. Most parents are as overwhelmed as you are in May and are thankful to not have one more big thing on their plate. And can we all just admit, that our kids don't need trophies for EVERY sport they play? But, that's another blog for another day.

5. Grandparents and aunts are always wanting to know what and when your little kiddos are graduating, dancing, playing a championship game, etc! At the beginning of the month, my sister and I email each other and our parents a list of all our kid's big moments that month so we can jot them down on our schedules early on. I am positive that my father dreads these emails. I know that he adores his grandchildren, but how many years of kindergarten performances can one man take! LOL. So, we are sure to preface these emails with, "This is what the kids have going on this month. Please do not feel obligated and know that we will not hunt you down for choosing more exciting things than watching our kids!"

And a bonus: this is way easier than having to give your sweet and hard-of-hearing Aunt Sue directions over the cell phone to your 5th grader's graduation while he is walking down the aisle! 

6. Decreasing distractions. May is crazy for my older kids because they have so many finals and projects due. With the weather being nice and so much to do, we cancel cable for the summer during the beginning of May. If we really want to watch a family movie, we snuggle up with the projector and watch a DVD. But not having a TV to distract them keeps them more focused on their work and studying.

7. Having Kids at different schools. I have three kids at two different schools. Next year I will have three kids at three different schools. That makes being at all the parties, activities and assemblies kind of difficult. You just do your best and don't sweat it. It won't send your child into therapy to miss a field trip because you are watching your other child in a program. I am missing my son's field trip this Friday so that I can watch my daughter get an award and play in her Freshman Powder Puff Football game. I wish I could be there, but instead, I am packing him a special lunch with his favorite things and add his favorite kind of gum. I would love to include a mushy note but that would mortify him, so I will probably add a joke, instead. 

8. Take care of you! Get some sleep! Try not to schedule big work deadlines during May. Ask your kids and husband to help out more around the house. Make easy crockpot meals that cook while you are running crazy to decrease your cooking time. Make sure to slip in a hot bath with a good book every now and again. Don't skip breakfast or lunch to save time. And finally, drink LOTS and LOTS of coffee. The good kind. You deserve it. May is NUTS. And, well, I will make any excuse to drink a good cup of coffee!

I am sure that you have some GREAT ideas for this time of year! My hope, also, is that you share your tips with me!