The home stretch is a term that is used in racing, most commonly one that involves a track. The competitors, whether they are in a car, or on a horse, or on their own two feet have gone around the track and have the finish line in sight. Everything they have been working on and training for comes down to one final push to cross the finish line. The fans who are watching the race become louder in the home stretch. Their excitement is at its peak and they watch the finish in eager anticipation.
This time of year feels a bit like being in the home stretch. Once spring break is over, the finish line is in sight for the school year. There will be one last surge of homework, projects and tests. There will be end of the year concerts, field trips, award ceremonies, dances and activities. There will also be that feeling of “didn’t this year go by so fast”. You can multiply that feeling by 100 if your child is finishing a year that marks a transition to kinder, junior high, high school or college.
We are one of those going through a transition year, from elementary school to junior high. My daughter has been excited all year about the new adventure of junior high that looms on the horizon, however the other day I heard a twinge of sadness in her voice. She’s no longer in a hurry for the end of the year. She’s realizing the bitter sweetness that comes with it all – that a new adventure often means leaving somethings behind.
And what about us as parents? It’s easy to feel like all of a sudden years of your life have flown by without you fully appreciating them. How did this happen? Where did all the time go? The homework meltdowns, the endless projects, the last minute runs to the store to pick up the missing materials conveniently disappear from memory. The countless lunches made, the mornings that were such a struggle and the nights that never seemed long enough to squeeze everything in are a distant memory. So many weeks spent just hoping to make it to Friday, not realizing that meant that four other days had flown by. During these times, it’s easy for us to think we should have done more to appreciate the time before it passed. There’s a little of that parental guilt that starts to set in – how could we have let the time pass us by? Why are my kids growing up so fast? Shouldn’t I be doing more to make better memories with them? I’m sure you have a few others that you can add to the list. Author Glennon Doyle Melton wrote a blog a couple years ago called “Don’t Carpe Diem”. She is a fantastic writer and adds a funny, but poignant, spin to the idea that parents need to enjoy every moment of our child’s lives. To overly summarize she says as a parent it’s too hard to appreciate the entire day, we are better off finding small moments to mark in our memory. She goes on to say that it doesn’t even matter if you can exactly remember those small moments, just knowing that you had them is enough.
Enjoy the home stretch.
Journal on this: Spend time writing down those memories that make you smile. You think they are things you will never forget, but you’ll be happy that you wrote them down just in case.
P.S. Feeling overwhelmed with the home stretch of the school year? Message me or email me at email@example.com and let’s schedule a time to get started.
Yesterday I overheard the following “Team, one thing you should know about me is that it is my pet peeve to have a messy dugout! Let’s keep the walkway clear, put your gloves and water bottles under the bench when we are not using them.” If you guessed that quote came from one of the coaches, you would be wrong, it was actually one of the 11-year-old players! It made me smile for two reasons. The first I was impressed that she was confident enough and sure enough of herself, to stand in front of her peers and say something that could have been met with eye-rolls and criticism. Let’s face it, tween girls are not always nice and peer acceptance is a big thing at this age. The second thing that stood out to me was that she believed with a little bit of organization, things would run more smoothly during the game, a pretty advanced concept if you think about it.
There are varying degrees of organization depending on your personality and life-style. Some people are extremely organized with everything in a specific place at all times. While others may feel like they don’t have that gene and take a looser approach to organization. No matter where you fall in the spectrum chances are that when days get busy and time at home is rushed, little piles start to grow. It starts out innocently enough with a stack of mail that you weren’t able to get to. A couple days later you pile on copies of your finished tax returns or a stack of catalogs you want to look through. Meanwhile in your bedroom a pile is starting to form of clothes that need to be ironed or maybe the ironing board is still out 3 days later and is now growing stacks of its own. If you live with others, the stacks and piles and clutter multiplies exponentially. Toys are strewn about waiting for someone to come back and play with them. Home projects are left unfinished because of a missing part or more likely an interruption of something that was more urgent to attend to.
If any of the above made you uncomfortable to the point that you are now sweating, it’s ok, take a deep breath. There is no judgement in any of this. It happens to all of us. What you may not realize is that looking at stacks and “stuff” around you subconsciously adds stress and anxiety to your already busy life. When you are able to clean up and clear space, that added stress goes away. The feeling is incredibly rewarding. After weeks of looking at stacks on a table, to be able look over at a clear table can actually make you feel lighter.
Many of us put off clearing because we feel like we need to set up a big block of time to get it all done, but it doesn’t need to be like that. All you need to do is decide to tackle one small area a day. Or maybe there is one space that tends to be a magnet for “stuff” (for us that is right near the phone). Start with that one space and commit to clearing it off at a specific time every day, maybe right after dinner or before you go to bed. By getting rid of the clutter, you will not only clear off the surfaces but your home will be a more comforting, relaxing space to come home to.
Journal on this: Where are than main areas in your home/life where you need to clean/organize/clear space? How do those spaces make you feel today? How will you feel when they are cleaned/organized/cleared?
P.S. Clutter happens naturally when you are busy shuttling from one thing to another and struggling to find balance. Sometimes talking it through with someone is just what you need to identify the clutter that will allow you to get the balance that you’ve always wanted. I can help! Message me or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s schedule a time to get started.
Years ago my childhood friends and I tried to plan a vacation getting all our families together. For multiple reasons the vacation was cancelled, postponed and moved multiple times. After trying to plan for over a year we scrapped the original plans and my friends and I met up for a long weekend (leaving our families at home). Little did we know what an impact that weekend would have on all of us. The laughter, the fun and the break from motherly responsibilities was just what four moms with eight kids between them needed. A tradition was born. (A tradition that always seems to work in wine tasting no matter where we go.) Since that weekend, we have traveled to four different states, eight different cities and more wineries than you can count on two hands. This weekend marks our eighth consecutive year.
We are often told, "It's so great that you do that" or "You are so lucky to be able to get away every year." But our response is that luck has nothing to do with it. All four of us make this trip a priority. We plan months in advance and the date become sacred. We've missed baseball games and family birthdays because of it. We’ve left behind sick kids, with a hug and a smile knowing that they would be just fine (and that we would get updates via text). We have a village that supports us while we are gone and that allows us to leave every ounce of guilt at home because we all need this time. We need this time because over the years we've come to realize that to be the best mom's we can be, we must first be they best women we can be. Being together makes us laugh and allows us to shed a little bit of responsibility for a couple of days. Being together we get to eat good food, hot meals and leave our "schedule" behind. But most of all, being together makes us stronger.
So forgive me for keeping it short this week, but it's time for me to go back to doing noting, or reading a magazine, or laughing about the time when...... And know that this post is not intended to make you jealous of us, but to tell you that you could, no you should do this too - grab a friend, make a plan and get away.
It seems as though everything regarding your children needs your signature. You need to sign their homework, their behavior chart and their agenda for the day. If you want to go into the school, you need to sign in and sign out. To pick them up from daycare you need to sign them in and sign them out, both on the computer and on a piece of old fashioned paper. Birthday parties that involve bouncing, or any other chance of injury, require a permission slip. Play a sport? You, and your child, must sign a good sportsmanship agreement. Sign here, sign there, sign everywhere. It’s a wonder that going over to a friend’s house or a slumber party does not require a credit and background check.
But it’s all good, right? I make light of the situation, but we want our kids to be safe. We entrust them to other individuals for a period of time and we want to make sure that those individuals take our children’s lives as seriously as we do (and in my experience those I have entrusted have gone above and beyond to care for my children).
Not only do we give permission to others as it relates to our children, but we are also responsible for what our children do. We give our children permission for screen time, for dessert, for anything that is considered a “treat” or out of the norm. When they get older, permission revolves around time with friends, driving and curfew (aaahhh!).
Permission is part of being a parent – it’s what we do.
Now here we are at a fork in the story and we can go one of two ways with this. Road number one, we can talk about permission, kids, and raising them to make the right choices. Instilling in them values during this time of being able to grant “permission” so that when they are faced with a decision to make on their own they are grounded in right and wrong. But that is not the road we are going to travel in today’s blog. No my parent friends, we’re going to go the opposite way. We’re going to talk about how easy it is for us to dole out permission (or not) for our kids without a blink of an eye, but when it comes to granting ourselves permission we go into lock down mode.
Did I lose you? Is this a foreign concept to you? Granting permission to myself…..whuuuuhhhh? When was the last time you came in from a long day, sat down and did nothing before starting dinner/homework/dishes? When was the last time you left the drama at the office because you knew that you didn’t want it to influence your mood for the rest of the night? When was the last time you signed a permission slip for yourself? To do something that you wanted to do? That was more than going to Target or the grocery store?
New York Times Best Selling author Brene’ Brown tells a story about the first time she sat down with Oprah Winfrey to film an episode of Super Soul Sunday. Brene’ Brown is a researcher and professor and carries with her the responsibility of academia with her. Before arriving to the show, Brene’ explained that she sat down and physically wrote herself a permission slip to be in the emotion of the moment while filming the show. She gave herself permission to show her true self and as a result connected with Oprah at such an authentic level that not only was she invited back to do a second show, but she also met Maya Angelou (whom she had been quoting in her classes for years).
Why is it so hard for us to write a permission slip for ourselves? Why do we feel guilty if we are not the one watching our child? Why can’t we sit and do nothing or acknowledge that we need quiet time by ourselves? Why is it that we struggle to write a permission slip to go get a mani/pedi or have a glass of wine with an old friend? Or gawd forbid we make the time to take care of ourselves by exercising our body, making a healthy meal or getting the sleep our bodies crave. We think that we are too busy or that we don’t have the time. Is it that, or is it the guilt that is somehow associated with all of these things? What if we wrote ourselves our own permission slip, signed ourselves out, and took the time we so desperately need to refresh and reset so that we can be the best parent/spouse/co-worker/family member/friend that we can be?
Journal on this: Write a permission slip for yourself right now that you have to execute in the next twenty-four hours. What’s holding you back? Write it all out and make it happen.
p.s. Why do you think I know so much about this? Because I lived it. Because I was once a mom that didn’t give myself permission to do anything outside of family, work and home. I get it, I’ve been there and when you are there you feel like you are the only person who is feeling this way. Don’t waste another day denying yourself permission. Call me, PM me, email me, I can help you help yourself.
I started writing this blog because I wanted to have deeper conversations beyond "How are you?", "Busy", with other parents. Over the years I've shared personal stories, articles, authors and topics to facilitate conversations with parents about the joys and the challenges of parenting.