Celebrating June: How to Enjoy Your Children’s End-of-Year Events
Only another parent will understand.
Every year I have the same June fantasy: The whole town assembles at the local football stadium. The ancient public address system wheezes to life. An animated voice fills the arena.
Attention everybody! All Brownie Fly-ups are happening on the 50-yard line on the east side of the field. Cub Scout Blue-and-Gold dinners and Boy Scout Eagle awards will take place at the home goal post in one hour. Piano recitals? Let’s see. Oh yes, the south parking lot. Look for the Steinways. You can’t miss ’em. Soccer awards are being given out at the away 10-yard line at four o’clock. Dance recitals start at three on the 50-yard line, west side. I repeat. That’s the west side. And the Teacher Appreciation Coffee is over at the north parking lot.
Hungry? Don’t miss the bake sale over at the refreshment stand. Proceeds this year go to the recreation department camp program. For your enjoyment, the All Town Band and All Town Choir will be mid-field at seven p.m. Don’t miss them! This year, 500 of our kids in the elementary through high school music program are performing and they’re great!
Can’t you see it? A progressive end-of-year party/recital/recognitions/awards ceremony that would last for one VERY long day. All the excitement, potlucks, cupcakes, and costumes done in one fell swoop. Whew!
I know. The logistics of the thing make it impossible. But every May and June I find myself just wishing there was a way to make the end of the school year less stressful and more enjoyable. It seems that every club, organization, sport, class, and lesson has some kind of tie-the-year-up event. Do the math: If you have three kids and each is involved in two things, there will now be at least six extra events to factor into June. If you add even one graduation, you can forget about life as usual for at least a few weeks.
In many ways, May and June echo the winter holiday season for families with school-aged children. There are gifts to buy, goodies to bake, relatives to include and entertain, and rehearsals and ceremonies to attend. All of this happens on top of our regular, already over-busy lives. If we are feeling stretched, it’s because we are!
Juggling the Joy
Don’t get me wrong. I love watching my kids collect their trophies and awards, demonstrate what they’ve learned, and celebrate their successes as much as anyone else. Their shows and concerts regularly move me to sentimental tears. And, heaven knows, teachers, leaders, and the hundreds of volunteers who make possible so many of the extracurricular activities our kids enjoy deserve our thanks and appreciation. The question isn’t how to eliminate all these wonderful events. They are, after all, a celebration of growth and talent and friendship. The question is how to do them in a joyful way.
Do I have a magic solution? Short of my football stadium fantasy, probably not. But here are some ideas that might make June more manageable.
- Planning helps. Since these events are rarely coordinated, it’s up to us to do the coordinating. Announcements start coming home in March. Get out that calendar and start building a picture of your month so you’ll know what to expect. Try not to schedule important work deadlines or other family events during the weeks that are overly full.
- Speak up. Get in on the planning when you can. If you already know that there is an event happening on a given Saturday that involves a number of kids, inform leaders of other programs. Unless they have kids in the other event, they probably won’t be aware of the potential conflict.
- Remember that most of your friends are in the same boat. My experience has been that people are only grateful if someone takes the lead and organizes carpools for rehearsals and practices.
- When events call for baking, switch off with a friend. I’ll make twice as many cookies for the Sunday School Bake Sale. You make twice as many brownies for the School Field Day. It’s much easier to bake once in quantity than to mess up the kitchen twice.
- Is a potluck attached to any events? Think about bringing pizzas from your local pizza shop. If you are a working parent, it’s just too hard either to put together a dish the night before the event, when you are exhausted, or just prior to an evening event, when you are too rushed and harried. Remember that this event is for your kids. It isn’t a cooking contest. The kids, frankly, will like the pizza better than most of the homemade specialties that wow adults.
- Is a modest gift for the teacher or leader of your child’s activity expected? Stock up throughout the year on little gifts for the people in your child’s life. Keep in mind that gift certificates to the local ice cream shop are often more appreciated than yet another doodad. This spreads out the expense and saves you time and money come June.
- Save some vacation time from work to use for the day or two that look like scheduling nightmares. Arrange with your employer to leave for home a couple of hours early. The simple fact of having time reduces stress considerably. Part of the pleasure of these events is helping your child into her or his costume, fixing hair, or making sure that everyone gets a good meal before a long evening out. When the rituals that surround getting ready can be slowed down, your child will feel like his or her special night is really important to you. It can mean a lot.
It’s June. This year, my four children are involved in a high school graduation, a dance recital, a violin recital, a Girl Scout awards ceremony, an elementary school picnic, a children’s theatre performance, and a high school dance production. These events speak to the stage of life we are in and how we are choosing to do it. No matter how hectic it sometimes feels, I remind myself that this is the good stuff.
Hartwell-Walker, M. (2020). Celebrating June: How to Enjoy Your Children’s End-of-Year Events. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 22, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/lib/celebrating-june-how-to-enjoy-your-childrens-end-of-year-events/