Your Guide to Surviving May … Hang On!
When May hits, I start thinking, “Do they really need to go to school today? I mean, it would save me two hours in drive time if they all just stayed home.” How bad is that?! But we’re all sneezing and overscheduled, and if one more person had asked me if I’d gotten my mom and my mother-in-law a gift for Mother’s Day, I might have lost it! For crying out loud, who decided MAY was the month to celebrate us moms? Believe me, in May, we’d all like a couple days off … can you just send us away for the weekend as the way to celebrate us? I promise to come home in a better mood!
May brings end-of-school-year parties, field days, half days, conferences, exams, graduations, recitals, sports … oh my gosh the amount of sports. Add tornadoes, allergies and ants (do all houses get ants in May or only mine?) and the knowledge that May only brings a new summer schedule to adjust to, and it’s enough to make any grown woman get back in bed with the request to wake her up when it’s over. Did I mention that I just got eaten alive by a bevy of chiggers? So I’m writing this covered in Cortisone and adding bug bites to all the reasons I hate May. Field trips, awards banquets, birthdays, last-minute summer camp planning … and is your summer vacation planned? Have you purchased every coach/teacher/tutor/principal a gift? Have you donated to the school annual fund? Have you noticed that none of your children’s summer clothes fit? Yes, they’ve grown since March. And look at your car?!! It’s disgusting. I know you have 19 sports going on and it’s raining every other day, but lady, your car! Oh, I mean MY car!!! It’s so bad.
So please dear teacher, dear neighbor, dear mother, dear husband, dear children … help me. I’m unable to form a complete sentence, convey a cognizant thought, and I don’t mean to walk around in a trance, but no matter how well I prepare, it’s not enough. I’m just.so.tired.
It’s a myth that December is the hardest month of the year. So not true! The holidays, the parties, the gifts, the cards and the shorter, darker, colder days are just amateur hour when compared to May. See, December comes with an end date: the week between Christmas and New Year’s when the world settles down. You work toward that goal, that magical time when there are less phone calls, less emails, less everything. You can hibernate. Kids don’t need to be anywhere. Many times, you can work from home. If December has caused you to fall apart, you are granted time to pick up the pieces. Let’s not forget that December’s chaos also brings the new year, which is a rebirth in and of itself.
What does May bring you? Summer. Believe me, summer is no rebirth and sometimes feels like a slow death. Suddenly, your morning drop-off for summer camps is a little later than your typical school drop-off and pick up is just a little earlier. And each of these camps requires so many forms … don’t we all have insurance policy numbers memorized by the time June rolls around each year? If you can’t leave work to get your kids at day camp, you need to hire drivers. And if your kids aren’t old enough to stay home by themselves, sitters are needed. Suddenly, camp costs plus driver/sitter costs make summer a complete financial drain. And add the food costs. OH MY GOSH. I remember one summer years ago, before I worked straight through summer, and the first week cost $600 in FOOD. I had gone to Costco and bought all this food to last me the month and between my three kids and their friends, it was GONE within seven days. I cried. See, summer needs structure, but those first couple of weeks always slap you hard, as we forget what summer structure looks like. We’re thinking “freedom!” But the reality is that the freedom from the school year structure brings a certain chaos, and the adjustment can be hard.
Today, I raise my glass to my fellow moms as we bond together knowing that this month will indeed end. We will survive. But not without a few tempers being lost, some extra glasses of wine being poured and perhaps a few tears along the way. Moms, May stinks. We are warriors, and we will come out on the other side. And for those of you who breeze through it and have no idea what I am talking about, please don’t tell me that. Right now, for those of us struggling, we need a little empathy or sympathy, not an “I don’t understand why you find this so hard!” But instead of just throwing in the towel, here are some tips to survive May. We love our children and our families and our schools and summer. It’s just this one month that causes us to drown a bit. Consider this list a flotation device to keep your head above the waters of May:
10 Tips to Survive May:
- Make your bed every day: you should do this every day anyway (says the lady who is greeted by an unmade bed plenty of nights … ), but when life is especially chaotic, the organization and straight lines of a made bed will be a gift at the end of the day. For those of you who are up and out the door while your spouse is still sleeping, ask this one favor for this month: make the bed.
- Have your kids go through their closets and drawers, or go through them yourself, and get rid of everything that doesn’t fit them. Your summer self will thank you, and this organization will boost your mood and make you feel that not everything is falling apart.
- Do one load of laundry each and every day. Ask your kids to help, your spouse, a babysitter. But don’t let one day go by without doing one load of laundry. This way, you’ll never be anxious about the 10 loads waiting for you that you never had time to do. Consider taking all the sheets and towels and dropping them at the laundromat for wash and fold service. For sanity’s sake, it may be worth the extra money.
- If your kids are old enough, hand over the kitchen responsibilities. They can load and unload the dishes, wipe down the counters and sweep the floor. You need help, and they can step up. Even if your house is falling apart around you, with a clean-ish kitchen, you’ll feel so much better.
- Allergy medicine: if you are an allergy sufferer, don’t just take it in stride. Often, the first symptom of allergies is fatigue, and you have no time for that in May! Grab some Claritin or Allegra or whatever you want, but take it!
- Work out and drink your water. Either start working out or continue, but do.not.stop. You will be a better mom if you embrace the hard workouts. Since you are likely drinking more coffee and tea and diet soda (and wine) this month, be sure to drink lots of extra water, too! Rule of thumb: take your body weight and cut it in half. Now, drink that amount of water, in ounces, each day.
- Plan to pick up dinner two to three nights a week. Fried rice, pizza and burgers are not the healthiest, but if that’s what is convenient, embrace it. Just leave the fries and breadsticks behind, and make a salad or put out some raw veggies to go with it. But plan to pick up, as you need the break and make sure you have some veggies. May is hard; you need the help.
- Today, count up all your coaches/teachers/etc. gifts, budget what you have to spend, and go buy gifts or gift cards. Do not let this weekend go by without doing this. Check it off your list!
- Take one hour and try on the dresses/outfits in your closet and make sure you have shoes, jewelry, slips, bras, etc., for every event you need to attend. Put each outfit on your bed and photograph it. Keep them on your phone and as each event comes up, find the outfit and go! And if you are missing a slip, Spanx, don’t have the right shoes … you won’t be caught off guard.
- Lastly, book a massage, facial, mani/pedi or something fun for June. Maybe a girls’ night out dinner. But you’ve made it, and you need to have a prize at the end of the May to look forward to!
We’ve got this, right?! Hold on, it’s going to be a rough ride, but one filled with so many added smiles, laughs and memories. It’s worth it. But let’s hold each other up and not tear anyone down and most of all, allow yourself some grace.
Now go get ’em!