The first step to dealing with end of school year overwhelm

May 27, 2024

Are you in the final countdown, caught up in all of the end of year activities as the school year winds down?

I just got back from a trip to South Carolina to celebrate our nephew’s graduation.  My sister-in-law was so excited and grateful to have everyone visiting, yet she couldn’t wait for it all to be over.  Staying on top of everything that needed to be done for her son, planning the graduation party, and having a houseful of company was stressful and overwhelming.

She wanted to be really present and enjoy the celebration festivities and company, but was struggling and spinning with the lists of everything that needed to be done.  Can you relate?

If you’re struggling with end of school year overwhelm, you’re likely juggling end of year celebrations, field trips, tournaments, concerts, award ceremonies, coordinating thank you gifts for teachers, and trying to make plans for summer too.  It’s A LOT to stay on top of.

The problem is that overwhelm shuts us down, leaves us flustered, and keeps us from effectively getting things done.  Our minds are like pinball machines with our thoughts pinging around all over the place.  We make mistakes, we forget things, and we run behind making apologies to everyone that gets caught in our personal tornado.  

Overwhelm keeps you stuck and unproductive — at a time when you need to be most productive!  It also keeps you from being present to this chapter of your children’s lives.

If you’re like I was for many years, you think the key to getting out of overwhelm is to get more done — because if your list wasn’t so long then you wouldn’t be overwhelmed (or so you think).   But if the lists and all of the hustling worked, we wouldn’t have so many parents dreading this time of year!

The key to dealing with the end of the school year overwhelm doesn’t have anything to do with getting things done on your list — it has everything to do with how you are thinking.

I invite you to review all of the thoughts that you have when you’re overwhelmed. 
Here are some of mine:

  • I have too much to do.
  • I’m so far behind.
  • My list never ends.
  • I don’t know how I’m going to get it all done.
  • I’m so overwhelmed.

Just reading this gives me a tight feeling in my chest!
How about you?

One of the most important things to know about your brain when it comes to overwhelm is that your brain wants to prove your thoughts true more than it wants you to get things done, and it takes your words and thoughts very literally.  So when you think you have too much to do and you’re so behind, your brain will look for more things to add to your to-do list and reasons for you to be behind.  

Since you already stated “I don’t know how I’m going to get everything done”, your brain has stopped looking for solutions to get things done or come up with ways to handle it because you already told yourself I don’t know how.  This is why you shut down and can’t get out of the tornado of overwhelm.

The first step to getting out of overwhelm is to stop TELLING yourself how overwhelmed you are and how much you have to do, and start ASKING yourself how you can best get things done.

Here are some questions that I use to manage my own overwhelm so I can get things done:

  • What exactly has to be done today?
  • How can I best get through this list?
  • How can I best support myself and my kids as I get things done?
  • How can I be more present and enjoy today?

Our brains are wired to answer any questions that we ask.  The key is to start asking better questions.

Did you know that there are simple parenting strategies that can make parenting so much easier?  The problem is that they are completely opposite of our natural parenting instincts and most parents don’t know them.  I’m on a mission to change that by helping parents build a better parenting toolbox, and I’ve made it really easy with my Confident Parenting Club.  Click here to learn more.

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