Are you feeling a bit breathless? For many of us, April and May are the busiest months of the year. It’s the final push for projects and papers, celebrations and parties. We have three birthdays, an anniversary, an Eagle Scout Ceremony, a prom and a graduation in the span of these two months! The finances are pushed to the limits as well as our energy, patience, creativity, and joy.
How can we finish this school year strong?
Finishing strong can take on different meanings for different personalities. Some of us believe that to finish strong is to perform hard, strive for idealistic perfection, and to cross the imaginary finish line limping and exhausted. We move beyond hard work + meaningful effort into overexertion + overextension of our bodies and souls. This is how I have lived for many years.
Others also believe that this is the definition of finishing strong but instead, they throw up their hands, feel defeated and don’t really do anything well. They offer these celebratory opportunities very little of themselves and are content to sit overwhelmed and passive. That isn’t healthy, loving or life-giving either.
The first thing we need to do to finish strong is to plan our self-care. Lisa Grace Byrne says that the busyness and activities in our lives are like horizontal fence rails. The vertical posts that support and hold these rails are our self-care practices. The busier we are, the closer the fence posts need to be to each other. Normally, when busyness comes, our self-care falls apart. The posts get farther and farther away from each other.
To live well in May, we need to recognize that we must have solid, rhythmic fence posts of self-care in place and make a written plan for ways to refuel.
Guard afternoon quiet hour. Keep plenty of healthy, nourishing snacks and quick meals on hand. Soup is filled with comforting, easy-to-digest goods and makes the perfect lunch. Make sleep a priority at night. This is not the season for binge-watching shows. That’s for June :). Figure out what you *have* to do and outsource the rest. I will be purchasing cupcakes from the bakery for a birthday instead of baking them myself. Getting outside in nature is God’s glorious anti-depressant. Diffuse essential oils. Pray. Breathe. Make sure that you don’t allow work and “getting ahead” to creep into the Sabbath, God’s sweetest weekly gift to you.
Everyone’s self-care fence posts will look different, but everyone needs a plan. Schedule these things in your calendar. If you don’t, they become a wish that will not happen. To love well, you must live well. Living well means taking care of yourself, the emotional center of the family wheel.
The other way to finish this school year strong is to open your heart and live the celebrations and endings well. If we lay aside perfectionism and over-work, choosing instead *realistic* expectations, and if we fill our own wells with rest, God’s love, grace, and joy, we can get off the check-list mentality and give our full presence to May.
These are the days to savor and to remember. A mother who is fully engaged and fully present is the greatest gift to her family, and her heart is able to receive and see the fruit of her hard work. The enemy of our souls wants us to resent the work that May requires, to be martyrs, and to limp through these activities disengaged and bitter. We can choose to say no to that temptation, and instead, with humble, grateful hearts receive the gifts of May.
We have beautiful children accomplishing amazing milestones. They are expressing themselves in poetry anthologies, final research papers, SATs, in prom clothing, and in walking across stages. These are the big, life-changing milestones that we receive the honor to be God’s guests in. He has entrusted His creation of these souls to our care and as gentle stewards, we walk with them and celebrate with them as servants of His great love and trust.
Let’s not miss the beauty, the joy, the awe. Lay down the burdens, the frustrations, the overwhelm, the unrealistic expectations. Receive the gift of rest, of lightness, of renewable care. Give the best of yourself, fully engaged and present, offering the beauty of your creativity, your joy, and laughter.
Make and live a good plan for May.
Finish the year strong in all the right ways. And may it all bring glory to Him along with deep fulfillment + enjoyment to our families and to our own souls.