April 30th, 2012
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As a single parent, I can feel myself entering that time of year every parent knows as “crunch time.”

The end of the school year is upon us and that always means that something that should have been done earlier in the school year and was forgotten or postponed now suddenly has to be done.  Everyone knows exactly when the school year ends and is starting to count the days until they can be free of homework and enjoy summer.

Whether it’s a term paper, an art project, extra credit to try and raise a grade or a presentation of some sort, all of these school demands are careening into each other and if you as the parent don’t play traffic cop with these assignments, then they will all end up as messy as a five car crash with at least one of your children in the middle of it having a crying or yelling fit.

Throw into that mix a birthday party or two or a prom and your stress level is reaching new heights.

A lot of this is supposed to be fun and depending on the age of your child, a lot of this is also your child’s responsibility.  But that doesn’t help eliminate the tension between you and your child.  It may not be your school assignment, but you still know that something’s due or at least that it needs to be worked on.

I am reaching the end of the school journey with my son graduating from college in May but I vividly remember the late nights and lost sleep because we were trying to fit everything in to the last weeks of the school year.

For all of you parents out there doing double duty, here are some stress busters:

 — Find Harmony.  It may be impossible to find a quiet room so you may have to go into the bathroom and just lock the door to temporarily escape the chaos for at least 10 minutes.  With your eyes partially closed, focus on your breathing and repeat the same word or phrase over and over again–like “um” or “one” or my favorite, “chocolate.”  The process of repeating the same word will help clear your mind and relax your breathing and your inner parent.

 — Get Moving.  Cortisol is a hormone released from the adrenal gland in times of stress such as when you are feeling anxiety or fear.  Guess what?  Exercise burns cortisol and makes you a happier and healthier Mom or Dad.  Walk or march in place as you are making those late night brownies that your child promised for their class’ end-of-the-year picnic.

Laugh It Off.  Crunch time can bring out everyone’s dramatic side.  Laughing reduces anxiety, tension and stress.  Try to find the lighter side as you are driving to a 24-hour CVS at midnight to buy CDs that have to be burned TONIGHT!  You can buy some M&Ms for yourself to eat in the car on the way back home so you don’t fall asleep.  Remember, school will soon be over and months from now you won’t be able to catch your breath when you tell the CVS story to your friends.

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