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5 Steps to End the School Year, Stress-Free

It’s that time of year:  The days are getting longer, kids are getting restless, and parents are getting frazzled with an overload of responsibilities.  From award nights to deadlines, the end of the school year is easily one of the most stressful times on the calendar.  A few years back, I decided to put some order to the chaos and today, I’m going to share my tips with you.

These are the 5 steps I take at the end of every school year.  By planning these out a few weeks in advance, our family is able to breeze through the last few weeks of school.

Click here for a no-frills, free, printable pdf end-of-year checklist


Step One: Teacher Gifts

We try to go simple with teacher gifts every year.  A gift card will do:  it creates no clutter, requires no research on Pinterest, and the recipient can get whatever they want.  There are two ways to go about the gift card issue:  1) Read through the teacher’s list of favorite things and get something personal for each one; or 2) Get the same generic card for everyone on the list (who wouldn’t love a Target card?).  Last year, I went with option one, which had me driving all over town.  This year though, I’m phoning it in and everyone gets Target cards.

The first step to prepare for end of year gifts is to make a list of all the people you plan to buy for.  Once you’ve set that list, you can decide if they’re all getting the same thing, or if you need to make a  notation next to each name on the list, indicating what they’re getting.  Purchase your gift cards earlier than the last week of school and also get a stack of small Thank You cards.  Give your kids the Thank You cards and the list a weekend or two before school is out and let them fill out the cards.  Once the cards are done, you can slip the gift cards inside and wait until the last week of school.

Side note:  don’t wait until the last day of school to give the teacher their gifts.  That last day is always chaos and a small gift might be forgotten or lost in the shuffle.  Try to bring the teacher gift at the beginning of the last week.

Step Two: Class Parties

There are three things you can count on in life:  death, taxes, and classroom parties.  A few years back, I ran into a mommy friend at the grocery store.  She was in a panic.  It was the day of the Valentine’s party and she had signed up to bring whipped cream.  She’d been to 3 stores already and everyone was sold out of it.  Turns out her classroom wasn’t the only one planning for whipped cream that day.  It taught me a valuable lesson though: think of what you’ll need and purchase it as soon as you know you’re going to need it.

What I do every year is try to think of about 3 things that I can donate to the party.  When I plan those 3 things, I think carefully about what my schedule is going to look like the week of the party.  Do I have time to pick up cupcakes or do I need something I can buy in advance?  Once the list of party items is sent out, I scan it quickly and look for the things I’ve already decided I can do easily, and sign up for one of those items immediately.

Step Three:  Inventory Your Stuff

Every school any of my children have attended has always had a mind-boggling amount of stuff in the Lost and Found at all times.  Seriously, how are these kids functioning without coats, shoes or lunchboxes?  How do those items even get to the lost and found?  Anyway, all that lost and found stuff goes away at the end of the year.  Now is a good time to dig through your kid’s things and make sure nothing is missing.  Also, while you’re digging through, look for anything your kid is carrying around that doesn’t belong to them.  There’s precious little time to return things to their owners.

Step Four: Yearbooks

My kids start asking about their yearbooks in February.  There’s some kind of excitement that comes with passing that book around to friends for signatures.  Unfortunately, those things always come in at the worst possible time.  The good news is that the school knows in advance when they’re going to distribute the books.  Make sure you know that date and put it in your planner.  The day yearbooks are getting distributed, send your child to class with two Sharpies – One for signing and one back up in case the first goes missing or a friend needs one to sign with.  Also, plan to let your kid stay a little late on yearbook day and get to school early the next morning so they have adequate time to get signatures.

Step Five:  The Final Clean Out

Once school is out, don’t let that overflowing backpack sit all summer.  Deal with it right away and don’t look at it again until August.  Empty that pack and start making realistic decisions about the contents in it.  Broken writing utensils and art supplies go to the trash.  Books get put away on the shelf or sent off to Goodwill.  Full notebooks get a quick look through, then they’re off to the trash.  If there’s still space in them, your kid might want to keep them for sketching.  If you keep them, find a place for them to go.  Take time with your kid to go through all their artwork.  Let them show it off to you.  Pick a few special pieces you want to keep in a safe place, then scan and recycle the rest.  Take all the unused supplies and put them in a stockpile for next school year’s supplies.

Now that your backpack is cleaned out, throw that thing into the wash and do any necessary mending.  Once it’s done, fold up your kiddo’s gym bag, slip it inside and put that mess away for the next few months.

Once all 5 steps are completed, you’re ready to enjoy summer!

Do you have anything you do to prepare for the end of the year?  I’d love to hear new ideas!





Thank you to the following blogs and link parties for letting me share:
Totally Terrific Tuesday, Show and Tell, Create Link Inspire, Lets Be Friends,
Wine’d Down Wednesday

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2 thoughts on “5 Steps to End the School Year, Stress-Free

  1. Jean says:

    The end of the school year looks a little different around here since my boys are in middle school and high school (There is an indescribable bliss in not having to worry about class parties!) but I love the tip about the yearbooks and the final clean out. Hope you have a great “school” year end!

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