Mom Burnout is Not the Cure for End of the School Year Chaos

May is the busiest month of the year in my house.

I think this is true for many families, especially those with kids.


There are all the end of the year extras that completely fill our calendar. 

We have award ceremonies for academics, sports tournaments, and more. 

It's the final push for everything, when we’ve been running at high speed, since returning from Spring Break. Everything is due and all the deadlines are rapidly approaching. 

One more field trip to squeeze in. One more banquet. One more project. One more celebration. Not to mention the emotions of a season full of endings. 

In Chicagoland, it snows in April and the next day it’s 80 degrees. Summer seems to just appear when it wants and we are anything but prepared.

We’ve still got our winter coats hanging on hooks in our laundry room and our patio furniture stored in the garage, when the weather turns to the heat of the dog days of summer somewhere in mid May. 

This year my husband and I had back to back trips at the beginning of the month, further intensifying our chaos. Our poor communication and planning led to confusion, frayed nerves, and irritated feelings of resentment and more.  

This Saturday I was scheduled to be in four places at the same time.

Sunday, luckily only two.  

There were no groceries in the fridge. One lonely, rotting, banana in the fruit basket. No clean laundry. 

Immediately my own self care was thrown out the door.

This kind of overwhelm used to be fueled by drinking. When asked if I was a low functioning or high functioning drinker, my response is that...“I was an over functioning drinker.”  

The guilt from my drinking led to high performance in almost every other area. Not being present for many moments, led to being nearly manic with my productivity in others.

I woke up every day for years hating myself. However, because the kitchen continued to be clean and I continued to show up to work and the kids' activities, it appeared everything was fine. In fact, I seemed to be doing “very well for myself”, which is the exact lie I desperately wanted to believe. I was certainly not struggling badly enough to have to quit drinking. I was definitely not in any sort of rock bottom. Silently hating yourself isn’t rock bottom enough. Homelessness, a prison sentence, an estranged child, or receiving a terminal diagnosis, might be. As long as you don’t have those devastating consequences and you are able to show up fully manicured with a smile on your face, things are fine. I told myself to keep going. I believed my drinking was no problem and if it was, my continued servitude, catering to the needs of others, was my apology.

This week, I felt that familiar heart pounding over functioning anxiety. I was terrified that I would let a ball drop. I would let someone down. I wasn’t able to be there for everyone at the same time. I would disappoint my family. I was running on empty. I had nothing left to give. I was doing my best and it wasn’t good enough. The loud inner critic was screaming. I was “in the weeds”, as Brene Brown would say, but not yet “blown”. 

Here’s the thing, I didn’t pour alcohol on it. 

Here’s what I did instead.


  • I gave myself extra time between activities for a 20 minute meditation, so I could show up fully when I arrived. I wanted to feel relaxed, not rushed, on the commute, in between activities. 


  • I prioritized a walk in nature over makeup and hair for a coaching call. I showed up with a make-up free face and a baseball hat. Guess what?! My client noticed this and was grateful for it.  


  • I made a quick run through the grocery store without a meal plan and splurged on pre-cut fruit, pre-made sandwiches, pre-made muffins, and healthy-ish snacks on the go. I did this in 30 minutes and didn’t overthink a thing. This happened at 9pm on Friday night when I was tired. I knew these 30 minutes would set us up for greater success and less stress in the upcoming days. 30 minutes on Friday saved hours of decision making fatigue, errands, and total junk food the rest of the weekend.


  • I let the house be imperfect, knowing it was temporary.


  • I asked for carpool help.


  • I communicated my limitations with everyone involved. 


  • I accepted that I was only one person. I didn’t expect me to be in four places at once. I recognized that was impossible. I would be late. I would miss some things. It would not be perfect and everyone would be fine. 


  • I trusted the resilience of my family. I let this weekend be a good flex in “we can do hard things.” 


  • I worked towards a good attitude, not a perfectly executed plan.    


  • I reframed my mindset. I was grateful that my children got some lessons in gaining independence, whether that was driving on the highway for the first time, or spending lots of time home alone. 


  • My oldest daughter gave me an out for volunteering nearly upon arrival. Instead of staying like my martyr instincts suggested, I thanked her. Then, I promptly skipped out of that high school gym to go play cards with my girlfriends.


  • I got takeout food when needed. I will continue to get more take out food than usual in the upcoming weeks. I started brainstorming the best and healthiest family style food to order in the days ahead.


  • I blocked my calendar for personal time this week. I added my task lists as appointments with myself. I scheduled my workouts as top priorities.


  • I am skipping optional meetings this week and next for pool time sitting alone.


  • There are just a few things that have to get done this week. I will measure my success on these things alone, and let the rest go. The #1 project is a homemade gift for my daughter’s 8th grade graduation. It is my most important project this week and it will come before everything.


Burnout is not an option for me anymore. I won’t drive myself into the ground. I won’t beat myself into more productivity. I am not a race horse. I am a human who wants to enjoy my life, not just accomplish my life. 


I do not dread the upcoming weeks. I pat myself on the back. I prepped my family so we can all enjoy the hustle and take in the moments of these final weeks. These are the days I will long for when they are gone, so I am going to really be here in them when I have them. My oldest will be a Senior next year so the time is now. Sobriety is the greatest gift in buying time. 


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