kids

Make Everyday a Great Day

Yesterday, I made my daughter’s last school lunch.

It wasn’t anything special—a thermos of macaroni and cheese, some carrot sticks, a granola bar, a fruit snack, and a juice box.

Later, I asked her why she didn’t eat the macaroni and cheese. She said, it just didn’t look good sitting in the thermos after all those hours.

And I said, “Well, the good news is next year you can start packing your own lunch!”

And then it hit me: I just packed her last elementary school lunch.

Would I have made her something different if I had known?

I don’t know.

That’s the thing about endings. Unless you’re counting down to the last day of school before summer vacation or the last day of pregnancy before your baby is due, an ending is easy to miss. It’s easy to miss because what we’re actually counting down to is a NEW BEGINNING.

I don’t remember the last time I made my daughter’s bed.
Or tied her shoes.
Or gave her a bath.
Or washed her clothes.

She does all those things all by herself. And clearly—trust me, I know—she’s old enough to make her own lunch. It was just one of those things I said I’d keep doing while she was in elementary school, and then all the sudden elementary school is over, and the one thing—THE ONE THING—I was holding onto isn’t even a thing anymore! I did it for the last time, and I did it just like all the other times.

My friends, you are about to enter the golden years, ages 4-10, when love from you and friends for them come fast and easy.

 I’m not going to be the tired old mom who tells you how fast it goes. You have to learn that on your own.

But I have no remorse about telling you to find a way to make all the times so good that even if it’s the last time, it’s okay. Beginnings are even better.

As my daughter walked her elementary school hallways for the last time, she asked me, “So…did you make a ‘last-day-of-school’ cake?” For the record, I have NEVER made a last-day-of-school cake. I just told you how bad I am at remembering the endings. I do, however, always make a first-day-of-school-cake, so instead of cake, we’ll come home and eat watermelon and throw water balloons at each other (just because we have some in the garage we’ve been saving for a special occasion), and then we’ll probably do what we do on most regular days—decide that it’s going to be a GREAT DAY.

And if everyday is a great day, it doesn’t matter if it’s the first or the last. All that matters is that we’re ready for what’s next.

Because the end of elementary school isn’t about graduating from the fifth grade at all; it’s about going to middle school, a magical place where freedom lives and friendships are hard and homework really cramps your style. My daughter is ready. Who am I to hold her back?

Let her make her own lunch!

2026, here we come!

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You Can REST, but You Can't QUIT

There’s nothing like the month of May to remind you how tired you are. Moms and kids alike are counting down the days until school is out and dropping the ball on all sorts of stuff. You may remember this blog post by Jen Hatmaker that went viral a few years ago:

A few weeks ago, I forgot to take my son to church. The church we’ve been attending every single Sunday for the last ten years. The church where my husband is the actual pastor. That church. As I was getting off the exit, Aaron called me and said, “Forgetting someone?”

Whoops.

In my defense, I normally drive two kids to church on Sunday, and since my younger daughter had a friend spend the night the night before, I did have two kids in the car—one was mine, and one was our neighbor.

So yeah, I forget someone. And I didn’t even have time to go back home and get him.

Two weeks after that, I forgot about a club meeting being hosted at my house. I might have begun thinking I was in the early stages of Alzheimers, but since my co-leader forgot about the meeting too, and she’s nearly a decade younger than me, I didn’t feel so bad.

We’re all in this together, folks.

May is filled wth sports tournaments, dances, end of year parties, and tests. Our brains are TIRED.

I was behind a bus on my way home from a meeting yesterday afternoon, and I counted 17 kids who all exited the bus while staring down at their phones. They were zombies.

But who could blame them? If I wasn’t the one driving, I probably would have been staring at my phone too! And truly, I do find myself zoning out at the end of everyday. It’s a conscious effort to keep going.

(This is the quote that hangs in my daughter’s room. She’s a runner.)

Unless you puke, faint, or die KEEP GOING.
— Jillian Michaels

I don’t want to wish away May. It’s a beautiful month. We’ve finally said goodbye to winter. The grass is green, the trees are filled with leaves, and warm weather greets us every morning. The key to having an awesome May is the key to every busy season: PREPARATION.

In September, I know that May is going to be busy. This should not be a surprise. I have a calendar. I know what sports my kids’ play. I know there will banquets and teacher appreciation and graduation parties. I know all of this MONTHS in advance. None of it should take me by surprise.

1) Begin stocking the gift closet after Christmas or at least take notes on things you see that would make great gifts. These are some of my favorite go-to gifts for graduates: You can purchase this or this and it will be here in two days. And of course, cash is always appreciated. No advance planning necessary.

2) Plan easy meals: My kid-friendly favorites are these Ham & Cheese Party Sandwiches, Homemade Pizzas, or anything that uses a grocery store rotisserie chicken (Chicken & Noodles, Chicken Tacos, Broccoli Rice)

3) Remember to exercise. This is the one thing you’ll be tempted to drop immediately. After all, who has time to exercise? I say, who has time not to? I love to work out in the morning, but during this season, I realized I just couldn’t do that every day. On the days I can, I do, but on the days that are just too busy I settle for running up to my gym while my daughter is at dance. I can only get in 30-40 minutes, but that’s enough time to do what I need to do. Plus, I don’t feel guilty about wasting time in the car or resentful because I didn’t get to exercise at all. If all else fails, just take the dogs for an extra lap down the street. That’s all it takes—a little bit extra and you’ll feel great.

4) Schedule a day to spend time with friends. There’s a lot to celebrate, but in May it’s almost never about you. Even Mother’s Day comes with pressure to honor our own parents and grandparents and spend time with our children. It’s lovely, of course, but celebrations are important for morale. They give us hope and remind us that we have friends and purpose, and that life is fun. Grab coffee with a friend, go for a walk together, see a movie while the kids are in school. (I did this today and lingered an hour longer than I probably should have, and I don’t regret it for one second.)

5) This post is about rest. It’s about taking a break for a moment when what really sounds good is taking a break forever. As the school year draws to a close and the kids are cleaning out their desks and throwing out all their old papers, think about how you can implement this same ritual at home. This is a great time for you to take a personal inventory of all the things you really don’t need anymore (Say goodbye to all the yucky water bottles and lunch boxes. Say goodbye to all those papers you’ve been saving just in case.). Get rid of the stuff you can see, and then get rid of the stuff on your calendar. What do you want to continue? What is coming to a natural end? What makes you feel alive?

Enjoy your summer, and we’ll talk about next year in August.

See you soon!

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