Mom showing the signs of MESS.
Photo: Pixland/Thinkstock
Welcome to that long stretch of the calendar that lies between spring break and the last day of school. The next few weeks can be tough on the whole family as the academic year grinds to a stop. We've all heard of senioritis, but what do you know of MESS? Have you noticed any of these symptoms in your household?

  • Homework fatigue
  • Test-date memory loss
  • Decreased backpack organization
  • Increased desire to stay in bed
  • Carpool tunnel syndrome
  • Diminished interest in brown-bag lunches
Sound familiar? I'm not talking about your sixth-grader—I'm talking about you, Mom. You have all the signs of MESS: Make Everything Stop Syndrome. What seems like such a fine idea in September—education—can wear down every ounce of patience and discipline you have in May. The hours of homework supervision, the long waits in the pickup line, the never-ending preparation for tests in subjects you can't even remember taking in school, like earth science. It's not just kids who drag themselves to the end of the school year. Parents feel the pain too.

So here are a few suggestions for combating MESS:

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize
Someone in the house has to keep their focus on what's really important: not ending up in summer school! So if Junior is dangerously close to a repeat of Algebra 1, you owe it to both of you to maintain close attention to homework completion, test scores and a fabulous teacher's gift.

Relax...a Little Bit
The longer days in the spring mean that you don't have to hunker down for the evening at 5 p.m. Let the kids play a little later outside after school, then bring the hammer down before American Idol starts.

Recommit to Not Committing
I know you are a dedicated school volunteer, the go-to mom in your class. But resist your do-good instincts and do not sign up to bring watermelon to every end-of-year activity. You'll strain something. After weeks of art fairs, spring sings and history project presentations, you'll be too exhausted to enjoy summer. Pace yourself.

Hang In There, Baby
Summer's coming! Remember that inspiration poster with the cat hanging from the wall waiting for Friday? Well, in this case, you're the cat. Believe that you can get to the end of the school year with a smile on your face. And then remember what it feels like in the middle of August, when you can't wait for that big yellow school bus to take them away again!

What's the strategy for combating MESS at your house?

Lian Dolan is a mother, wife, sister, friend, daughter, writer and talk show host. She writes and talks about her adventures in modern motherhood for her website, ChaosChronicles.com, and her weekly podcast, The Chaos Chronicles.

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