August is a tough month. Sure, we're still technically in the middle of summer, but with school looming and fresh regrets about those summer bucket list items we didn't check off, it's not uncommon to feel down. Or, as it was put by Stephen Ferrando, director of psychiatry at Westchester Medical Center, the August Blues can feel a lot like one long Sunday night.
In a recent interview with New York Magazine, Ferrando explained that while winter often leaves people in “a vegetative depressive state," the August Blues are marked by “more of an agitated and anxious depressive state."
And it stands to reason that parents may especially feel on edge during August.
Rachel Annunziato, associate professor of psychology at Fordham University, told New York Magazine the month brings about a blend of “anticipation, excitement and a little bit of dread." For parents who are suddenly confronted with thoughts about extracurricular activities, school schedules and what's around the corner after fall, that can cause some preemptive anxiety.
So what can we do if that Sunday night feeling is turning into an everyday feeling this month?
Remember what summer is all about
According to Annunziato, August doesn't need to be all about preparation. It's easy to get obsessed with school supply lists at this time of year, but don't let getting organized for the upcoming school year steal the joy of what's left of your summer. Go get an ice cream after buying those pencils!
Let go of end-of-summer guilt
Resist the urge to jam a bunch of trips and activities into the final weeks of summer if you're already feeling stressed.
In their book, Minimalist Parenting: Enjoy Modern Family Life More by Doing Less, Christine K. Koh and Asha Dornfest suggest parents try not to worry about creating the perfect summer agenda. This advice is often offered at the end of the school year when we're trying to plan for a stretch of free time, but it's just as valuable when the season is ending and we're feeling the pressure to make the most of it.
Don't fall into the comparison trap
As the days tick away we feel the passing of time and wonder: Have the kids had enough fun this year? The answer is yes—even if you didn't spend every day at the beach, even if they spent a couple days helping you with the laundry, even if they sometimes said, “Mom, I'm bored."
Even if your summer didn't end up how you'd imagined it, it's OK. Focus on remembering the fun times your family did have, and give yourself permission to let go of any ideas about a postcard perfect summer.
Don't measure your life against other people's vacation photos. Remember, everyone shares pics of the family frolicking on the beach but no one Snapchats themselves vacuuming out the car afterward.
When all else fails, remember that the end of August has one silver (well, orange) lining: Pumpkin Spice season is just around the corner.