MU Extension offers resources.



Linda Geist

COLUMBIA, Mo. – The busy time of the year is upon us – prom, graduation, spring sports and end-of-school banquets. This flurry of activities can bring stress, especially in rural communities, where these activities may coincide with spring planting, says Jeremiah Terrell, a University of Missouri Extension human development specialist.

Now is the time to set priorities and make a plan for the entire family, Terrell says. Good time management is key to stress reduction.

A number of tools exist to create calendars on computers, he says. A paper calendar also works and lets family members easily add to it.

Use the news reporter’s four W’s: who, what, when and where. List and color-code each family member’s activities to get a handle on who is where at what time. If you live in the country, add travel time to the event.

This will help in meal planning and transportation needs. Find a balance and don’t be afraid to ask family members, other parents or neighbors who have children in the same activities to help. Before things get really busy, put some meals in the freezer or buy some grab-and-go foods to have on hand.

Prom and graduation can put families under financial stress. Prom dresses, salon visits, flowers and tuxedo rentals can eat up a big chunk of the monthly household budget. Set a budget and shop for the best prices when you can.

Think of the day as blocks of available time instead of a to-do list, Terrell says.

Try to work on one thing at a time when possible. “Multitasking is a myth,” he says. “When we try to multitask, we only give micro-attention to several things. Jumping back and forth uses up mental energy that could be better used to focus on one thing and do it well.”

Sometimes, Terrell says, it is best to follow advice often credited to Mark Twain: Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day. Tackle the hardest task first, Terrell says, and it will compound success throughout the day.

Most of all, make time for play, fun and rewards. The end of the school year is a time to recognize accomplishments of students, their parents and others who contributed to their success.

Do not be afraid to seek help when stress mounts, Terrell says. MU offers several resources to help.

Through a three-year USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant, MU Extension provides stress assistance and suicide prevention services for farmers, ranchers, other agricultural workers, youths and farm families. Through this North Central Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network grant, Missourians experiencing stress can access the free Iowa Concern Hotline at 800-447-1985 or

Related MU Extension programs:

• Taking Care of You,

• Show-Me Strong Farm Families,

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