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August 10, 2013
by Cindy Marie Hosszu

Back To School Series: Stress for Parents

August 10, 2013 04:00 by Cindy Marie Hosszu



It is not always just about the kids...back to school help for parents:

Back to school time can be very stressful for both children and parents.  Parents want their kids to be happy and healthy, and get along well in school.  After days of staying up late, sleeping in, and no homework, it can be tough to get back to a routine.   Add to that the stress of the $8.5 billion that the United States spent on school shopping in August 2012, and the tension is even higher. [i]  However, there are some things you can do to help ease the stress, and send the kids off to school with confidence.

Be Prepared

Don’t wait until the last minute.  Create a schedule and do a trial run before school starts.  This will give you an idea of how long the morning routine will take, and what types of things can be done in the evening instead of mornings.  Make lunches, iron, set out clothes, and pack the backpacks before bed, and you will cut out valuable morning time.

Practice bus routines.  Meet the neighborhood kids before the first day, so that your child knows who they will spend the ride with, and it will make it easier to find the right bus after school because they know who to look for on the bus.  Plan play dates prior to school so that the kids will know each other and the ride to school will put them at ease before they get to school.

Visit the school.   Meet the teachers, know what is expected, get teacher contact info, and a get school supply list.  Meeting the teachers will help you decide what types of things are going to be priorities, and what you may need to watch for during the school year.  It can also ease the child’s fears if they do not know the teacher, or are unfamiliar with the school layout.  Inquire about fees, such as lunches, class fees, art fees, etc.  This will allow you to plan your budget.

Gather information.  Know the school web site, know the contact information for principal, superintendent, and phone numbers for administration such as the number to call when your child is ill, or you have questions about events.  Know how the school communicates important information such as school closures, or late starts, and emergency routines.

Get to bed early several nights before going back to school.  We tend to stay up longer as the sun stays up longer.  Our bodies need time to adjust back to the fall season.  Give yourself a couple weeks to adjust to going to bed early.  Start about a half-hour earlier, and gradually add more until you have reached the desired fall bedtime.  If you find it difficult to get the kids to adjust, use relaxation techniques such as a warm bath, stories, or other quiet time activities before you put them to bed.

Create a budget, and know how much you can spend for all school related expenses.  Differentiate between needs and wants, and do your shopping as close to that first day as you can.  Kids always seem to have growth spurts during the summer, and shopping early may mean you will be shopping again early in the year.  Discuss with your child, prior to shopping, the types of things you are going to get, and stick to it.  If you choose to get 5 new shirts, and 5 new pants, the child knows the expectation and will feel content with what they get. 

Designate a desk area.  Homework comes first, so make sure there is a place where the kids have all their supplies, quiet, and a posture of study. 

Make Family Time

Don’t take on extra tasks during this time.  The back to school mad dash is enough stress.  Don’t over-stimulate yourself by taking on too much.  Stick to your priorities.  Remember that kids can be overwhelmed also, and they will need their sleep, and healthy life-style.  Be aware of how they are feeling.

Ask the child about their fears.  The best way to diminish worry is to address it.  Do not give kids new things to worry about by expressing what you think they may worry about, but ask what they are thinking and what they are excited about as the new school year approaches.  Based on what they express, you can address the fears they have.

Establish relaxation for both kids and parents.  Start a fun tradition, such as doing something special the day before school starts.  I like to take my child out for a juice, or ice cream, and do some last minute light shopping for something simple, such as a belt, or hat.  The real purpose is to talk and see what my child is thinking about, but all he knows is that it is super cool to have juice or ice cream with mom, and pick out one last new thing.  You could also do a family marshmallow roast in the back yard, or game night.   Any activities that will allow for natural conversation and fun will be perfect.

Above all, stay positive.  We make it through each new school year, and our kids see the little cues we give off if we are tense.  Remember that this can be an exciting time to watch our kids grow, and develop into the wonderful new person that they are becoming.  Relax and enjoy the pride you have in your amazing kids.

Getting Help:

It is okay to be stressed out. It is normal to be worried about getting everything right and feeling rushed for time. You, as a parent, may benefit from talking to someone about how you are feeling. Counseling to assist in making you the best parent you can be can be helpful. The back to school time can be stressful on your marriage or even work. Therapy can help to relieve the added tension and can help bring back some balance and perspective to life during this time. When it seems like it is all about the kids, sometimes it is important to make sure we are taking care of ourselves.

[i]  "Monthly & Annual Retail Trade, Main Page - US Census Bureau." Census Bureau Homepage. N.p., 29 Mar. 2013. Web. 28 July 2013.


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