Back-to-school time can be stressful for all involved—the kids heading back to school, the parents who have to shuttle them around and get them going, and the teachers who have an immense job ahead of them.
When the carefree summer days end, it can be difficult to dive back into the school routine. While we all know how important routine is for children (and parents), we are all also very aware of how hard it can be to get back into a set schedule after having a few months of lax summer routines.
If you feel like you have a headache coming on just thinking about getting those school tasks accomplished—think checking off items on the classroom supply list, packing healthy lunches, and trying to figure out how the heck you are going to get your kids to wake up at 7 a.m. every day—your stress level is likely at an all-time, unhealthy high.
Here are some ways you can combat the back-to-school stress in both you and your children.
1. Be in a positive state of mind
Our kids pick up on our stress. If you are stressed out, it can make your kids stressed out, and when everyone is stressed it's a recipe for disaster. Work on positive thinking. This goes for both parents and kids. If you think positively, stress will have a hard time getting in.
Positive thinking and back-to-school can go together! It may not be easy, but it can be done. Focus on the good. Turn everything negative around.
For example, your child says, "Ugh I hate school, I do not want to go back!" While you may sympathize with his feelings (remember your old school days?) you need to twist it around. Likely, your child is anxious and stressed about the upcoming school year.
Instead of saying, "I know!" say something like, "You will get to see all the friends you have not seen all summer," "You will get to play soccer again once school starts," or something that tells your child there are good reasons to look forward to school starting. It is all about changing your way of thinking.
2. Know that some things can wait
We see you moms (and dads). We see you frantically running around Target or Staples trying to get every last item on that classroom supply list before school begins. We see you having your kid try on long pants and long sleeved shirts against their will. We see you, and we understand. But take a step back. You are doing too much.
Why is it that we feel the need to get everything in place before school begins? Do stores shut down after the first day of school? Does the internet and online shopping cease to exist once school is in session? Of course not.
Yes, it is important to get all the necessary school supplies prior to school starting. Again, if you plan ahead, that part can be easy-breezy (and stress free) for both your and your kids. But do not run yourself ragged trying to get fall or winter clothing, non essential classroom supplies (like tissues), and the like. Know that some of that can wait until after school has started. Relax, take your time, and know that not every item has to be checked off your list before that very first day.
3. Talk it out
As adults, we know how bad stress is for our well being. We need to make attempts to show our children how to work through stressful situations. One way to accomplish that is to talk about what is stressing us out. Back-to-school time is inevitably stressful for all involved, whether your child is showing signs of stress or not.
Have a relaxed discussion with your kids ahead of the start of the school year. You may find that they are just as stressed out as you are. And remember, some of your stress can transfer to them. By casually talking, you not only will become aware of how your child feels, but it may actually help ease much of the stress simply by not keeping it all bottled up inside. Once you know what specific things are stressing out your child, you can then give them the tools to work through it. This will help keep the last few days of summer and first few days of school a little more relaxed and a little less stressed.
4. Be excited for what is to come
Back-to-school time is exciting. Even for nervous teenagers, it can be a moment to really look forward to what is ahead. As you talk with your child, find out what they are looking forward to. It has to be something. Maybe it's a class they really like, friends they have not seen, getting their driver's license – everyone has something coming around during the school year to be excited about.
Once we put on a happy face, we help melt the stress away. Being excited for a new school year is great, and it is possible, even with the most difficult children (and parents). Part of the stress of the school year is facing something new. Turn the stress of something new into an exciting moment.