With school starting up in the next few weeks around the country, many families are feeling excited, nervous, or even overwhelmed. All this adds up to one thing, more apprehensiveness. So let’s talk about why this time of year is so hectic and some ways to cope with the back to school stress.
It’s easy to get into a relaxed routine during the summer months. But, as summer winds down, you will no doubt begin feeling a paralyzing sense of dread towards the inevitable changes that are about to take over your life.
You’re not the only one in your household who’s feeling this way, but I think most of us tend to focus on how our kids are feeling and don’t pay that much attention to our state of mind.
Remember this quote, it’s one I try to always recite when I’m suddenly finding myself feeling crushed by the weight of the world around me.
“Self-care is giving the world the best of you, instead of what’s left of you.” ~ Katie Reed
If you are finding that you are grumpy, short-tempered, unfocused, and being all-around bitchy, then you are likely not taking proper care of you. Reread that quote up there. Do you see what it’s telling you?
It’s saying there’s no way you can help your kids deal with how they are feeling during this tumultuous time when you aren’t dealing with it yourself. Get your head straight before you try to help them out. Work on your issues, then once that’s done, you’ll be ready to help them deal with theirs.
Why am I Filled With Uneasiness?
There are many reasons why the back to school season may have you on edge. Let’s explore what those may be.
Changes in schedule
Transitioning from a lackadaisical summertime schedule to that of a rigorous school and activity schedule can wreak havoc on your mood. It can be hard to adjust and will take some time for you to adapt.
Fear of the unknown
The start of each school year is filled with unknown factors such as new teachers, new schools, new subjects, and new peers. As parents we want our kids to fit in, like their teachers, and enjoy school while getting good grades. We want it to be a place they can look forward to going.
With all the unknowns though, it’s no wonder we start to worry. I mean what if they can’t make friends or they hate their teacher, then what?
The concern here isn’t necessarily only about your kids making friends, it’s also about how they will behave while at school. You may be worried they will misbehave and end up in trouble. Maybe this would embarrass you or make you feel like you failed as a parent and think the teacher or principal is judging your ability to parent properly.
Less time with your kids
Going from having your kids around 24/7 to being away from them for 6+ hours each day can leave you feeling anxious, especially if this is the first time they have gone to school.
If your kids participate in after school activities, then you will see them even less.
Adjusting to a new routine
Just the whole process of adjusting your sleep schedules, your meal times, and maybe even changing what time you leave the house in the morning is cause for uneasiness. You may feel grumpy or easily agitated while your body gets used to the new routine.
How are you supposed to feed your kids a sack lunch every day and still make it something they want to eat? I mean one can only eat so many pb&js before they want to scream. Even buying lunch in the school cafeteria can leave you wondering if they are going to like it or not? Plus, you’re giving up control over what they are eating too. And what if your child has a food allergy?
Worried about potential failure
Parents always want their kids to feel smart or special, right? So what happens when they get to school and find that they are average academically, or perhaps they struggle with reading? The way you handle these situations will have lasting effects on your kids, so you wanna get it right.
At the rate kids grow, each new school year usually means a whole new wardrobe, including shoes and backpacks. All this added to the enormous amount of school supplies and you can end up forking out ¼ of your monthly income for just one kid. Stressful!
Ways to cope with the back to school stress
First off, don’t be too hard on yourself. I mean it. You just want the best for your kids and to protect them and be there for them through it all. So the fact that you are freaking out and stressing about a new school year, is a good thing. I’d worry more about you if you weren’t concerned at all.
Furthermore, it’s normal to feel uncomfortable when things in your life/routine change.
Now, let’s figure out how you’re going to cope and start feeling like yourself again.
Arming yourself with as much information as you can get your hands on will help you feel less anxious about all the unknowns. Visit the school and meet your kid’s teachers ahead of time, if possible. This will not only help you out but it will ease your kid’s minds too. You can even send their teachers an email introducing yourself and asking about their teaching styles and anything they can tell you about their expectations.
A week or two before school starts, you should start following some aspects of your new routine. Start going to bed and waking up at the new time. Eat your meals following the times your kids will be eating for school. Ensuring you all eat at the same time will help everyone to be hungry for dinner at the same time, so you can eat together.
Practice how long it takes for everyone to get ready and out the door in the morning. Drive to the school to determine your drive time, but remember to add a few minutes for that crazy school time traffic. Knowing how long it will all take allows you peace of mind so you can sleep well.
Get a list of needed school supplies ahead of time and take your kids shopping. It can be fun to pick out new school supplies and clothes. I’m always a fan of retail therapy!
Decide before school begins if your kids are going to pack lunch or buy it. You may need to grab a lunch bag, thermos, and a water bottle too.
Talk It Out
Sitting down together and talking about back to school can help relieve both your anxiety and your child’s. Be sure to let your child express their concerns and encourage them to explore the why behind them. It’s okay to share some of your worries, but make sure you do it in a way that won’t add to your kid’s stress. Try to be prepared with solutions to these concerns before you bring them up, so you can work through them together.
Planning ahead for back to school stress can effectively help reduce your stress and make the back to school season a happy one. By simply acknowledging your fears and taking a few steps to ease your mind can help make a big difference.
Once your mind is relieved, you can help your kids deal with their stressors too. Sometimes just talking through your worries can make you feel better, plus you might be able to see things from a different perspective which can help you manage your fear.
What ways do you use to cope with back to school stress and uneasiness? Leave a comment below to share your ideas, who knows, your idea might just help someone out.
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