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Beating Back-to-School Stress

It’s that time of year again. The kids are getting restless, and folders, notebooks and markers, crayons, and art supplies galore are taking over stores! 

Just thinking about it makes me anxious. I’m sure it does for every parent from August through September. However, this doesn’t need to be the case. Here are a few helpful tips to help you stay present and calm and beat back to school stress. 

  1. Take a Day Trip – School is still a few weeks away, so take a day off from work and take yourself and the kids to the beach, the Poconos, or something else you had been planning to do all summer but haven’t. Time goes by so quickly. Enjoy some time with your kiddos before they are all grown up.
  2. Find Grace – You don’t have to be perfect. Your kids don’t have to be perfect. Stopping at the drive-through for dinner when you don’t feel like cooking is okay. Telling your child that the test they failed is no big deal rather than lecturing them is a gift that will help your child learn to deal with failure in a healthy way.
  3. Say No – We all know times have changed, and we are desperate to give our children all the things we didn’t have, but sometimes it is too much. Kids don’t have to do a sport every season; they definitely don’t need to do multiple. If all you do is run children to and from practice or activities, when are you spending time with them or finding time for yourself?
  4. Organize – We have a large dry-erase monthly calendar in our kitchen. I use different markers for each person. It helps a lot. My schedule varies, so it helps my husband know where I am. It also keeps you from double booking, which will help reduce your stress.
  5. Routine– Establish a routine from wake up to bedtime that gives everyone their own tasks to do, so it doesn’t all fall on your overburdened shoulders. Rather than doing it all yourself, ask your kids for help with age-appropriate tasks. My 11-year-old sets the table, checks the mail, takes out the recycling, and dusts. He knows he needs to do these things before he can play video games or watch TV.
  6. Take time for yourself – This is the most important one. Don’t let months go by without spending a night out with a friend or having a date night. Being a good parent means taking care of yourself before your loved ones.
  7. Skip it – If you aren’t feeling something you have planned, skip it. Don’t do it all the time, but if you are having a day where one thing after another goes wrong, or you wake up feeling like you can’t…don’t- skip it! I know it’s trendy, but a self-care day is a thing. It isn’t going to the salon and getting your nails done. It’s saying no thank you to the day ahead.
  8. Reflect – At the end of each day, sit with your thoughts for about ten minutes: no TV, no music, no talking in the background. Sit quietly and reflect on what has happened, good or bad, without judgment, and process it. It’ll keep your stress from turning into anxiety or depression.

Good luck, and if you see someone in the back-to-school section of Target struggling with multiple lists and whiny children, wish them luck, too. Halloween will be here before you know it, and the pressures of creating the perfect Christmas will raise your blood pressure again. So take a few deep breaths and dip into the list above when you need a little more help. 

Interested in learning more about ways to cope with stress? Try Kathleen Megahan’s workshop “Stress Relief for Busy People” on Friday, September 29th, from 6:30-7:30p. Learn More