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Managing Back to School Stress

Parents have a lot on their plate: mortgage payments, healthcare, caring for elderly parents, raising kids, just to name a few. As the new school year approaches, they face additional stressors — paying for back-to-school supplies, clothes, sporting activities and possibly tuition. Many parents may also be worried about their children starting a new school, changing school districts, facing a more rigorous academic year or dealing with difficult social situations.

No matter how much parents plan for the beginning of back-to-school season, half of them say it doesn’t go as smoothly as they planned. In fact, a 2015 survey reveals that 55% say the back-to-school season is stressful. And 30% feel anxious about it.

Why? The early and rigid schedules, shopping for necessities, juggling grownup work with kids’ (school) work, finding after-school care and dealing with plans falling through. It’s a lot to handle. And 51% of parents say that the school season interferes with their work in some way.

In addition — it is not uncommon to hear kids and teens complain about returning to school as the summer season winds down. While some are excited to return to school in order to learn or to see their friends, others may struggle due to nervousness, anxiety, or dread surrounding an increase in their workload.

To help reduce the stress of returning to school, there are some ways to check in on that could help both parents and children:

1 Creating structure around home life can help reduce stress by providing a sense of order and familiarity that can feel safe.

2 No overdoing: It can be difficult to manage responsibilities during the day and stress levels can increase dramatically for a variety of reasons. In addition to work, school and managing homework, participation in too many extracurricular activities for kids and no down time for parents can add to the feelings of being overwhelmed during the school year.

3 Use the resources: technology gives us countless ways to manage busy schedules. In addition to reminder and calendar apps, many schools have ways to engage both students and parents through technology with homework scheduling apps, math and science games, and portals where parents and students can login to view assignments, grades, and upcoming responsibilities.

4 Communicate with others: Ask for help. Speaking with teachers, coaches, and other professionals can help ensure others are aware of concerns and are able to assist in any way possible.

5 Seek professional help: Working with an outside the school counselor or therapist can be one way to cope and begin to sort out overwhelming stresses and offer tools to overcome day to day issues.