Handling Back-to-School Stress
August is always a stressful time if you're a parent, grandparent, teacher or student. Adjusting back to your school year routine takes a good deal of planning and self-discipline. While there are always things to be excited about with the start of a new school year, even positive changes bring about stress.
Here are some keys to keeping yourself calm and negotiating a successful start to this school year:
1) Plan ahead. Communicate with your school to find out logistics of what your child will need, drop-off and pick-up procedures, updating phone numbers and check-out permissions, and scheduling any after-school or in-school activities. The more you can cover these bases in advance, the less chaotic you will feel that first week of school.
2) Communicate with your child. Have age-appropriate conversations with your child about what to expect. Invite them to ask questions and let them know they can come to you early and often about any concerns they have. We often overlook the importance of keeping our children in the loop, but this is a key way of helping them manage their stress, as well.
3) Manage Your Time. Be careful not to over-commit yourself, your child or your family. You may feel pressure to have your child involved in several things in order to create a rich childhood experience. However, often the best experiences happen in the context of a relaxed family atmosphere, where everyone can slow down and enjoy what they are doing. So, keep in mind, sometimes less is best.
4) Routine. Establish a manageable, healthy routine for yourself, your child and your family that includes plenty of time for sleep, homework, activities and plenty of relaxed family moments, such as meals and weekend fun. The more you can stick to a consistent schedule, the easier it is for everyone to transition from one activity to the next without surprise or frustration.
Larry Deavers is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker and Executive Director of Family Counseling Service of West Alabama.