Back to School is right around the corner! We’ve been hunting for the secret cure-all to make the back to school transition more manageable, but what if instead of using the last fleeting days of summer to prepare for school, we decided to enjoy that time? In fact, mom, dad, or guardian playing hooky from work the first week of school can actually make September a more productive month at home and work!
When parents are stressed, it often affects our kids, making transitions harder for everyone involved. Studies show that “parental anxiety causes children to be more anxious” and that 55% of parents say going back to school is stressful.
It’s no wonder that parents feel overwhelmed when they are bombarded with new schedules, shopping for back to school clothes, accumulating new school supplies, making lunches, checking bus schedules, and finding daycare for before or after school. Having one parent or guardian take the first week of school off from work creates the opportunity to tackle the long “back to school to-do list” in the daytime instead of during precious family time in the evening. At the end of the day, the time adjustment means less stress for everyone—and having more time to talk about the school day when kids come home.
What can wait?
Here’s a list of stress-heavy tasks that can wait until after their first week of school.
- Back-to-school clothes: The weather does not magically turn cold the first day of school. Why not shop for just one special back to school outfit before school starts and do the rest while the malls are quiet in the first week of September? This allows you to save time and maybe get some ‘you’ shopping in as well!
- Lunches: If you are the kind of parent or guardian who worries about meal plans or is on the latest bento-box craze, you are not alone; 50% of moms of school-aged children say shopping for and packing school lunches stresses them out. You likely have the basics in your fridge to make at least one or two lunches. Take week one off and leave planning these meals to the first day or two of school. You can even spend one day doing freezer meals making month one of the school year even less stressful!
- Daycare & bus schedules: Alleviate anxiety about daycare and bus schedules by walking kids to and from the bus on week one. Consider introducing kids to daycare routines gradually over the week. You may want to take your child to school day one and two and have them only attend aftercare. Add in before-care routines at the end of the week, making morning transitions more manageable.
- Extracurricular activities: Many extracurricular activities start week two of the school year, but you can still do a dry run for these activities by preparing snack plans and setting up drivers in advance. You can even use time week one to plan out the dreaded family calendar. Schedules are often not confirmed until week one anyway.
Feeling guilty about taking the back to school week off? It is not just you and your children who will benefit from reduced stress when you take off the first week of school! 51% of parents say that the back to school season interferes with work and 44% say that they are distracted at work during this time. Taking time off week one and reducing stress means parents can ensure at-home plans are in place, resulting in less distraction and higher productivity for the remainder of September.
American Journal of Psychiatry 2015 172:7, 630-637
Waban, MA Katie Bugbee in. “Back to School Stress and Anxiety – for Parents.” Care.com, Care.com, 2 Sept. 2015, www.care.com/c/stories/3216/back-to-school-stress-and-anxiety-forparent/.