Back to school anxiety: Parents edition

En Español

Summer is over…no more leisureliness, cozy schedules and sleeping late. Labor Day Weekend is behind us, so that means that all kids are back to school.

Most parents feel excited about starting a new school year, meeting new teachers, and making new friends. However, for some parents, the transition to a new school year can be stressful and overwhelming. In fact, for some families, it is more stressful for the parents than it is for their kids. 

Guess what?

You are not alone. There are many of us feeling the same exact way. I can’t help but feel anxious for a couple of weeks after school starts. My girls are older and more independent now, but I still felt butterflies in my stomach when I dropped them off the first day of school.


Five reasons why parents experience back-to-school anxiety:

1-More rigorous schedule

With school starting, there comes more planning and extra responsibilities, along with a more rigid agenda. Now you oversee earlier wake up and sleep times. You must get everyone out the door on time in the morning. Not only your kids have to adjust to a new schedule but so do you.   

2-Increase in workload

Between carpool, homework, projects, teacher demands, extracurricular activities, kid’s sports commitments etc.; you feel like you need more hours in the day to get it all done.

3-Love

We love our children so much! We worry about our children not liking the teacher, not finding new friends, not making the team or being bullied. Sometimes, the nervousness we feel when we want everything to go well for our kids can turn into anxiety. Its only natural to love and  protect our children, but they can’t live in a bubble. We must allow them to experience their emotions, even if that causes discomfort for us.

4-Fear of failure

We want the best for our children. Sometimes we wonder if we are good enough, smart enough, and capable enough to help our children have a successful school year. Those doubts could make us feel insecure and cause terrible anxiety.

5-Perfectionism

This is a very important one. Thinking that everything will run smoothly and as planned could result in feelings of frustration and critical self-evaluations. Realizing that sometimes we are striving for unattainable ideals or unrealistic goals, would help tremendously. Life is not perfect. Nobody is perfect. If we can understand and internalize this idea, we would feel less anxiety


Five strategies to overcome your own back-to-school anxiety:

1- Acknowledge your feelings

Many parents get so focused on how their kids are handling the new school year, that they have little time to pay attention to their own emotional state. Tune in to your thoughts and feelings. Are you overwhelmed? Are you having trouble sleeping? Are you feeling like you can’t catch a break?

If you ignore how you feel, you won’t be able to overcome it. Keep in mind that change usually elicits anxiety, but if you are having trouble functioning, you might need to seek help from a professional. 

2- Take care of your self

Kids often mirror their parent’s behaviors. If you are stressed out, your kids will pick up on it, and act the same way. Also, your children are looking up to you for comfort and reassurance, so it is imperative to stay calm and collected.

Find some “ME” time every day. Whether you need to exercise, meditate, take a nap, or read, find something that will reenergize you. If you can stay mentally strong and healthy, your family will benefit vastly.

3- Set up for success 

The more organized you are, the easier it is for everyone in the household. 

  • Plan family meals and meal prep on the weekend  
  • Plan lunchboxes ahead of time
  • Write down everyone’s schedule on a family calendar
  • Keep up with the school calendar, emails, and teachers’ texts
  • Email teachers at the first sign of problems 
  • Teach your children to be independent with age appropriate chores
  • Teach your children to pack their backpack and set by the door before bedtime

4- Delegate

You are only human and can’t do it all. Don’t feel guilty about outsourcing some of your responsibilities. Hire someone to help with household chores or transporting kids to and from extracurricular activities. If hiring help is not an option for you, consider talking to family and friends, they will probably be thrilled to help you.  

5- Find a mentor

Find a mom whose kids are older than yours and is willing to help you. Ask questions. Listen to her advice. She knows the teachers and the school demands. You might even become good friends in the process!

1 thought on “Back to school anxiety: Parents edition”

  1. Pingback: Ansiedad de regreso a la escuela: Edición para los padres – Dr Lara's Blog

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