What is it about the end of summer and the beginning of the school year, ladies, that leads to SO.MUCH.OVERWHELM. My brain feels like I I have been swimming underwater through murky waters and so when I saw that they literally had bog snorkeling champsionships in Wales a few days ago, I thought, that describes it perfectly! (I now feel like this should be made into a song, perhaps similar to “Tub Thumping” from the 90s.) So let’s discuss — are you also overwhelmed and stressed around back-to-school time? How do you deal with back-t0-school stress as a parent?
These are the sources of some of my big back-to-school stresses:
- End of summer stress! My goodness it went by fast… we got nothing from our bucket list done… and so many things fell by the wayside. For example, the “read for 15 minutes daily” rule at the beginning of the summer seemed so eminently doable — but let me tell you, we have fought and nagged about it for approximately three hours, resulting in posssssssssibly four hours of reading. Winning. And then you start thinking about how you only GET 18 of these summers with your kids and my goodness my oldest just turned 8… and it just isn’t fair.
- Last minute vacations! One of my besties had a destination wedding on August 17, and we took a little last-minute roadtrip over Labor Day Weekend — and somehow going on those trips and planning for those trips has exhausted me.
- School-related purchases! Both of my kids somehow went through a growth spurt in just the last month, and my eldest is big enough to care about what clothes he wears — so gone are the days of buying a bunch of 5Ts, ripping them open and throwing them in the washer and voilà, new wardrobe. Noooo… now we have to try them on, and assess if they’re too long, and I don’t know, which Star Wars shirt looks better? I tend to opt out of school supply purchasing requirements by just paying an absurd amount to have them all boxed up and ready for us the first day (thank goodness for 1st Day School Supplies!) but in the past I’ve gone to multiple stores to find the properly sized pencil box…
- The kids are crazy and stressed: Understandably, they’re stressed out about going back to school — but that just means we’re dealing with disturbed sleep, meltdowns, freakouts, brotherly fights — and pretty much ALL of us have a very short fuse right now.
- New schedules and routines: We’re all trying to adapt to new schedules and routines — I now have to think about packing lunches in the morning whereas I had the whole summer off. Unlike in previous years, both kids are in a nut-free classroom this year, which means that my stockpile of Uncrustables is now null and void… and of course both kids have randomly decided they will not eat anything else I packed in previous years. So we’ve been doing a lot of taste tests.
- (Finally, this is a ME thing, but:) My eldest turned 8: Between travel for the wedding and the start of school we probably didn’t need anything else — but lots of family came from near and far to celebrate his birthday, which was lovely but always brings about its own kind of stress.
Fun fact: all of these little things count as emotional labor, and as we’ve discussed before, it disproportionately falls on moms. ANYWAY: I’ve been feeling totally overwhelmed with back-to-school stress as a parent. Some things I think I’ll do next year:
Get on school sleep schedules ahead of time. This primarily is about bedtime right now — we’re totally guilty of “summer bedtime” where they stay up later because it’s light out and we’re less strict about bedtimes. But for those of you who are blessed with children who sleep in (maybe once mine are teens? sigh) then I can see this being very much about wake-up times.
Avoid last-minute travel. I really didn’t have a choice this year because, like I said, one of my besties got married… but it really solidified how a mid-August vacation just makes me crazy.
Practice self-care more. Book a massage for the first week of school — sign up for a new workout class — schedule a date night — splurge on a small purchase you’ve wanted, like a book or a new nail polish color. (This was our last discussion on ways to self-care ideas for working moms.)
Delegate or “nope” more things. We talked about this when we rounded up holiday delegating ideas — you can assign some tasks to other people (even virtual assistants!) and you can just say NOPE to a lot of things as well.
How about you, ladies — are you feeling overwhelmed? How do you cope with back-to-school stress as a parent?