Back to School Juggling Act

Most of us have trouble juggling. The woman who says she doesn’t is someone whom I admire, but have never met.  ~Barbara Walters


*This article will be reprinted for the Steamboat Pilot & Today, August, 2013.


Going back to school means more structure to your child’s day, but you may find yourself thrown into an overwhelming juggling act! Homework, after school activities, getting to school on time, refereeing complex social situations, work, parenting time schedules, paying for school supplies and fees, deciphering a new class schedule, meal planning, bedtime resistance, and early wake up calls can be big stressors.

Here are some ideas to help your family adjust:

Be kind to yourself. Remember that these changes are normal and other people feel the stress too.  Once you find a rhythm and a routine, it usually gets better. In the meantime, it’s ok to give yourself a break and say few kinds words to yourself, just like you would say to a friend.

Communicate and strategize. If you have a parenting partner, talk with him or her about the different and extra demands on both of your schedules. Think about tasks that you “must do” versus those that can wait. Where can you use some help? It’s impossible to solve every problem with a perfect solution; where is any easy place to start?

Recognize your child may feel stressed. If your child seems more irritable, excited, or tired, he or she may be adjusting to the change. Consider starting a conversation by saying, “Going back to school can be stressful. It takes our bodies time to adjust. You seem more tired than usual. I wonder if your body is getting used to going back to school?”

Encourage and plan time to recharge. Kids recharge their batteries through play, either alone or with friends and family. Tell your child they can expect some downtime during the day and allow for that to happen. Make time during the week to do something together, even for 10 minutes, that he or she chooses and enjoys. Consider scheduling your own downtime too. For me, if it’s not on the “to do list,” it probably won’t happen and it’s arguably more important than doing the laundry!

Remember the basics. Adequate nutrition, sleep, and physical activity are essential to healthy physical and emotional development and affect how you deal with stress. Ask yourself, “What can my child eat that helps them grow and learn? Is he getting enough sleep? Did she get an opportunity to run around/board/swim/bike/walk today?” How about you?

If your child seems to be having an especially difficult time adjusting to the school year or, you have questions, talk with your child’s teacher, the school counselor or principal, or your medical provider. Resources are available!

Follow these links to additional information:

National Association of School Psychologists

American Academy of Pediatrics

Family Education