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The Back to School Blues

» Mental Health Library » Disorders & Conditions » Stress » Featured Article

By Sophia Greenberg, LMFT

Sophia Greenberg, LMFT

So, you spent the last few weeks checking off items on the back to school shopping list, buying new backpacks and new school clothes- all the fun stuff. It has been a long, hot summer and you have been looking forward to sending your children back into the loving arms of their teachers, right? Maybe not. In theory, after a long summer of having young children run around at home with limited structure and routine, the thought of the routine of the school day sounds appealing. But who does it really appeal to, the child who has had freedom from routine and schedules for the last two months, or the parents who yearn for some quiet time, yet now need to start battling the chaotic morning antics? Back to school time brings out many emotions for everyone- the good, the bad and the ugly. Here are some tips to help out when the fantasies about back to school become everything but a dream. 

1. Breathe 

You are not alone, and, as the saying goes, "this too shall pass." Think of this time as any other transition period. Some of us welcome change and for others of us, it brings anxiety and a host of other emotions. Start by taking a deep breath. One way to calm yourself down during the chaos of it all, is to take a deep breath for four counts, hold it for four counts, and release the breath over four counts. Doing this while getting the kids ready for school, or while making them breakfast can help get some control over a hectic morning.

2. Get a routine

While it may sound counterproductive to introduce even more routine into a situation where the stress and anxiety stems from the new routine of school, a morning schedule will actually help exponentially. Also, if you know that you or your child is not a morning person, getting things prepared the night before can make a huge difference. Having your child pick out his or her own clothes the night before can eliminate the morning "what should I wear" antics. And preparing lunches the night before can make the next morning a little less hectic. The morning will run smoother with less business to tend to. Write out a schedule for the morning, and involve the little ones. When the morning routine is written out on paper and displayed, it is easier to follow. There is a concrete reminder, and the morning will be less chaotic when everyone has a schedule to adhere to.

3. Communicate

If you are finding that the stress of going back to school is extra hard on your little one, or on you, let the people closest to you know about it. Perhaps send out an email to your child's teacher and let him or her know how your child is having a hard time with the back to school transition. Maybe the teacher has some helpful pointers- they go through this every September, and they may have some helpful ways to make the transition smoother. If you are the one having a hard time with the transition, talk to a close friend or your partner. You are not alone. Back to school time is stressful on everyone. If you have a younger child who is starting preschool for the first time, remember that it is not only a new experience for your child, but for you, also. Saying goodbye and trusting your child to a new person is not easy for most of us. In fact, it is completely normal to feel some sadness when you realize that your baby is growing up.  

While back to school time is a time for exciting new adventures and new opportunities, it also brings about anxiety for many of us. Whether it is you or your child that is having a hard time adjusting to the new school routine, remember, you've got this! And, just think, once you've got the back to school blues handled, the kids will be home for Christmas break!

About the Author...

Sophia is a licensed marriage and family therapist with over 12 years of experience working with individuals, couples and families facing all kinds of challenges. She currently has a private practice in Montclair, NJ where she specialize in working with new moms on parenting issues and helping them to find balance. She also enjoys helping teenagers find their way and navigate their complicated relationships with their families.

Last Update: 9/17/2015

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