Sending your children back to school is always an exciting time, but it can also be stressful. It’s the time to get new backpacks, school supplies, and books, figure out a new schedule or routine, talk through any anxiety your child might feel, and manage your own worries, especially if your child is starting at a new school. It can be a lot to prepare for as a parent, so it’s especially crucial to take care of yourself. Here are some tips and tricks about ways to reduce back-to-school stress while making sure your child has a triumphant return to school.

Focus On The Positive

If your child has a new teacher you may not like, is starting at a brand new school, or seems to have trouble adjusting to a new schedule, it can be easy to focus on what could potentially go wrong. However, all that does is create more stress for yourself. Focusing on the positives and what could go right may take a little more mental work, but it can change your mood and perspective exponentially. 

If you know that you struggle with negative thinking, here are some questions to ask yourself and your child to encourage positive thinking: 

  • What went well today?
  • What can I be grateful for?
  • What was a valuable lesson I learned today?
  • What is something I can be proud of?
  • How can I make tomorrow a great day? 

Practice Coping Strategies

Kids first learn how to cope with stressful situations by watching their parents, so it’s a great time to model some coping strategies, especially if the back-to-school season has you ready to pull your hair out. Practice mindfulness by taking mindful walks or using a grounding technique. Get enough sleep, avoid using alcohol as a coping mechanism, and eat well to help your body feel healthy and balanced. 

Here are a few other techniques you can try to help yourself cope. You can even practice these with your kids to teach them how to regulate their emotions as well!

  • Practice focused, deep breathing, like the 4-7-8 breathing exercise
  • Write down your stressful thoughts and then rip it up and throw it away
  • Unplug and spend time in nature, noticing what you see, hear, and smell
  • Make to-do lists (especially if you enjoy checking them off!)
  • Exercise and listen to music you enjoy

Manage Expectations and Pressure

When it comes to preparing for school again, you might feel pressure to control all that you can to ensure your child has a happy and successful school year. That could look like putting pressure on your student to perform well academically, repeatedly asking about their friendships or peers, or trying to provide more than they might need to take to school. 

While setting high expectations for your kids can be good, it’s important to see them where they are. Whether or not they are the all-star athlete, straight-A student, or most popular kid in school, encourage a love of learning in them by celebrating all achievements (even the small ones) and emphasizing effort over outcome. 

That also means reducing the pressure you put on yourself to perform as a parent. Try to avoid comparing yourself to other parents who might seem to have themselves and their kids all together. If you’re doing all you can to provide for your child, what you’re doing is enough, and it’s important to recognize that. 

Seek Support

Coordinating drop-offs and pickups, attending events like Back to School Night, packing lunches, and balancing afterschool programs can be a lot to pick up again all at once. When you feel overwhelmed by all the responsibilities, seek support or help from others to either share the responsibilities or help ease the transition back to school.  

It could look like taking turns packing lunches or splitting the responsibilities between both parents so one parent doesn’t feel as much of the burden. You can even enlist the help of grandparents, aunts, or uncles if they live close by. If you’re a single parent, it can look like asking for help from a neighbor or the parent of your child’s friend to take turns with transportation before or after school. If you’re constantly on the go, you can also use some helpful hacks or learn how other parents juggle all of their responsibilities.  

Talking about the stress or any issues you may face can also be helpful in reducing stress simply because you’re letting it out. You can talk to trusted friends, a safe community, join a support group, or even talk to a professional counselor to learn effective coping skills.