Back to school is a stressful time for everyone. Kids are facing a new year with new friends, new teachers, and new expectations. Parents are stressed because their kids are stressed, but they also have their own challenges: getting back-to-school supplies, dealing with administration, balancing family and work responsibilities, and meeting the high expectations they perceive from social media and their peers. Even people who don’t have kids can feel the stress, either by contagion or because they have to take over work from coworkers who are juggling parenting responsibilities.
Stress is bad for your health and can make it more difficult for you to get done what you need to get done. Worse, it can rub off on your children and make their return to school more stressful than necessary. Here are some tips for managing your back-to-school stress to help you and everyone around you to live better.
First, Be Realistic
The human brain has a great power to manufacture stress. It’s easy to imagine many different scenarios and concerns that might come up. But how many of them are really very likely? Focus on the problems that actually confront you and your children, not perceived or potential problems that may never surface. You’ll find that you suddenly have only a fraction of the worries you had before.
It’s also important to put things in perspective. Your child’s life won’t be ruined if they don’t have the coolest binder in class. New clothes are nice, but kids don’t necessarily need a whole new high-fashion wardrobe. And it’s not like the stores vanish at midnight the night before school starts–if you forget something, you can always pick it up later.
Don’t Let Others Put Expectations on You
These days, there are many sources of high expectations on parents. Of course, there is the same set of expectations provided by the parents at your kids’ school. Some parents are always trying to outdo one another. Add to this the competition with all the amazing things that some people do and post to social media, and it can be even worse. This may be fine for stay-at-home parents with little else to do, but for many of us, balancing work and parenting is hard enough. Trying to excel at parenting by providing custom bento box lunches with secret “I love you”s stashed throughout is exhausting to the point of nausea.
But you don’t have to do it. It’s not a requirement that you keep up with the Joneses. Instead, you can be your own parent with your own style and do things your own way. If nothing else, focus on doing things with your child, not doing things for your child. And, again, be realistic. There are only so many hours in a day. Do what’s most important and let the rest go.
Make Time for You
Yeah, we need to say this: your life doesn’t end when you have a child. You are still a person with needs, and you must meet your needs or else you will break down–and where will that leave your kids?
Balance time spent on school-related activities with activities for you. Don’t let back-to-school sabotage your exercise routine, for example. Exercise is a powerful natural stress reliever.
Perhaps most important is spending time with other parents (that you really like). You can vent about your frustrations with shopping, school administration, and more. Plus, you can problem-solve together. And you can share the really great things about being a parent, too.
If you’re trying to manage your stress, consider the benefits of NuCalm. NuCalm is a neuroscience technology that disables your body’s anxiety response. It lets you cut out all the noise and focus more clearly on what you really need to do. It’s a reliable way to achieve a deeply meditative state that rests and re-energizes you. It helps you replenish your reserves so you have more to give everyone around you.
NuCalm doesn’t take long. A short 20-minute session can give you the benefits of hours of sleep and help you marshal your time better. It costs so little time and provides benefits of productivity and focus that make it worth it to put NuCalm in your schedule.