September looms like a foreboding antagonist waiting in the shadows as the beginning of the school years ramps up. Whether it is your first year to send the kiddos to school or whether you’ve already experienced the stress and anxiety that assaults your last nerve at this time of year, there are ways to diminish these stressors and make it through one of the more busy and trying times for mothers (working or otherwise) with children transitioning back to school.
- Two heads are better than one. Although as mothers we have a great Spidey-sense when it comes to our kids, rare is the occasion when we have all the answers all of the time. Find one of your friends who also has kids returning to school and collaborate by phone or at a coffee shop to find what works best as new routines and timetables begin to take shape. Simply talking and putting two (or more) heads together provides a modicum of calm and allows you to relax more when you know friends are going through the same processes. Together you will find workable solutions that takes a load off your shoulders.
- Gotta getaway. Sure, you’re a full-time mother but that doesn’t mean you have to blaze through the entire day at reckless speed without a timeout. Set aside various breaks for yourself and/or to meet with friends. Refrain from dwelling on negative thoughts and instead focus on lighthearted topics. Do not feel guilty! Regular breaks adds to peace of mind.
- Meditate, don’t medicate. During stressful times such as when the kids returning to school, the urge to self-medicate with alcohol or “mother’s little helper” can be overwhelming. Reaching for a crutch will only aggravate one’s stress as time goes on. Instead, try meditation. You don’t need a guru from India to bring about tranquility. Try repeating in a quiet location (put a Do Not Disturb sign on your bedroom door if need be) and repeat Norman Vincent Peale’s famous quote, “I change my thoughts, I change my world” over and over again. Watch how change comes about!
- Plan ahead. In our fast-paced contemporary society, we mothers are prone to plan on the fly. While that works some of the time, it compounds stress and is not beneficial over the long-term. A few weeks before school begins, start to take care of the necessities such as establishing a practical schedule, buying clothes, setting up a study area, visiting the school and teachers, and if you’re a working mother, seek to obtain some flextime from your employer to handle all of the everyday tasks you’ll be experiencing during the morning and evening hours.
- Maintain your well-being. Stress exhausts your energy, affects your ability to remember things, and as a rule makes it additionally tough to cope with the responsibilities that arise with regard to preserving your status as a mother of your school age children. And now for the bomb you don’t want to hear about but which works exceedingly well: Exercise! We’re not talking a gym membership or running a marathon here, ladies. A simple brisk walk around the block a few times in the morning or evening works wonders! Add to an exercise regimen healthy eating habits as well. This means avoiding a large intake of sugar which aggravates anxiety, as well as cutting down on your caffeine intake. Chill on fast foods and consume nutritional foods with iron.
Dealing with back-to-school anxiety and stress may give you the impression that it is an overwhelming or impossible task, but it’s really manageable. By teaming up with friends experiencing the same issues you have, taking regular short timeouts, meditating, planning ahead, as well as exercising and eating healthy, you will be well-equipped to overcome and/or diminish the upsurge of stress during those dreadful back-to-school days.