No matter which way you slice it, the back-to-school season can cause high anxiety for the whole family. Although kids may be stressed out as they get into the swing of a new school year, oftentimes parents are even more frazzled. Why?
This is the time of year when kids’ schedules kick into high gear, homework becomes a nightly activity and parents turn into part-time chauffeurs. Parenting is a full-time job for sure – often piled on top of your other salaried full-time job.
If you’re worried about how you’re going to handle back-to-school responsibilities along with your job and other household tasks, you’re not alone. A 2015 Care.com survey unveiled the following: 55 percent of parents said the back-to-school season is stressful, 30 percent are anxious about this time of year, and 51 percent said school year duties interfere with their work in some capacity. Short of quitting your job, here are some tips to help you ease the anxiety as your kids head back to the classroom:
Stick to a routine
Oftentimes kids thrive when they have a set routine. A routine will also help you stay sane. For example, no matter how hectic the day is, PR specialist Tracy Bagatelle-Black sticks to a daily routine. For starters, she sits down with her children, ages 9 and 15, for dinner every night. The family also has a homework regimen: The kids do their homework before dinner and then leave it on the kitchen counter in a designated spot. Bagatelle-Black checks on the homework each night before dinner. With this routine, the kids rarely scramble to get homework done late at night and Bagatelle-Black can use dinnertime to discuss any homework issues. She is then free to use evening downtime to get organized for the next day or finish up her own work.
This goes hand-in-hand with creating a routine, which requires organization. In a nutshell, being organized helps you prepare for each day and cuts down on stress. In fact, according to Care.com, one of the biggest school-day stressors is getting everything organized each morning so that you can get the kids out the door and you can get to work on time. A couple of tips:
- If you make lunches for your kids, do this at night after they go to bed so that you can just pull the lunch boxes out of the refrigerator each morning.
- If you drive to school, leave early to avoid the congested drop off area, says Bagatelle-Black. This also means you can get a jumpstart on your day and maybe even grab a cup of coffee before work.
- Use a calendar such as Google Calendar. Bagatelle-Black swears by her online calendar, where she plugs in all of her work obligations as well as her kids’ activities, teacher-parent conferences, early release days and other events. The calendar is easily accessible on her phone and even sends event reminders.
For Pam Foley, former owner of five Auntie Anne’s pretzel franchise shops, quality child care providers were essential as she needed help getting her kids home from school and to their activities. According to Foley, reliable and trustworthy babysitters allow you to focus at work so that when you’re home with your kids, you can focus on them. If you can swing it, hiring other people – such as someone to cut your grass and clean your house – will also free up time for you to spend with your children. If you still feel pressed for time or want an affordable option for household tasks, you might consider using an app like Delivery.com, to order food and products from a myriad of stores in your neighborhood. You can even get your laundry picked up, cleaned and delivered back to your doorstep. TaskRabbit is yet another option. It will connect you with local people who can help you do chores and run errands.
Be honest and upfront with your boss
According to Care.com, about 44 percent of working parents worry that their boss and co-workers will think they are not committed to their job if they have to juggle parenting responsibilities. For this reason, it’s important to level with your boss and tell her that although your children are your top priority, this should not affect your dedication and commitment to your job. Most employers value work-life balance and recognize the importance of family and children.
If you are the boss, you can set a work-life balance precedent with your employees by discussing your own priorities when it comes to your children. Pam Foley, for example, regularly talked to her employees about the importance of family time and set the bar high. She said she asked them not to call her for "every little thing" when she left work midday to attend to her kids or left for the evening.