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8 Back to School Tips for Working Parents

8 Ways Working Parents Can Reduce Back-to-School Stress

Back to school season can be stressful for parents, especially if they keep full-time jobs. Here are eight tips working parents can use to promote a more seamless, stress-free school year.

  1. Start your routines early. A tired, fussy child can make it hard for you to seamlessly kick off the school year. Don't wait until the last minute to get your kids back on their school schedules. Roll back bedtimes about two weeks in advance, so your child's circadian rhythm will have time to acclimate.
  2. Look into afterschool programs. Research suggests that children who participate in extracurricular activities have more friends, get better grades and become higher achievers later in life. There are a variety of activities available to students, including school government clubs, intramural and interscholastic athletic programs; art, drama and music organizations; vocational and academic clubs. These programs can also keep children busy and supervised after school, when parents are busy at work.
  3. Create a support system. When you have a last-minute meeting or plans change unexpectedly, it's nice to have some help available. See if you can recruit a friend, family member or neighbor to agree to pick up your child at school or provide supervision, when unexpected issues arise. Sometimes just knowing you have a backup plan is enough to alleviate anxiety and stress.
  4. Split responsibilities. If possible, delegate responsibilities to a partner, being sure to play to that person's strengths. Whether it's meal preparation, grocery shopping, laundry or carpool; there are all sorts of things your partner can do to take some of the burden off your shoulders. Just make sure to distribute responsibilities fairly, so you won't inadvertently sow seeds of resentment.
  5. Order supplies online. Why spend time and gas money zipping all over town in search of a dozen plastic 2-pocket folders in an array of predetermined colors? Order your school supplies online and reclaim some of your valuable time. Just make sure to order everything in advance, so the items will arrive in time for the first day of school.
  6. Demand help from your kids. A new school year means your child has matured both physically and mentally. As kids grow up, they become more capable of stepping up to help get things accomplished. Sit down and try to identify any new chores or responsibilities for your child. This will help him or her become more independent, while eliminating some of the more tedious responsibilities from your busy schedule.
  7. Use your weekends to prep. While it's important to relax and recharge during the weekends; it's generally a good idea to set aside some time to prepare for the upcoming week. This means getting your grocery shopping done, preparing meals, cleaning your home and getting a head start on laundry. It may not sound like much fun, but a couple of hours of solid weekend prep can make the week go much more smoothly when that alarm clock goes off on Monday morning.
  8. Give your kids support. Try not to forget that going back to school can be stressful for kids, who face everything from unrequited crushes and physical insecurities to bus-seat politics and schoolyard judgements. Be supportive, available and compassionate while your child is acclimating to a new school year. After all, no matter how busy you get, it's important to focus on the reasons you work so hard in the first place.

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