Back-to-School Routines Causing Stress
The first day of the fall semester is creeping up, leaving less than three weeks to finish up back-to-school shopping. Some say that’s causing a little stress.
The cost of school supplies can add up, causing financial stress for both parents and teachers.
“We spent $130 just in the pencils, erasers, the boxes, everything that you need,” said Keli Gill, president of the Springdale City Council PTA. “We forgo some of the backpacks and lunchboxes. We just reuse the ones from last year because it adds up.”
Bentley Kirkland is preparing for her second year as a teacher at Sonora Elementary in Springdale. She also faces financial stress this time each year because she pays for many of her classroom expenses out of her own pocket.
Money is not the only thing on Kirkland’s mind. She said uncertainty about the future can be stressful.
“Every year is going to be different, so I will get ready the best I can, as far as the materials I need,” Kirkland said. “But once the kids get here, then I’ll know what to expect.”
Time is another factor playing a role in back-to-school stress.
“Scheduling is always difficult for any family,” Gill said. “It’s a constant texting back and forth between my husband and I as to who is getting what child from what, especially when it comes to after school activities.”
Most public schools in Northwest Arkansas and the River Valley start classes on August 20.
The Arkansas Psychological Association recommends practicing the following healthy habits before and during the school year:
- Get moving! — Exercise is a natural stress reliever and increases the production of good neurotransmitters called endorphins. Set the example that physical fitness is both fun and healthy. Modeling healthy behaviors by exercising yourself will help your children see physical activity as an important part of a daily routine. Have your children devote at least an hour per day to physical fitness and reinforce to them that everyone needs exercise to keep healthy.
- Take a balanced approach to food – –Whether it’s the school cafeteria, shopping mall, or a birthday party, your kids will be exposed to tempting sweets and fattening foods. Use home meal time and family outings as opportunities to teach your kids how to make balanced and healthy food choices.
- Set children on a consistent sleep schedule — According to the Mayo Clinic,school-aged children should get 10 to 11 hours of sleep per night. A lack of sleep can negatively affect children’s mood and behavior and their physical health. While parents may burn the candle at both ends because of work and family demands, take time to unwind as a family before your children’s bedtime.
- Don’t let your children become overwhelmed with extracurricular activities — Sometimes children, as well as parents, can become overwhelmed and overstressed from over committing themselves. Be mindful of your children’s after school activities and notice how these affect their schoolwork and relationships with family, friends and teachers. Try to properly balance their after-school activities and your own commitments to reduce stress.
- Communicate regularly with your kids – Talking to friends and family about problems is a healthy stress management tool. Children can manage stress in the same way, and having open dialogue with your children is important to a healthy home. Try to make the dinner table an “electronics free zone”, and engage in conversations with your children about their day.
For more information on behavioral health, managing stress and emotional well-being, click here.