With a new school year starting up again, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by everything that comes with it. Whether you are feeling the strain of busy schedules and the seemingly never-ending school expenses, or your child or teen is anxious for the academic year and fitting in with their peers, there are many tools and resources to help you learn how to deal with back-to-school-stress.
Team Up Against Stress
Rather than letting the stress of the back-to-school season put a rift in you and your child’s relationship, team up to face some of the challenges to together. This teamwork can be accomplished in various ways including but not limited to the following:
- Set Routines: Developing routines is a great way to manage a busy schedule efficiently. Children feel a sense of responsibility when getting into a routine and it will help you lower your stress levels, become more focused, and feel more productive.
- Organize: Organization is key to improving mental health. This could be having something as simple as a whiteboard or notebook to keep things in order. Unexpected things will come up in the back-to-school season, but if you and your child have an organized system in place, it will be easier to adjust and find a solution.
- Check In: Take a few minutes every day to ask how your child is doing both mentally and physically. How was their day? Did they eat well? How did they sleep? This check-in will help you to see where they are at while reminding them that you care and are there to support them.
- Stay Present: Don’t let the back-to-school stress slow you down from all the things you want to do this school year. From being active in parent-teacher conferences to setting up playdates for your child, being involved and present will let you see the good things and feel the satisfaction of knowing your child is happy.
Create a Healthy Relationship with Social Media
Dealing with back-to-school stress all begins with mental health awareness. Social media plays a big role in your child’s life, so it is very important that they have a healthy relationship with it. Currently, about 95% of teens have access to a smartphone and social media. While this access can help with identity exploration, staying connected to friends and family, and learning a variety of new things, it also opens the door to the harmful effects of social media on mental health. Avoid the stress of these harmful effects by helping your child and yourself develop a healthy relationship with social media by reducing your screen time, unfollowing unhealthy accounts, taking a break from social media if you find yourself overly attached, and much more.
Talk about Substance Use
Another challenge that comes from a new school year is the peer pressure and social situations your child may find themselves in. Prepare yourself and your child for this possibility by talking about substance abuse. While this can be difficult and awkward for everyone involved, creating a positive atmosphere is a great way to open the door to the conversation. Making everyone feel comfortable and safe is crucial in having a meaningful talk where you both can share your experiences and concerns.
For those who still feel unsure about how to engage in this conversation, there are many tips on ways to have age appropriate talks with your child about substance use. Ultimately, this will leave you feeling a lot better as a parent knowing your child is aware of the dangers of substance use and open the door for conversations about any concerns or challenges they may face in the future.
Ease Financial Strain from School Expenses
As inflation increases, so does the cost of school materials. Add in the various activities’ expenses and sports fees, the back-to-school season can make a significant dent in your budget. However, there are resources to help decrease this financial strain while ensuring your children have the supplies they need to thrive this academic year.
- Your Child’s School: When looking for free school supplies, the first step is to reach out to your child’s teacher, school administrator, or school district. These individuals will be able to direct you to local programs for families’ struggling financially or may be able to provide some of the supplies themselves. If your child is interested in athletics or other extracurricular activities, talk to your school’s administration about activity scholarships to cover the extracurriculars’ fees so your child can keep active and involved in the school.
- Salvation Army: Every year, regional Salvation Army locations team up with local businesses to provide free back-to-school supplies to families in need. Find a Salvation Army near you and ask about the availability of free school supplies and their local events.
- Boys & Girls Clubs: Another organization that teams up with local and national businesses to provide free back-to-school supplies is the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Find a local Boys & Girls Club and see how they can help support your family this school year.
- Zumbro Valley Health Center: We are also here to help ease the financial strain school expenses have on your wallet and mental health. Our case management services can help you find the programs and resources you need, so you can spend less time feeling stressed and more time with the people that matter – your family.
Back-to-school stress is tough on everyone, but no one has to deal with it alone. At Zumbro Valley Health Center, we want you to know that it is ok to not be ok and that we are here for you. Call us at 507-289-2089 to learn more about our school-linked mental health and case management services. If you’re experiencing a mental health crisis, call the crisis response line at 844.274.7472, text MN to 741741, or call 988 anytime.