10 Ways to Reduce Back to School Stress

It’s hard to believe the new school year is starting soon. While transitioning to a new schedule can be very stressful, it can also be an opportunity to make wanted changes to routines and avoid last year’s pitfalls.

Here are some tips sure to save time, money and help you navigate the stress of heading back to school!

1.  Create a folder for important paperwork.  School registration requirements can be formidable, so start gathering the documentation you’ll need now. Check the school website – many schools now offer registration forms online that can be printed and filled out at home, saving you time and trouble.  Put paperwork in a folder for each child. Items you might need to include: shot records, birth certificates, a utility bill for address verification, mortgage paperwork or lease agreement or annual physical exams for sport participation. Keeping everything in one place will help reduce your stress by avoiding a return trip to your child’s school.

2.  Create a family calendar.  Keeping school activities, dance class, soccer practices, the Family Readiness Group (FRG) meetings, doctor appointments, vet appointments, and other events straight can strain even the best memory. By consolidating family activities on one calendar and putting it up where everyone can see (on the refrigerator) it will help keep everyone on track. Knowing where and when you and the kids need to be will build confidence, reduce stress and keep you all …on time.

3.   Inventory.  Know what school supplies you need before you head out to the store. To be sure you only buy what you actually need, inventory the school supplies that are left over from last year. Visit a dollar store for inexpensive options for pens, pencils, paper and use the money saved for more durable and expensive items like backpacks. When it comes to buying clothes, a whole new wardrobe isn’t necessary. Spread purchases over time. Over spending can ruin anyone’s budget, and the kids’ tastes and sizes will change during the year.

4.   Shop smart and online. Take advantage of tax free shopping on base and watch the sale flyers. Be sure to ask if other retailers offer a military discount! And when shopping online – check to see if the site offers free shipping – if not, try another.

5.  Don’t pay full price for books.  If you need to purchase books, remember to search online. You can save up to half the cost, but be sure you are buying the right edition. It may take some time, but you’ll save money and you can often sell your books back when you’ve completed the course.

6. Know your priorities. There’s always more to do than time in the day, but planning can help you prioritize family commitments. Remember, a good way to stay fit and focused, is to set aside time for rest and family down-time.  Don’t over-schedule. By keeping a family calendar (see #3), you’ll find it easier to say no when your schedule starts to get full.

7Plan weekly menus. This can be a huge time saver at the end of a long day. Plan out your meals and base your shopping list on your recipes. Add proposed meals to your calendar. Keeping a variety of healthy ingredients on-hand will reduce last minute trips for fast food, will keep you on your budget, and will make preparing your family’s favorite meals easier and less stressful. You can always switch out days, but at the end of a long day you’ll be happy you already know the answer to, “what’s for dinner?”

8. Be flexible. Military families have to be experts of flexibility. Deployments and time apart create many demands on all types of military families. If you’re a single parent or your spouse is deployed, you may find yourself taking your little one to school on your own. Consider video-taping the “firsts” of your child’s or your own school moments to share with your spouse, grandparents and extended family/friends. Make it fun.

9. Focus on what’s Important.  You might not find the ideal backpack or perfect first day of school outfit, but do find the time to talk to your kids. Let them know you love them, support them and understand they may be nervous about school. Offer words of encouragement and help them build self-confidence as they start their new adventure.  And if you are returning to school, don’t worry. Keep in mind that you bring a wealth of practical knowledge to the classroom that others may not have.

10. Take time for yourself. In the rush of preparing for school, remember to take time to enjoy the moment and recharge. The more stressful the day, the more time we need to recover. If you can, take a nap or a walk and eat right. And don’t forget to reach out to friends and family. Even exciting changes can be stressful.

For more information about how to identify stress issues, click here to see the Stress Continuum.

What are your thoughts on navigating Back to School stress? What is your experience? If you like this post, press the retweet or share button at the bottom of this page.

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