5 ways to start the school year with less stress
Isn’t summertime great? Slow days in the sun, trips to the beach or dips in the pool, maybe the house is quiet because the kids are at camp. Ahh… Then back-to-school season arrives and yanks you from your summer reverie. Ahh!
Staying on top of it all during this busy time of year can make anyone a real stress case. Here are five ways to start the school year fresh, not frazzled.
Prepare a budget and stick to it
Even public school comes at a cost. School supplies, activity fees, class photos, tablets, and other tech adds up fast. Last year, parents of elementary school kids paid an average of $662 per kid, while expenses for middle school students cost $1,001 and high schoolers cost $1,489. Those numbers don’t account for new school clothes, which a Deloitte analysis says will cost parents an additional $286 on average this year.
Consider your kids’ ages and what they’ll need this year, and set a budget. Start saving and set the money aside now, so it’s there when the credit card bill comes due and your 10-year-old’s hockey season starts (along with equipment fees). Getting a head start helps prevent sticker shock and puts you in control.
Make a meal menu
Dinnertime can turn your home into a hurricane of activity, making cooking a daunting task. But with a little bit of planning, dinnertime with your family can actually be fun. Create a weekly menu of meals, post it somewhere in the kitchen, carve out time each week to do the grocery shopping – and do all these tasks with the kids. Getting them involved in the meal planning and prep makes it less of a chore for you, and more of an activity for them. Who knows, maybe soon enough they’ll be cooking for you.
If you have trouble boiling water, consider meal delivery services like HelloFresh, One Potato, and Blue Apron, to name a few. There are enough options out there to fit your family’s tastes and budget.
Have a space for the stuff
Messiness gives life to chaos. Create a space specifically for school stuff, like hooks in the hallway to hang backpacks or a nook in each kid’s bedroom where they can unpack and study. Before you invest in a fancy shelving system, try a low-budget fix, like a plastic tub, to make sure the spot you’ve selected for storing school items will actually work day to day. If you and your kids can stick to putting things where they belong, you’ll cut down on the panic of getting them together each morning as you rush out the door. It’s easier said than done, of course, but like making meals, if you do it together, they’re more likely to buy into it.
Also, look into options for saving their artwork and report cards. Get a filing system in place now, before you’re overrun with art projects and progress reports. If you’re stuck without inspiration on what to do, there’s always Pinterest.
Be a parent volunteer
You don’t have to chaperone every field trip or be the room parent from kindergarten to high school graduation, but volunteering a few hours that fit with your work schedule lets you see how your kids function in the wild. You can observe their behavior and interactions with the other kids and teachers in an organic way, so there’s no stress over how they’re doing. It may even help with academic achievement: A Department of Education study found that when parents volunteered in the classroom, their children’s grades and test scores improved.
Don’t forget self-care
Yes, your kids are the most important thing, but if you’re not in a good headspace, you can’t be the parent you want and need to be. You have to take care of yourself by making time to decompress. Time is tight, what with work and chauffeuring and chaperoning and volunteering, but having a routine for relaxation doesn’t have to be a big to-do. Meditating for a few minutes at work or doing living room yoga are simple and affordable ways to recharge your batteries. There are plenty of apps available to help you find your Zen.
Sending your kids back to school doesn’t have to be stressful. It’s all a matter of knowing what you can expect and being prepared for it. One more area where a little preparation pays off? Getting covered with life insurance. It’s easier than getting your kids out the door each morning, and may even cost you less than that new fall wardrobe your seventh grader had to have. And if you’re looking for one more way to reduce stress during the hectic back-to-school season, knowing that your family is taken care of if something happens to you should do the trick.
At eFinancial, our goal is to make life insurance simple, affordable, and understandable for everyday families. This content is intended for educational purposes only. Each post is carefully fact-checked, reviewed and updated regularly to ensure the information is as relevant as possible.