Back to school isn’t difficult just for students. Parents and caregivers also face challenges when their children and teens return to school. Getting everyone dressed, fed, and out the door on time may create tension on a daily basis, especially with teens who have trouble getting out of bed. Any stress that students are feeling in school are usually reflected in their emotions at home. And the costs of clothing, school supplies, sports equipment, and computers create very real economic pressure for most families.
Does your WRAP include some of these sources of stress in your list of triggers? Are there others, like feeling pressure to volunteer, dealing with difficult teachers or administrators, or negotiating accommodations for special needs? WRAP can help!
Now is the perfect time to think about how you maintain your wellness throughout the year. For example, if mornings are stressful, you might want to set aside a few minutes for focusing exercises after you’ve gotten the kids to school and before you begin the rest of your day. If you are sitting in carpool lanes for pickup or drop-off each day, you can identify some relaxation exercises to do routinely while you are waiting in your call. The appendices of the WRAP red book have some great suggestions for focusing and relaxation exercises.
You might also want to review your list of triggers and think about ways to deal with specific triggers. Do you find yourself overcommitting to volunteer opportunities? Perhaps you can include a promise to yourself to periodically re-evaluate your commitments. It’s OK to say “No.”
Is the cause of stress the school’s inability or unwillingness to accommodate a child’s special needs? Other parents and caregivers are going through the same thing. The school counselor might be able to connect you to others so that you can engage in exchange listening or other types of peer support. (The WRAP and Peer Support Handbook: Working Together to Reclaim our Lives is a great resource.)
What do you do as a parent or caregiver to maintain your wellness during back-to-school season? Share your experiences of our Facebook page.
This is the second in a series of articles about adjusting to the change in seasons and back to school time. The previous article looked at WRAP for middle- and high-schoolers.
Alan Marzilli, J.D., M.A., is a senior writer/program associate at Advocates for Human Potential (AHP). His work focuses primarily on homelessness, mental health and substance use disorder services, cannabis regulation, and employment services.