If you’re a parent, or you have friends who are parents to school-aged children, then you’ve likely fallen victim to the incessant back-to-school banter over the past few weeks.
Some parents are eerily excited for their kids to return to the classroom, others seem tearfully terrified for their little ones to start their first day of Kindergarten. Some seem to be obsessed with the ordeal - anxious about every little detail, and others seem outright stressed out. The constant chatter can be annoying to outsiders, leaving them to wonder: What’s the big deal? Shouldn’t the kids be the ones worrying about the upcoming school year?
The truth is, having a child who is starting or returning to school can elicit a rollercoaster of emotions for parents who anxiously anticipate the flood of back-to-school responsibilities.
While kids are squeezing in every opportunity to stay up late in the last few weeks of summer, parents are starting to stress about the transition back to school-week sleep schedules. They worry about how the early morning wakings will impact their daily routines, and know that trying to get their kids to sleep more, will result in less sleep for them.
The dizzying list of required school supplies is daunting, and the spending associated with buying extra accessories to mark the occasion (new outfits, shoes, backpacks) is enough to break the bank. In fact, the National Retail Federation has reported that the average parent plans to spend $360 per child on clothing and shoes this year - an increase of 42% over the past ten years.
The jigsaw puzzle of scheduled activities presents its own list of challenges, as parents try to balance extracurriculars, lessons, carpools, sitters, professional days, and meal plans, all while worrying that something will go wrong in the planning process for the upcoming year.
Kids aren’t the only ones who are worrying about which friends will be in their class, and whether or not they’ll have their teacher of choice. Parents, too, wait with bated breath, aware of the impact those factors will have on their children.
Weave into all of those things the added pressures of today’s exhausting perfect-parenting era, filled with beautiful bento box lunches, and Pinterest-prodded back-to-school fairies that visit on ‘School Year’s Eve’, and it’s easy to understand why parents’ heads are spinning. They know that if their child has a shoddy first day, that dark cloud will hang over their household for months.
The back-to-school chatter may seem trivial, but please be patient, because this time of year has parents stressed out for good reason.
Bianca Bujan is a mom of three, writer, editor, and marketing consultant. Find her on Twitter @biancabujan and Instagram @bitsofbee.