home
RSS
Seeking Serenity: Chilling in the back-to-school chaos
August 10th, 2011
05:07 PM ET

Seeking Serenity: Chilling in the back-to-school chaos

Editor's note: CNN contributor Amanda Enayati ponders the theme of seeking serenity - the quest for well-being and life balance in stressful times.

It has become inevitable that each year, at some point in August, my husband will begin talking about new classes, new wardrobes, new gear and the very long list of things we need to do in preparation for the kids to go back to school.

And every year, this is all I hear him say: “Blah blah blah blah kids go back to school.”

My own early school years were spent in Iran and several Western European countries (after I fled the revolution), where back-to-school just meant you got up early one morning in the fall and went back to school.

There were no special shopping trips, play dates, orientations, parent meetings, fundraising events, committees, after-school enrichment scheduling or educational effectiveness strategy sessions that I can recall.

These days, back-to-school is science — elevated, almost, to the ranks of a “Hallmark holiday,” complete with its attendant frenzy. I would not be surprised at all, for example, if there’s a back-to-school greeting card, balloon and stuffed animal gift set for sale in a superstore somewhere. Or if someone in Manhattan is offering her pricey services as a back-to-school consultant.

So here I sit once again, staring down another school year, trying to beat back the dread of those first few weeks of chaos.

“Back to school is a time when anyone who tends towards neurosis is going to get a big boost," says Kristin Carlson, working mother of two, from Glenwood Springs, Colorado. “First of all, there’s the journey to buy back-to-school supplies, for which we always seem to be on the late end. Somehow I’m the last parent to get the memo and by the time we arrive at the store, there are exactly three loose-leaf notebooks and they’re either this burnt orange or swampy green color that neither of my kids wants. And of course my child will end up sitting next to the kid with the immaculate My Pretty Pony Trapper Keeper.”

(Mental note: Go to the store this week. Buy Pony Trapper Keeper.)

She continues: “Then there are lunches. You want the lunch to be healthy, but you want them to eat it. And you also don’t want some kid to look over and go: ‘Eeeew! What is that?!’”

(Mental note no. 2: Don’t ever pack Ghormeh Sabzi for kids’ lunches.)

“And sports. There’s the announcement for tryouts, which my friend missed one year. But then there’s also the physical, which we have to do in our town in order to participate in sports. We have a fantastic program where our medical center does free physicals for anyone going back to school. That announcement’s in the paper. We pay attention, but it’s amazing what you miss. It always ends up becoming this crazy last-minute dash. The parent nights, the fundraising, the doctor and dentist appointments, the tutoring ... " Kristin trails off.

I’m getting a sweat mustache just listening to her.

“And forget about my old nemesis, the Parent Portal!”

I ask myself: What kind of evil device is this?

“It’s a website that tells you things like if your child is in his seat on time everyday or whether she’s turned in her assignment. If your child misses anything, it will be on the Parent Portal,” she says. ”And the thing is, I don’t even know my password for the Portal. I rebel against it. But then I also feel guilty because I think I should be checking it.”

I hang up in hives and immediately reach out to Dr. Patricia Farrell, licensed psychologist and author of “It’s Not All In Your Head,” to get some advice.

“It’s important to remember that it’s normal to feel anxious,” Farrell tells me. “It becomes an issue when you are frozen by the anxiety. Parents have to look within themselves and see what is making them so stressed. They also have to be aware that there is something called ‘contagion in anxiety.’ You can become anxious simply by being around stressed-out people. Children are particularly vulnerable to contagious anxiety. If their parents are stressed, children see and feel it. They model that stress, almost take it in. They see you as the person who is going to guide, support and care for them. So if you’re not able to handle stress, how can they?”

I ask Farrell for tips to make the back-to-school transition smoother and less stressful for both parents and their children. Her suggestions include:

Establishing routines. You want children to have the best possible orientation toward school. It’s really important for children to have a routine - and that includes bedtime, because if kids do not get enough sleep, it’s going to affect their performance in school.

Begin to establish some routines a few weeks before school begins. This will ease both you and your children into the school year, rather than creating an abrupt and possibly stressful start.

Organizing activities and materials. Anxiety becomes compounded by a lack of organization. Create a schedule for both school-related and after-school activities. Also, work with your children to organize the place where they will keep their books and materials. But avoid overscheduling and endless to-do lists: relaxing and playing are just as important to your child’s development as active learning.

Communicating with your child. Allow your child to talk about how he or she feels about going back to school. Avoid hovering or being overprotective. Instead, ask her what she’s looking forward to and whether she has any concerns. Once you find out what the concerns might be, you can begin to address them.

If your child seems particularly nervous or frightened and the issues appear to be more than you can handle, don’t feel like you have to be the expert. Look for resources in your community or even get a referral and go for a few sessions with a specialist.

And what about parents?

Taking some deep breaths. “Everyone has to learn a little bit of self-help. It’s not bad for both parents and children to learn some breathing relaxation techniques,” suggests Farrell.

Breathing relaxation is very comforting. It has a calming effect, and there is a physical reaction to it.  It has to do with carbon dioxide levels in your blood. It’s a powerful way of relieving tension and bringing about a sense of well-being. And though you might need quiet time for meditation, you can do breathing exercises anytime and anywhere. (You can find scores of breathing relaxation exercises, including Farrell’s, on YouTube.)

And most important, perhaps, is the willingness to accept that there is no such thing as perfection. But what may come close is the blur of the sweet memories of childhood summers and school years melting into one another.


soundoff (1,286 Responses)
  1. https://philadelphiaweekly.com/10-best-cbd-lubes-to-buy-in-2021/

    It is perfect time to make some plans for the future and it's time to be happy. I've read this post and if I could I desire to suggest you few interesting things or tips. Perhaps you can write next articles referring to this article. I desire to read more things about it!

    https://philadelphiaweekly.com/10-best-cbd-lubes-to-buy-in-2021/

    June 16, 2021 at 21:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. 파워볼사이트

    Everything is very open with a really clear explanation of the issues. It was definitely informative. Your site is useful. Thank you for sharing!

    https://iway.rosemont.edu/ICS/Campus_Life/Campus_Groups/Organization_of_African_American_Students/Home.jnz?portlet=Discussion_Board&screen=PostView&screenType=change&id=b05a5139-009e-4ded-ba1d-ea6d91c5c315

    June 16, 2021 at 21:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. 파워볼전용사이트

    Good post. I learn something new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon every day. It's always helpful to read articles from other writers and practice a little something from other web sites.

    https://mydesignedlife.net/members/casino0vaultwall87/activity/125839/

    June 16, 2021 at 21:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. 파워볼 사이트

    I want to to thank you for this good read!! I definitely loved every little bit of it. I have got you book marked to check out new things you postÖ

    https://lovewiki.faith/wiki/How_Does_a_Casino_Function

    June 16, 2021 at 22:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. 파워볼사이트

    Iím impressed, I must say. Seldom do I encounter a blog thatís both equally educative and engaging, and without a doubt, you have hit the nail on the head. The problem is something not enough men and women are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy that I stumbled across this in my hunt for something relating to this.

    https://forums.bestbuy.com/t5/user/viewprofilepage/user-id/1269275

    June 16, 2021 at 23:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. 파워볼 사이트

    I could not resist commenting. Perfectly written!

    https://www.outlived.co.uk/author/arealion67/

    June 17, 2021 at 00:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Marcus Getschman

    whoah this blog is excellent i love reading your articles. Keep up the good work! You know, lots of people are hunting around for this information, you can help them greatly.

    http://images.google.nu/url?q=https://www.thingiverse.com/tuinguvanphongtravelgear/designs

    June 17, 2021 at 00:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. 파워볼 사이트

    When I initially commented I seem to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on whenever a comment is added I recieve four emails with the same comment. Is there a means you are able to remove me from that service? Thanks a lot!

    https://phonographic.science/wiki/Basic_Video_Poker_Rules

    June 17, 2021 at 01:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. https://philadelphiaweekly.com/10-best-cbd-lubes-to-buy-in-2021/

    These are actually fantastic ideas in about blogging. You have touched some good factors here. Any way keep up wrinting.

    https://philadelphiaweekly.com/10-best-cbd-lubes-to-buy-in-2021/

    June 17, 2021 at 04:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. 부산출장

    Good web site you've got here.. Itís difficult to find high-quality writing like yours these days. I honestly appreciate individuals like you! Take care!!

    https://godotengine.org/qa/index.php?qa=user&qa_1=mirrorcarrot7

    June 17, 2021 at 05:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. 부산출장안마

    After looking into a number of the blog articles on your site, I honestly appreciate your technique of writing a blog. I added it to my bookmark webpage list and will be checking back in the near future. Please visit my website too and let me know what you think.

    https://blogfreely.net/bitroast95/swedish-massage-techniques-to-relax-the-body

    June 17, 2021 at 05:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Matt Erichson

    Hello! I just wish to give an enormous thumbs up for the great data you could have here on this post. I can be coming back to your blog for extra soon.

    https://quincy-smallcar-overview63.bravejournal.net/post/2021/06/01/Brake-System-Failure-Symptoms-Brake-System-Fixed-Weymouth

    June 17, 2021 at 05:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. keo bd hom nay

    Xem Thẳng Viettel Vs Bình Dương Tại V League 2021 Ở Kênh Nào? gacha life vietnamĐội tuyển Việt Nam chỉ muốn một kết quả hòa có bàn thắng để lần thứ hai góp mặt trên World Cup futsal. Nhưng, nhằm thực hiện được như vậy

    https://questiontime.info/

    June 17, 2021 at 07:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. 파워볼 최상위 사이트

    Everything is very open with a really clear clarification of the challenges. It was definitely informative. Your website is very useful. Many thanks for sharing!

    https://mintjasia.com/members/casino8talksharon46/activity/195826/

    June 17, 2021 at 07:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. 파워볼 전용 사이트

    Itís hard to come by knowledgeable people about this subject, but you seem like you know what youíre talking about! Thanks

    http://bezvoprosa.ru/index.php?qa=user&qa_1=animeorder63

    June 17, 2021 at 07:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. 파워볼사이트

    An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a coworker who had been doing a little research on this. And he actually ordered me breakfast due to the fact that I found it for him... lol. So let me reword this.... Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending some time to talk about this issue here on your internet site.

    https://www.ted.com/profiles/27804820

    June 17, 2021 at 08:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. 파워볼 최상위 사이트

    Excellent post. I absolutely appreciate this website. Thanks!

    http://onderzoeksvragen.ou.nl/index.php?qa=user&qa_1=luteblue86

    June 17, 2021 at 09:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. 파워볼사이트

    Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you penning this write-up and the rest of the site is also very good.

    http://www.topfrage.de/index.php?qa=user&qa_1=seederorder56

    June 17, 2021 at 10:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. 파워볼전용사이트

    This is a topic that is near to my heart... Cheers! Where are your contact details though?

    http://www.sdmnapoli.it/index.php?option=com_k2&view=itemlist&task=user&id=817776

    June 17, 2021 at 10:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. 파워볼 전용 사이트

    Having read this I thought it was very informative. I appreciate you finding the time and energy to put this content together. I once again find myself spending a lot of time both reading and leaving comments. But so what, it was still worthwhile!

    https://slides.com/creekbait96

    June 17, 2021 at 13:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. 출장마사지

    Saved as a favorite, I love your blog!

    http://massage4brimurdczv.jigsy.com/entries/general/what-s-holding-back-the-ECB69CEC9EA5EBA788EC82ACECA780-industry-

    June 17, 2021 at 14:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. 대구출장안마

    Good post. I learn something new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon everyday. It's always useful to read articles from other writers and use something from their sites.

    https://258470.8b.io/page6.html

    June 17, 2021 at 14:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. 출장안마

    This blog was... how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I've found something that helped me. Many thanks!

    http://massage6pethertevo.iamarrows.com/17-signs-you-work-with-chuljang-anma

    June 17, 2021 at 14:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. 대구출장

    Pretty! This was an extremely wonderful post. Thank you for supplying this information.

    https://escatter11.fullerton.edu/nfs/show_user.php?userid=678423

    June 17, 2021 at 17:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. 우리카지노

    Greetings! Very useful advice within this article! It's the little changes which will make the biggest changes. Many thanks for sharing!

    https://www.blurb.com/user/sisterrose52

    June 17, 2021 at 18:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. 카지노 사이트

    Howdy! This article could not be written much better! Looking at this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He always kept preaching about this. I am going to send this post to him. Fairly certain he will have a great read. Thanks for sharing!

    https://valetinowiki.racing/wiki/Strategies_for_Selecting_the_Optimaloptimally_Roulette_Positions

    June 17, 2021 at 18:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. 카지노 사이트

    Everything is very open with a really clear description of the issues. It was definitely informative. Your site is very helpful. Thank you for sharing!

    http://twitter.com/home?status=http://xurl.es/iqueg

    June 17, 2021 at 18:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. John Sadlier

    Awsome website! I am loving it!! Will be back later to read some more. I am bookmarking your feeds also.

    http://markets.financialcontent.com/pennwell.waterworld/news/read/41471646

    June 17, 2021 at 21:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. 우리 카지노

    Good article. I'm experiencing some of these issues as well..

    https://www.ted.com/profiles/25734170

    June 17, 2021 at 21:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. 카지노 사이트

    Having read this I thought it was rather informative. I appreciate you taking the time and energy to put this short article together. I once again find myself personally spending a lot of time both reading and commenting. But so what, it was still worth it!

    https://tinyurl.com/awyxbd43

    June 17, 2021 at 22:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Merlyn Keitsock

    I feel that is among the so much important information for me. And i'm happy studying your article. However should observation on few normal issues, The web site style is great, the articles is actually excellent : D. Just right task, cheers

    https://gumroad.com/y9iaryg419/p/trying-to-find-the-best-moving-company-from-boston-to-florida

    June 17, 2021 at 23:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. 카지노사이트

    Everything is very open with a really clear explanation of the issues. It was truly informative. Your website is useful. Thanks for sharing!

    http://www.funkyfreeads.com/user/profile/320224

    June 17, 2021 at 23:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Mikaela Hopton

    I was recommended this website by means of my cousin. I am now not positive whether or not this publish is written by him as no one else recognise such special approximately my trouble. You are amazing! Thanks!

    https://google.by/url?q=https://www.sqlservercentral.com/forums/user/tuinguvanphongtvg

    June 18, 2021 at 00:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Bryce Harmsen

    Hello there! Do you use Twitter? I'd like to follow you if that would be okay. I'm absolutely enjoying your blog and look forward to new posts.

    https://elderaide69.bravejournal.net/post/2021/06/01/Boston-Elder-Home-Care-3-Different-types-of-LONGTERM-Care-in-Boston-MA

    June 18, 2021 at 01:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. 부산출장안마

    Pretty! This has been a really wonderful article. Thank you for supplying these details.

    https://www.threadless.com/@d9ctyzp860

    June 18, 2021 at 02:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. 카지노사이트

    I truly love your site.. Excellent colors & theme. Did you build this website yourself? Please reply back as Iím attempting to create my own website and want to find out where you got this from or exactly what the theme is named. Appreciate it!

    http://www.feedbooks.com/user/6941200/profile

    June 18, 2021 at 04:21 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26

Leave a Reply to Stephanie Yaney


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Advertisement
About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.