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 (1,314 Responses)
  1. 창원출장

    Excellent post. I am facing many of these issues as well..

    https://www.adsuk.xyz/user/profile/20606

    June 19, 2021 at 03:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. 카지노사이트

    Hi there, I believe your web site might be having internet browser compatibility issues. Whenever I take a look at your blog in Safari, it looks fine but when opening in IE, it has some overlapping issues. I just wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Apart from that, excellent site!

    http://photointeriorpro.ru/user/bananacloudy14/

    June 19, 2021 at 04:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. 카지노 사이트

    I needed to thank you for this great read!! I certainly loved every little bit of it. I have got you book-marked to look at new things you postÖ

    http://community.aurorafoss.org/index.php?qa=user&qa_1=baitdress7

    June 19, 2021 at 05:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. 우리카지노

    You're so awesome! I don't think I've truly read something like that before. So nice to discover somebody with some unique thoughts on this issue. Seriously.. many thanks for starting this up. This web site is something that is required on the internet, someone with some originality!

    https://pastebin.pl/view/2da39e24

    June 19, 2021 at 08:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. 카지노 사이트

    Wonderful post! We are linking to this great post on our site. Keep up the good writing.

    https://pbase.com/topics/baccarat2clavefemale86/will_the_casino_regulate_onl

    June 19, 2021 at 10:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. 카지노 사이트

    You made some good points there. I checked on the net for more info about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this web site.

    http://www.drugoffice.gov.hk/gb/unigb/gigglyu.com/members/baccarat5artshark46/activity/79705/

    June 19, 2021 at 11:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. 우리 카지노

    I could not refrain from commenting. Well written!

    https://0rz.tw/create?url=http3A2F2Fgeekgirlsnightout.com2Fmembership2Fmembers2Fpowerchurch182Factivity2F33473981602763481672F

    June 19, 2021 at 12:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. 출장마사지

    Spot on with this write-up, I really believe that this web site needs a great deal more attention. Iíll probably be back again to read through more, thanks for the information!

    https://bh90210.ru/user/casino0y7tzsrw313

    June 19, 2021 at 12:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. here.

    It is appropriate time to make some plans for the future and it is time to be happy. I have read this post and if I could I desire to suggest you some interesting things or tips. Maybe you could write next articles referring to this article. I want to read more things about it!

    http://idea.informer.com/users/ploughglove1/?what=personal

    June 19, 2021 at 15:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. 대구출장

    You are so cool! I do not think I've truly read through something like this before. So good to discover another person with original thoughts on this subject. Really.. thank you for starting this up. This web site is one thing that is needed on the web, someone with a bit of originality!

    https://forums.prosportsdaily.com/member.php?981605-n5idwqn321

    June 19, 2021 at 15:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. 대구출장

    Pretty! This was an incredibly wonderful article. Many thanks for supplying this information.

    http://90.shymkent-mektebi.kz/user/v7ojjmo087

    June 19, 2021 at 20:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. check

    I have been surfing on-line more than three hours these days, but I by no means found any attention-grabbing article like yours. It's pretty worth sufficient for me. Personally, if all web owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the net will probably be much more helpful than ever before.

    https://www.blurb.com/user/maylatex3

    June 19, 2021 at 22:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. 출장안마

    Hi, I think your blog could be having internet browser compatibility issues. Whenever I take a look at your site in Safari, it looks fine however, when opening in Internet Explorer, it's got some overlapping issues. I simply wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Aside from that, fantastic blog!

    https://mus-album.org/user/casino3r6pezhq500

    June 19, 2021 at 23:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Lucius

    Excellent blog you have here but I was wanting to know if you knew of any message boards that cover the same topics discussed here? I'd really love to be a part of group where I can get opinions from other experienced people that share the same interest. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Many thanks!

    https://diigo.com/0kx7ea

    June 20, 2021 at 01:00 | 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 27

Leave a Reply to 먹튀검증사이트


 

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.