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 (842 Responses)
  1. jual kaos distro

    you're really a good webmaster. The site loading speed is amazing. It seems that you're doing any unique trick. In addition, The contents are masterpiece. you've done a excellent job on this topic!

    http://eduardomopqp.blog2learn.com/46611977/si7-penyedia-kaos-distro-terbaik

    April 21, 2021 at 17:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. 먹튀사이트

    I need to to thank you for this great read!! I definitely enjoyed every little bit of it. I've got you saved as a favorite to look at new things you postÖ

    http://bookmarkshq.com/story9219437/old-classic-blackjack-find-online-casinos-and-acquire

    April 21, 2021 at 23:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. 먹튀

    After I initially left a comment I seem to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on each time a comment is added I recieve four emails with the exact same comment. Is there a way you are able to remove me from that service? Kudos!

    https://www.treasury.gov/cgi-bin/redirect.cgi/?https://www.illustratedfaith.com/members/tablebomb61/activity/796446/

    April 22, 2021 at 08:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. 먹튀

    http://sc.hkeaa.edu.hk/TuniS/pixelscholars.org/engl202-022/members/pajamapage45/activity/656760/

    April 22, 2021 at 08:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. average perscription pills taken by 65 year old canadian?

    canadian pills pharmacy https://canadapillstorex.com/ best canadian mail order pharmacies for diet pills

    April 22, 2021 at 13:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. https://www.laweekly.com/5-best-cbd-oil-companies-to-buy-from-in-2019/

    Your way of addressin this subject is both wonderful and also inspiring.

    https://www.laweekly.com/5-best-cbd-oil-companies-to-buy-from-in-2019/

    April 22, 2021 at 19:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. buy sildenafil with visa

    online sildenafil without prescription https://eunicesildenafilcitrate.com/ sildenafil side effects

    April 23, 2021 at 03:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. where can i purchase sildenafil

    sildenafil 20 mg over the counter https://eunicesildenafilcitrate.com/ sildenafil online no prescription

    April 23, 2021 at 06:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. 먹튀사이트

    Good day! I just wish to offer you a huge thumbs up for the excellent info you have got right here on this post. I will be coming back to your website for more soon.

    https://ello.co/casino4h1gtsxr616

    April 23, 2021 at 06:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. 먹튀검증

    This is a topic which is near to my heart... Thank you! Where are your contact details though?

    https://wifidb.science/wiki/Whats_Poker_Betting

    April 23, 2021 at 10:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Click Here To See The Best CBD Oil

    The only point I lament is not having actually found your blog earlier.

    https://www.laweekly.com/5-best-cbd-oil-companies-to-buy-from-in-2019/

    April 23, 2021 at 13:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. LA Weekly's List

    What an impressive way of checking out things.

    https://www.laweekly.com/5-best-cbd-oil-companies-to-buy-from-in-2019/

    April 23, 2021 at 13:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. canadian weight loss pills

    canadian weight loss pills https://canadapillstorex.com/ canadian pills pharmacy

    April 23, 2021 at 14:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. 먹튀검증

    http://2ch-ranking.net/redirect.php?url=https://rivergaux654.de.tl/Getting-Tired-of-2623476733B2623538883B2623441603B2623516133B-f–10-Sources-of-Inspiration-That-h-ll-Rekindle-Your-Love.htm

    April 23, 2021 at 15:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. forex

    Great article, exactly what I needed.

    April 24, 2021 at 01:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. injectable drugs for erectile dysfunction

    injectable drugs for ed https://alprostadildrugs.com/ transurethral alprostadil

    April 24, 2021 at 15:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. how to adminiter transurethral alprostadil

    alprostadil 250mcg urethral supp https://alprostadildrugs.com/ alprostadil ingredients

    April 24, 2021 at 18:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. 먹튀검증

    May I just say what a relief to uncover an individual who really understands what they are talking about on the web. You definitely realize how to bring a problem to light and make it important. More people need to look at this and understand this side of your story. It's surprising you're not more popular since you most certainly have the gift.

    https://markbuev.ru/user/casino8c9lylvu482

    April 24, 2021 at 18:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. 토토사이트

    May I simply say what a comfort to find somebody that actually understands what they are discussing on the web. You certainly know how to bring a problem to light and make it important. A lot more people really need to check this out and understand this side of your story. I can't believe you aren't more popular because you surely have the gift.

    https://gambling0nickelalloy85.bravejournal.net/post/2021/03/22/Selecting-a-Fantastic-Casino:-Find-a-Casino-Having-an-Online-Casino-Barri

    April 24, 2021 at 19:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. 토토사이트

    Itís hard to come by educated people about this topic, however, you sound like you know what youíre talking about! Thanks

    http://msichat.de/redir.php?url=https://totositeheaven.com/

    April 24, 2021 at 19:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. 토토사이트

    The next time I read a blog, Hopefully it won't fail me just as much as this one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read through, nonetheless I really thought you would probably have something interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something that you could possibly fix if you were not too busy looking for attention.

    https://spinalhub.win/wiki/An_Introduction_To_Betting_Ontop_Resorts

    April 25, 2021 at 00:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. 토토사이트

    I could not resist commenting. Exceptionally well written!

    https://gambling1margintest10.bravejournal.net/post/2021/03/22/The-Best-Way-to-Earn-Money-At-Online-Gambling-Internet-Web-Sites

    April 25, 2021 at 07:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. canadian viagra cialis

    cialis viagra combination canadian pharmacy https://canadacialisstore.com/ how safe and reliable are canadian cialis

    April 25, 2021 at 08:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. 메이저사이트

    http://www.nafttech.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=itemlist&task=user&id=1543341

    April 25, 2021 at 09:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. 먹튀검증

    You ought to take part in a contest for one of the finest blogs on the net. I'm going to highly recommend this blog!

    https://www.kiva.org/lender/nickie5760

    April 25, 2021 at 09:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. tadalis sx

    tadalafil generic https://elitadalafill.com/ tadalis sx

    April 25, 2021 at 12:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. LA Weekly's List

    Love the manner you cover this topic.

    https://www.laweekly.com/5-best-cbd-oil-companies-to-buy-from-in-2019/

    April 25, 2021 at 13:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. 토토사이트

    https://cryptosell.eu/user/profile/199568

    April 25, 2021 at 16:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Private Proxies Buy

    This actually answered my downside, thank you!

    https://dreamproxies.com/tag/private-proxy-sale/

    April 25, 2021 at 23:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. 토토사이트

    http://baccarat4dominickplrh624.cavandoragh.org/responsible-for-a-meijeosaiteu-budget-12-top-notch-ways-to-spend-your-money

    April 26, 2021 at 05:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. 토토사이트

    https://anotepad.com/notes/ix89nbi9

    April 26, 2021 at 07:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. 토토사이트

    https://www.oscarbookmarks.win/totosaiteu-a-simple-definition-14

    April 26, 2021 at 12:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. 사설토토

    This blog was... how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something which helped me. Thanks!

    https://www.tripline.net/casino5u4obrjz223/

    April 26, 2021 at 15:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. plaquenil indications

    erectile improvement https://plaquenilx.com/ erectile function with age

    April 26, 2021 at 22:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. cure for covid 19

    erectile pictures https://plaquenilx.com/ erectile cure

    April 27, 2021 at 02:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. buy aralen online uk

    choloroquine https://chloroquineorigin.com/ chloroquine phosphate vs chloroquine sulphate

    April 27, 2021 at 03:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. 바둑이사이트

    http://www.sdmnapoli.it/index.php?option=com_k2&view=itemlist&task=user&id=764635

    April 27, 2021 at 11:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. jersey bola

    Your place is valueble for me. Thanks!…

    http://elliottejmop.howeweb.com/3149182/baju-volley-kirim-dari-bandung-hubungi-sekarang-via-whatsapp-081388885251

    April 27, 2021 at 14:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. jersey bola

    I do accept as true with all the ideas you've introduced for your post. They are really convincing and will definitely work. Still, the posts are too short for starters. May just you please prolong them a bit from subsequent time? Thank you for the post.

    https://damienosvwx.bloguerosa.com/2590350/jersey-voli-bank-bni-kirim-dari-bandung-pesan-sekarang-via-wa-0813-8888-5251

    April 27, 2021 at 14:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. canadian generic cialis 20mg

    cialis canadian pharmacy https://canadacialisstore.com/ buying canadian cialis

    April 27, 2021 at 16:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. 사설바둑이

    I really like reading a post that can make people think. Also, many thanks for allowing me to comment!

    http://pixelscholars.org/engl202-022/members/foldcolony0/activity/750185/

    April 27, 2021 at 19:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. buy viagra from canada

    is it safe to get viagra from canada https://canadaviagrastore.com/ viagra purchase from canada

    April 27, 2021 at 20:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. 타오바오 배송대행

    Hey there are using WordPress for your blog platform? I'm new to the blog world but
    I'm trying to get started and create my own. Do you require any html coding expertise to make your own blog?
    Any help would be really appreciated!

    April 27, 2021 at 21:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. priligy

    dapoxetine 90 mg priligy for sale uk

    April 27, 2021 at 21:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. 바둑이게임

    Aw, this was a very nice post. Taking the time and actual effort to make a really good articleÖ but what can I sayÖ I put things off a whole lot and don't seem to get nearly anything done.

    https://list.ly/combshinrichsen252

    April 28, 2021 at 00:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. 사설바둑이

    Your style is unique compared to other folks I've read stuff from. Thank you for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I'll just bookmark this blog.

    https://postheaven.net/gambling5corneticon76/blackjack-a-popular-card-game

    April 28, 2021 at 00:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. 바둑이사이트

    I truly love your website.. Great colors & theme. Did you build this website yourself? Please reply back as Iím planning to create my own site and want to know where you got this from or just what the theme is called. Thank you!

    http://www.dellemimose.it/index.php?option=com_k2&view=itemlist&task=user&id=814291

    April 28, 2021 at 01:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. new viagra in canada

    buying viagra in canada https://canadaviagrastore.com/ ordering viagra from canada

    April 28, 2021 at 05:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. patenqq

    My spouse and i have been very happy that Louis managed to do his reports with the precious recommendations he gained from your very own web site. It's not at all simplistic just to choose to be giving out tips and tricks which some others might have been making money from. We really know we have you to be grateful to for that. The main illustrations you made, the straightforward website navigation, the friendships you will help to promote – it is many exceptional, and it's facilitating our son and the family recognize that the matter is interesting, which is extremely pressing. Thanks for the whole thing!

    https://joker123downloadvspc479.shutterfly.com/34

    April 28, 2021 at 05:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. patenqq

    This is really interesting, You are an excessively skilled blogger. I've joined your feed and look forward to in search of more of your excellent post. Additionally, I've shared your site in my social networks!

    https://linkjoker123rkje671.skyrock.com/3340729478-Poker-Online-Bonus-New-Member-Pelajari-Teknik-Sederhana-Berbermain.html

    April 28, 2021 at 05:52 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17

Post a comment


 

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.