My husband asked why the stress levels seemed to have gone through the roof since we returned from holiday. I explained (perhaps a little irritated) that juggling work with back to school preparations is no mean feat, especially when you have two out of three children starting a new school.
Back to school and the mental load
The end of the suspension of reality that comes post-holiday is pretty tough – and it isn’t just the return to work. There’s the mental adjustment as the fluid carefree days begin to make way for routines, and eating out and having picnics is replaced with cooking day in, day out. There’s the food shopping, cleaning and laundry; the admin that took a backseat is suddenly top of the to do pile. Then there’s catching up with personal correspondence/social media. Whilst a whole year WhatsApp group chat is very useful, I do find it stressful when it’s pinging off the hook!
The to do list
- Buying all the uniform for a new school and ensuring it has the correct house colour trim (of course my twins are in different houses!)
- New school bags suitable for ‘big school’
- Buying PE bags
- New school shoes – grappling with sizes being out of stock
- New PE trainers
- Buying new stationery items and maths equipment that wasn’t needed at junior school
- Replenishing other stationery equipment
- Uniform labelling (and labelling everything else)
- Ensuring they have a reading book they enjoy for the first day back
- Making sure all homework and ‘voluntary tasks’ have been completed
- Signing up for clubs both school and external
- Checking new timetable
Preventing back to school burnout
Whilst nothing can prevent the back to school burnout totally, there are a few things that I find alleviate it. Breaking down the whole to do list into smaller chunks and tackling tasks individually definitely helps. For example, a morning of shoe/trainer shopping. For me it pays to start early and tick a few things off for a psychological boost.
File all school emails together so you can quickly and easily refer back. Also write down all dates mentioned in emails as soon as possible on a wall calendar. I find that with so much going on if I don’t do this quickly, it slips my mind!
Get the kids back to their normal ‘term time’ bedtime routine three days before the start of term and make sure us parents get a few earlier nights: tiredness never helps anyone!
Meal plan for the week ahead and do a big food shop before they go back. This removes a lot of last minute stress and saves lots of trips to the supermarket.
Good to luck to all the children (and parents) for next week!