5 Tips for Dealing with the Biggest Stressor of the School Year

updated Sep 30, 2020
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(Image credit: Kitchn)
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You’ve mastered the school lunch. You have your after-school snacks down to a science. And you already know what you’re going to make for your kid’s classroom birthday party in October. The one thing that has potential to stress you out? All those activities!

Your kid has a ton of soccer matches, plays, rehearsals, field trips, etc. Whether you have an office job or you’re a stay-at-home mom, the calendar gets pretty stressful. Follow these smart tips, however, and you will crush this school year.

1. Schedule the time off at work.

Instead of asking your boss that morning if you can duck out at 3 for your kid’s trip to the food pantry, try planning further ahead. With as much advance notice as possible, put in for an official half day. This way, you won’t have to put your boss on the spot that morning and you’ll be able to plan accordingly.

Remind your coworkers early and often that you’ll be taking a half day later in the week and then when you leave, don’t worry about checking email. You’re officially off the clock!

2. Find out what’s involved before you volunteer.

A field trip to the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.? You’re down (mostly because you want to see Julia Child’s kitchen!). Before you sign up to chaperone, though, find out what exactly will be required of you: Will you have to drive some of the kids? Will you have to make two-dozen sandwiches for everyone before you go?

The one thing teachers say they hate the most is when parents commit to something, only to back out at the last minute. Find out what is involved and then commit. Or don’t — don’t be afraid to say no if you’re being asked to do more than you can.

3. Help behind the scenes.

If you can’t get out of work to be at your kid’s school in the afternoon, there are still other ways you can support her activity or program. Ask the teacher or coach how you can help behind the scenes. You might be able to whip up some brownies for a bake sale, make decorations for a party, or manage the budget for the big class trip.

4. Find out what events are the most important to your kid.

Your kid probably has a million events every week. And you probably can’t make it to all them. That’s okay! Obviously, your schedule may dictate what you can and can’t do, but it’s also worth asking your kid if there’s something he really wants you to attend. If he’s really pumped to harvest the veggies in the school garden, then that’s the activity you really try to get to — the others you can skip.

5. Ask another parent to take pictures.

These days, anyone with a phone can be an official photographer or videographer (no offense to you actual professional shutterbugs!). If you just can’t make it to something, talk to your daughter first and tell her how much you wish you could be there and explain why you can’t. Then, ask a fellow parent to snap some pics of her — or even a video — so that you’ll at least get to see a little bit of whatever you’re missing.

How do you handle all these extracurricular activities that pop up throughout the school year?

(Image credit: Kitchn)