Can Parents Have the Back-to-School Blues Too?

September 03, 2014

back to school

It is quite possible that the phrase, “back-to-school blues” was coined by parents and not children. While children think they have it rough, the real struggle often falls on parents who fight to get their children out of the “curriculum cessation” and back into the swing-of-things.

If you find yourself nagging, reminding and sometimes yelling your way through the school year routine, here are five tips to making your life a little easier.

1. Get the Tough Stuff Done First! Set up a “when-then” routine with your children for the rough times in your day. This means that kids have to do the things they hate FIRST before being able to do the things they like. For example:

  • When you are dressed, your teeth are brushed and your bags are packed, then you may eat your breakfast and watch a show before school. (But just let them know that the kitchen closes at 7:30am, so if they take too much time getting out of bed, they may have to go to school hungry.)
  • When your homework is finished, then you may spend time using your electronics.
  • When your room is cleaned up, then you may hang out with your friends.

Keep in mind that children may whine and try to negotiate with you. If this happens, leave the room and ignore the argument. If your child has no one to argue back with, the situation should lose steam and the routine will be in-charge. If you are worried, practice this new routine before implementing it. It never hurts to be prepared.

2. Refuse to Rescue. Reminding our children about homework assignments, or running them to school when they forgot them at home, might seem like a harmless way to keep your kids on top of their responsibilities. That is, until you’re pulling into the school parking lot for the third time in one week.

The problem is that whenever we rescue our kids, we rob them of the opportunity to learn a valuable lesson about personal accountability. Keep in mind the old saying, “a child who always forgets has a parent who always remembers.” On the other hand, refusing to rescue our kids trains them to be more responsible in the future. This no-rescue policy takes courage, but your child’s teachers should hopefully appreciate your efforts to help your kids develop their sense of personal responsibility.

3. Rise and Shine: Make sure you’re leading the charge before taking on the day. By being dressed and caffeinated before your kids’ feet hit the floor, you are sending a message that mornings are for business, not lounging. It also models how to be prepared and how not to run around the house like a crazy person.

4. Make Sure Your Kids Are Getting A Sufficient Amount of Sleep: Did you know that school-age children (5-10 years) require 10-11 hours of sleep and Teens require 8.5-9.25 hours? If your kids are having trouble waking up in the morning, try moving bedtime back by 15 minute increments, until they get enough sleep.

If their electronics are keeping them awake, then control your environment. Yes your kids may need access to a computer for homework, but by keeping your electronics out of your children’s bedrooms, you not only limit their temptation to use, but you keep them safe in cyberspace and teach them how to use technology responsibly.

5.Stay Organized: Pack backpacks and choose clothes the night before. If your kids have trouble putting appropriate outfits together, promptly store away off-season clothes and keep size appropriate clothing at their eye level.

Remember that while you cannot control your children, you can always control you. With a little help from letting your routines be the boss, and by managing your environment, you relinquish some of the directing and ordering around. This also allows children to feel a sense of empowerment and accomplishment and ultimately contributes to what we really want; to raise responsible adults who contribute to the world.

For more tips like these, contact Licensed Psychotherapist and Parent Educator Deborah Winters of The Counseling & Parenting Center (631-623-7076) or go to