Thursday, September 03, 2009

Got the "Back to School Blues"?

For many parents, September means one thing: it's back to school time! And that single realization can bristle, stress out and frustrate even the most organized parents. Some even sink into a temporary depression--the "Back to School Blues".

But there's help for you. Really. It's all in how you look at this time of year--or this time in your child's life. The one thing I can promise you, it's temporary.

Let's look at the stress factors:

Back to school means revamping your child's wardrobe. Little Johnny ain't so little anymore, Mom. He shot up four inches over the summer and his jeans end just below his knees. Not really the current fashion statement for a cool dude. And little Lisa has gained a few pounds from all that ice cream. She'll need a size larger, unless you want her bursting at the seems.

Then there's that long list of school supplies, and little Johnny wants that certain brand for his calculator, the one that's $40 more than the no-name kind. Do you cave and kick yourself for being stingy? Or do you hold your ground and teach him a lesson in budgeting? Those lists can equal a car payment if you're not careful. And trust me, you'll need that car, if only just to escape from a house filled with kids whining about homework.

There's also the issue of how your child will get to school. Will he/she travel by school bus, public bus, bicycle or will he/she walk. How will you handle lunches? A lunchbox or lunch at home? Do you need before and after school care?

It's no wonder parents go into a depression at this time of year. If they're really lucky they had a week of unpaid holidays that they now have to make up for, on top of all the school costs. But what's the choice? It's not as if they can buy the pens and notebooks the following month and stretch out the debts.

So how does one deal with the depression of excessive financial debt, plus the fact that little Johnny and Lisa will be gone all day, leaving you alone with nothing to think about other

You remind yourself: it's only temporary. And it is, I guarantee you.

You have approximately 18 years to buy those school supplies, maybe longer if you're forking the bill for your child's college, university or other post-secondary schooling. As your child matures and gets into high school, you might find some of the stress easing off as they take some responsibility for extra-curricular activity expenses. Little Johnny wants to play hockey? Have him contribute a small amount from his part-time job. Or have him work for you. At least you'll feel you've gotten something back from the hundreds of dollars you've spent on knees pads and helmets.

September is a time for beginnings--the first day back to school, back with all their friends, and the day you release them to this new year of learning. It's also a great time for parents to start new projects. These projects will keep you busy and you'll feel motivated by the subtle changes in your home--specifically, the lack of noise.

As a parent of a 19-year-old who has finished school, I can safely say that it's been a few years since I suffered from the "Back to School Blues". I long for September because it signals change--good change. I find I'm most productive in September and January because both months make me feel I can start over, start something new and start something exciting. And thankfully, I don't need a new wardrobe or a list of supplies or a bus pass, and the only teacher giving me homework is me.

Everything is temporary. Enjoy this time with your child. They grow up far too fast.

~Cheryl Kaye Tardif,

bestselling author of Whale Song

1 comment:

Betty Dravis said...

Great blog, Cher-baby,

My kids are all grown so no more dashing to get the kids new clothes and school supplies... Ah-hhh, the good old days. LOL

I really enjoyed your examples in this article. Good advice for young Moms...

Hugs - Betty