I remember when I was in middle school we used to sprint from the school grounds singing Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” at the end of each school year, happily awaiting the adventures of summer. Those were the days.
Then we grew up and most of us became parents. Now, this past summer, our kids were singing their version of “School’s Out.” We spend a glorious and laborious summer with the kids at home and then anticipate the fall and the newness of the school year.
For working parents, along with the newness is the added stress of re-entry shock: alarm clocks, schedules, homework, packing lunches, after-school activities, pick-ups and drop-offs, work deadlines and more.
Coping with the stress of the back-to-school adjustment can be overwhelming. How can a working parent survive this time and stay resilient? The trick is to manage your time by practicing behaviors and finding activities that blend your life roles. In other words, keep the things that are important in the forefront and keep your work/life balance in check.
If you and your children are feeling the shock of back-to-school and you have to split your time with your work and family, try some of these ideas and see if your re-entry shock is minimized.
Blending Your Life Roles:
1. Invite family to help with work projects: not just kids;, but parents and other elders
2. Take family members to conferences with you
3. Videotape your workplace, include greetings from co-workers, and watch the video with your family
4. Display your family pictures and family artwork in your work space
5. Hold family meetings when everyone shares what they did that was good at their “work” that day
6. Help your children develop and maintain a positive attitude about work
7. Explain what you do in language they can understand
8. Point out benefits that come to them from your working
9. Resist the temptation to always blame your crankiness or tiredness on work
10. Let them know that work can be stimulating, uplifting, and satisfying
When work takes you away from home:
1. Leave surprise notes for your loved ones under pillows, in sock drawers, in briefcases
2. Communicate in creative ways from work or on the road
3. Leave voice mail and email messages
4. Buy two identical books written at your child’s age level; schedule reading time by phone each night
5. Remember special events and phone immediately to hear the details
6. Send postcards from every place you travel
Manager, Center for Health and Healing