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Moms, Do You Have the Back To School Blues? Let’s Beat It Together!

If you’re anything like me, your wishes turned into reality last week when the countdown to school finally hit zero and the kids got out of your hair…I mean house. Now that we just wrapped week two, the most irritating words you heard echoed all summer, “I’m bored” seem like a distant memory. Yet somehow, you might be longing to hear them again. Summer probably seems like a breeze in comparison to what you are dealing with now – lunches, getting out of the house, coordinating schedules, after-school activities, pickups, etc.

There are of course some welcome aspects of our children being safely occupied for the bulk of the day and back on a daily schedule. This is especially helpful for those of us who work from home. Though each September, the start of school smacks us in the face and we seem surprised at how hard it hits. Can you relate? Moms, do you have the back to school blues?

This year, I am finding the transition to be particularly stressful. Add a sprinkle of anxiety (and maybe even a dollop of depression) and it makes for a dangerous recipe. In just the first “week” of school (which was actually only 3 school days), I managed to scream at my daughters on two occasions. And when I say I “screamed,” I mean totally lost it (once before school and once after). I stomped away like a toddler, and literally sobbed uncontrollably, on and off, for three days. My abnormal volatile behavior can possibly be attributed to hormonal changes and/or my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah (now in less than a week), but who knows! What I do know is that I am hearing similar stories from dozens of other, overly stressed out moms. So what happens now? Let’s beat it together!

Nobody wants to be stressed, anxious, and/or depressed. It inarguably contributes to an unhealthy and unhappy life. And frankly, we can’t afford to sustain these feelings. While stress originates in the brain, often times through maladaptive thoughts and worries, it can end up affecting our whole system. Since the brain is the command center for our entire body, that means that stress and anxiety can even manifest in physical pain and/or health issues. Depending on where you are at mentally, pushing aside or ignoring these feelings (as tempting as it may be) can be dangerous. Untreated anxiety and depression can wreak havoc on your world…and the world of those around you. And nobody wants that.

You might be thinking, “I’m not at that point,” or “this too shall pass.” And maybe those sentiments are true. But does it mean that you should stand by and wait – or pray – for things to get better?  At the end of this blog, you can find all sorts of potential remedies. While some may be familiar, there are likely a handful of new and helpful suggestions that you aren’t aware of but that could really benefit you. And then there’s one more option, which can be especially beneficial for those of you who are finding that your normal go-tos haven’t been working. For me, it’s not exactly that they haven’t  been working, it’s just that they simply are not enough. This is really difficult for me, especially since (as I’m sure you have all figured out by now), I like to be in control. I know I need to be proactive and try something…anything…to get out of this funk. I’ve been obsessing about finding a solution. And I finally have. A simple, but difficult, one: ask for help.

It stands to reason that given the universal nature of struggle, it would be easy to ask for help. We encourage our children to do it, but then opt not to practice what we preach. Why, I wondered? Well…I engaged in some self-reflection, dug down deep, and found my why. There are simply so many emotions wrapped up in the ask. Feelings of fear, shame, failure, and inadequacy, just to name a few.  And then there’s of course the concerns about what others will think of us, how it might change the way they see us.

But the reality is that when people ask me for help, I lend a hand with a pure heart, and without judgement. So wouldn’t (and shouldn’t) others do the same? 

Based on this, I decided to put my trust in others, and myself. And after years of creating opportunities for children to share their feelings and experiences in a group setting (and witnessing the positive results), I’ve decided to coordinate and facilitate a support group for moms (something I’ve been thinking about doing for years, but held back because I was afraid no one would come). 

My goal is to create a sacred space where like-minded moms can feel connected and validated through shared experiences and empathy. I want to provide all of us with an opportunity to see things from new perspectives. A group where everyone can share and gain insights, tools, and strategies to succeed.

Regardless of what path you choose, the most important thing to remember is this: take care of yourself. If you feel selfish doing that, try to shift your thinking by looking at practicing self-care as an act of kindness. You can’t love and support others if you don’t love and support yourself first. So not only will you benefit, your family and friends will too. 

Mom Support Group: 

  • Email me if you are interested in coming to a meeting in the coming weeks.
  • Let me know if you are a mom of a child(ren) in elementary school or middle/high school (the plan is to have two separate groups).
  • Agenda: I’ll come with some ideas but everyone has a voice. The meeting can go in any direction, depending on the needs of the group. At the end of our first meeting, we will decide best next steps. Maybe we meet weekly or monthly. Who knows? But what I do know is that every mom is invited to join me on this journey.

A support group isn’t your thing? Or even if it is, here are some other ways to reduce your stress and anxiety.

  • Transform morning madness into morning mindfulness (no magic required). Regardless of age, getting children up, dressed, fed and out the door can feel like a herculean task. The experience can be just as maddening even when your children are able to do all of that themselves. For those of you with younger kids, I know you’re thinking, “No way. That would be a dream.” I have one thing to say to that, “just wait until you have a teenager.” And if you have girls, get ready to turn up the morning madness a few levels! The reality is that morning madness can negatively impact our entire day. Click here for some suggestions.
  • Get moving. When the brain tries to bring the body down with negative thoughts or emotions, physical activity can reverse that effect and fight back. The goal is to increase your body’s “feel good” neurotransmitters (aka endorphins). How you choose to engage your body isn’t important, as long as you make the effort to engage it somehow. When your body feels good, so does your mind. 
  • Fuel your body and your mind. Practice breathing, meditation or mindfulness. Dance, do yoga, read a book, or simply find some stillness for a few minutes. Additionally, fuel your body with healthy foods. Click here for a list of mood elevating options
  • Soak up the sun. Vitamin D, which we literally absorb from the sun, actually elevates your mood and relaxes blood vessels (which improves blood flow). If you want to reap even more benefits, take a walk outside (preferably without your phone) and take in something much more pure…nature.
  • Boost your mood and/or change your energy with vitamins, essential oils or CBD oils. Remember, brands are not all created equal. Do your research to make sure you get legit stuff. Our local Port Washington Salt Cave sells safe and effective CBD oils. And Back to Life Chiropractic sells Young Living Essential Oils, which is one of the largest and most reputable companies out there testing and manufacturing pure oils. 
  • Try therapeutic outlets like art or cooking. Multiple studies have proven that people get stress relief from finding a way to express themselves. Art is a productive tool to release emotions, regardless of your skill level. Through baking and cooking, you can express what you’re feeling without having to find the right words. Plus, preparing food requires you to engage your senses. This not only helps you release and relax, but it also forces you to stay in the moment. And (once again) mindfulness results in stress reduction.
  • Get chummy with Google. Have a child that won’t eat breakfast? Finding it difficult to sleep? You can find ideas and/or solutions for much anything you search for online. There are plenty of articles and videos out there that feel like they are speaking directly to you – about your life. You just have to put in the time to connect with them. 
  • Seek professional help or assistance. Maybe a few sessions with a licensed therapist will give you the advice and tools you need. (There are plenty of amazing ones in and around our community.) Perhaps a tutor, even an a mature one, will put an end to the homework battle. Maybe an executive functioning coach is the answer. And if you are overwhelmed and intimidated by the physical activity aspect? Think about joining a gym or hiring a person trainer. You don’t have to go through the process alone and there are plenty of people out there who can help increase not only your fitness level, but also your motivation and enjoyment. 

Your solution could be a simple one. Maybe it’s not and it requires professional help, and that is okay too. Regardless, you owe it to yourself (and your children) to try to reduce your stress and live happily. Good luck, and know that I’ll be right here cheering you on!!

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