How to Stress Less

Back-to-school, crazy schedules, work deadlines: Ease that annual end-of-summer angst with these expert tips


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Camps are over, boredom has set in, there are school supplies—and clothes—and shoes—and lunchboxes to buy. There are new schedules and permission slips, and fall sports and after-school child care to plan for. There are last-gasp summer parties, work deadlines and that never-ending pile of laundry to worry about. Yes, back-to-school season is quickly gaining on the holidays as the most stressful time of year. But it’s time to take a deep breath and chill. We asked Karen Van Cleve, a Denver-based life and business coach and author of “End Overwhelm Now,” for her tips on learning to relax. Grab your No. 2 pencils: You’re going to want to take notes.

Create a Routine
“The biggest general complaint I hear is expressed as time—the time it will take to get back-to-school supplies and clothes, arrange drop-off and pick-up and do homework are always big ones. The best solution— easier said than done—is creating routines whenever possible. For example, post a family calendar on the fridge and train everyone to update it with due dates and activities or specific study times. Routines also help with the surprise stressors.”

Talk to Each Other
“Communication is clearly important. Often, when rushed, it’s easy to forget to communicate upcoming events or requirements. Some schools are now helping with that by posting assignments in a computer portal where parents can see them, so they don’t have to rely on the kids to communicate.”

Don’t Forget About Fun …
“I often remind parents to ‘lighten up.’ Obviously, a child’s education is important, but it’s easy for most of the parent-child communication to be only about homework, scheduling and demands on them. To help the stress of both the kids and the parents, it’s important to also have fun together, to play together or maybe cook meals together. Laughter is a huge stress reliever. I advise staying away from the news and use that time instead for something truly enjoyable. Many parents, and especially moms, take on so much responsibility that there aren’t many shared activities.”

… Or Spending Time with Friends
“Also, build a support community— such as other working moms—who understand your situation and can offer encouragement or suggestions.”

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