For working parents like Katie Gilden, a Davie mother of a 7-, 5- and 3-year-old, it’s not just the balancing work and school schedules that cause her to feel anxious, afterschool activities weigh into the equation, too. “I try not to over schedule. Two activities each at the most, that’s my limit.” Gilden says getting the kids to school by 8 a.m., making sure they get their homework done and then getting them to activities can overwhelm working parents. She’s already begun preparing her boss, setting the groundwork to leave work earlier, run her kids to activities, and resume work from home later at night. “My office is paperless so I can work from home at night while the kids are doing homework next to me.”
Work life expert Cali Williams Yost recommends sitting down with your manager now, before school starts, and proposing a shift in schedule, rather than disappointing your kids or your boss. “Don’t focus on why you are proposing a change, emphasize how you will get your job done. That’s really all your manager cares about in the end.” If there’s initial hesitation, she suggests you offer to pilot the new schedule for one month. “Chances are it will be fine and continue.”
Parents whose kids are moving on to middle or high school this year may need to manage new schedules by giving them more independence — and that often brings high anxiety. Some parents plan to temper those jitters by relying on technology to stay connected — having their teen text when they are on the bus, arrive at school or get settled at home. They may even video chat after school. “Neither option takes much time, but these small ‘tweaks’ help parents know their child is OK so they can get back to work and focus,” Yost says.
Macaulay says one of the most effective ways parents can keep jitters in check is to tap into their village of helpers — arrange for carpools, organize so kids walk home with friends, or agree to stand at the bus stop with kids in the morning and have another parent do it in the afternoon. “A lot of back-to-school stress can be alleviated if parents can have each other’s back and support each other,” she says.