It’s Back-to-School Season and It’s Stressing Me The Heck Out

57% of parents say that the back-to-school season is the most stressful time of year

by Nancy Reynolds

This post: It’s Back to School Season and It’s Stressing Me the Heck Out

I didn’t want to admit it. I’ve been pushing the thought aside for weeks and I’m just not ready. But when I walked into Target yesterday and saw all the back-to-school supplies, and parents filling their shopping carts with notebooks, binders, paper, pencils and highlighters, I couldn’t help but face reality… it’s back-to-freaking school season. 

The truth is, the back-to-school season always stresses me out. And, it turns out, I’m not alone.

A survey published in the New York Post found that 60% of parents are so stressed out about back-to-school that they actually lose sleep. Of the 2,000 parents polled, 57% admitted that it’s the most stressful time of year for them and, for many, it stresses them out even more than their kids.

It’s not just getting our kids ready to go back to school that stresses parents out, it’s the thought of the unrelenting schedule ahead that really sends them over the edge. 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed at the mere thought of your kids going back to school, here are a few of this mama’s thoughts on why this season raises my blood pressure – maybe you can relate. Here are 10 reasons why back-to-school season stresses me the heck out.

It’s Back-To-School Season and It’s Stressing Me the Heck Out


The Hit to My Credit Card

Now that my kids are teens, they (thankfully) don’t have to buy a crazy long list of school supplies like they did in elementary school. What hits your pocket hard, though, is the cost of T1-84 Plus CE Graphing Calculator their math teacher wants them to have (or some other $100 calculator they have to have that you just know they’re going to lose within the first month of school) or the new backpack you have to buy or the overpriced athletic shoes that nearly break the bank.

That along with all clothes they need because God knows, at the rate they’re growing, nothing fits them from last year. And, of course, they won’t settle for just any clothes. Their “wish list” includes all the latest (and, of course, most expensive) name-brand stuff. Yep… when you’ve got teens your credit card takes a serious hit in August. 

Getting Them Up for School

Some mornings my kids hop out of bed with little to no urging or bribing on my end. But more often than not, it takes 10 reminders, eight ultimatums and, eventually, a few serious threats. After they’ve waited until the last possible second to finally drag themselves out of bed, they grab the nearest hoodie (of course) and shorts or leggings and dash out the door with a Red Bull and a bagel barely making it to their first class on time. 

10 O’Clock Poster Board Runs

I’ve learned the hard way that as many times as I ask my kids about upcoming projects or what supplies they need, they’ll still hit me up at 10 o’clock at night with a sheepish look on their face. “Umm, yeah, so mom? I have a project due tomorrow. Can you go out and buy me some posterboard?” Of course, it’s after I’ve put my PJs on and I’m ready to hop in bed.

So, heads up parents, save yourself a ton of hassle and frustration and go out and buy enough poster board to last your kid until they’re 18. It’ll save you from all those late-night poster board runs. 

Helping Them with Homework

I dread it. My husband dreads it. Even though we try to tag team it – he helps with the math and science, while I focus on the English – it’s still agonizing. I’ve pretty much accepted the fact that I’m not smarter than a fifth grader. “Did I learn this stuff when I was their age? Why don’t I remember it? What the h#ll does this mean?” The worst part is when your kid looks at you with mild disgust and says, “Geez, mom and dad, I thought you guys were smart.”  

The Sheer Amount of Homework (and Their Grades)

From the minute they walk in the door after school it starts. “OMG, mom… you’re not going to believe how much homework I have!” I have to read 100 pages in AP World History and my Calculus teacher gave us 50 problems to do. Plus, I have my science project due on Friday. I’ll never get it all done! It’s so not fair!”

Truth be told, I truly feel for my kids. School administrators put an awful lot of pressure on kids and it really isn’t fair. And, considering GPA matters a lot when it comes to college resumes, it’s a real stress factor for my kids and me. Still, as unrelenting as it is to keep up, unless they want to fail every darn class, they really don’t have a choice. All I can do is support them through it all. 

Crazy After-School Schedule

The transition from summer to back to school is like being shot out of a cannon. There isn’t a slow progression of after-school activities. It goes from zero to a hundred in two seconds flat. If your teen drives (and they have access to a car) you might be off the hook with all the driving, but until then you’ll spend the better part of your life over the next 10 months driving your kids to every after-school activity under the sun all while trying to figure out what to make your “always on the run” kids for dinner.

“Oh, I Forgot” Panic Attacks

It’s not just the late-night poster board runs that keep parents hoppin’ when back-to-school season hits. It’s all the otherOh, I totally forgot I needed…” panic attacks our kids have. They don’t think of these things at 3 or 4 o’clock when they get home from school. Nooo…. their under-developed pre-frontal cortex brain doesn’t remember until you’re snuggling into bed. “Mom, I totally forgot, I have to bring doughnuts to school in the morning.” or “Mom, don’t be mad, I totally forgot, but my teacher wants me to bring a case of water to school tomorrow.” 

Someone should start a business where they drive around neighborhoods at 10 o’clock at night selling poster board and other freaking stuff kids forgot they needed the next day. They’d make a fortune. 

School Drama

Although it’s more prevalent with my daughter than my son (although there’s plenty of drama going on in the boy world, too), it’s pretty much an everyday thing. This guy cheated on that girl. That girl cheated on that test. This couple broke up. So and so didn’t get invited to the big party on Friday night. Their bestie is acting cold for no reason. It’s always, always something. 

It’s hard knowing my kids have to navigate such unsettling drama, especially when they have so many other things going on in their lives. My goal as their mom is to help them see situations clearly, help them steer clear of drama and gossip (as much as possible), and make sure they know they can always come to be about anything (not just drama).


I’m all for volunteering at my kids’ school or, at the very least, contributing supplies or money. And, for the most part, I’d give myself a solid “B+” as a volunteer. But the last few years my email seems to be flooded with requests. We need volunteers to bring in lunch for teacher appreciation week. We need volunteers to help out in the library. We’re looking for parents to help out in the front office or bring water to practice or supervise the lunchroom or chaperone a field trip. Whew! The barrage of requests stresses me out!

Weekend Frenzy

One of the biggest reasons my teen going back to school stresses me out is the unrelenting rush on the weekends.

I love watching my kids in all their activities. In fact, I’ve spent more hours on bleachers than I can count and I wouldn’t change that for the world.

But, man… dedicating so much time to my kids’ activities takes away time to get caught up on laundry and house cleaning and grocery shopping and errands. The weekends are basically an extension of the week with more games, tournaments, play-offs and practices. When back-to-school rolls around I have to brace myself for much longer days just to keep up with life, in general.

If you’re losing sleep and feeling stressed about school starting back up again, you’re not alone.

Just remember, parents, we do what we can. We’re not superhuman. We can’t do it all. Take a big deep breath…. just like every year before, in a few weeks, you and your kids will be back in the groove and it won’t be quite so stressful. Remember, too, that as stressed out as you are, your teen is JUST as stressed out, maybe more. So, go easy on them. Getting back in the groove of school is hard on everyone.

If you enjoyed reading “It’s Back-To-School Season and It’s Stressing Me the Heck Out,” check out these other posts!

10 Tips to Make Your Child’s Transition into Middle School Easier

10 Things You Should Know Before Your Teen Starts High School

6 Killer Apps to Help Your Teen Stay Focused and Block Distractions

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