4 Ways to Reduce Back-to-School Anxiety This Fall

Man…parenting is stressful! The things we have to figure out and decide for our families can be overwhelming. And then came 2020! Can you say Most…Stressful…Year…Ever?!

Oh geez…where’s my wine?

Let’s talk about a huge decision that many of us parents will face in the coming months…

What are you going to do about school?

For most of the country, we all received a crash course in distance learning back at the end of last school year. Many of us know one thing going forward…

What happened in the spring, caused some anxiety for members of your family. I know it did in mine!

Now, we are looking at the quickly approaching school season with many questions unanswered. Schools are trying to make plans, but they need to know how many kids to expect in the fall. The problem? Parents want to know what the school’s plans are for the fall before they decide to send their kids back to school. That my friends- is the conundrum that we face, and we, as parents, have to face that decision- and my friend, it is a scary one:

Do we send our kids back into the classroom in the fall or not? 

A recent poll from the National Parents Union shows that two-thirds of parents want schools to remain closed until it is certain that there is no health risk. Let’s be real, there is still going to be a risk. Schools out here in Arizona are offering options. Here, school districts are offering students in-person learning along with distance/online learning. Whether you chose to send your kids to a school building in the fall, you likely have anxiety about school in the fall. 

READ: Help Your Child Tame Anxiety With This Simple Step

Here are 4 tips to help you and your kids reduce anxiety for school in the fall:

1. Talk about the options.

I am a big believer in family meetings where everyone has a chance to be heard. If your school will be offering different options for the fall, let your kids know about them, and ask what they think. When I mentioned to my kids that their school would be offering online school in the fall, they both jumped and said that was what they wanted. I asked them to explain to me why they wanted that. It seemed to hinge on their desire to sleep in and eat anytime they wanted during the day.


I pointed out that their favorite electives wouldn’t be an online option. My daughter was so excited to be on yearbook this year and my son loves his art classes at school. They paused. Now they say they want to think about it more.

2. Talk to your kids about how they feel about going back to school and validate their feelings.

Kids of different ages have different understandings of the COVID-19 situation. They also have different perceptions of school. Most of all, they will have different language skills to share those thoughts with you. If your kids are under 10 years old, you could start with a statement that you think your kids may be feeling such as:

“It’s okay if you feel a bit worried about going back to school. That’s understandable. And I bet lots of people feel the same way.”

That statement offers your child a label for how they are feeling and lets them know, their feelings are okay. That is validation. After that, you want to help build confidence and strength for your child. No matter what their age is. Let them know that while it might be hard at first, it’s going to be okay, and we know they’re going to get through this. Together. Remind them of another time in the past when they were scared or worried about something. And how they were able to get through it.

3. Talk to your friends and family about how you feel as a parent.

As parents, we have an added level of stress…

Protect our kids.

That means we have to try to not let our own anxiety impact our kids.
Just like our kids, we need to talk about how we feel, and it’s okay to feel anxious about your kids going back to school in the fall.
Maybe you are worried about them being around other kids.
Maybe you are worried about how they are going to learn online.
Or how you are going to support their learning in the fall.

Guess what?

Chances are good that your friends or family who also have kids going back have some of those same concerns! Talk it out with those people you trust!

READ: Moms Need Time Alone: 3 Tips to Get Me Time

I have a great group of mom friends that I am always sharing with! These days, we keep in touch via text and Zoom. I know I will find comfort in sharing with my friends, as well as hearing what they are doing. I often get my best inspirations from talking to my friends and my family.

4. Set up routines.

There is one tip that is shared over and over again to reduce anxiety and help prepare for the new school year. Even in the COVID-19-era, we are living in, it’s true… set up routines!

Routines are things you can do in your own home and with your family to invoke a sense of normalcy and regularity.

Maybe that’s going to bed and getting up every day at the same time.

Maybe it’s creating a bedtime routine.

Maybe it’s not watching TV at certain times of the day.

Maybe it’s starting a whole new family routine like having breakfast together each morning!

Whatever you decide to do, do it consistently. Especially, once school starts in the fall. That routine will give everyone in the family peace of mind and a feeling of security.

READ: 3 Steps to Create an Awesome Bedtime Routine For Your Kids

2020 has been an emotional year for us all- in many ways. None of us know exactly what the next day or week will bring. Let alone the upcoming school year. However, we can do our best to help our kids (and ourselves) get through these trying to uncertain times as best we can! You got this mama!

Brie Tucker

COO/ Podcast Producer at No Guilt Mom
Brie Tucker has over 20 years of experience coaching parents with a background in early childhood and special needs. She holds a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Central Missouri and is certified in Positive Discipline as well as a Happiest Baby Educator.

She’s a divorced mom to two teenagers.

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  1. I’m really starting to struggle with this decision so I’m glad I found this post. Our district has released two options – hybrid and full-time online. We were definitely planning on hybrid but I’m not sure the exposure is going to be worth the risks. Definitely a tricky time for all of us, but this too shall pass. 🙂

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