How to Cope with Back-to-School Blues

girl-not-wanting-to-go-back-to-schoolThe freedom summer offers to children can feel like a prison to parents, who may spend the summer on an endless search for child care and activities that can stave off boredom-related whining. Many parents find themselves quietly rejoicing when it’s time for their children to go back to school, but settling back into the hustle and bustle of school can be stressful for parents and children alike.

For children, summer can feel far too short, leading to anxiety, moodiness, and feelings of grief when it’s time to go back to school. You don’t have to put up with a month of tantrums and exhaustion as your child settles back into his or her school routine, though. Instead, try making the transition a gradual one.

New Routines

The transition back to a school routine can be jarring and frustrating to many kids, so it’s best to take the transition slowly. Try adding a new element—such as a slightly earlier bedtime or a regular family dinner time—every day to give you time to adjust. Prioritize adequate sleep. Kids who don’t get enough sleep have to face the day exhausted, and this can amplify the stress and anxiety of going back to school while also adversely affecting academic performance.

Summer All Year Long

Both kids and parents sometimes feel sad about the end of summer fun and the return to seemingly endless work. It’s tough for homework and classes to compete with vacations and pool time, but a return to school doesn’t mean you have to give up fun. Try incorporating a little bit of summer into each day. While it’s still warm out, take your kids to the pool or a water park after school. As fall sets in, try having a family ice cream night, planning a winter vacation, or scheduling a fun family event every week. When kids see that school doesn’t necessarily mean giving up on fun, they’re less likely to be miserable.

Getting Organized

Organization can be a lifesaver for both you and your child during the return to school. Try making a week’s worth of family meals and freezing them at the beginning of the week, or packing all of your child’s school lunches on one day. This can free you up to do more engaging family activities.

Make sure your child has his or her own work space, and ensure he/she gets all the supplies needed for school. A missing book or the wrong pens can be major sources of stress for a kid, so keep a well-stocked desk ready for your child. Plan a nightly homework time during which you and your child work on projects. This helps your child get into the habit of good time management, and gives you some quiet time to work on your own pursuits.

Providing Reassurance

Going back to school can be tough, especially for younger kids who may experience separation anxiety. Don’t forget to provide your child with direct reassurance. Ask him or her about any concerns at school, and offer advice when he or she requests it. If your child is struggling with a bully, has trouble interacting with a teacher, or is falling behind in a class, don’t hesitate to intervene. The daily struggles of school life might seem trivial to an adult who has been out of school for years, but for a child, school can be everything. When school goes poorly, life feels awful, so take your child’s concerns seriously.


  1. Dealing with the back-to-school blues? (n.d.). American Psychological Association. Retrieved from
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  1. Fay, C. (n.d.). Battling the back-to-school blues. Love and Logic. Retrieved from

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The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Autumn C

    August 28th, 2013 at 11:06 AM

    This is exactly why I still try to keep up some semblance of a routine for the kids in the summer. we still have some structure, things that we are involved in, and yes they have work to do and a bedtime. I do keep it a little more relaxed than the school year, because we all need a little break. But I can assure you that keeping them a little busier than most during the summer makes it easier on ALL of us once school starts back in the fall. I have friends who have to drag their kids kicking and screaming back into the routine and we just don’t have any of that. I know that there will be parents who will disagree and say that the kids need a break and I agree to an extent but I have to say that I think that my kids beenfit from staying active all year long and it works for us so I don’t see myself changing gears anytime soon.

  • Richard

    August 28th, 2013 at 8:46 PM

    I remember all of my friends having trouble getting back to the school schedule at the end of vacation.Things were much better in my family.This was because mom and dad always had a plan for each week-a family activity together.I guess that brough a little but of ‘summer’ into each day and week and that helped me a lot.

  • jackson

    August 29th, 2013 at 3:48 AM

    The kids might be blue
    but the dads are kinda happy
    and I would suspect that many of the moms are too
    there is something to be said for constancy and routine, no?
    and once everyone gets back into that habit, it will feel allright again

  • Glenn

    August 30th, 2013 at 3:55 AM

    Thank goodness, my kids all like going back to school every year now that they have gotten a little older because they have all missed their friends over the summer. But they do miss the staying up late and sleeping in all day!

  • adrianna

    September 1st, 2013 at 8:16 AM

    The one thing that I see missing from this conversation is the fact that the traditional classroom setting just is not set up to meet the needs of every student. It used to be that we thought that the student needed to conform to meet those traditional norms, but today there are too many other choices available for students and parents for them to have to settle for an educational system that just isn’t providing for them. This doesn’t mean you can only go the private school route, but you could consider a charter school, online classes, even homeschooling. There are a million different ways for kids to receive their education today, so if the regular back to school drama just gives your whole family the blues then I would encourage you to look out for some alternatives out there that could better fit your needs.

  • Valerie c

    September 2nd, 2013 at 7:49 AM

    So I am the mom who has to drag the kids back to school every year with the pouts and the tantrums. They hate school, feel like they are being singled out and picked on and it makes for the worst nine months of our lives./ I try talking to the teachers, to the counselors, nothing ever seems to work and it feels like the same old cycles on replay all year long. Am I doing something wrong at home that is setting them up for this? Is there more that I could do to make this a little easier for all of us?

  • Lashell

    July 6th, 2015 at 8:28 PM

    Hi Manuela, I think it is. Bone broth contains some protein and fat (depends on the recipe – there is one on my blog). I think a cup a day is fine

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