As the STAPLES commercial says: “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” No, they are not referencing Xmas, rather the first day of school. For many families this statement is so true; however the whole back to school scene can be stressful for many relationships. The kids schedule completely changes and if you had those lazy, hazy days of summer that allowed everyone to sleep in and stay up late – they are coming to a screeching halt. New routines have to be established and the kids are probably not too crazy about early to bed, early to rise.
One reason why many marriages (and families) find this time of year so stressful is because change – whether it is good or bad change – is stressful.
BUT all this transitioning with its accompanying stressors doesn’t have to stress out your marriage/relationship. Following are some tips so you and your partner don’t stress out and stay calm.
- Lay out the facts. Discuss with your partner what the kids new routine will be this year and what it will require of each of you. This will avoid future issues that go something like this: “But you never told me the kids schedule?” How was I supposed to know Johnny needed to be picked up from band practice on Wednesdays at 5:30pm?” Or: “Why didn’t you tell me the kids needed to be at two different places at the same time instead of stressing out about it?” etc. You get the point. Make sure both you and your spouse are aware of the responsibilities and obligations the new school year brings to the family and plan accordingly.
- Have a back-up plan for plan #1. In other words, what’s your Plan B? Your boss might schedule a mandatory last minute work meeting for 7:00am and you usually drop your child off at the bus stop at 7:15am – what’s your Plan B? A child gets sick and has to stay home from school – who stays home from work or who works from home (if that option is available)? You get the picture.
While raising my four kids it was a rare week where everything went according to the original plan. Without back up plans – my marriage would have been on the rocks. A little planning will go a long way towards de-stressing your marriage.
- Have outside reinforcements readily available. I’m a huge fan of the concept “it takes a village to raise a child.” It would have been virtually impossible for me to have had my career and raise my kids without the help of my friends. Yes, I had paid childcare and yes, my husband could not have been more supportive and involved; however, I still needed the support of my friends during unanticipated late school openings and/or early closures due to weather or other unscheduled events. Women are great at helping each other out so don’t be too proud or afraid to ask for help when you need it. Many times my friends would know I needed help if there was an unanticipated event (because we knew each other’s schedules) and they would call me to tell me they would pick up my kids from school. This was such a relief and avoided the frantic call to my husband wondering who was going to leave work to get the kids.
Summarily, discuss the new school routine your kids will have with your spouse and come up with a plan, and a plan B. Get together with your friends and share your plans – and then expect the unexpected. Finally, be creative. This small amount of effort will avoid a ton of stress on your marriage – so it is worth it! Don’t wait until the boat is sinking to look for the life preserver!
Rekindle Romance and Happiness in Your Relationship,
Dr. Patty Ann