It's back to school time in our area and with it comes a range of emotions for students and parents. There is a lot of excitement, but there can also be a lot of stress.
First, there is the preparation. Then, there is waking up on time and getting on the right bus.
"Trying to hit those sales and those tax-free days can be overwhelming sometimes," said Sara Cima, whose children attend Mason Ridge Elementary. "During the summer, we like to spend time together as a family in the evenings and with friends and so that's probably our biggest challenge is getting the right sleep."
Principal Jenn Dieken says schools are generally prepared to help families get back in to the school routine.
"One of the biggest things that I hear from parents is that there's not a friend in my child's class," Dieken said. "We're going to spend our first couple weeks of school making sure that everyone feels good about everyone in the class and doing a lot of activities."
She says setting classroom expectations as a class can help.
"If we notice, after a couple weeks of school, that a child has not settled in to the routines, the back to school routines, we have a school counselor," Dieken said. "We actually have two at this school."
There are also a number of counseling services available in the community to help families deal with back to school stress.
"What we look for when it comes to things being more severe and more concerning is, is the kid able to function," said Carly Cooper, a therapist at Dr. Lena Pearlman & Associates.
Stress, anxiety, even a belly ache is normal, she says, but if families don't talk through any problems, the problems could seem much worse.
"What I always tell parents is empathize, don't minimize," Cooper said. "A lot of times, people have a knee-jerk reaction of, 'It's not a big deal. Stop worrying. You know, you're stressing yourself out for no reason.'"
She instead encourages parents to ask their children questions about what is worrying them.
Back at Mason Ridge, parents are already coming together. They held a back-to-school coffee event on the first day of school. It was a chance to talk to each other and breathe.
"You're not a bad parent if you walk away when your child is crying on the first day of school to come in," Dieken said. "We will take care of them and love them. It's okay to give them a hug and walk away."