Back-to-school Season the Most Stressful Time for Many Moms
Stress Stems from New Routines, Late-Arriving Supply Lists and the Cost of Clothes and Fees, According to Epsom Salt Council Survey
Aug. 8, 2011 – Sure, the holidays can be a whirlwind. But a new nationwide survey shows that with new routines to plan, the cost of clothes and supplies, and the hassle of dragging the kids to multiple stores, back-to-school season has become the most stressful time of year for many moms.
The nationwide survey revealed that 32 percent of moms think the start of school causes the most stress annually. The next highest: the holidays, which 30 percent find to be the most stressful time, making the two seasons about equally stressful, given the survey’s margin of error.
“There is just a lot to do with the shopping, labeling all the school supplies, all the paperwork that needs (to be filled) out every year and just the stress of having to get back into a routine,” one mom said. “Plus all the money we have to spend on supplies, backpacks and clothes, shoes.”
Or, as another mom put it, “Arrrgggg!”
The nationwide survey was commissioned by the Epsom Salt Council, which has a long history of helping people create at-home spas to economically relax and escape from stress. From July 21 to 25, researchers polled 459 moms nationwide with children ages 5 to 17 living at home. Conducted by Eric Mower and Associates, the survey’s margin of error is 4.6 percentage points.
Why are moms so stressed? More than half blame the cost of clothes, supplies, fees, tuition and other back-to-school essentials. That number was even higher—almost 70 percent—for moms whose oldest children are in high school.
“If you try to shop during the (sales) tax-free weekend,” one mom said, “everybody else is also out there, and the stores are too crowded. Plus the clothes and the arguments. Then there’s the money. I’d like to shop around for some deals on the needed school items, but there’s never enough time once the list has been released.”
The stress isn’t limited to parents, the survey found. Moms also say their kids feel tense about going back to school. That’s true for 59 percent of moms nationwide, including 71 percent of the moms with high schoolers and 60 percent of the moms whose oldest child is in middle school.
More than a third of the moms say for kids, the leading cause of back-to-school stress is knowing they will soon need to do homework, study for tests and get good grades. Thirty percent said their kids worry about adjusting to a new class and teacher.
Peer pressure also causes a large amount of the children’s stress, especially for middle school students. Almost 39 percent of their moms say the kids worry about having the “right” clothes and supplies, and 35 percent say their kids worry about making friends and getting along with other kids.
To help kids cope, 83 percent of the moms say they talk to their children, 43 percent said they practice new routines before the first day, 36 percent said they participate in relaxing activities with their children, such as reading or exercise, and 13 percent said they give their children a relaxing bath before bed.
And for themselves, moms say the leading ways they de-stress are watching TV (67 percent), reading a book (59 percent), taking a walk (45 percent), shopping or spending time with friends (both 44 percent) and taking a hot bath (41 percent).
“We want to salute all the moms and thank them for everything they’re doing to make this a successful school year,” said Jim Hill, the Epsom Salt Council’s president and father of three children preparing to go back to school. “In these last few days of summer vacation, we hope moms can still find a little time for themselves and enjoy at least a little of the relaxation they deserve.”