Tips to lower stress – and budgets – getting ready for back to school


(BPT) - Preparing to go back to school can be exciting as well as stressful for kids and parents, and this year is no exception. A recent survey found that nearly 9 in 10 parents (86%) are relieved or excited about their kids returning to in-person schooling this fall. However, the Coinstar Back-to-School Survey also showed that one-third of the parents (33%) felt nervous.

What are the main causes of back-to-school stress? One overwhelming stressor is back-to-school expenses, with 61% of parents expecting those costs to be higher than before the pandemic, according to the survey.

Stress can also be caused by changes this new school year may bring. Possible new routines and protocols, plus for some, adjusting to being back in a classroom after learning at home, could cause some anxiety.

Here are tips to help make some of the stress — and expenses — easier to handle.

1. Review changes to rules or policies

To help you and your child know what to expect this year, look up your school’s protocols and procedures well ahead of the fall start date. Your school district website or parent portal may be the best place to start.

Display important changes and items you need to remember where everyone can easily see it, like on a family wall calendar or the refrigerator door.

2. Address your children’s concerns

Ask your kids about any concerns or worries they may have about returning to school, as well as what they feel excited about. Listening and acknowledging their concerns is the most important thing. If you don’t have all the answers to their questions, discuss where you could find that information — such as from the school’s website or by asking their teachers.

3. Create a back-to-school budget

Create a budget to help you think through all your school costs. Make sure to include the typical expenses like school supplies and clothing, as well as items that may not have been on last year’s list, such as extracurricular activities, sports and school lunches — plus masks and hand sanitizer. Check to see what items you already have left over from previous years to avoid over-buying. Build in a cushion for unexpected expenses, so you’ll be ready for any surprises.

4. Get creative about funding back-to-school supplies

Boost your back-to-school budget by collecting spare change around your home. This can be a fun activity for kids, too. Have kids help gather change, and then you can all take it to a Coinstar kiosk as a family. In the Coinstar survey, two-thirds of the respondents believed that the amount of change they would find at home is the same or higher than it was a year ago.

You can convert your change to cash or a no-fee eGift card at Coinstar kiosks across the country. Find a kiosk near you at

Another way to stretch your budget is to visit online retailers for coupons and offers for the supplies and clothes your kids will need. Plan ahead, so you won't be rushed at the last minute. That will also give you time to compare prices for any big-ticket items.

5. Look for ways to find balance

If you are one of the many parents who will have more free time with your kids back in the classroom, make the best use of this time so you can recharge. While you may be tempted to fit in chores, errands or extra work, make sure to carve out a little “me time” so you'll be relaxed and at your best when the kids get back home from school.