Back to School is Stressing Parents, Study Finds

Eight in 10 parents experience back-to-school anxiety, with the majority saying there is no tougher time for a parent, according to new research.

A study of 1,000 parents of school-aged children examined the emotional and physical impacts of the back-to-school season and found nearly half (47 percent) felt it to be even more stressful than the holidays.

In fact, such is the chaos and workload thrown on parents as classes start up again that nearly two-thirds (63 percent) feel back-to-school is the most stressful time of the year for them.

According to a sleep survey, commissioned by ZzzQuil and conducted online by OnePoll market researchers, more than nine in 10 American parents (95 percent) report feeling pressure from their family to stay on top of everything during the back-to-school season.

Back-to-school shopping tops the list as the most stressful part of the season, while the difficulty in adjusting to new schedules and early mornings was also featured high in the 10 most stressful factors.

The daunting prospect of back-to-school shopping can genuinely lead to sleepless nights, according to results – 57 percent have actually lost sleep due to the financial stress of the back-to-school season.

And it doesn’t stop with just financial worry – 61 percent struggle to get to sleep when in the chaos of back-to-school season.

General stress and feeling too busy is most likely to leave a parent wide awake, followed by the worry that something has been forgotten or anxiety about the following day.

“These new survey findings prove something that parents already know all too well, but don’t necessarily talk about,” said Jeff Metzner, ZzzQuil Brand Manager and father-of-six. “The one-two punch of back-to-school stress plus schedule change makes it tough for parents to get sufficient sleep. At Vicks, we believe a good night’s rest is important, and ZzzQuil is here to help parents when the acute back-to-school stress is occasionally keeping them up at night.”

Non-stop parents commit to attending to taxiing their child to three extracurricular activities in the typical school week. The average parent will also bake 89 cupcakes or other baked goods a year, and nearly one in 10 parents (7 percent) bake more than 250 per year – that’s more than 3,000 cupcakes before their child’s high school graduation!

It’s no wonder then that parents drink three cups of coffee on a typical day during the school season – that equates to 540 cups across the whole school season*, or a whopping 7,560 cups to see a child from pre-K to the end of high school.

With the hectic workloads, extracurricular activities and constant pressure parents juggle, it’s no surprise that moms and dads rely on a steady stream of caffeine. However, it may not be beneficial in the long run - over a quarter of parents (27 percent) routinely get just five hours of sleep or less per night.

Tired moms and dads say they struggle to get to sleep eight times a month on average. That results in a lot of parents functioning at barely half their full capacity – the typical parent estimates they operate at 57 percent when they haven’t managed to get a full night’s sleep.

This is especially prominent throughout back-to-school season, with nearly half (46 percent) of parents either often or constantly exhausted.

But even when running on empty, sleep doesn’t always come easily, and seven in 10 (69 percent) have experienced sleeplessness over the back-to-school season, even while at the point of exhaustion.

“In fact, nearly one in four American parents say they’ve gotten the kids ready for school before realizing it was the weekend, as a result of being too tired,” Metzner shared, “It is clear that parents could use an easy solution on nights when they find themselves experiencing occasional sleeplessness, like ZzzQuil, to help them fall asleep in as little as 20 minutes to get the rest and rejuvenation they need – especially on the weekends.”