Back to School and “Stuff”

Is ‘Back to School’ joining the ranks of all the rest of our big transition and celebratory events?

I get that the idea of preparing to go back to school is, except for those who dislike both learning and 24/7 social interaction, a happy time of hope, transition and renewal. And I always believe in planning and preparation. But cause for a full on shopping binge? Not so much…. We’ve over-developed “Back to School” prep and it is making us stressed — the time, the cost, and the endless decisions about stuff.

I learned a valuable lesson from my son as he and I prepared for his departure to freshman year of college. Less is so much more. He had no interest in shopping, telling me “I have clothes, plenty of electronic equipment, and great sheets on my bed, so I’ll take what I have.” He thought planning the packing was craziness – “We’ll pack the night before.” He had utter confidence in what he was doing – “It’s gonna be great Mom, let’s enjoy the last weeks of summer; when I need a new raincoat, I’ll get one.”

On a broader level this reminds me that “stuff” is stressful; our obsession with it, having the right stuff and in the correct amounts makes us stressed. And it is important to take a breath and think through the emotional baggage that stuff holds for us. It often holds unnecessary meaning and sometimes makes us do crazy things to protect it or gain more of it. Why does it bring us a feeling of security and comfort? And when we teach our kids to want new comforters and sweatshirts (that they work to break in so they no longer look new) we’re pushing that emotional baggage onto them. So rather than fight the crowded parking lot and drive all over town for more “stuff”, maybe it’s better to take a walk and talk about their future; or make popcorn and sit around reminiscing about how their current sweatshirt got its graffiti.

When you start to feel the stress of Back To School “stuff” try this:

  1. Take a breath and think about how necessary some of this stuff really is for you or your family.
  2. Stop for a minute and count your blessings about this wonderful child and the contributions she/he makes possible in your life.
  3. Schedule exercise into your daily routine like you do other activities and meetings. Don’t just fit it in when you can. Soon it will become as much a part of your routine as eating lunch!

Remember that back to school marks the beginning of a new level of development and growth — rather than a cause for new clothes, blankets, backpacks and paper supplies.

Jan Bruce, CEO of meQuilibrium

Key Thought:

Our obsession with having the right stuff and in the correct amounts makes us stressed.