🛋️ Premium Therapists 🔍 Find a Therapist

Back-to-School Blues in Parents – Feeling Lost Without the Kids

back-to-school blues

photo by Tiger Lily for Pexels

Feel embarrassed around other parents as they joke about how glad they are that school is back on? When you are secretly sad or just not yourself now your kids are not at home? Parents can have the back-to-school blues too.

Why do I have the back-to-school blues?

So why are you the one feeling so low and not able to be like the other parents? And when is it a sign of something more serious if you aren’t coping without your kids?

1. You don’t like change.

Some of us by nature need consistency, and seem born to just hate change. We are the ones who even balk at things like vacations and adventures. We go through a sort of ‘adjustment period’ even with changes we know are coming, like back-to-school time.

It can help to learn healthy tactics for dealing with change. This can include letting yourself have that good cry if you are upset that the kids are growing up and another summer is over.

When to worry: Does life change always trigger extreme anxiety for you? To the effect things like your sleep and ability to cope suffer?  A deep-rooted fear of change can be related to a traumatic change as a child that hasn’t been processed, or a childhood with no real security. Dealing with these experiences can give us more courage

2. You have the back-to-school blues as quite honestly you hate being alone.

back--to-school blues in parents

photo bt Liza Summer for Pexels

Is the truth that you feel at a loss or anxious if you are by yourself, rattling around the house? And your friends all have busy careers and you feel left behind?

When to worry: Sometimes we have just never had a significant period of time in life where we were by ourselves. We need to simply learn to be alone . But if being alone triggers anxiety and emotional pain? And you feel panicky and desperate for distraction? It’s likely to be unresolved issues. Dealing with them will improve not only your relationship with yourself, but your relationships with others

3. You only like your family, and having to seek a social life stresses you out.

Is it not just that the kids are gone, but that now they are, you are faced with that yawning truth that you don’t really have friends? Or don’t even much want them?

Am I stressed or depressed online quiz

Not all of us find having a social life outside of family easy. But connection, like it or not, is good for us. And we aren’t kids or teens anymore, pressured to hang around with certain people. We are adults, free to fully be ourselves and meet people who actually share our exact interests. Look to places like Meetup.com and local community centres to find interest groups you like and push yourself to get out there.

When to worry: If you find you don’t want to leave the house alone at all, or have panic attacks around social events? Look into signs of social anxiety. Sometimes it’s not really that we don’t like other people, it’s that we have this mental health issue which controls our thinking but can be treated. 

4. You personally always hated going back to school and this time of year.

Do you have childhood memories of amazing, endless summers always ruined by the boredom of school? Or did you dread September as it meant being sent back to boarding school? If so, you might be experiencing the back-to-school blues as it’s a mood your body is trained to connect to all things school.

When to worry – If you experienced trauma as a child such as bullying, inappropriate attention from a teacher, or deep feelings of abandonment at being shipped off to boarding school? And now often experience September anxiety as an adult? Such experiences can have a long-term affect unless we take the time to acknowledge and process them and reclaim our self worth.

5. It’s the entire scene at the school gates you hate.

Is it actually the stress of the parental social scene that has you tense?

There is nothing wrong with not being the chatty, ‘get involved’ sort. Look for ways to manage that mean less pressure for you. Can you have an honest chat with your partner about splitting the school gate visits? Join forces with a neighbouring mother where you take turns taking all the kids in?

When to worry – If the reason the school gates cause so much stress is because you worry excessively what others think of you, this is different than being an introvert. It’s a sign of low self-esteem that needs to be dealt with. Low self-esteem is a leading contributor to depression.

6. Your kids are not happy at school and it stresses you out so much.

Sometimes our kids really are not happy going to school, don’t fit in, or have learning differences that make things a challenge for them. It is normal to be worried for them.

But it’s also important to make sure we are not projecting our own feelings about school being awful onto our kids. This can happen if we ourselves had a hard time with school and always had the back-to-school blues.

When to worry: If your child is really unhappy at school, consider finding outside private support for your child. A child psychologist can create a safe space for your child to express their frustrations in a way they might not do with you for fear of upsetting you, and help them raise their self-esteem. Also note that you have the right to hire a private educational psychologist should the school refuse to test your child for learning difficulties

7. You rely on your kids to keep you feeling good.

Parents get a lot of joy from their kids. And that’s normal. But if they are your only real source of joy, or if you see your kids as friends instead of just your children? Then there can be things that need addressing for both you and your child’s wellbeing.

When to worry – If you were depressed before having kids but feel your life has meaning only now you have them? It’s a lot of pressure on our children, and can lead to codependent relating that can leave a child with relationship and self-esteem issues in the future. Please seek support. 

Time to sort our your past so it stops affecting your present and your parenting? Or just need help coping with parenting issues? Harley Therapy provides both individual therapy and family therapy at three locations in London, as well as online therapy worldwide. Or use our sister therapy listings site to source UK-wide registered therapists ranked by client reviews



find affordable online therapists
Blog Topics: Parenting

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Desktop - CTA Journalist Tablet - CTA Journalist Mobile - CTA Journalist

    close icon


    Dr. Sheri Jacobson


    If you are a journalist writing about this subject, do get in touch - we may be able to comment or provide a pull quote from a professional therapist.

    Yes, I am a journalist Click here to confirm you are a journalist