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Beating Those Back-To-School Blues

It’s been a wonderful summer, but now the kids’ vacation is almost at an end. Will gloom settle over your household when it’s time to say good bye to the Summer of ‘13? Psychologists and other mental health professionals are dealing more and more often these days with back-to-the-grind blues. Here are ways to cope.

Back-to-school angst may begin with parents who don’t feel their own vacation needs have been met, believes stress and wellness expert Beverly Beuermann-King of When vacation time is based on length of service with a company, newer workers envy older staffers who had longer vacations.

“While most schoolchildren get equal time off,” she observes, “mom and dad may not have been at their workplace [long enough for a real vacation]. With the trend to ‘staycations’ and ‘daycations’, envy also occurs if [the vacation] didn’t turn out the way they expect,” finds Beuermann-King. “It really wasn’t a vacation after all.”

Her recommendation is to plan a ‘staycation’ as carefully as plan an ‘awaycation’ “to meet your needs.” Whether you’re at home or away, for a week or a day, it’s essential to feel you’ve had a real break.

Manhattan-based psychotherapist and advice columnist Jonathan Alpert routinely hears from clients who stress out right after their vacations. He advises building in “buffer” days so you don’t have to plunge into work and school immediately. Use that time to run errands, catch up on email and phone calls and stock the fridge, then go out to dinner as a reward,” he counsels.

“Talk about it,” advises registered marriage and family therapist Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem, M.Ed. “ Create verbal and visual presentations. Build stories about what actually happened to you personally [on vacation].” Writing essays on ‘My Summer Vacation’ is a favorite ploy with teachers. Start early to create a summer scrapbook or video. Get kids to focus on what they want to tell their class about their summer.

Lauree Ostrofsky, CPC, is a certified life coach found at “I speak to clients about keeping the vacation-feeling alive,” she explains. “I have them first determine their strongest, happiest memory from the vacation. We determine what was important about that moment such as peace, togetherness of family, the thrill of adventure. Then we attach it to a symbol brought back from the trip.”

Display that symbol, Ostrofsky says, where the family can see it and be transported back to the moment. For example, seeing seashells can recall the morning you collected them on a sunny beach, laughing and loving together.

"The key is learning what came from the vacation and keeping it alive,” she recommends.

Ask yourself: 'How can helping my child finish this project be easy, like that day on the beach?' Monica Ricci, CPO, is an organizing expert, speaker and author who blogs at She agrees with most other experts that it’s smart to come home from vacation to a clean house. It’s depressing enough without facing heaps of housework. She suggests coming home days or even weeks early so you don’t have to launch immediately into back-to-school mode. Amazingly, she also recommends doing laundry on vacation! “Many hotels have laundry service, or you might venture out to find a public [coin laundry] and wash your travel clothing before you come home,” she recommends.

Laundry on vacation? Stacey Kannenberg of Mom Central Consulting agrees. She did just that and loved it.

“I spent the last day of our vacation doing laundry in the hotel while dad and the kids played in the pool. The laundry room was next to the pool area, so I could peek in anytime. I had the best of both worlds: peace and quiet to enjoy a good book, plus clean clothes in our suitcases when we got home.”

Not having to do laundry is just one way to arrive home in an upbeat, let’s-tackle-the-next-thing mood.

Lastly, Dr. Terry Eagan, psychiatrist at Moonview Sanctuary says, “There is really no cure for post-vacation blues other than to begin planning your next one and promising yourself that you are not going to wait as long next time. Vacations truly are essential for good health.”

Janet is a professional travel writer whose books include Living Aboard Your RV, 4th Edition. She develops recipes for

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