Mother working from home with kids. Quarantine.

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NEW YORK — What’s the first thing you think about when waking up in the morning? For a third of parents, the answer is: “I have so much to do today.”

That’s according to a recent survey of 1,500 parents of school-aged kids and 500 teachers – 97 percent of whom are parents of school-aged children themselves, and more than one-third (35%) of whom have the same first thought when they wake up. During the back-to-school season, both parents and teachers most commonly feel overwhelmed (26% and 25%) more than any other emotion.

Teachers and parents struggle to adjust to varying schedules, including after-school activities, class, and even work (65% for teachers; 59% for parents), as well as not getting as much sleep (55% and 48%, respectively) and new meal times (46% and 47%, respectively).

It all starts with the morning routine, with the average parent waking at 6:10 a.m. and spending about 64 minutes on tasks such as making breakfast (49%), taking a shower (42%), giving their kids a bath (39%), eating breakfast (30%), and packing school lunches (25%). In fact, parents are so overwhelmed that many admit to making a few morning routine mistakes. Those include forgetting to pack a lunch (50%), oversleeping (50%), and forgetting to eat breakfast (49%).

Teachers also encounter similar mistakes with their children, including forgetting to eat breakfast (57%), forgetting to pack a lunch (57%), and oversleeping (56%).

No more me-time?

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Dave’s Killer Bread® Organic Snack Bars, results revealed that parents are then plagued by thoughts of additional household tasks about three times each working day. For teachers, this number rises to about four times each day. Once parents arrive home from work, typically around 4:45 p.m., the top evening chore is tidying up the house (55%), followed by spending time with their family (52%), eating dinner (51%), and catching up on work they didn’t finish (49%).

Meanwhile, teachers who typically arrive home around 4:30 p.m. tend to prioritize spending time with their family (61%), followed by other tasks like tidying up the house (55%) and eating dinner (54%). When all that is said and done, parents are left with just one hour and 16 minutes to themselves, with one in five (21%) only getting an hour or less.

Teachers are on an even stricter schedule, getting an average of one hour and 12 minutes of “me-time” each day.

“The back-to-school season can be a period of increased stress for students, parents and teachers as routines are disrupted and revised to fit new schedules and priorities. While it is important to get through your to-do list and keep your household or classroom running, it is equally important to care for yourself,” says Jillian Cohn, Brand Manager at Dave’s Killer Bread, in a statement.

parents teachers

No more meals, either?

The survey also dove deeper into how the chaotic back-to-school season specifically impacts mealtime. In the summer, the average child eats about five snacks per day, according to parents. However, that number drops to about four times during the back-to-school season.

Almost half (48%) of parents admit they worry about whether or not their child is eating enough during the school day. However, kids aren’t the only ones who see an impact on their eating habits. When an especially busy day during the back-to-school season strikes, the first things parents cut are sleep (50%), meals (45%) and “me-time” (39%). The same is true for teachers — though they are equally likely to cut sleep and meals (both 50%).

This reduction in snacks and meals means more than just grumbly stomachs, as both parents and teachers believe they are less productive when they are hungry (42% and 43%).

“Skipping sleep and meals can impact your health in a variety of ways, even though it may not always be easy to find the time,” Cohn continues. “Prioritizing foods that are convenient with whole grains and real ingredients is one simple way to boost your energy and keep you fueled to tackle whatever the day has in store.”

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 1,500 parents of school-aged children and 500 K-12 teachers was commissioned by Dave’s Killer Bread between July 7 and July 9, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

About Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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