By now, school supply lists have been checked off and you may have even gotten over the sticker shock of everything except, of course, graphing calculators. At this point, school is in session and the kids have gone back. So why don’t things feel ... settled? Back-to-school stress touches parents as well as students, if only for the uptick in daily routines to manage. Suddenly the days are stuffed with after-school activities, fall sports and transportation to arrange, plus meet-the-teacher nights, homework and bedtime enforcement. It is an adjustment, especially if, like many families, yours is coming off of a summer that undid some structure. To help, we asked local mental health professionals what they prescribe for this time of year:

1. Sleep It Off “Make sleep a priority,” says Rebekah Pershing, a psychologist and consultant with TriHealth for Behavioral Health Integration in Primary Care. Dr. Pershing recommends establishing and sticking to a sleep schedule for you and your kids. “Sleep is a wonderful healer and stress buster. When we are sleep-deprived, we are grumpy, inefficient, and more stressed,” she says.

2. Establish a Routine Set expectations around the house, developing habits and routines that work for both you and your kids, such as when and where homework and chores should be completed. Dr. Pershing then recommends rewarding your kids with choices, free time, the Internet password, the cord to their game system or allowance when they complete the tasks, rather than punishing them for not doing their chores or homework. The routine can include getting things ready for school the night before, such as packing lunches, picking out clothes and preparing the school bag.

Chris Kaeppner, a psychologist who sees families and children in his Anderson Township practice, says it’s important for kids to be the authors of their own educational supports, especially if they have learning disabilities or ADHD. This way, parents can avoid creating adversarial relationships with their kids by throwing supports at them that they will resist, even though the supports may be just what they need. When kids have a say in their plan, they will be less likely to resist or feel micromanaged.

3. Mark Your Calendar Create a centralized calendar, whether a large paper calendar on the refrigerator or an online calendar. Use whatever works for you and your family, says Dr. Pershing. The important thing is to put everyone's important appointments, athletic games, practices, performances, dates, and deadlines in one place so you are not surprised the night before or the day of a major event.

4. Say Something Take a little time—five to 10 minutes per day—to talk to your kids about school and friendships using open-ended questions like “What was your favorite (or least favorite) part of the day today?" or "Did anything funny happen at school (or on the bus) today?" “Turn off cell phones and any other notification-type things,” adds Dr. Kaeppner, who suggests parents get mindfulness or breath-awareness training if they find themselves regularly feeling too distracted. “Feel free to ask about silly things or stressful situations,” Dr. Pershing says. “Avoid asking the same question every day. Open-ended questions are more likely to get your kids talking than questions they can answer with, ‘Yes, No, Fine or Nothing.’”

One question to avoid is "How was school?" Some families make this into a game called "roses and thorns," in which each person shares the best thing(roses) and worst thing (thorns) about their day. Parents share, too!Family sharing like this might take place at the dinner hour and take on a kind of soap opera-structure where everyone gets updates on things that are going on in their lives, Dr. Kaeppner says.“It’s a subtle way of teaching coping methods when kids hear you deal with your issues,” that you talk about in this way, he says. And don’t worry about moving the dinner hour to accommodate everyone’s schedule. Better to dine a little late if it means you can spend time with your kids that way.

5. Put on Your Oxygen Mask First Just because your kids are back in school and the calendar is filling up doesn't mean that there is no time to care for yourself,” Dr. Pershing says. She suggests doing things that rejuvenate your body and mind, like exercise (one of the best stress busters), listening to music, connecting with friends or your spouse, making and eating good food, reflecting upon things for which you are grateful, reading and so on. “It is easy to let your ‘self care’ go when managing a household, but this increases your stress level,” she says. “Organization, laughter, and relaxation are all excellent medicine to cure stress.”

6. One More Thing Parents, limit your review of children’s grades and assignment completion on PowerSchool or Schoology to no more than once per week. Checking it more frequently than that can add unneeded stress for both you and your child.