Default Parent Syndrome

The Incredible Impact Of Back-To-School Season On Moms

A new survey found that (surprise!) moms are often stuck with the bulk of responsibilities getting the kids ready for the next academic year.

A mom and her three kids walking to school. A new survey found that moms take on a bulk of back to s...
Ariel Skelley/DigitalVision/Getty Images

Summer is officially over, but that doesn’t mean the work that surrounds back-to-school season is done, as any parent, especially moms, can tell you. Evernote, a productivity app, just conducted a survey confirming that moms feel like they often take on the bulk of back-to-school tasks and errands without much help.

Evernote partnered with global public opinion and data company YouGove and surveyed 1,083 adults who identify as a mother to see just how stressful back-to-school season is for moms. The results verified what practically every mom knows to be true.

Of respondents, more than a third (34%) said they handle everything that is back-to-school: from scheduling (and taking kids to) doctor appointments, back to school shopping, and everything in between. Just over one-fifth (21%) of moms said they handle the chaos of BTS by themselves “most” of the time, with their partner stepping in once in a while.

More: Getting Kids Ready To School Is Equal To An Extra Work Day

Just over one out of ten get equal help from a partner.

The study also found that inflation and the pandemic have only added to moms’ already high stress levels during back to school season. Over half (58%) of moms said that budgeting was one of their main sources of back-to-school stress, and 57% reported that COVID safety concerns were also weighing heavily on them.

Other top stressors include organizing drop-off/pickup schedules (54%), managing extracurricular activities (52%) managing their children’s platforms and apps (44%), and arranging for childcare (35%).

The findings bring to mind the idea of the “default parent,” and how this particular time of year (along with holidays, birthdays, and well, every aspect of a child’s life) seems to see a dramatic disparity in shared parental responsibilities between parents.

Education in general seems to fall on moms’ shoulders, according to this survey. Here are how many moms reported handling different school tasks on their own:

  • 58% said they are solely responsible for meal-prep for the entire family, including kids’ school lunches
  • 39% reported being the go-to homework helper
  • 37% are in charge of drop-off/pick-up schedules
  • 26% solely manage extracurriculars
  • 25% handle school-related paperwork
  • 15% do all the back-to-school shopping on their own

And the most impressive part of all this? Despite all of this stress and juggling of countless tasks and carpool obligations, nearly 47% of those surveyed said they keep track of everything in their head. No calendar. No phone reminders. An identical 47% reported using some sort of physical to-do list or planner, and 18% reported using apps — so no shame to moms who need to write things down.

Even though moms are taking on a bulk of the back-to-school workload, not all of them are able to take time to recoup. A quarter of moms surveyed said they aren’t able to block off any time for themselves to decompress. For the 75% of respondents able to take some time to themselves, 62% opt for quality alone time, 52% spend their leisure time with friends and family, and 34% turn to their own hobbies or leisure activities.

The good news is, back-to-school season is almost over, and moms can get half a second to breathe before gearing up for the holiday season. For those who need a break but feel like they can’t take it, right now might be a good time to discuss divvying up parental duties with a partner, friend, or family member if possible.