Back to school stress causes angst in 3 out of 4 Australian Mums

Back to school stress causes angst in 3 out of  4 Australian Mums
Mums speak out about the unspoken competition with other parents and the pressure and uncertainty about nutrition choices for kids.

As parents across the country prepare their kids for the first day back at school, a panel of Australian Mums today spoke out in support of new research which found that 3 in 4 mums feel stressed and scrutinised by other parents, particularly when it comes to lunch box decisions.

Launched at an exclusive event for mums, the research found that even the task of preparing and packing the school lunch box was stressful and unenjoyable for the majority of Mums. Unfortunately for many, parenting experience doesnt seem to address the issue- with 45% and 36% of mothers (with kids in years 5-6 and years 1-2 respectively) claiming the morning lunch box routine as stressful - an increase of 9% for parents of older children.

Agreeing with the survey insights, the panel said it was quite common for mums to benchmark their parenting skills against others, stating it was also one of the underlining reasons why some parents feel stressed at back to school time. The survey supported this insight, with 7 in 10 parents claiming that there was an unspoken competition between them.

Members sitting on the panel included real mums Shula Murphy from Victoria, Gabrielle Waters-Mckay and Sarah Williams from NSW, nutritionist Joanna McMillan-Price and former Olympic swimmer Samantha Riley.

Samantha Riley, a mum of two, empathised with the research findings and said she was familiar with the challenge parents face when it came to her kids nutrition. According to the research, Australian mums believe some of the main sources of pressure on them come from what they read or hear in the media (34%); teachers monitoring what kids eat at school (26%) and the large number of kids suffering from allergies (45%).

"I'm confident in the nutrition choices that I make for my kids. But sometimes, it's easy to feel unsure if you're making the right decisions for your kids, simply because of the pressure we face from a range of sources and the criticism we unwittingly place on ourselves. At the end of the day, when it comes to the needs of our kids, it's mums that really know what's best," Samantha said.

Leading nutritionist, Joanna McMillan-Price, understands that parents are increasingly time poor and need to promote a balanced approach with their kids eating habits, but suggests they ease off with the pressure they exert on themselves and inadvertently on each-other.

"As we become more time poor, the stress of providing a healthy school lunch box increases. What worries parents most is that kids become bored with their food and the lunch box comes home half eaten. So, it's important to empower and educate mums about the importance of variety and flexibility. A balanced lunch box should contain a range of nutritious foods from each of the food groups and this can also include a canteen approved snack," she said.

UNCLE TOBYS Chewy Apricot, Forest Fruits and Apple & Blackcurrant flavours and UNCLE TOBYS Crunchy Nut Crumble are some of the best choices from the UNCLE TOBYS range, meeting the nutritional criteria set by the Healthy Kids School Canteen Association for school canteens, whilst offering the goodness of UNCLE TOBYS wholegrain oats. One UNCLE TOBYS Crunchy or Chewy Muesli Bar provides kids with up to 25% of the daily wholegrain target[i].

To help mums create a great balanced lunch box, a hassle-free pocket guide will be available in supermarkets nationwide from late January. Developed by nutritionists, the guide has an array of nutritional tips and easy lunch box suggestions. The mum's panel event was held on 22 January 2009 and was organised by Nestlé as part of its commitment to providing mums across the nation with ongoing nutrition advice.

Samantha Riley is a renowned Olympic swimmer, mother of two - Lucas and Isaac.

The research study was commissioned by Nestlé and was conducted by Galaxy Research in December 2008. The study was conducted online, with mothers of children attending primary school from kindergarten to year 6. A total of 510 mothers participated in the survey.


[i] UNCLE TOBYS Crunchy 21% and UNCLE TOBYS Chewy 27% recommended daily intake of wholegrain, based on Go Grains Wholegrain Communication Guide (48g of wholegrains per day)