Parents have been through a lot over the last year and a half. A potent combination of courage, hard work, determination, and powerful parental love has fueled their ability to get through this past year’s homeschool/pod-life/remote everything headache. As parents enter a new school year and attempt to wipe the slate clean, they may be asking themselves…is that even possible? Can we really feel like we are going to have a fresh start? Will our children be OK? Are we OK? How can we try to get our heads straight to get started on the right foot?
Below are a few strategies:
1. Don’t neglect self-care.
Look after your sleep, get nutritious meals in your body, continue to try to find an amicable solution to sharing responsibilities at home, meditate, lean into any creative outlets, and limit things that may trigger or increase anxiety like negative news.
2. Getting separation right.
If you know that you are doing the right things to help your child to feel secure and in control at drop-off, you yourself will be better able to exhale. Successful separations happen in the context of a trusting relationship between three parties: parent, child, and teacher. Each has to feel the trust of the others. It starts with the parent and teacher. (Well, it really starts with the parents and child having a secure attachment but for the sake of this post let’s say it starts with the communication between the parent and teacher.)
Keep communication lines open. If things are hard, make time to chat by phone after school. Use a transitional object: a photo, Mommy’s scarf, a teddy, really anything that the child choses. Keep a consistent and warm goodbye routine in place and be ready to wait outside the classroom door (or inside the classroom) for a bit. Also, before school begins, foster a sense of familiarity. Spend time outside the school one day with a snack, let them climb on the steps. If possible, try to get together with a classmate or two before their first day.
3. Inform yourself. Knowledge is power.
Read up on both CDC and school guidelines. Knowing that scientists and school professionals are considering everything and making the health decisions with what’s in front of them should bring a bit of relief.
4. Think positively.
Your child will be back in an optimal learning setting. The fact that they will no longer be learning remotely should come with some degree of relief, especially considering you are no longer running the learning show. There may be some adjustment but ultimately your child will be happier and more fulfilled in their school environment surrounded by other children. The school routine is good for them.
5. Organization is key!
Taking action to feel in control of things might help. Getting your home and a solid weekly schedule in order will likely aid in reducing your anxiety. Discover the best ways to get your home ready as you head back to school.
Remember, parents are in this together. Lean on each other, be honest with each other. This feels hard because it is hard. No one is getting anything exactly right. Everyone is doing their best. Give yourself a break and show yourself some compassion.