I think you would agree that this back-to-school season looks quite different from any that we have experienced before. Some of our kids are in school full-time. Some kids are either doing remote learning or some type of hybrid model this year.
The uncertainty of the progression of the virus on top of what we feel might be best for our children’s physical and mental health and well-being is a recipe for a heightened level of anxiety for us. But anxiety will not help our children to get the best out of this school year.
The reality is that short of homeschooling, we really do not have the decision-making power to make school look the way we might like it to look. All we can really do is make the best of what IS, but how?
Here are my top 5 suggestions for how to make the best of this school year for your children:
The first thing we as parents can do this school year is to accept What Is. This does not mean we have to like What Is. But given that we cannot change it, it is powerful when we can accept the school situation as it stands.
“When we resist what is, we bring unnecessary suffering onto ourselves, and in this case, onto our children too.”
When they see us stressed, anxious, angry and miserable, they will absorb that modelling like a sponge.
GRACE, UNDERSTANDING AND COMPASSION
Next, we need to bring as much grace, understanding and compassion as we can to this school year, and all the players in it – ourselves, our children and last but not least, our teachers. Several of my clients and my friends are teachers. I have seen first-hand how challenging this pandemic has been on them as educators.
I have seen how desperately they want to be in school with their students teaching the way they have always done. Many of them now need to be on video where they might not be comfortable. Or use technologies with which they may be unfamiliar. And on top of that, they now need to figure out how to make heart-to-heart connections with students they might not even get to see in person. Remember, we are all doing the very best we can with what we have.
I capitalised PATIENCE because it is perhaps the biggest one of all. This school year will likely require of us an endless supply of patience; Patience with our children, with their teachers and with whatever demands are placed upon us. But patience can be hard to come by when we are stressed, depleted and exhausted. Which brings me to my next suggestion…
Self-care has always been something that parents need and deserve. It is not selfish; in fact, it is the most self-LESS thing you can do! And there has never been a time when parents needed self-care more than we do now. There are many additional demands and stressors on us individually, financially, societally, collectively and globally.
No matter what it takes, make sure you take the time out of your day to give yourself the care you need to keep going. Whether it is a one-minute meditation, a cup of your favourite tea, an early night’s sleep or 30 minutes of exercise – you cannot pour from an empty cup as they say.
“You must refill and recharge yourself so that you can face the demands of the day and show up as the parent you want to be and that your kids deserve.”
Humour comes so much more easily when we are well-rested. And when we are stressed and frazzled, sometimes a good laugh does more good than anything else. When you are feeling pulled in a million directions and everything seems to be going wrong, sometimes that is exactly the time to be silly or make a joke and look at the situation through a humorous lens. That alone can reduce the stress immeasurably.
In addition to all the ideas I mentioned above, please remember that we were not ever supposed to do this whole “parenting thing” alone. It takes a village to raise a child after all. Make sure that you create and nourish your support system and lean on them, for it is only together that we will weather this school year and come out better because of it.
Erin Taylor is a PCI Certified Parent Coach,® motivational speaker, host of the Powerful Parenting for Today’s Kids podcast, author and a mother of four.
Erin founded Revolutionizing Life, a company and online school dedicated to supporting therapists, coaches and other professionals trying to make a difference in the world as well as parents and children.