Parents are facing more uncertainty, challenging decisions, and stress than any other school year with little to no information about what the world will look like in two, three, or even six months from now. Most parents have been tasked with making a decision between distant or hybrid learning that will eventually transition into full-time. Parents are being forced to weigh the risk between COVID-19 and isolation for their children. Parents also have to weigh the realities of child care vs. not having childcare. While some parents have a choice, others don’t. This year is unlike any we’ve seen before. It’s stressful. It’s hard. It’s scary. It’s uncertain. Here are a couple things to remember as you balance this complex year as a parent.
- You’re doing a great job.
- Whether or not you’ve chosen to send your children to school this fall, the decision you’ve made for your child is the right one. No one knows your children better than you. Don’t compare your decision to other parents. You’ve made the right decision for your children and families situation.
- Model self-care.
- Having a regular routine, getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, working movement into your daily routine, and managing stress are all important for you and your children. With school coming and homework challenges, now is the time to lighten your load and not add anything new. Find ways to lighten your load and do the things that important to your physical and mental health as well as your children’s physical and mental health. You have permission to say no to things, eat on paper plates, and occasionally have cereal for dinner! It is OK. Take care of you! Modeling self-care for your children will teach them life-long skills.
- Seek help.
- This year is hard. It’s stressful. It’s scary. It’s uncertain. Living in high levels of anxiety like this is not good for us. Your mental health is important. Your children look to you for structure and how to handle uncertain/scary things. If you’re anxious, I can promise you so are your children. Your children will never be regulated if you’re not regulated. I encourage you to reflect on where you are at, how you are handling things, and get help if you need it.
- Take time to have fun with your children.
- Listen to and do the things they enjoy. Let your children know that you love them. Relax and cut loose. Don’t expect the same normal that you did in previous years. Your children need to know that they are loved, that you have their backs, and that you’re going to take care of them. One of the best ways to communicate this to your children is through quality time. Spend time with them that isn’t focused on stress or anxiety. It is not healthy for your children to live in constant panic. Create structure, reassure them, and spend time with them. This is the best thing you can do for your children right now.
- Have a space for school.
- Most districts are either operating from a hybrid or distance learning model which means you will need a space for students to complete work and the appropriate technology. Some students will be doing live classes, others will be doing things at their own pace. Doing schoolwork from bed may not be the best solution as if may interfere with sleep (sleep experts agree we should only use our beds for sleeping). If you can, set up a table, counter, or corner designated for school work. This separates the school day from homelife. Try to establish regular school hours and a sleep/wake schedule to help them be successful. If you have technology needs reach out to your school district.
- School Counselors, Teachers, principals, and other school staff are on your team.
- Teachers are just as uncertain about this year as you. They are navigating a completely new normal. Many school staff are also parents and are navigating as both parents and educators to your children. Lean on them but also give them grace when they don’t measure up. If you are concerned about your child’s mental health reach out to your child’s school counselor. They are here to help as are teachers and administrators. Let this year be a year full of grace and trust the people who have dedicated their lives to educating and loving students.
You’ve got this. Take a deep breath and trust yourself. You’re doing great.
Twin Cities Therapy and Counseling Associates is a mental health clinic with counseling services by caring therapists. Please visit twincitiestherapyandcounseling.com for more information