The days leading up to back to school are always filled with nervous excitement. This year, with the COVID-19 pandemic, the balance between anxiety and excitement has shifted as everyone from parents to teachers to students are feeling the stresses of the unknowns this year will bring.
If you have decided to send your child back to the physical classroom, it’s normal to be nervous. Here are three tips to hope for the best but prepare for the worst and take as much control back as possible.
1) Stock Up on Supplies – Every parent fears that their child may get COVID-19, or some other illness when going back to school. As much as we can do our best to protect them and hope that it doesn’t happen, it’s better to be prepared for if it does. Stock up on essentials like tissues, Tylenol, cold and flu medicine, soups and other staples. Also, be sure you don’t let your grocery levels get too low. If someone in the house contracts COVID-19, you will have to isolate in your home for two weeks.
2) Prepare your Youth for the Changes – Having age-appropriate conversations with your child on what to expect at school is important. If they’re a little older, maybe ask them what they will do or say to their friends if they find they aren’t social distancing properly or are making them uncomfortable. Find those lines where it’s ok to be a little more lax with rules so that they still enjoy school, and where it’s ok to stand up for themselves and their comfort levels .
If your child is elementary-school aged, try getting them prepared for the changes to school by implementing them into their daily routine. Practice proper handwashing before and after meals, get them comfortable wearing a mask by putting them on every night for their favourite tv show or another regular household occurrence. Getting them used to these things now will make it easier for them to continue the practices at school.
3) Keep Yourself Mentally Healthy and Prepared – Your mental and physical health is just as important as your child’s. Like the old airplane analogy, if you aren’t able to put an oxygen mask on yourself first in the event of an emergency, you won’t be able to put one on them.
Be sure you’re practicing self-care by journaling, meditating, talking to friends or even a counsellor, and making sure you’re as prepared as you can be in case anything happens. Talk with your employer about sick leave and sick benefits, determine who in your friend circle or extended family can step up for childcare in an emergency. Thinking of potential situations and planning how you will handle them in advance can help ease some of the anxieties of the unknown.
Remember to be patient with yourself, your children and their teachers. This is a stressful situation for everyone and we are all just doing our best.