Here we are again almost at the end of summer and the beginning of a new school year. Do you have a back to school plan? I love summer so much so that I purposefully leave all my back to school plans and shopping to the last minute. I just like to be in denial that yet another summer is coming to an end.
This year’s back to school plan is a bit more hectic, like everything else in 2020. Each year a lot of kids start their new school year stressing about the unknown trusting their adult knows of the unknown and can help them navigate that. How do you do that as a parent when you don’t know what the unknown looks like. When you are not sure how to navigate that yourself let alone helping your child doing that. When you are still learning to navigate around this pandemic with all the different challenges coming your way?
Sometimes it feels like I’m in the middle of the tornado in the Wizard of Oz, no idea where it takes me, no time thinking about that just trying to survive the speed of the tornado while all sorts of things are throwing at my way.
Now imagine yourself in that tornado holding your child’s hand saying ” It will be Ok honey, you don’t need to worry, I’ve got this” Don’t you think she knows you are lying? The right thing to say is ” I don’t know how the future looks like, but I know this, we can figure it out together. I will be there with you every step of the way until we figure it out”
It’s hard being a parent with all the hats you need to wear let alone being a parent in a pandemic. Our generation of parents is the first generation parenting tech kids, navigating their online as well as offline life. Not able to ask our parents for advice on our parenting. Now add the pandemic and every anxiety known and unknown it adds into their lives. It’s hard to navigate that isn’t it?
Back to school plan ideas to keep our sanity in check
To make things easier to digest for me and handle my feelings and emotions while parenting in a pandemic, I stick to the basics. The constants in our life to the things, we have some sort of control over. In order decrease stress and create more connection, I focus on the following three ideas:
Establish a new routine
We know at least a few things that we will need to adjust to.
Their bedtime and waking hours. You can start changing your summer routine to school routine slowly so that they are ready for back to school when it comes.
Handwashing and sanitizing is another one. I know we wash our hands more especially when we come home from outside. But the students need to do that even more in school and not just before they eat something. It would help to create a routine that involves handwashing between every different activity at home. For older kids, I would even get them their own pocket hand sanitizer to use between activities so they keep doing that in school hours too.
Another good routine is to set a nightly private chit chat time. Where you would sit with your child privately and share something of your day or talk about something they’re interested in. You will be amazed at how they open up when they have this as a routine. This is a good thing to establish for when they are in school and dealing with all sorts of things that can cause anxiety.
Focus on constants in their school days
Ok so this could be different for every family and a lot of our constants have changed because of the pandemic. But we still can find some constant that we can work on following are a few that come to mind.
- Using reusable bags for their snacks this could be constant no matter what life throws at you
- The drop-off and pick up routine is another constant.
- After school snacks could be another constant in their life
- Their school gear too can be another constant
Shift the focus to planning rather than worrying
Getting the kids involved in planning their back to school will prevent them from worrying too much. It will also get them ready for some changes that will come their way. It also creates opportunities to talk about some of their anxieties.
Here are some of the things we are planning for.
- Clothes and school supply shopping and now their reusable mask. Here in BC grade 8 – 12 students need to wear masks outside their classrooms. In my personal experience, this is not very well received in all teens. Have them pick their own mask.
- Plan their weekly school lunches. It’s never too early to start a school lunch weekly plan.
- Get them involved in creating their new routine. Things they like to do after school that has nothing to do with school or their extracurricular activities.
- Planning for their study time at home, reorganizing their room to fit their needs better
At the end of the day, our children need to be able to navigate this pandemic on their own in school. There is no way to sugar quote this they need to get used to our new norm. However, we can and we should empower them that we can do hard things. That we as human beings can adjust to any situation. And most importantly that we are here for them. We may not have all the answers but we can look for the answers together that we are all in this together.
Now, this is a back to school plan I can follow. Cheers!