Coping with the Uncertainty of School in the Fall

Is this sentiment starting to feel familiar yet? Typically, summer consists of a much-needed break from school, followed quickly by back-to-school shopping and the start of the next school year. Like clock-work, the pattenr hasn’t looked different from one year to the next during our lifetime. This year, however, parents are placed in a scenario that is requiring them to make a no-win choice: Do we send our children back to school based upon the district’s in-person plan or keep our children home to learn virtually? How do we as parents keep up with our own demands in addition to our child’s schooling? Here are some suggestions as you look to making these decisions:

Acknowledge the difficulty of the situation

This is hard. Everything about the upcoming school year is unknown, which makes planning even more difficult. Allowing yourself to feel the weight and stress of the situation will allow you to identify and connect with what you and your family may need. Practice focusing on the details of the scenario without placing judgement on yourself or others.

Identify your support systems

Think about who in your life you can trust and identify as your support system. School and work will look different this year, and many of us are unable to predict too far into the future. We may need to be prepared to reach out for help and support in ways that we are not used to doing. Identifying who has your back will help you know who to reach out to when a last-minute change is called for.

Break up the conversations into smaller segments

We all know what it feels like to have to make a decision on deadline. We often feel the need to sit down, hash through all of the possibilities, and decide in one sitting. That can feel overwhelming, and become a large barrier to making the decision. Instead, try to break up the discussion into segments and set a smaller goal for each segment. For example, use one segment to determine what the options are, then use another segment to list the pros and cons of each. Eventually, you will move through to the decision-making portion by keeping that the only goal for that moment.

Remain flexible

As the days pass, more districts are taking the decision away from parents and implementing a new plan. Whether this was the plan you were hoping for or not, take a few minutes to digest the news before rearranging any of the necessary changes. Focus on the pieces that you do have control over, talk to others about your perspective of the plan, and listen to how other families may be responding. Others may have developed creative plans that could work great for your family as well!

Take care of yourself

Recognizing the difficulty of the scenario around us can be stressful and overwhelming. Taking care of ourselves is the best way to cope with stress, and to take care of others, as well. Determine the ways in which you can nurture yourself during the decision-making process, and utilize self-care between the segments of conversation identified above. Take deep breaths, watch a funny show, take a walk, or even sit outside while discussing options. Whatever it may be, don’t forget to utilize it!