First and foremost, in the year 2020, as you send your children back to school, it is important to know that they will mirror what you think, feel and do. Here are some tips on how to get through a new start in a completely new and challenging year.
- Prioritize Health and Safety: send them to school each day with a clean mask, tissues for grabbing high-touch surfaces, sanitizing wipes, and hand sanitizer. Pack their lunch for them, in an easily accessible, disposable bag, and provide something easy for them to eat, without needing to come in contact with any surfaces. Supply napkins and utensils.
- Prioritize your children’s Mental Health: Talk to your children openly about their concerns. Listen to what makes them anxious and support their feelings. A new school year, especially one as unprecedented as this, can be especially stressful and emotionally challenging for kids. It can be difficult for children to wrap their heads around virtual learning and social distancing. Our children are very social beings and it may be difficult to understand why it is not okay to hug their friends right now. Be sure to connect with your child each day to see how they are coping with their new norms and what they are experiencing both at school and at home with their learning.
- Include your children in the preparation phase: Allow them to design, pick out, or choose their mask daily. Let them help you to choose their hand sanitizer, find a fun device to hold the sanitizer and mask in. Allow them to pick out their tissues and help them to normalize some of these things by doing them yourself. Let them know that you understand that this is different and not easy. Be supportive and encouraging. Reward their ability to be compliant with a fun activity of positive reinforcement. Continue to be open to listening to their concerns and rewarding their ability to be flexible.
Finally, don’t forget to take some time out for yourself! Self-care has never been so important for parents. You got this!