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Now that school is back in season, you and your child are likely adjusting to the new pandemic reality. Though many schools have reopened, some are still doing hybrid or remote education. Regardless of the circumstance, this is probably an adjustment for you and your family. But there’s no need to worry! You can get through anything as long as you prioritize your mental and physical well-being. Check out these mental health tips for going back to school for parents and students. 

Patience And Flexibility Are Crucial 

Chances are that the school administration is still figuring out how to navigate the pandemic. Unfortunately, this means that the only guarantee is a little uncertainty. While it’s perfectly understandable to feel frustrated, you should try your best to be patient. If your child sees you being patient, they may feel reassurance and subsequently won’t be stressed. Things may change at a moment’s notice. For instance, if their teacher tests positive for COVID-19, your child may have to return to remote teaching until the instructor is no longer contagious. Prepare yourself for all types of scenarios.

Communicate With Your Kids and The School Administrators 

A great way to reduce your level of stress is to make sure you’re staying up to date with what’s happening at the school. There’s not much you can control. However, what you can control is your knowledge of any updates or changes. Make sure you have an easy way to communicate with your child’s teacher, school administrator, and other parents. As COVID protocols change, you will want to know how to adapt as soon as possible. Here are a few things you can do:

  • Join a Facebook group or text thread with other parents.
  •  Subscribe to your child’s school’s newsletter or regularly check their website. 
  • Exchange emails with your child’s teacher. 

In addition to staying in touch with the administration, you should talk to your child regularly and check in with them about their feelings. Let them know that there’s no such thing as having negative emotions. Their feelings are valid and in order for you guys to get through this together, there should be open communication. Often, children can have trouble understanding their emotions — this is especially true when it comes to difficult emotions such as anxiety or fear. A good first step is openly telling them that what they are experiencing is normal and that they shouldn’t feel ashamed for not always feeling okay. As a parent, you should model this type of behavior so they understand that there are healthy ways to manage emotions. 

Prioritize Your Mental And Physical Health 

Anxiety can manifest in a myriad of ways such as loss of libido, digestive issues, fatigue, and increased blood pressure. In order to get through this difficult time, you need to reduce your anxiety and stress. Yes, you want to be there for your child. But if you’re too anxious, you won’t be able to help them out with their own issues. Here are a few things you can do to prioritize your mental and physical health:

  • Take Breaks:  Especially if you are working for home, you should give yourself some space from your job. You don’t always have to be online. Juggling responsibilities between being a parent and a worker can be stressful and to truly step away from it all, you may need to go on a walk around the neighborhood. Going on regular walks has been shown to be good for your health — schedule one once a day! You can take a walk after lunch or after you’ve dropped off your kids at work.
  • Do Something For Yourself: You don’t have to have an elaborate spa day to relax. Sometimes, the simplest things can do the trick. Maybe pick up a new hobby or start a new, fantastical book that you can easily escape into. Getting regular exercise can lower your stress and anxiety. Yes,you are probably very busy. But there’s a benefit to having a hobby that doesn’t have to do with your roles as a parent or a worker. You can sign up for an online cooking class or get into painting, sketching, or welding. Whatever you choose, just remind yourself that the hobby is supposed to be low stakes and relaxing.
  • Remember That You’re Trying Your Best: Don’t be too hard on yourself. You may lose your cool or make a mistake. But the occasional slip-up isn’t a reflection of your ability as a parent. This is an unprecedented scenario and everyone is learning as they go. This also extends to your child. Let them know that they shouldn’t feel ashamed for anything they’re experiencing. 

Get Extra Support

You don’t have to feel guilty for being overwhelmed. You and your child are going through a lot and it’s normal for it to take a toll on your mental health. Online counseling is a good option because you can get the help you need from wherever. There’s no need to drive to some distant office and get caught up in traffic. You can simply log on and talk to a licensed professional about how you’re going to move forward. 

Reach Out To Other Parents

You aren’t alone. There are probably many parents who are also feeling stressed and anxious about these changes. Reach out to your network and see if there’s a support group where you can communicate with others. If your child has a specific learning difference that has made remote learning a lot more difficult, find a support group of parents with children who have the same learning difference. You can exchange tips on the best ways to navigate this situation for you and your child. 

Going back to school in the midst of a global pandemic can certainly get complicated. That’s why it’s crucial for you to check in with yourself and take it day by day. Patience and flexibility are key. With these tips, you and your child will be prepared for anything that comes your way! 

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