I am fairly certain that “raising your child in a pandemic” was not in any baby book I read when I was getting ready to have kids. With school approaching, I’ve found myself in a mental quandary (like everyone else). Usually around now I’m excitedly printing out those back to school supply lists but this year is a whole different type of prep. I’ve debated a lot of what back to school is going to mean this year ~ let’s navigate together…..
- PAY THE MONEY. For those of us with kids in private schools, this likely means paying full tuition with the chance of going back to distance learning at some point. For those in public schools, this is going to be an in depth personal evaluation on supplies. Remember these videos? It’s time to put our money where our mouth is. Teachers will already have enough expected of them to basically double their workload by prepping to teach both in person and virtually. We must as a nation adequately provide them with the protective equipment and cleaning supplies they will need. This also means going above our own family’s requirements. There are many families who are barely making ends meet. If there was ever a time to love your neighbor and chip in a bit more, this is it. After all….the cost of increased school and cleaning supplies will dwarf a hospital bill any day.
- HAVE YOUR LIFEBOAT PLAN. Any time you are on boat, you prep in advance of what to do if the ship starts to sink. The time is now guys. Adequate preparation of what to do if your school closes again or if a child is sick will be essential to your family’s wellbeing. Having these constructs in place now is essential. Mental health of both adults and children are being tested and we as parents have the responsibility to plan for our families – so if the ship starts to sink we can calmly navigate our children through the storm.
- PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE. As schools roll out their guidelines, it will be critical for us to review these policies with our kids. This is especially important with our tween and teen groups who may already “know what to do” but when they are alone…are they following these guidelines?
- ANTICIPATE. Understand that there is a solid chance there may be a positive covid case in your school. For that time, what is the school policy? That is a fair question to ask your school.
- STAY OFF THE INTERNET. Unless you are reading about updates in your community or with your school, try your best to avoid all day doomsday scrolling. It’s good to stay informed of up to date events but try to avoid the black hole of news that can up your anxiety.
- TRUST YOUR CHILDREN. This past weekend I was out and about for three days where masks were required, in Florida heat, all day. The children I saw did incredible. When the expectation was that masks be worn for the safety of the group, the kids were fantastic. I cannot praise them enough.
- SPEAKING OF MASKS…. this is a good area that you’ll want to be well prepped. Are your kids masks comfortable? What about wearing them inside AND outside? I found this weekend that masks I had worn to the grocery store were much more difficult to wear outside (think: recess). Do your kids know what to do if they have to sneeze/cough and are wearing a mask? Do you have extra masks for them should their masks get wet/dirty? Have you talked with them about how to properly take off/store their masks during lunch? Again…early preparation is key.
- PATIENCE. SO MUCH PATIENCE. Our teachers will need it. School administrators will need it. There is clearly no one fit all solution – not in the same school, town, state. I can’t imagine the mental load of a teacher – having 20-30 micromanagers (parents) who are trying to protect their children and be heard.
- MENTALLY PREP FOR DISTANCE LEARNING. I was insistent that we end school in the spring on a positive note, even if inside I was shouting “THANK GOODNESS THAT IS OVER!” I wanted my kids to have the confidence to return to distance learning if the need arises. Odds are….likely.
- BE A COMMUNITY BUILDER. We are approaching a whole new school year which means new teachers, more difficult material, new routines. Now more than ever it will be essential to uplift each other, whether it be through providing assistance to schools or lending an ear to a parent in need.
While I’m praying that this pandemic ends soon, I think we can all agree that now is the time to dig in for the long haul. Our kids are strong and resilient and we must be the same for them. If you have any other tips, please share them! Stay healthy everyone ❤️❤️