Back to School 2020
Oct 30, 2020
Calling all moms!! We’ve got this!
My youngest child starts 10th grade next week. Actually no, we were notified today that it will start the following week. Hmm .. So does that mean we go a week later next summer? Do we miss a holiday? Or have we thrown those 180 required days out the window? I have no idea!
I do know that this last minute change in the schedule is actually FANTASTIC for me! I wasn’t sure how I was going to get her to and from school since I will be driving my middle child 800 miles and moving him into a freshman dorm for his first year of college. We have a 2 hour window 7 am - 9 am to make that magic happen. Secretly, I’m glad it is one of my 2 sons - if it were my daughter - 2 hours would simply not be enough time for all of the decor, LED lights, pillow shams, perfectly chosen and placed Polaroids of the high school gang. But...how does this 2 hours work? Sounds like I hurriedly drop him and his stuff off and we say our goodbyes - COVID rules understandably state no visitors. I suspect this is secretly a dream come true for him. And I won’t complain at all, a dear physician friend, because of her location and the destination of her freshman son, was prohibited from taking him. Her hospital system would not allow it. So yesterday she put him on a plane to head to college without her. I am grateful for my 800 miles drive and my 2 hours!
As I thought through the next couple weeks I realized how important mindset is this year. It will be a different year than any of us have ever experienced. I’d like to take you through my thoughts on dealing with a new school year starting during a pandemic. I don’t think it’s going to be easy for any of us...but what it can be is manageable and not horrible. You may even find some FANTASTIC in there.
Focus on what you CAN control - and make the best of what you can’t. I think we all realize there are events we have control over and events we don’t. School schedules - no control. Dorm move-in rules - no control. Presence of COVID - no control. A fun early morning coffee and breakfast with my 18 yo before the 7am move-in - totally under my control! Being present and mindful that morning - absolutely in control! Ultimately, we really only have control over a very few things in our life. So what about everything else, those hundreds of thousands of things we don’t have control over? Guess what...we actually get to decide what it means to us AND how we react to it! Let’s choose those thoughts and reactions wisely.
Focus on the process - not the outcome. Focus each day on the process involved in what you are doing NOT on the ultimate outcome. This is an amazing lesson to not only teach yourself but to lead by example for your children. When it comes down to it, none of us individually really have any control over the outcome of this school year. BUT we have a lot of control over doing our best, day-to-day with what we are given. What if that is our focus?! For our children - what if instead of focusing on the results of tests, athletic events, or grades on research papers - can we shift the focus on study habits, note-taking skills, resiliency, and confidence in sharing their opinion (spoken or written). Let’s teach them resiliency, flexibility and simply how to put in the work. There is way less stress, whether child or adult, when the focus is on simply doing your very best with the process. Celebrate when the process is going well regardless of the actual outcome. The outcome of this school year - who really knows?! But the process - we can handle - THAT is within our control!
Identify your anticipated challenges for this school year. Seriously - what are your fears? What are the risks? What’s going to be hard for you? Write it down. Identify and verbalize them somehow. This step alone automatically makes me feel better! It declutters my brain! Now, what challenges are within your control? Brainstorm your strategies to manage. Have your game plan ready. What challenges are simply out of your control? Can you reframe the way you are looking at it? You might not be able to change the challenge BUT you can change your thoughts and reactions surrounding it!
Be kind and gracious - to other parents, teachers, and school staff. Recognize we are ALL navigating something new. We have no idea what struggles others are dealing with each day. The school year is a balancing act for many of us anyway. The fluidity and flexibility required by all of us this year is unprecedented (I’m sick of that word too...but there is no better one). Offer your help if someone is in need! Graciously accept help if you are in need! Purpose and gratitude are both integral parts of our physical and mental health. It simply is a win-win for all of us!
Self-Care. Period. In the end - as moms - we all can use the reminder to care for ourselves first. Self-care, however defined, is a necessity. We simply cannot expect ourselves to care for our family, our career and school responsibilities, etc. if we are running on empty. We cannot create more time in the day but we can make choices that keep us energized throughout the day. Healthy, nutritious meals provide the fuel we need. Regular exercise not only is good for our long term cardiovascular health but provides an immediate boost in mood. Feeling anxiety or stress? Take 3 slow deep breaths, or go for a walk or run. Meditation and regular gratitude practices will keep bad stress at bay. Last but not least, a consistent bedtime routine (yes, moms - for you!!) and a morning routine will facilitate a good night's sleep.
Planning for the situation (as best we can), choosing our focus and shifting our attitudes really does help us cope with stressful times. Not only that, it models to our kids that the entire world is not doomed and out of our control. That, in turn, gives children a level of calmness and comfort that we feel from them at home. See how this cycle works? It’s natural to feel stressed and it’s ok to acknowledge that this is HARD. But - use your tools, take care of yourself and then sit back and marvel and pat yourself on the back that you made it through!
Women’s Health Elevated, founded by Madeline Hardacre MD, is a Lifestyle Medicine and Health Coaching practice. We focus on improving the mental and physical wellbeing of women. You may schedule a free discovery call with Dr. Hardacre through her email [email protected] or her website https://womenshealthelevated.com/scheduling to find out how she may help you!