2020 took schooling (and life) and threw it in a blender full of anxiety, worries, and panic and as back to school slowly approaches here in Australia, we are left dreading how 2021 will taste. Aside from sanitising everything, Glen20ing anything that comes home and reinforcing the no hugging your friends’ rule, it has also left a different flavour to the school drop offs. We aren’t even allowed inside the gates this year. We can’t meet the teachers or see their new classrooms. We can’t even give them extra tight hugs and all the parents swarm the gates come pick up time. It is anxiety riddled with chaos.
But while we are gearing up to send our kids back to school, let’s spare a moment and send hugs (and wine) to our sisters who are still home-schooling. I live in Melbourne, Australia so my 2020 was mainly spent home-schooling both kids while still trying to maintain work, housework and my sanity. I feel the frustration and stress that comes with it. I can tell you though as much as it doesn’t seem like it right now, it does get better. Sam Yetzes wrote a brilliant blog back in August for us at ParentalEQ that highlights a few very helpful tips to ease the home schooling/working from home collision. You can read it here – https://parentaleq.com/parenting-and-working-from-home/
The hardest part of every school year is handling the negative thoughts my daughter has. As you have read in previous posts, she has anxiety that presents itself in over worrying, stress and loud outbursts. And the start of every year starts the same. Excitement to see everyone and meeting her new teacher. Mild panic at the fact that it is a new class filled with new people. Then full-blown anxiety. What if they don’t like me? What if I get bullied? What if they think I am weird?
This year, however, was a little different. While the emotions and negatives thoughts were still present, my approach to them was brand new. Most were tricks that I have had in place since she was little, but many came from the ParentalEQ BackPack App. And guess what? My anxiety riddled daughter was so excited for school, I didn’t even get a kiss goodbye! I believe these can really benefit you and your children whether you are sending them to onsite school or to the kitchen table.
Start your day with a big breath. Sounds simple right? It is but amongst all the chaos you sometimes forget to just breath. A big belly breath can help lower heart rate and decrease the stress hormone. Lord knows we all need to lower that.
Discuss Common Fears and Worries – by Having Breakfast Together.
I know, I know. “But we always have breakfast” I hear you yell. But do you have it together every morning? It may seem like another super simple idea, but it is much like family dinners. It is a way to open up the lines of conversation about their common fears and worries. It also gives you a chance to air your own fears to help reach another level of connection.
Create a Stepladder Approach to Face the Fears and Worries. As mentioned in previous posts, we are a huge fan of the stepladder approach. It is a simple yet incredibly effective way to help your children face their fears in a controlled and successful way. This is especially helpful during the school year as it seems that every week there are new fears or challenges to help them overcome. It is also super helpful with children who are experiencing new emotions. You take it one fear goal at a time.
Have Goals to Maintain a Win in the Day. In our house, we start our walk to school with “What is your goal for today?” It started as a way to keep my daughter from having a full-blown anxiety attack by talking nonstop on one topic. Now, it gives both my children something to focus on for the day that can also help distract them from their fears and anxieties. It also gives us something to celebrate regardless of if it has been a good or bad day which leads to positive thoughts.
Listen. When your child opens up, listen. Take in what they are saying and make sure they know that you are paying attention. Sometimes they just need to vent, the same way we sometimes need to. By listening, you can also discover triggers to their anxieties and worries.
Be There. Your children will always look for you when things get a little too tough. You are their comfort zone and a safe space to just let go. While it is hard to juggle home school and working from home or getting back into your “normal” routine, take a minute to hug them, comfort them and let them know that you are there for them.
Download our ParentalEQ Parenting BackPack App. See what I did there? The Parenting BackPack App might be the support you are looking for. It’s designed by experts in emotional & social development and simplifies the best of parenting psychology. You can also find knowledge and activities to help your parenting journey through stressful times.
2020 changed Parenting forever. We’ve got your back in 2021.
Download the app here – access everything in the 14 day FREE trial
Written candidly by Casey Luxford