By Breanna Callahan, Marketing Coordinator
With the school year quickly approaching, we are still very unsure of what it will look like and be like for everyone. Especially since the coronavirus numbers are nowhere near what we would like them to be or even on the verge of declining. As a parent myself, I know I have been struggling with decisions about the school year. Don’t worry, this is not a blog telling you to have your children attend school from home or send them to school. Not at all. This is a blog about how these decisions are stressful. It feels like there is no right answer. So how do we cope? How do we move forward feeling confident in our decisions, or at least confident that we are doing the best we can?
So, my first thought is to focus on what we do have control over and be thankful. Did you know you can’t be grateful and worry at the same time? We have control over the safety measures we take in order to keep our family safe and healthy. We can make sure masks are comfortable. We can make sure to teach our child “best practices” for wearing a mask if she needs to at school (if it’s our choice, she will wear a mask). We can talk as a family about how school is going to be different. How it will feel different. But also about how lucky we are that the school district, teachers, and families are all working together because we all have a common goal: for our children to be happy, safe, and educated. Helping our daughter be comfortable and prepared for the school year will help us feel more comfortable too.
Once the school year starts, things will probably change. They will change as we learn more about the virus. They will change as different situations arise. This is new territory for us all (the schools, the families, the kids). One thing I see as being important is the ability to “roll with the punches.” We do need to be prepared for instructional formats to change (they might reduce the amount of time kids spend at school, doing course work partially or all virtually).
Just so you know, I am a planner. I like things “just so.” But one good thing that has come out of this situation is my ability to just shrug my shoulders and go with things a little more, knowing we will do the best that we can. One way I will try to prepare for the possible changes is to figure out what might happen (though I’m not a mind reader) and plan according to what might happen- like when you take an umbrella in case it rains (and usually it doesn’t).
One thing we need to remember is everyone is different and everyone has an opinion. However, no one’s situation is identical. Some people have flexibility in their work location and hours, some people don’t. Some people have underlying health issues that impact their decisions, other people don’t. There are different levels of support as well. While one family may have a strong support system, others don’t.
We can’t control what others are doing, and we really don’t understand each other 100%. So we need to control what we can and worry about what we can, our own families. This means, in this ever-escalating political climate and time when everyone has an opinion, we need to agree that we are each doing what we think is best. Everyone you see is making the best decisions for themselves and their families based on their belief system. Yes, those decisions may impact you. I’m not saying we can each do whatever we want no matter the impact it has on others. I am saying that we each need to make the best decisions we can and then stick by those decisions.
When I talked to Dr. TJ Norton, Southwest Behavioral Services Psychiatrist, he reiterated that, “We need to be mindful of ourselves and our own personal beliefs and values and how they can affect those around us.” Meaning we need to do what is best for ourselves and our families but also realize that our decisions impact others.
If you (and possibly your partner) are struggling to cope with these decisions or need helping talking through decisions, remember that sometimes talking with someone, whether it’s a professional or a friend, can really help. Journaling, which is proven to reduce anxiety, can help you discover your feelings and organize those thoughts.
As we continue on this journey that none of us have ever experienced before, I wish you the best. Do what you can to stay healthy. Take care of not only your body, but your mind too. Try to find a moment of peace in each day. Be kind to yourself and be kind to others. When we look back upon this time, we want to be proud that we did the best we could. Being able to get through this time knowing that we are basing decisions on kindness and love; well, that’s best we can do right now.