I’m going to be sharing three steps today to help with back to school anxiety and helping everyone feel settled around it.
Watch the video or scroll down to read more…
So for me, regarding my son going back to school, my anxiety brings questions like:
- What if he doesn’t get the full sixth form experience?
- What if we go back into lockdown?
And there could be a number of other what-ifs there for you like…
What if she’s fallen behind?
What if she doesn’t settle back so easily into her friendship group?
What if she doesn’t like the new school?
What if a teacher gets sick?
What if one of the children in her bubble gets sick?
There are just so many what-ifs that we can have at this point. And I don’t know about you, but when I was listing all those what-ifs, I could feel my anxiety levels rising.
Step # 1 – Take Care of Myself
The very first step begins with us, because emotional states are transferable.
When we worry, we communicate worry to our children. And when we’re okay, they tend to be pretty okay too.
So, our first step with dealing with any nervousness or worry around going back to school is to look to ourselves.
I’m now going to share a few things that I’ve been doing recently to develop my self-care and feel really great. (And it’s working!)
- One of them is going to bed earlier. I always say to myself, “I go to bed at 10:30,” but do I? No, normally it’s 11:30 or midnight, but I’ve been really going to bed early, and what a difference it makes to my sense of wellbeing.
- And then I’ve been taking some Epsom salts baths, and that’s just a wonderful way of relaxing. If you haven’t tried it yet, I really recommend it. And also doing this several nights consecutively because you go to bed with this wonderful feeling of relaxation that can be hard to achieve in any other way.
- And then I’ve been using essential oils which are wonderful too.
- And, also going out in nature every day, doing movement.
Pick and choose whichever of these feels that it would be easy for you and enjoyable.
You’ll notice that when you soothe your body, your mind is soothed as well.
And you’re less likely to go down the road of lots of what-ifs and creating lots of potential scenarios that aren’t actually helping you stay grounded and be there for your child.
Step # 2 – Allowing
Step two is allowing difficult things to be there.
There may be difficult things ahead of you.
Maybe your child is already expressing that they don’t want to go back to school. They’re nervous, understandably, after five months away, or maybe they’re going to a new school. There are so many things we could be nervous about. And so, it’s about allowing those difficult feelings to be there.
Or maybe your child will go back and they’re disappointed they’re not in the group they thought they were going to be in, or something’s been cancelled – their favourite activity.
It’s about allowing those difficult feelings to be there and being a listening ear.
Try to avoid going into being Mrs. or Mr. Fix-it and providing the solution for it.
Instead, be with your child.
Listen to what they have to say.
Be curious as to what it is about this thing that is upsetting them, and give them time to express themselves.
Or just make time to be with them in that feeling if your child isn’t the type that likes to articulate a lot, and see how this brings the acuteness of the feeling down.
See how, when a feeling is allowed to be expressed and given space and time and attention, it diminishes.
It’s like a law of nature. It’s amazing and it can feel quite counterintuitive.
But then when you’ve noticed that this diminishing is taking place, you can gently point out some solutions or some positives in the situation.
Step # 3 – Create Predictability
Step number three is about creating predictability because we’re in a pandemic – not only a health pandemic but a pandemic of unpredictability.
The virus is popping up here and there and governments are changing their plans and doing U-turns, and schools are having to adapt and react, and we don’t know from one day to the next what’s going to be happening or how things are going to be.
As humans, that’s a difficult situation to live with.
We tend to under-perform, in terms of confidence and all manner of day to day activities, when unpredictability is in the air.
We are more challenged – and we find it more difficult to do the normal things well.
So, let’s do what we can as parents to create predictability where possible at home.
So, step three is about creating a day-to-day routine and a week-to-week routine that is as predictable as possible.
- You might want to pay particular attention to the timings of bedtimes, and to the order of your bedtime routine so that it’s really predictable for your child – not swapping from one thing to another. Try to gently bring it into a repeatable order.
- You might want to have a meal plan or a weekly or two-weekly meal plan where the same meal comes round again.
- Or you might want to create family rituals, whether it’s family film night or a Sunday morning hike.
Things like this that create a sense of it being what you do, it being the same.
And, whatever else is happening out there, this is what you do and it’s safe, it’s repeated and it’s enjoyable.
One particular thing you might want to do with a child, especially a child who’s nervous about going to a new school, is create a sense of predictability about that first day by doing a dry run with them.
Get them into their school uniform, pack lunch, whatever it is that they’re going to be doing on that day, and get them into the car if that’s how you do your school run. Walk your child through it all, and literally drive to the school gates. Then, at the point where you can’t go any further because it actually isn’t the first day of school, you can talk them through what’s going to happen after that. Remember details together if you’ve visited. And if you haven’t, hopefully you have information that you can share with your child, that will create a sense of predictability around that event.
To summarise: look after yourself first, allow difficult feelings to be there, and create predictability.
And if you bring these three elements into your family, you’ll see how it will help to create a sense of wellbeing and a soothing atmosphere at home and a greater sense of calm.
If you would like some support to help you understand how to help yourself and your child with going back to school, or some other sticky problem, why not book a call with me. I’d really love to speak with you.
Take advantage of my Happier Way Forward sessions and book yourself in at a time to suit you. It’s completely free.
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