Back to School – It’s that time! Summer is quickly dwindling to an end and your parental decision about how to approach your child’s education needs to be decided on.

This year back to school looks different for every family. What once was a time filled with the excitement of back to school shopping, coordinating new backpacks and lunch boxes, and gearing back up for structure, is now filled with unanswered questions, risks and concerns, and you know it – masks.

Back to school looks different this year and it’s important to understand that the feelings around it are in sharp contrast to what you as a parent have experienced in the past. Perhaps this year you are experiencing uncertainty and anxiety where excitement used to live. It’s understandable and you are not alone. Parents nationwide are experiencing grief, apprehension and relentlessness when it comes to approaching choices around back to school.

Are you a parent who is gearing up to send your children off to school?

Are you venturing down the path of full time at home virtual learning?

Have you made unconventional choices to educate your children?

Here’s how to thrive during the anxiety and uncertainty during this year’s back to school season:

1. Name your emotions. While in years past it may have been easy to name your parental emotions such as excitement for all the new opportunities a school year brings, or sadness because your baby is getting so big, this school year’s emotions feel…well, different. As with our younger children, it’s important to name the emotions you may be experiencing. Emotions swirl within us as a form of energy desiring to be physically expressed. As Dan Seigel, author of The Whole Brained Child, famously declared: You’ve got to name it to tame it. Take ownership of your emotions (this does not mean to JUDGE them) so you can recognize precisely how you are feeling and how you are reacting accordingly. Naming your emotions can help to tame reactions and lessen the intensity they bring.

2. Take time to process how you are feeling. Once you have pinpointed the feelings that are existing within you, take time to process them. Make a list of all of your concerns surrounding back to school and your child’s safety. Then make another list for all the things you are grateful for this upcoming school year. Allow space and time for you to truly understand your emotional state by dissecting it and seeing it in real time. Your emotions deserve validation. List writing is a phenomenal way for you to maintain emotional resiliency by seeing what comes up as a true concern for you. Approach this exercise with an open mind. There is no right and wrong. There is no judgement. Use this time to acknowledge your concerns (all of them) and then highlight where you find the peace, the appreciation, and the gratitude for the new approach to education that you and your children are taking.

3. Love your babies. Whether they will be doing their school work at the kitchen table or coming off the bus or into your car after a shortened day of in person instruction, remember that your role as a parent is to love your children. In times of uncertainty and during these times of change, remember that the love you have for your children has never wavered. Yes, parenting is an ever changing relationship that encourages you to shift through transitions, make difficult decisions, and feel uncomfortable during times of growth. But reminding yourself why you’ve made the choices you have for your family is important. So when you are feeling overwhelmed, nervous, or anxious, gently shift your focus to your heart and how it feels when you witness your child experience something they love. At the beginning and end of each school day, love for your child will ease your heart, center your anxiety, and shed light on the biggest gift of all – parenthood. It’s never easy but LOVE always makes it worth it.

“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” – Corinthians

InnerClarity, LLC in Hazlet, New Jersey is working hard to help parents cope with understanding how to navigate the ‘new normal’ of 2020. Our latest group program, Coping with the New Normal is designed to help adults navigate the intensity of the emotions, anxiety, and grief that have been highlighted during this time. When everything you once knew about ‘normal’ has shifted, it’s time to find certainty and community so you can feel empowered to handle whatever comes next. Pre-register for our upcoming group “Parents coping with the ‘new normal’” by calling 732-639-0232, or click HERE.

To read more about Dan Siegel’s “The Whole Brain Child”, click here