After a couple months in isolation how are you feeling about schools going back?

The last two months have been spent managing significant change for ourselves and our families.  Our lives have been turned upside down and we’ve faced so much uncertainty all while learning to home-school and simultaneously work from home.  No wonder we’re all feeling a bit exhausted. 

It feels like we were only just getting the hang of our new routines when it was announced that school would be going back.  It’s a sign that we may be headed towards some ‘normalcy’ but its important to remember it’s still a transition.  It’s a transition during a period of stress, uncertainty and change which may be leaving us and our children feeling a little less resilient than usual.  So, what can you do to help your child and family manage yet another transition?

Remember that behaviour is communication

Children often cannot put their feelings into words and your insight into how they are feeling is through their behaviour.  Are they a little more snappy? Burst into tears more easily? Have difficulty managing their anger?  Resort to hitting, biting or screaming?  These are signs that they are feeling dysregulated and understanding this as parents may just change the way we respond.

 Use your calm to help them find their calm

Before children learn to self-regulate, they co-regulate.  They use your calm to find their calm.  This weekend, make a concerted effort to spend time together, to just be in each other’s presence and be present.  Find time to go for a long walk, have a backyard picnic, read books, snuggle, play board games – do the things your family enjoys! Connection fosters self-regulation. 


Talk to them and validate how they are feeling

Children absorb so much information from around them, it’s important for us to give them the opportunity and scaffolding to talk about it.  They may have overheard some ‘scary stuff’ from the news or from adults talking or they may just be feeling their parents’ stress.  We cannot know how our children have interpreted the info around them without talking to them.  Their feelings are real and can be big and that’s ok – make sure you tell them that.  Reassure them that while the coming weeks / months may be uncertain and challenging, that you’ll navigate it together.

Make a plan

Uncertainty is scary.  Making a plan and talking about what the transition will look like helps children to feel prepared.  Talk to them about what their new ‘normal’ will be.  Check in with your child’s school to see if any regular routines have changed (e.g. will drop off be different to manage social distancing between parents?) and then talk to your child about it so they know what to expect.

Schedule in time together to go slow.

The kids have been home for 8 weeks now (yep I was counting!).  Without anywhere to go, families have really slowed down.  There hasn’t been any rushing around between activities and a lot of time has been spent together.  It might feel like this extra time with mum and dad might not happen now that things are going back to normal.  Schedule in some time each week to slow down and really connect with your kids.  Find the good bits of lockdown and make sure they make the cut as life veers back towards ‘normal’.