Remember that Staples ad that would appear on TV around back to school time. The parents were positively skipping through the store with their shopping cart, saying it was the most wonderful time of the year?
Well not this year. This year with the pandemic still raging around us, parents are worried about their children’s health and safety. Many have made the decision not to send their children back, and instead are making alternative arrangements, like hiring a teacher and getting a group of families together to share the cost. Others are carrying on with the home schooling.
It is a tough decision, as you worry about the children’s mental health if they cannot see their friends and about their learning. On the opposite side of the argument is the proposed set up at the schools. Will they be safe?
In a recent conversation with Leisse Wilcox, an Ontario-based mindset coach, she pointed out that right now nothing is black or white, and as parents we need to proceed with grace and be prepared to change our minds, if what we’ve decided isn’t working out.
At 39, she is a single parent with three children aged nine and eight-year old twins and she is facing this dilemma too. She plans to send her children back to school and see how it goes, but has intentionally left her Wednesdays open, in case she finds that her children need to stay home.
Leisse observed that her generation are not used to or comfortable with hardship. It’s not supposed to be like this – and as a result many of her peers are experiencing anxiety. They’re struggling to deal with the current situation, just wanting things to go back to the way they were. But as she says, there’s no going back.
Her advice to parents is to zoom out, to physically look down on your lives and determine that this is a moment in time. No one really knows what is going to happen, what will work and what won’t, so trust that everyone is doing their best.
She also suggested that parents dial up their self-compassion and reframe the situation so they can find a way of making this period in their lives special and beautiful, for themselves and their children.
She encourages parents to have open conversations with their children about how it is going back to school. To ask questions about whether they felt safe, how was wearing a mask, and whether they are happy to see their friends.
At the end of the day, parents know their children best and will make choices on what will work best for them and the family as a whole. But as Leisse rightly points out, nothing is carved in stone right now, and be prepared to change your mind if necessary.
Company of Women
I have had an eclectic career from running non-profit organizations and being editor of a national magazine, to working for government on women’s issues. In 2003 I launched Company of Women, an organization that supports women in business. A prolific blogger, I also write for the Huffington Post, and several other online publications. I am the author of five books on women and entrepreneurship, and co-author of Good Enough. Embrace who you are. Unleash your brilliance. which is available on amazon.ca In June, 2016 I launched Full Circle Publishing offering one-stop services to get your words out into the world.