Back to School and COVID-19:7 Tips to Help You Stay Organized and Reduce Stress
Going back to school is usually stressful enough as it is. As all parents will know, getting out of holiday mode, waking up early, packing lunches, dealing with new teachers, new kids, and sometimes even new schools is a challenge in itself. It’s stressful for both parents and children. Now, suddenly, with COVID-19 having become a daily reality, there is even more to be managed.
The amount of children returning to the classroom is beginning to increase with the reopening of schools. More than 1 billion students are still out of school as a result of the closures and more than 70 countries have a plan to reopen schools for students to return in the coming weeks – some have already opened.
As schools slowly but surely reopen, there will be many variations. Some may open full-time, business as usual, while others may go fully online. Some may also choose a blend of classroom and online learning. During these challenging times, it’s essential that we support our children as they adjust to the new normal.
You’ll probably have some decisions to make. Where to educate your children may depend on whether you work from home, are a frontline worker or if you live with your elderly parents or at a distance from them.
Here are some concerns we heard from parents about going back to school during Covid-19.
“I’m worried – it could result in children being left with health problems or bringing illness home to their families where people in higher risk groups live”. – Steve D.
“I can’t even imagine how they plan to do this safely?” Jenna B.
“My son has ADHD and online learning does not work for him. He honestly didn’t learn anything those least few months of at home school last year. I have to work and so I do not have a ton of extra time to tutor him. I’m really worried that if they decide to continue distanced learning that he will be so discouraged and will not thrive.” Brenda L.
As much as you’re probably looking forward to getting your children out of the house and back into some kind of routine, it’s normal to feel anxious, almost everyone is. Like every back-to-school year, the best thing you can do is to get organized.
Here are 7 tips to help you get and stay organized and reduce stress levels:
- Support our Kids’ Adjustment
It may be challenging for the kids to stay motivated and focused if and when stuck at home. Try to keep in contact with their teachers and stay on top of the assignments so you can help your kids stay on track if need be. Personal stress at home almost always affects kids’ schooling. Be sure to let the teachers know if your child is suffering from anxiety or mental health issues, whether from the pandemic itself or other family stresses such as job loss for parents, illness or death of a family member or extra childcare responsibilities placed on your student.
- Schedule Time to Communicate
It is essential to take the time to communicate with your family regularly, especially if you have multiple children. You’re going to have a lot on your plate and will need to make sure that everybody knows what’s happening when. You may get so busy that you don’t get the opportunity to have more than a brief conversation with your children about logistics. They may not want to worry you with something that is bothering them because they can see all the balls you have in the air. So, schedule some “unpacking” time into your day. A simple means of doing this is to make sure that you eat dinner together as much as possible, where everyone will have the chance to share. Some families who cannot shares meals find it helpful to implement a daily check-in every morning via group text. You should also reassure your children that you may be busy, but you’re always there for them. Communication is key to being organized as well as in dealing with anxiety.
- Stay Informed
Make sure that you have easy access to information from the school and the government by following their social media accounts and making sure you’re subscribed to newsletters. Set your email to auto-flag emails from your children’s schools or day-care centres. Stay on top of the news but be very cautious and ensure you only gather information from reliable sources. Check your news when you check your emails and limit the time you spend on social media going down rabbit holes related to COVID-19. It can be overwhelming. Get the information you require, and then move on.
- Set Your Mind at Ease
As a parent, you probably often find yourself worrying about nothing and everything at the same time. How often have you stressed over an issue only to find it wasn’t a major one? Make a list of everything you’re worrying about, get the information you need and prioritize. This will help to set your mind at ease. Make sure you know what steps have been taken by your children’s school to ensure their safety and what is expected of you. Find out what procedures the school has in place should a student test positive for COVID-19, or what their policies are regarding children who arrive at school with flu-like symptoms.
- Create a Weekly Family Schedule
Set up a large board with a weekly calendar where everyone can see one another’s plans and their own. Depending on space, you can make this a weekly or monthly schedule. Assign a color to each family member as well as a color for the whole family. Have markers and erasers on hand so they can easily add or change their plans. Start with the basics, time to wake up, time to bathe and get dressed, time for breakfast, time for the school bus, after-school activities, playdates, lessons, and family time. Online shareable calendars also work great. To be super-organized, set up three file baskets near the calendar or front door marked “to school,” “from school,” and “to be signed” and have a couple of spare, clean masks in case there’s a panic and someone can’t remember where they put theirs.
- Maintain Your Wellbeing
In addition to taking care of your family and making sure they eat three healthy meals a day, exercise and address any issues they may have, you must also take time to take care of yourself. Your children are relying on you to be strong and healthy enough to take care of them and they are also looking to you to see how you are managing. So, be sure to take time-outs when you need them and reach out to a friend or family member if you need support. Limiting media and scheduling time to stay connected with friends and family conference calls or group chats will also boost your and your family’s emotional wellbeing.
- Get a Little Help from an App
There are a ton of handy apps that can help you and your family get organized and less stressed. Have a look at these apps below. They’re all nifty, and we’re sure you’ll find one that will make an enormous difference to your life and your sanity.
This app is an excellent app for helping your kids become financially savvy. It will teach your children about managing time, chores, and money. Best of all, you can set your own point/reward system. Depending on your device, the app can be a tad slow.
School Planner is an app geared towards scholars and students. It is simple and fast and keeps your daily schedule and timetable handy. Reminders can be set for assignments and exams, and there is even a function where you can record lectures and another that helps you keep track of your grades.
Last but not least, is Vaultt, an all-in-one organizational app designed for people who take care of people. It helps families stay informed, organized, and connected easily and securely. It not only serves as a communication and management platform, but it also stores all essential documents and information in one safe place. It has end-to-end encryption that protects your personal information from data mining and, best of all, there are no pesky ads. Imagine having information like your passport number, your power of attorney documents, and your kids’ vaccination records available at the mere press of a button on your phone!
We hope that these suggestions help you organize your life a little better and find some relief from the stress you and your family are facing. It’s a challenging time for all. The most important thing to remember when going back to school in the new, unknown COVID-19 world is that staying safe is the most important thing you can do. No two family experiences or circumstances are the same so, while you can take advice and inform yourself adequately, do remember that as a caregiver, you should trust your gut and do whatever feels right for you and your family.