This year’s first day of school is unlike any other. Here are four tools that I’ve used in the past that work for me. Maybe they’ll help you too!
Posted in , Aug 27, 2020
My son Ben is a “rising 4th grader,” nearing his 10th birthday, and about to go back to school….in our house. Our school district allowed families to opt into either a hybrid model in the school buildings, or the remote learning model we decided on for our family.
It hasn’t been easy to watch the school year approach with such uncertainty in our community, country and world. Like with so many other families, it’s involved anxiety for my husband and me, as well as for Ben. We’ve listened to long school administration meetings online, written letters to our school committee and principal, and read volumes on the science, psychology and equity factors involved.
I write about strategies for positive living twice each week here at Guideposts—and it’s a good thing, too, because the tools I offer to you often serve my own life. Here are some techniques I’m using to navigate this time with as much grace and positivity as possible.
1) Be Real
I often say in this space that the only sustainable positivity is authentic positivity, an ability to meet yourself where you are in this moment and accept the full range of the present emotional reality. As we’ve faced the opening of school in such an unstable time, from macro concerns about the pandemic to micro worries about how different things will be as friends have made different plans for the year to come, it’s only by naming that stress and discomfort that we can keep it from taking over our emotional outlook.
2) Think Small
To me, back-to-school time is a fresh start moment in the calendar year. Even before I had a child in school, my adult self always looked forward to marking a moment of growth, learning and new-ness with a small but significant bit of freshness. So I’m focusing this year on where to put a small new house plant, ordering a cute new pencil cup for Ben and putting out a long-neglected honey pot for morning tea. I find that the smallest things have a big impact, acting as cues to keep us focused on the positive aspects of today.
3) Prepare to Pivot
Being flexible, emotionally agile, is one of the most helpful skills in the pursuit of positive living. One of the most stressful things for parents right now is feeling like we have to see the future in order to make the right decision today. And for many, our ability to change to a different educational track might be complicated. But positive thinking isn’t always about having every choice available to us at every moment. We can find strength, hope and peace in simply thinking differently, being flexible in our outlook and giving ourselves the space we need to pause, reflect and start again whenever we need to reorient.
4) Take Care of the Basics
To live with positivity, we need to be taken care of in the most basic ways. Prioritize healthy sleep hygiene, consistent mealtimes, regular exercise, proper hydration, and other good habits that are known to support physical and emotional health as well as grounding us in a general sense of stability, even in such uncertain times.
What positive strategies are you trying out at back-to-school time?