How Parents Can Ease Anxiety (Including Their Own) As Kids Head Back To School
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As some parents round out the first week or two of their child’s return to in-person learning and others prepare for the big day, we find ourselves in a back-to-school season unlike any other. This will be the first school year since before the pandemic that full-time, in-person learning will be the norm again, and it’s not uncommon for both kids and parents to have a variety of feelings about it as we still grapple with COVID-19.

But for those looking to ease nerves, whether for themselves or their children, there are some small but special ways to feel good about your kids returning to school and to make sure you pass those good vibes on to them.

“Heading back to school after a year of virtual or hybrid schooling can be a little intimidating (and exciting!) for both kids and parents. One way to ease nerves and stay connected during the school day is to write a little lunch box note,” says Amber Kemp-Gerstel, host of Disney Family Sundays on Disney+, craft and decor expert, former child psychologist and mom. “It’s a great way for parents to inject some encouragement, confidence and joy into the school day.”

Kemp-Gerstel teamed up with Juicy Juice to design personalized lunch box notes that you can download, print out and write a special message on to place in your little one’s (or big kid’s) lunch box or bag. It’s a small way she says parents can obtain and spark joy as kids head back into classrooms. But for the record, despite some understandable concerns, many moms and dads are happy to get back into a routine, or lean into the “yay” as she puts it, after their experience with at-home schooling.

“A survey released by Juicy Juice finds that 95% of parents are excited for this school year more than ever after balancing remote learning last year, with 71% saying they even missed basic to-dos like packing lunch (28%), shopping for clothes (38%), shopping for school supplies (36%) and drop-off lines (33%) while schools were closed,” she says. “Tackling these tasks again brings a welcomed sense that we are getting back to basics—and that’s a reason to say yay!” 

This is also an opportunity for parents to reconnect, which is more important than many of us realize. Linking up with other parents can help you keep abreast of what’s happening at your child’s school as you dive, uninterrupted, back into work. It can aid in helping you feel more comfortable with the transition back.

“Create a parent chat group with other parents from the same class! This is a great way to stay connected and up-to-date on what’s going on,” she says. “As parents, we may feel out of the loop when it comes to the day-to-day activities and events that happen at school. ‘When is crazy hair day? When is that project due? Anyone have an extra towel for tomorrow’s field trip? Who is bringing the juice boxes for tomorrow’s class party?’ With a chat group you can stay in the know and decrease any worries you might have about missing out on something important.”

It’s certainly going to take some time for parents and kids to readjust to what was once their normal practice, and to feel 100% confident with the Delta variant still making an impact. But the good news is that you’re not alone in navigating this back-to-school season—and your feelings. As Kemp-Gerstel puts it, lean into the “yay,” the big and small perks of this time, and it will certainly help you and your child feel more excitement and a little less anxiety about what’s to come.

“We’re all ready for a fresh start and new beginnings and the school year is the perfect way to enjoy both!” she says.