You’ve been hearing about the new school year plans for months and preparing for this unique Fall. You’ve bought new school supplies, re-arranged rooms, closets, and office spaces, and tuned in to all the parent Zoom meetings explaining the new schedules and procedures.
All your logistics might be in place as you finalize plans and prepare yourself and your children for what will be a historic moment in their education: a virtual or hybrid year.
But how will you define success this year as we navigate these uncharted waters? How can you mentally and emotionally prepare for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead when everything is so unfamiliar to us? It would seem we could all really use a new ‘compass’ right now to help guide our thinking and redefine our expectations to better prepare ourselves and our families. Bundle’s staff and families are right there with you as we are also embarking on this journey.
Here are our top five tips for navigating this ‘new norm’ and ensuring a resilient year for everyone.
Steer with a New “Compass”… and a Fresh Start!
As education suddenly pivoted in the spring to digital/distant models, schools and childcare centers had to quickly learn how to teach or care for children online. This was not something that may have gone smoothly at first, but with the summer break, schools and centers have rallied. Ditto for parents as we were all treading water and trying to make the best of a difficult situation. Our school districts and childcare centers have planned, studied, and re-framed every aspect of teaching and care now and are better prepared – and so are we. At Bundle, we’ve also seen how students can thrive in supportive and caring virtual education experiences. As parents and children have now accepted and adapted more to this new virtual/hybrid reality, recognize that even if you had a difficult year, that this doesn’t mean the fall will be the same. Re-framing our mindset gives us an opportunity to look at the fall with renewed optimism for a fresh start - with the compass of our experience behind us to guide us.
Have a Game Plan…but Expect Things to Change
Even the best laid plans can break down- technology glitches, a sudden schedule change, a teacher switch, etc. can throw anyone off their game. Mentally preparing for these inevitable changes and staying agile will be key this fall for all of us. If we expect that things won’t always go perfectly, we can better accept and respond to these events and teach our kids this kind of resilience too, which will be a life-long lesson. The good news is that even the most routine-loving children respond better to such changes if we stay positive and try to adapt to whatever comes our way!
Celebrate ‘Small Wins’ Daily
Did your child learn to print a new letter today or get excited about a virtual art class? Were you able to drink that cup of coffee before it got cold? Studies have shown time and again that practicing a daily ritual of gratefulness and celebrating these ‘small wins’ improves our overall happiness and resiliency over time. Encourage children to share each day with you – whether at dinner or bedtime - what their ‘win’ for the day was and vice versa. If you’re like many of us, these precious moments also give you a new insight into what is meaningful to them. We find that even when you’ve had an “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad” type of day, you can still find something to be proud or happy about! And if the day was truly bad, that’s okay too and having that honest conversation about it is yet another way to bond and practice resiliency.
Even if we can’t step away for a real lunch hour or do a quick walk in the neighborhood, setting time aside (either in your schedule or impromptu!) for micro-breaks between meetings and tasks is a great practice to get in the habit of doing. Stretching our legs and turning away from our screens has been proven to help clear our minds and again builds in the needed pauses from our hectic days. Our children will benefit from this practice too and will mirror seeing you do this habit. We find that even just a quick hug, a high five, or having a snack with them goes a long way too in showing solidarity in that ‘we’re all in this together.’
Find Your Tribe - It Really Does Take a Village
No one is expecting everything to go smoothly or perfect this year - both at work or school - and having realistic expectations will go a long way. But, so is finding your tribe of other parents. Whether it’s a neighborhood Facebook group, your business/organization’s employee organization for working parents, or your children’s class parent group, finding a community that you can vent to, relate to, ask for help, and connect with at the end of long days will give you the support network you need to thrive.
This year will be a transformative one (no doubt there!) that we will all look back on for many years to come. No matter how it’s gone so far, we still have time now to either course-correct or chart this next leg of the journey in the best way possible. And, our Bundle family is with you every step of the way too.