Tips for Parents of Students
Establish school day routines early in the year (meal times, homework time, bedtime, etc.). It may help to maintain these routines, like what time lunch is, on the weekends too. Practice any new routines with your student before the year starts. No need to be nervous biking to a new school if you’ve already traveled the route.
Give children a safe space to share their feelings. Mirroring, or reflecting back a child’s experiences, is an important parenting skill. If your child seems troubled, pick a quiet moment and say, “I’m noticing a different vibe lately. I feel like there’s more going on than you’re sharing.” Engaging children in creative activities, like playing and drawing, can help them express any difficult feelings in a low-key, supportive environment.
Children often take their emotional cues from the adults in their lives, so it’s important to remain calm, listen to children’s concerns, speak kindly and reassure them. Let your child lead the conversation.
Acknowledge that anxiety is completely normal. Point out that everyone feels down now and again. Learning to tolerate uncertainty is a developmental skill. Remind your kids that when they have a problem you are there to help them work toward a solution.
Tips for Parents
Model healthy stress management whenever possible. When you feel overwhelmed, share that information with your kids. Say, “I’m not handling my stress well right now.” Remind them that emotions change, and it’s okay not to be okay all the time.
Tag in a trusted partner. This could be your child’s sibling, therapist, guidance counselor, teacher, clergy, family friend, or another parent. It’s okay to say, “I’m noticing that my child is really struggling, but I’m having a hard time connecting with them because of how overwhelmed I am. Can I ask you to play a game with them or take them for a walk?”
Set boundaries around energy zappers. Determine what drains your emotional, physical, and mental energy on a daily basis and change or limit the behavior. For example, limit doom-scrolling your favorite breaking news feed to 15 minutes a day or put your phone in a drawer when you’re with your kids, or maybe swap your afternoon coffee with a big glass of water. These small changes can make a big impact.
Tips for College Students
Create a bedtime routine that you really enjoy. Whether or not you have trouble falling asleep at night, creating a bedtime routine will help relax you and get you ready for sleep. This can be something small, like changing into pajamas, brushing your teeth, and washing your face (and going to bed at basically the same time everyday). It can be more involved with incense, moon milk, reading a chapter, taking a batch, etc. Give the practice a few weeks and you should have an easier time falling asleep.
To a similar end, don’t do homework or work in bed. Working in bed can make getting to sleep harder. Keep your work space separate from your sleep space to keep insomnia at bay. The author of this blog doesn’t allow jeans or work clothes in bed to keep the space extra sleep-sacred.
Cut back if you need to. Sometimes students overwhelm themselves with everything they have going on. If you’re feeling like you’ve got too much on your plate, cut back work hours, drop a class or cut out some extracurricular activities to make your schedule more manageable.
Keep in touch with family and friends. You can help ease feelings of homesickness and loneliness by keeping in touch with friends and family members.
Expect things to change. Things will change both at home and in your school life, so expect things to change over time. You will grow with the changes and so will the people around you.
Tips for Educators
As life returns to “normal” for many of us, don’t pressure yourself to provide the same learning experiences as the pre-lockdown period. You are one single professional and doing your best to adapt to change.
Create clear boundaries between home and school. Set a reasonable time for leaving school each day and stick to it. Create a ritual to help you transition from teacher mindset to home mindset. This ritual may include changing your clothes when you get home, listening to your favorite podcast on the way home, taking an afternoon walk, or playing a quick board game with friends or family.
Make self care a part of the classroom to benefit yourself and your students. Mindfulness Mondays or Thoughtful Thursdays are a great way to introduce students (and you!) to self care practices like belly breathing, rainbow relaxation, or laughing yoga.
Express gratitude. Practicing gratitude is a great way to give yourself a more positive outlook. Try to name three things you’re thankful for each day. I like to start my day thinking about that list before I’ve even opened my eyes and gotten out of bed. Thank your coworkers when they do something to help you out or make your day a bit easier and let your students and their parents know you appreciate their hard work and flexibility. This kind of gratitude practice will boost your mood, make others feel appreciated, and help you all feel more connected to your community.
Normalize caring for each other. There is a lot of power in shared experiences. People need social connection, and mutual feelings of vulnerability and stress often create some of the strongest social bonds. Start a weekly support meeting or video chat with friends, grade-level teachers across your district, or all teachers at your school. Planning for this makes it a priority and gives you all a safe space to vent, listen, and problem-solve together.