I spent most of the summer in a state of numbness, most likely driven by a deep-seated denial that the world has irrevocably changed and nothing will ever be the same. And after a traumatic spring, life suddenly felt *kind of* normal this summer. Yes, the kids weren’t at camp, and yes, I was working at home, but we were lucky enough that everyone stayed healthy and (relatively) sane.
And then it all came crashing down. Quite suddenly, I was struck by a sense of panic ― there are certainly not enough hours in a day to get everything done ― and sadness ― my poor kids have to do this all over again, but this time for so much longer ― and exhaustion ― I’m already emotionally and mentally spent.
There I was, not 24 hours earlier, gliding along, unwillingly putting off the inevitable doom and gloom of what life will be like this school year. And then, in the middle of the night, I woke up thinking about all those parents whose kids have been in school for a month already and imagined them saying to me, “Ha, you newb, with all your shaded optimism and mediocre hopes. What else did you think was going to happen?”
I spent the rest of the night quite literally tossing and turning, wishing we were back in July (but not really) when we still had two months of ignorance and bliss before school started.
It would be a conceit on my part to say that, because of my job as HuffPost’s Parents editor, I have any of the answers. Our leaders certainly don’t seem to have them, either. But what I do know in this moment of fear and anticipation and grief is the same thing I knew this spring: In order to get through this moment ― however long it lasts ― we as parents need to grant not only ourselves but more importantly our children some grace. We will get through this. I’m not saying it’ll be pretty, but we will. Because we have to.
So here are a few things I’m going to try to do for myself this school year, and maybe you’ll want to try some of this, too.
Be compassionate. With yourself. With your kids. With your kids’ teachers. Everyone.
Take time for yourself. Yes, going to the bathroom alone while scrolling Instagram sadly counts.
Meet up with a friend or two who will let you vent and do the same for them.
Watch dumb movies. Just don’t, I beg of you, watch “Drunk Parents” on Netflix.
Take deep breaths.
Stretch when you wake up.
Be patient with and forgiving of yourself and your kids.
Laugh. Even a really low-brow laugh will do.
Make your kids feel safe and loved.
Go get ’em. (Or at the very least, have a chuckle while failing miserably to do so.)
What are your personal mantras for the year? Or just ways of getting through the day? Share them with me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll plan to share some of them with you all. Good luck, and let’s go out there and give the school year all we’ve got.