The Ides of March are upon us once again. This year, more than anything, March 15th signifies the momentous return to school full-time for hybrid students across most local school districts.

March 15th, 2021 has served as a time of anticipation for some, breathing a sense of relief, signaling perhaps a return to life as we new it. For others, the date appears ominous and foreboding with questions like, “is this too soon?”.

My hope is that this article speaks to both parties and all of those in between. While we may have different opinions on the return to school, the fact remains that it is happening, and it will have an affect on our children and on us as parents.

Regardless of where you stand on the issue, the best approach to upcoming change lies in prediction. If we have a sense of what is to come we can mentally and physically prepare.  With that said, the word that will universally bond us through this return to school is “tired”.

Students have become used to preparing to engage mentally and socially for one day and to relax (often sleeping in) and only preparing for mentally engaging the next. Many have cherished their increased free time and are reluctant to let it go.

Because of this, even if you’ve been great at establishing routines in your household as you’ve navigated the various hybrid learning models, tiredness is coming. And with exhaustion comes frustration and irritability. Children, teenagers and parents are all sharing in this change to some degree or another.

Here are some ways to think about this transition:

First, your child has been training for a half-marathon but will arrive to school Monday with what may seem like the task of completing a full marathon before them.

Yes, they have done this before, the older the student the more they have been in regular school routines. That can help. However, they’ve been full online or in hybrid learning for over a year at this point. This is what they have grown accustomed to.

They will sleep less as they will have to wake earlier on all weekdays. They will still have their after-school obligations, sports, music lessons, clubs, work, etc.

They will be exhausted.

They will be grumpy and irritable at times (if not most of the time).

Second, this gives us an opportunity. Talk with them beforehand to set expectations, acknowledge that this transition is difficult, that you are there to help them and that you and they will practice kindness and patience with one another to the best of your abilities given the circumstances.

Third, let’s take a look at the situation by the numbers. Between March 15th and the last day of school in late May, there are just over two months left of the school year. Roughly 50 days of school remaining. The 50-day full-time in-person transition is the marathon.

Fortunately, we don’t have to look at it like that.

Let’s break it up into at least two sections.

The first 10 days are the sprint.

10 days to get acclimated to the new routines and expectations. 10 days to try to manage all of the obligations for our children and ourselves. 10 days to be tired. Yet, it is far easier to complete 10 days in a row than it is to complete 50 in a row.

Spring break mercifully follows this sprint. This is a time to rest and recharge. Be aware that recent research shows that often the two most stressful times of the year for families are the days before a vacation (whether a stay-cation or an excursion) and the days upon return from vacation.

Allow for this transition time so that all members of your family may have time to exhale and then to get acclimated to this recovery period.

Finally, the only thing that competes with prediction for managing difficult situations is reflection. They will likely not want to talk about their experiences but discuss them anyway. Help them (and you) to think through the good and the bad. This will help to prepare and predict for the final 40 days.

Following the sprint and the rest, your children and you can settle into a better routine. Focusing on daily habits of sleep, diet and exercise are always helpful when establishing schedules and managing the requirements placed on us all.

While we hope you find these ways of framing return to school helpful and the suggestions practical, please know that the execution of these ideas will not go perfectly. We are human after all. So, take some deep breaths and tackle these upcoming 10 and 40 days as a team, supportive and empathetic toward one another.

As always, if you or your family could use some help and guidance through this transition, do not hesitate to contact us.

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