The new school year may be different, but with planning and patience, your family will come out on top.

The last school year was a rollercoaster of a ride, leaving many parents feeling exhausted and more than ready for summer to start. Things are still very much up in the air, but at this stage the school district in Granite City, IL, will continue online or distance learning for at least the first half of the 2020–2021 school year.

This choice has brought a mix of emotions for Granite City families, leaving parents and kids alike feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and downright bummed. You may be feeling this way yourself.

We want to reach out to the parents in our community and remind them that whatever emotions they’re feeling are valid and normal. In an effort to help in any way we can, we’ve put together 8 of our favorite tips and thoughts to keep in mind during this upcoming school year.

1. Keep in touch with other parents to share your ideas, concerns, and ask for help when needed.

While kids are accustomed to asking for help when they need it, the same isn’t quite true for parents. As a parent, it’s easy to adopt the mindset that you can handle everything on your own, leaving you to feel exhausted and alone.

A great way to combat this is to get in touch with other Granite City, IL, parents who are also going through the same things as your family. You can share ideas about coping with distance learning, vent, get feedback on your concerns, and most importantly, have some people to lean on when you need help.

2. Create flexible daily routines rather than strict time-slotted schedules.

Routines are important for kids and parents alike, but try to not push your daily routines into rigid timeslots. Although kids are often forced to follow a strict schedule at school, this type of approach might not work as well in a home setting, and may only lead to everyone feeling frustrated. Work with your kids to create a daily routine that meshes well with their needs as well as yours. Make changes as needed when something works (or doesn’t work) well.

3. Keep open communication with your kids and try weekly family discussions.

Kids handle stressful situations in different ways. In some cases, they can hide their emotions even better than adults. Encourage your kids to voice their concerns, frustrations, and thoughts whenever they can.

Hosting a weekly family meeting, perhaps on a Sunday night before school starts Monday, is a great way to help your kids get their ideas heard and grow your family’s bond.

4. Remember that there’s really no right or wrong way to handle the changes this new school year.

When you feel like you’re failing, gently remind yourself that there really is no right or wrong way to cope with what your family is going through. There are no hard rules out there to guide you through this temporary new lifestyle and school program. Flow with the changes, be aware when something doesn’t work, but try to not take it to heart. It isn’t a failure; it’s a learning experience.

5. If distance learning is stressing your family, consider homeschooling alternatives.

Every family is different and every child has a different learning technique. Some parents discover that adhering to their child’s school’s distance learning plan and schedule adds a significant amount of stress. If you find this to be the case, keep in mind that there are alternatives. Homeschooling through a separate online program may be just the thing for you and your family.

6. Take breaks throughout the day and try out a new self-care habit, such as journaling.

Whenever you feel frustrated, stressed, or emotional, take a 10- or 15-minute break. Encourage your kids to also take breaks when they’re studying or doing schoolwork. Using the Pomodoro method is a great tool for kids and parents alike.

While you’re taking a break, give speed journaling a try. If you’re overloaded with emotion, grab a pen and write down a few sentences describing how you’re feeling and why you’re feeling that way. You’d be surprised at how effective this technique can be at releasing tension.

7. Let go of the things out of your control and take care to not “should” yourself.

When life feels uncertain and things happen that you don’t necessarily want, it’s natural to try to control the situation as much as possible. Unfortunately, this need to control things can be emotionally draining. Some things simply aren’t in your control, such as staying home this school year. Practice mindfulness by acknowledging when something is out of your control and let it go.

Similarly, be careful of getting caught in the “should” cycle. Recognize the difference between I “can” do this and I “should” do this. “Shoulding” yourself only adds pressure and expectations that aren’t productive.

8. Focus on the things that are within your control.

When you’re caught up in feeling powerless or you find yourself in a “should” cycle, change your focus to the things that you can control or plan out. For example, you can’t control how your kids are behaving, but you can control your reaction to a tantrum.

Another example would be feeling guilty or upset because your home should be mess-free. Rather than focusing on what you think your home should look like, focus on what you can do right now to tidy, and remind yourself that having kids home all day leads to some extra mess.

Let the Metro East Dental Care team help by checking off “dentist appointments” from your to-do list.

Keeping your family happy and healthy is a top priority right now. In addition to booking their annual physicals with their doctor, don’t forget to book their dental checkups and cleanings.

Schedule your family’s appointments with Metro East Dental Care by calling our office or filling out this online form. We are more than happy to book multiple visits for parents with kids if our schedule allows. If you need same-day appointments for your family, calling us directly is the easiest way to figure out the perfect time.