The Queensland Government has announced that state schools will resume from Monday May 25, which means (for us non-essential workers) the kids are finally heading back to school.
Honestly – it feels like they’ve been home for years.
And while many of us parents will be hanging up our ‘teacher’ hats, we’re being faced with a whole new challenge – how to rediscover our routine after two months in limbo. Yikes.
Whether you’re trying to decide what to do with your new-found free time or are feeling uneasy about rushing back to normality, these five tips will help you readjust to your old routine – and figure out which parts of your old routine you’d prefer to leave behind.
1. Adjusting to a ‘new normal’
Things may be (ever so slowly) returning to normal, but don’t toss out that hand sanitizer just yet. Sending your kids back to school means touching more hands, interacting with more surfaces and sharing more personal space than they have been at home, and while we’re confident teachers and school staff will be diligent when it comes to hygiene, it’s important your family takes measures to reduce the risk, too.
We can all agree that kids and hygiene don’t exactly go ‘hand in sanitised-hand’. Instilling the importance of good hygiene into your kids won’t happen overnight, but you can reinforce the messages they are receiving at school by focusing on a few simple habits at home.
- Washing your hands, ideally to a fun, catchy song like ‘If You’re Happy and You Know It’ for the little kids, or Lizzo’s ‘Truth Hurts’ for your older offspring. Make sure they have hand sanitizer on them at all times, too.
- Properly cover a cough or sneeze with your elbow, not your hands. Considering the droplet-borne nature of COVID-19, this is particularly important to know.
- ‘Taking the day off’ as soon as they hop into the car, with sanitary wipes or hand sanitizer. When your children arrive home, make sure they leave their shoes at the door and change into a clean pair of clothes to reduce the likelihood of bringing germs into your home. You could even insist they have a shower before doing anything else.
- Not touching your face is a good habit to learn early on, if not because it’s seriously hard to ‘unlearn’, then because it can effectively minimise the spread of sickness. Experts say the best way to teach children not to touch their face is to lead by example – which, we know, is much easier said than done!
- Respecting others is a valuable life lesson that can be taught through the lens of good hygiene. Ensuring your children understand that other’s ‘personal space’ is to be respected won’t just help them stop the spread of germs – it will also ensure they grow up to be respectful adults. This video is a handy illustration.
2. Overcoming anxiety
Going back to school can be tough on kids – going back to school in the face of a global pandemic is even harder. A 2019 study by the University of Queensland found one in 10 children aged six to 11 suffer from anxiety, which can be exacerbated by the emotional, social and educational challenges they face at school. And while – under normal circumstances – most children will adjust to school life after one month, in these unprecedented times, the added pressures are leading to greater uncertainty for all of us.
We chatted to ex-teacher and education expert Brent Hughes about his tips for tackling school-related anxiety – you can read it here.
3. Structuring a routine
“Routine?!” we hear you say, and we know – it feels like a foreign concept. After two months balancing homeschooling, work and the lingering stress of a global pandemic, the thought of going back to “normal” feels absurd. What even is normal?!
Take baby steps toward the first day back at school, easing back into a routine (which may not necessarily be your “old” routine) day by day. Think about which parts of family life have changed the most over the past two months – whether it’s your sleep schedules, your fitness regimes or your mealtimes – and start adjusting them to better fit into your school routine. Head here for more tips.
4. Decluttering your life
Having the whole family at home all day, everyday has taken a huge toll on our tidiness, and with a lack of visitors (read: people we need to clean up for) things have… uh… fallen to the wayside. If sending the kids back to school means you’re going to have some more time on your hands, consider digging into some decluttering – it will help you feel more productive and work wonders for clearing your mind. Read our top decluttering tips, courtesy of one of Marie Kondo’s top Aussie consultants, right here.
5. Finding time for you
Much like ‘routine,’ ‘me time’ feels like a distant memory. But don’t disregard the importance of making time for YOU now that the kids are back at school. While some things aren’t back to normal quite yet – like your favourite exercise classes or a long brunch with the girls – we’re definitely going to start checking things off this list of ‘10 things we can’t wait to do now that school’s back’ from the moment we pull out of the school drop-off zone on Monday May 25.