Wrestling with Back to School Anxiety

If you took a peek inside my head (and waded through the anxiety and bizarre catalog of movie quotes) you’d see a massive venn diagram of emotions about our kids going back to school this year. I’m smack dab in the middle of the following thoughts:

“I need my kids to go back to school,
but I also want to keep my community safe.

“Teachers don’t get paid enough to perform active shooter drills AND put themselves at risk for a tricky virus, and teach our kids! But can we really get back to work if we are leading our children’s education at home?”

“Socialization is so important,
my kids will be safe in a classroom.”

“This doesn’t seem to impact kids in the same way,
but do we really know ANYTHING about this virus?”

“Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya.
You killed my father. Prepare to die.”

(That one is from The Princess Bride.)

Welcome to my brain! (I warned you there are a lot of movie quotes in here.) Usually, going back to school is a fun time for our family. The kids are excited to go back and we are excited to get back to a normal routine. But nothing about 2020 is normal and my back to school anxiety is HIGH.

Weighing the Options

“You sit on a throne of lies.” – Elf 

In the beginning of March, I felt like we were in a sprint. If we could make it until May, we’d be exhausted, but done. But this tricky coronavirus has moved the finish line. Even with talk of vaccines and treatments, there is no “normal” for a long, long time. You guys, this is a marathon. (I had to pull the covers over my head and watch The Princess Bride again when I realized I may not be able to hug my mom until 2021.) 

“That escalated quickly.” – Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy 

Penn and I agreed if the school opened without restrictions we would, (gulp) pull the kids and homeschool. I applaud the families who successfully homeschool their children, but I know my gifts. Homeschooling them is not one of them. Our kids would leave “school” knowing more about The Brat Pack than Algebra. 

“It’s happening. It’s happening. It happened.” – Bridesmaids

Bless all things Holy, we got an email from our school proposing a rotating schedule of on campus and distance learning options to reduce class sizes. At first we celebrated, then we kept reading. The plan sounds impossible, but it’s not the school’s fault. These teachers and administrators are trying to solve a 1000 piece puzzle blindfolded.  So many families depend on school for nutrition and childcare, but how do you keep everyone safe? 

“This building has to be at least… three times bigger than this!” – Zoolander

It’s all a lot to take in and the plan could change at any moment, but here is what we are planning to do for now: 

  1. If we feel the school can reduce class size, we will send our kids to school. Our kids are desperately craving social interaction and instruction from people who don’t have to google everything. 
  1. We are being our school’s hype squad. If the schedule being proposed is the best the school can do, and we are SELLING the plan with the enthusiasm of a cheerleader with new pompoms. “YOU GUYS! YOU WON’T HAVE TO WAKE UP FOR CLASS EVERY DAY! WE GET THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS! YOUR FRIENDS AND YOUR PAJAMAS! ISN’T THAT AWESOME?” (It’s not awesome. They know it’s not awesome, but we need to sell the plan with a smile. They are watching us.)
  1. We are getting our kids accustomed to being in masks. While they are watching movies or playing video games, I have them slap on a mask. If/when they go back they need to be able to wear that mask for hours at a time. 
  1. With all the hype, and masks, and plans, we reserve the right to change our minds. If we don’t feel like our kids are safe, at any point, we will pull them. It’s not ideal. 

“I am serious. And don’t call me Shirley.” – Airplane

So that’s how my anxious, worried brain is processing the school decision right now. I warned you, it’s real weird in there. Do you have back to school anxiety? What are you thinking for the school year? I’d love to hear your perspective and what your district is proposing. Leave me a note in the comments!