An Open Letter to My Fellow Parents
For some of you, the school year is just starting, for others of us, school has been in session for a few weeks now. Some of us have kids heading off to college, others, kiddos just starting in preschool. Some are starting new schools, others are heading back to familiar hallways. No matter where you are on this spectrum, chances are the ramp up to the school year has been vastly different from years prior.
As someone who talks to a lot of people each day, I can see that stress levels are at an all time high. I see new managers, leaders and C-suite level executives all carrying extra burdens, stress and frustrations. Collectively, as a country and most likely, as a world, we are experiencing levels of stress we haven’t seen in a long time.
It is even worse for my fellow parents. I’ve seen formally unflappable clients clearly distraught over having to send their unvaccinated children to schools. I’ve seen parents on both sides of the issue, frustrated over masks. I’ve seen the stressed faces of parents who suddenly have to pick up a child from school or find rapid COVID tests due to exposure. Mental health for parents has never been such a concern.
As a parent with two children who cannot yet get vaccinated, I AM WITH YOU This is HARD. Daily you worry about them and that worry has never been so acute. So what do we do? Below are some ways that may help:
1. Not to sound too simple, but breathe with me for a moment. Not just a short breath, but a slow deep breath in and slowly let it out. Do that until you start to feel calmer and more relaxed. Do that with me at any time of day.
2. Know that you are not alone. Millions of parents are feeling the same stress you are feeling. They may show it differently than you do and some may not show it at all, but trust me, it is there.
3. Do something kind for someone else. Studies have proven that the more you can help others, the happier you are. Buy coffee for someone. Have your kids help you in making dinner for your elderly neighbor. Send a random note of thanks to your child’s teacher.
4. Turn off the news. I know this one is hard but its got to be done. Constant scrolling of news is not helpful and only allows your brain time to focus on and build up the negative. Put down the phone and have a chat with your child, read a fun book, or watch that hilarious movie.
5. Talk to friends and family members who support you. Tell them your concerns. (Hint, a coach is a great sounding board to help navigate through the unknown!)
If none of these things helps or you feel helpless and distraught most of the time, seek qualified help. Mental health is just as important as physical health. If you had a limb that hurt constantly, wouldn’t you go to a doctor? Same thing with your head or your heart. Seeking out someone to talk to is incredibly strong of you. And you know you are strong. You are a parent, after all.