Back to school emotions

The return to school throws up a range of emotions, depending on your circumstances – from excitement and relief to worry about the next phase of the pandemic and, for those who have been bereaved, the realisation that nothing will ever be normal again.

blackboard with books, pencils and an apple


How was your return to school – if your children’s school is back yet? The information has been flooding in over the last week or so from schools and if you have more than one child at more than one school that’s quite a lot of reading and getting your head around different protocols on masks, what to bring to school, which toilets people can use, which entrances, what to eat and when, etc, etc.

Some pick-up and drop-off logistics are fairly complex, involving drive-through or other systems. Some parents are worried about their children using public transport so more likely to drive them, causing parking issues. Many schools are carefully staggering entry and exit times, meaning parents have to be extremely punctual.

Drop-off and pick-up logistics are one thing, but there is a whole other emotional level to the return for parents and those emotions are very mixed, ranging from relief that the exhausting homeschooling juggle is over – and that children have someone else to talk to – and elation that it is now possible to work uninterrupted to fear about the risk of hundreds-strong bubbles of teenagers potentially spreading the virus to vulnerable adults and others. While many children may be very excited about going back, some parents, particularly those of older children with exams looming, may have had to deal with school-related anxieties. There is also the emotional side of trying to get everyone back into a routine of some sort and of adapting to another big change after months of being together almost 24/7. While children tend to adapt to change quickly, it may take their parents slightly longer.

The last months have been turbulent in so many different ways – both economically and socially. The fallout will be huge and the uncertainty is by no means over yet. Some parents will also have lost loved ones and there can be no return to normal for them. They may not have been able to say goodbye to their loved ones or hold a proper funeral or have the comfort of hugs from friends, or even close relatives. The return to school may release some of that locked down emotion.

The last months have been so unreal. Families truly have been in a bubble and now we are, in some way, back to the routine, albeit often without wraparound care or help with school pick-ups. It can take time to settle into a new routine. While the economic issues are clearly urgent, no amount of rushing people or threatening people back to the office will work when there are so many different factors to consider. We have been through and continue to go through a period of seismic change and uncertainty. At such times understanding and empathy are vital.

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