I was talking with a colleague about the transition that so many families are experiencing this week with their kids going back to school in person in San Diego. It is such a difficult transition and it was interesting to reflect together about what makes these transitions so tough right now. I think there are so many reasons but wanted to share just a piece of what we came up with to help parents, or even students, have some context for what they are experiencing.
It’s important to preface this with a basic understanding that transitions are always really tough. Even positive transitions like marriage or graduating college or a new home are so stressful and tough because of the changes they bring in your life. As humans, we inherently resist change even when we know they are positive.
What is crucial to know is that any transition layered on top of other changes or uncertainties in your life are inevitably much more challenging. And here's the thing… we are still in a pandemic and many of us are just running on empty emotionally. Especially families whose kids have been home for over a year. Which leads to my first thought about why this is so hard…
The good news is that we do have practice at pivoting our expectations and working through really hard situations, particularly as a result of the past year of pandemic life. While I can’t guarantee that things will get any simpler in terms of decision making, I do think it is natural that in times of such dramatic upheaval, we are going to struggle to let go of routines. Even the ones we might not love, like doing math with our kids!
The biggest question is - How can we work through this?
Well, I think that the best thing we can do right now is show ourselves some self-compassion and have a lot of compassion for our kids as they go through this transition with us. Honestly, we are likely to be more anxious, emotional, and a bit on edge while the kids go back and some of us will probably cope better than others in a family. I think making sure that you can recognize the challenge of what we are dealing with and understand that it will get better gradually will also help. Sometimes it is our judgment of our own reactions that is the most upsetting so if we can hold space for any feelings and reaction we have right now that will certainly help ease this transition.
We can also remember that our discomfort is likely temporary. Just like we adjusted to the way of life during the pandemic, we will eventually adjust to the odd in-between phase we are in now and find a new equilibrium.
Keep in mind that we are all in this together too. Though people are having different and varied reactions to the return to school, everyone is likely to feel something in reaction to the adjustment we are experiencing!
At Thrive, we take a positive, client centered approach to therapy that is focused on creating a genuine connection with our clients. If you would like to talk with a Thrive Therapist about yourself, your child, or teen attending therapy via video sessions, please reach out to us by phone at 858-342-1304.
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