Prioritizing Wellness During the 2022-23 School Year

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Many may be excited for school to start after a long summer. However, the new school year can come with new and recurring challenges. The 2022-23 school landscape looks different from previous years during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mask mandates are on the retreat, with many schools ending various preventive measures, such as quarantines and regular screenings. Additionally, COVID-19 vaccines and boosters are now available to school-aged children.

Although the school year seems to be back to normal, caregivers, parents, and children will likely still face uncertainty, stress, and other emotions. The return to school and its associated routine can impact everyone differently; therefore, it’s worth taking a proactive approach to managing wellness during this transition. Here are some healthy ways for working parents and caregivers to make the school year more manageable and balance their work and personal responsibilities:

  • Set reasonable expectations. Establish realistic expectations about what you think you can accomplish each day or Don’t be too hard on yourself. Cut yourself some slack and focus on completing high-impact items and responsibilities.
  • Develop a schedule. Creating a routine that works around your work schedule and family needs is essential. Consider consolidating certain activities (e.g., housework, chores, or extracurricular activities) to one or two specific days to help everyone stay focused.
  • Set boundaries. If you feel stretched thin between being a good caregiver and an efficient employee, setting some boundaries and discussing options with your manager may be helpful.
  • Create healthy habits. Be sure to get plenty of sleep and eat well so you can be fully charged for the day. It’s also important to stay active and incorporate movement into your daily routine.
  • Make good use of weekends. If school and work both happen on weekdays, be sure to use the weekends to recharge, reduce stress and have fun as a family. If you prefer alone time, make that a priority. Everyone needs a break from responsibilities.
  • Ask for help. Lean on your networks for support if you need help getting through the workdays. Be honest and communicative with your family and co-workers if the current situation isn’t working well.

Although school is back in session and starting to resemble the pre-pandemic days, caregivers and parents may still feel stretched thin due to balancing caregiving and working. Fortunately, you can explore healthy ways to cope with lingering uncertainty and make balancing all your personal and professional responsibilities manageable.

If you’re feeling stressed or experiencing burnout related to your kids returning to school, talk to your manager about your situation and seek out employer-offered resources. Additionally, consult your doctor or a licensed mental health professional if you’re concerned about your or your child’s mental health.