Schools local to the DMV (DC/Maryland/Virginia) have either already started or are opening up this week for students to return to in-person instruction. I know I can’t be the only one astonished that the summer has flown by and that we’re still in the throes of the coronavirus pandemic. Anxiety and stress abound. Instead of feeling excited to go to meet the teacher nights and get started with classroom projects and sports practices, we’re turning inside out with worry about community spread, mask wearing, distancing, hospital capacities, and arranging Plans B, C, and D for when the kids inevitably have to quarantine or transition to virtual learning for two weeks at a time due to a known exposure. How can we stay grounded amidst the ever-changing guidance and swirling decisions?

Our usual Back to School Essentials list might look something like: backpack, supplies, new bento box for lunch, a size up in pants and shoes to account for the recent growth spurts, etc. But this year’s Back to School Essentials list is different because this school year will be different. These Essentials are for us, the parents, because we know that we can’t take care of our families if we don’t take care of ourselves. 

  • A notebook – To make lists of things that must be done including parent-teacher meetings and rehearsals, things we look forward to doing when the world feels more normal, and for writing down what I’m grateful for
  • Earbuds or headphones – To listen to music or an audiobook to block out noise (both internal and external) during chores while the kids are at school so that I feel more present when the tasks are done
  • Favorite mug – To remind me to slow down and take a few moments for myself to enjoy my morning coffee, and of those who love me – because all my favorite mugs have been gifts
  • Calendar reminders – To ensure I check in with the people I love, because my friends with kids are just as anxious as I am, and we all need each other’s support
  • Walking shoes – To take me down the walking paths near my house because moving my body helps calm my mind, and to run out to meet my babies when they get home

We hope these essentials will come in handy as you move into the next season and we’re wishing you and your families a safe, peaceful start to the school year.

by Brittany Dowell, co-owner and RN