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Back to better

By Betty Van Pappelendam, Pre-school and Primary counsellor


This weekend I read an interesting article about the unsettling time we still live in, written by science journalist Tara Haelle. It made me realize that being solution-focused is a great asset, but it does not always help us. Especially in this time of transitioning back to school and the uncertainty we still face with COVID-19, trying to find solutions for everything can throw us even more off-balance. How come? And what could we do instead?

The transition back to school is an important change for families. The “go with the flow” rhythm of our long, lazy summer days changes into a scheduled one of school and work, chores and homework, and after school activities, combined with the first leaves falling and days getting shorter. We worry if our children settle in well, if they have friends and if they will excel in school this year.

Then COVID-19 adds an extra layer of uncertainty: when will it finally be over or is this our new reality? Is a second wave on its way; can our grandparents visit us during half-term break; and will school stay open? Yes, we have every right to feel unsettled. And there is no easy solution for it.

What can we do instead? First of all, we have to accept that the situation we live in is quite crazy, and more importantly that we cannot change that reality for the time being. What we can change is our perception of it. Not that we should deny reality, but we can reframe it by acknowledging that the world is unpredictable right now while at the same time realizing that we are more prepared than we were in March 2020. We have done it once and with that experience we will only do better next time.

We cannot change that reality for the time being. What we can change is our perception of it.

Secondly, instead of fighting reality, we better save our energy for constructive activities that continue to fulfil us and that will help us ground in the here-and-now such as gardening, cooking, house projects or painting. Exploring new activities will even cultivate our resilience by opening new ways of living and thinking and making us grow as a person. Let’s step out of our sandbox and try kickboxing instead.

Nurturing our relationships is a third support to keep us in balance. Meeting with friends over the weekend, zooming our parents on a regular basis, or having a weekly movie night with our family will refuel our batteries and provide anchors for what is to come.

And last but not least, we shouldn’t forget to sleep and eat well, exercise and be mindful of ourselves and our loved ones by connecting, saying no when needed, and feeling gratitude for what we have.

These four buoys will help us, and our children to cope with the situation we are in. Then “back to school” all of a sudden means, using Pauline Nord’s words from her opening speech: “Back to Better”.

(Credit: Elemental Medium)