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  • Jonna Meidal

"I don't want to go to school!"

A longstanding tradition for kids is to tell their parents they don't want to go to school. The movie Ferris Bueller made millions off of this. I mean, who didn’t try the old “thermometer in the lamp” bit after watching that film?! 😅 Thankfully for us 21st century moms, the mercury thermometer has been put to rest so our kids can’t fool us anymore … right?



What I’m noticing now, however, is that my once happy-to-go-to-school kids no longer want to go. Almost on the regular I have conversations like this:


“Good morning, beautiful child!”

“I don’t want to go to school.”


“Time for bed, sleepy one!”

“I don’t want to go to school.”


“Would you like some ice cream?”

“I don’t want to go to school.”


Is this all my kids can say now?!??! Has Covid warped their linguistic abilities?!


Some of their anti-school sentiment is normal, of course, but I know my kids. And their behavior and attitudes have changed.





After some prayer and reflection, I realized I was approaching this issue all wrong: I want my kids to be the way they were before because that makes it easier for me. But that’s an impossible standard to live up to because my kids are forever changed!


Forget the soul-sucking dichotomies of Covid … What about the simple fact that our kids now have the memory of “learning” in the comfort of their own pajamas while eating Cheez-its? Back in the "good ol' days", going to school was the only option. Now they know that's not true.


Has this made them lazy? Afraid? Apprehensive homebodies?


Maybe. Maybe not.


Has Covid given them a different perspective, one that sometimes causes uncertainty, fear, avoidance, and maybe even a little apprehension towards school?


Definitely.


The point is, we can’t expect our kids to be the same because they're not. They’ve experienced something colossal, and that's now a part of their schemata, for better or for worse. We can choose to lament over this or throw our fists in the air (Dang you Covid!!) Or we can meet our kids where they’re at, perhaps bruised and afraid, but NOT defeated.


In order to help them navigate these waters, here are a few things you can try.


1) Develop a plan.

There is no "willy-nillying" it anymore. Your kids can’t afford to forget things like their mask, water bottle, or iPad charger so make sure those bags are packed the night before. This might seem basic, but surprisingly, IT’S NOT.


We also rely heavily on our "baby steps" for handling anxiety:

  • Breathe

  • Pray

  • Sing

Do these steps repeatedly until the worries subside. (Read more about that HERE.)


Increasing physical activity will also decrease the fears, worries or depression. So in our house, we bike to and from school and run around the block several times in the afternoon. (Which surprisingly, has also been good for me. 😉)



2) Choose NOT to carry your kids’ burdens.


This is especially hard for parents to do because we don't want our kids to experience pain. BUT, if we try to fix everything for them, or worse yet, carry their emotional burdens, this only creates more stress on us AND it doesn't teach our kids how to rely on God (Matthew 11:28). So make a conscious choice to hand over your kids' burdens to the one who was truly designed to carry them.



3) Keep your emotions smaller than theirs.


I'm a feeler. I don't naturally know how to keep my emotions small because I empathize deeply with everyone, especially my kids. However, while listening to a psychologist on the Don’t Mom Alone podcast, I learned that when our emotions are bigger than our kids', it makes them feel unsafe. Yikes! I don’t want them to feel that way. So what can I do instead?

  • Talk to my husband (when my kids aren't around).

  • Text my friends.

  • Take a break and re-enter the conversation when I’m more collected.

Our kids are looking for us to show them how to handle big issues in life, so if they come to us and we FREAK OUT, they might stop telling us all together.



In the end, remember to have grace on yourself and your kids, continue to pray every single second of every day, and celebrate the victories, no matter how small – like when they get on the bus without a single peep of disdain. (This is actually a HUGE victory in our house, so if that's you too, pour yourself another shot of espresso and party! 🎉)




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