You know what I named 2020? Honey Badger. ’Cause honey badger don’t care.
But you do care. ’Cause you got kids.
What’s usually an automatic transition back to school is now full of uncertainty. This honey badger of a year is exhausting, and it’s trying to eat your sanity for lunch.
But you and your family can make it! Read on to see how to survive back-to-school season in the middle of a pandemic.
What are your what-ifs?
Get certain about the uncertainties that are affecting you. Notice what complaints you have about school this year, the fears you have, or the thoughts that are spinning in your head without resolution. Work with a friend to talk through them or write them down to identify what’s really got you stressed. Nothing is too silly or too serious—work through it to get the mental weight off. Pray about what’s worrying you and give it to God—even if you have to do it over and over.
Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. 1 Peter 5:7 NLT
If something serious comes up that you need to take action on, ask a friend, church leader, or counselor to help you come up with a plan and to hold you accountable to follow through.
What are your hopes and dreams?
Dream a little, why don’t you? What do you really wish you could do to give your kids the best education this year? Give legitimacy to your creative side, your hopefulness, and the deep care you have for your kids by acknowledging your ideas. Say them out loud. Write them down. Share them with a trusted friend. Admit what you think is best for your kids, even if you’ve always told yourself it’s silly or unrealistic.
Sometimes your hopes and dreams for your kid’s education will seem unattainable, or you’ll get overwhelmed by all the things you think you can’t do for them. Pause, feel it, and ask God to help you remember that He is your ultimate hope. You can hand over your deepest wishes, desires, and dreams to Him and trust that He is in control.
O Lord, you alone are my hope. I’ve trusted you, O Lᴏʀᴅ, from childhood. Psalm 71:5 NLT
What are your options?
Know what your options are instead of burning up your energy and sanity just wondering. Even if you find out your only option is to wait and see what your local school district decides, you’ve made progress! Do some research. Ask a friend or two what they know. Check your local school district’s website, or call them—an administrator, teacher, or counselor may be able to talk you through the options the local district is giving to families.
If you’ve also got a work schedule to juggle, talk with your employer to see what options you have if your kids wind up attending school from home. Think of friends or family members who can share schooling responsibilities if needed. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find out that one of your real-world options overlaps a little with your hopes and dreams for your kids’ education!
Through the whole process of gathering your options and deciding which direction you want to go, pray. Seek God, lay your options before Him, and let Him guide you.
Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Proverbs 3:6 NLT
What if everything changes?
With the way 2020 is going, changes will happen. Stay centered on the One who doesn’t change:
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8 NIV
As you’re fixed on Christ, let Him guide you in choosing a theme for your kid’s education this year. Keep a goal to stay centered on—no matter what happens. Maybe it’s social health, justice, reading, creativity, or problem-solving. Or maybe it’s something like taking responsibility, sticking it out when things get tough, or being a leader. Talk with your kids to figure out one thing you all want to grow in this year. If the educational environment changes, your goals don’t have to. Use them as a guide as you remain flexible, plan a new direction, and remain reliant on God in the new normal. Remember:
We can make our plans, but the Lᴏʀᴅ determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9 NLT
It might be annoying, frustrating, or even devastating when your plans fall through. Admit your feelings of loss, and grieve what you hoped would be. God is faithful to hold you in His hand, comfort you, and prepare you to comfort others (i.e. your kids):
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NLT
What about your kids?
Pssst … your kids are going through all the same things you are right now! As you wrestle through each of these ideas for yourself, help your kids process what’s happening and let them contribute to your family’s action plan.
- Guide them to share their what-ifs, and help them turn them over to God.
- Listen to their hopes and dreams for their own education. (Yes, even if their dream is all-day recess.)
- Share some options you think will work for your family, and let your kids talk about what works best for them. (Even simple choices, like what type of masks to wear or which room is designated for online schoolwork can give kids buy-in.)
- Prepare them for flexibility. Help your kids stay centered on Jesus and your family’s educational goal for the year, and help them grieve actual events that don’t pan out as they expected. Remind them that their life will change, but God doesn’t.
You (and your family) will figure out how to survive back-to-school time in the middle of a pandemic. This world is rife with the cycles of pain, uncertainty, grief, and sorrow, but in Jesus Christ, we have hope to cling to. Just as we want what is best for our children, God wants what is best for us: He has a great plan of restoration and hope for us. When you struggle with your present situation, remember the future eternity your heavenly Father has planned for you, your kids, and everyone who walks alongside you as a follower of Christ:
For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.) Romans 8:22-25 NLT