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Friday, January 21, 2022

Dear Mum: Stressed out, school is starting edition


Dear Mum,

I know you’re stressed. I want you to know that it’s okay to feel this way. 

Feel free to release a sigh of relief, because it’s important for you to know that you’re not alone in your feelings. Even if you are, it’s absolutely okay for you to worry about your child(ren). 

Simply put, school is approaching. Although this is usually a very exciting time for both you and your child(ren), this time round, it has a different feel. Usually, it is filled with back to school shopping, a plethora of lunch tips from your kids before you do that back to school grocery run, polishing their favourite backpack, or even buying them the one they’ve had their eye on. Then, there’s that final release of deep exhalation after dropping them off – that moment of calm you soak up that allows you to breathe and obtain more energy for your kids. 

This year, the idea of a new academic year is filled with worries and heightened anxiety. Following an intensive lockdown that suddenly altered school and turned it into a new experience, there is also a hint of excitement that comes with the thought of returning to normalcy. There are many conflicted feelings, and the majority of the reasons why could be linked to the fact that COVID-19 still very much exists. 

To help you cope, here are some quick tips:

  1. Talk about your feelings often. Express your feelings with your partner or friends that you are comfortable with. Chances are, they feel a similar way and opening up to them will help validate some of the emotions you have. 
  2. Continue to educate your kids on health and sanitation rules. You’ve probably already been doing this, which is wonderful. Keeping your kids informed will help them make better choices once school is in session. A reminder to wash their hands regularly, both before and after school, maintain social distance, take care of their mask, and follow school guidelines, will help alleviate a bit of the stress you are feeling. 
  3. Stay up to date with the school’s COVID-19 protocol. If you want to know what the school is doing to ensure the safety of your child(ren), try to get comfortable with asking the school questions.
  4. Connect with other mums at the same school. Having a support system at the school will help you empathise with other mums while also feeling better understood. Knowing that others are going through the same experience can offer you some much needed peace of mind. 
  5. Try your best to prioritise your stress. In order to help your child(ren) with their own COVID-19 back to school worries, it’s important for you to deal with your own emotions first. Check in with someone you trust whenever you need to, make time for self-care, speak to a mental health specialist if you feel it is necessary, and try your best to look at the positives of the situation.
  6. Take it one day at a time: Breathe. It can be easy to get overwhelmed when focusing on an uncertain future, but try your best to focus on the here and now. It’s no revelation that COVID-19 situation is rapidly changing, but we must remain hopeful in knowing it can only get better.
  7. Keep in mind that Qatar has taken effective measures against COVID-19: From the beginning, Qatar has been very proactive in countering and containing the spread of the virus. It has maintained restrictions, created phases that are gradually lifted, and continues to keep people instantly informed about any changes that take place. Rest assured that this same level of care has also been applied to the education system through the Ministry of Education [MoE]

In short, I understand your worries as a mum, and I know that getting through a pandemic is mentally draining. However, it is important for you to try to remember that you are doing your best during an unpredictable time.

Read also: Spotlight on Mum: Meet Qatar’s Keto chef and ‘mumpreneur’ Afshan Syed 

Take comfort in knowing that your concerns are also occupying the minds of other parents. It’s a mutual and compassionate feeling of wanting good health, wellness, and a safe environment for your child(ren).

Just like you, the majority of mothers are taking extra precautions to ensure their kids remain in the best of health as they head off into the new academic year. This collaborative effort, along with strict sanitary protocols imposed on all schools, will undoubtedly result in a healthier environment for students. 

Although it’s a challenge, you’re getting through this pandemic. Even if it means you have to throw on some shades, play your favourite beats, and deal with it one day at a time. You’ve got this, mum. 

Kind Regards,

Chereen Shurafa is a Doha based community counsellor, writer, and certified change coach. She is the founder of “Dear Chereen”, an online platform dedicated to mindfulness, mental health, and inspiration.

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