At the start of the pandemic, it felt like we were forced to stay isolated. Away from work, from friends, from school… we were separated from anything and everything.
Now, we are on the flip side of things. We have thankfully made so much progress with the pandemic and have come a long way since the start, however, we know that it’s not over. And yet, we are now “forced” to go back to how things were.
With schools being opened, most of your children (including my own), have to go back to in-person classes, or else they’re required to transfer schools. Which means that they would be separated from their friends once again.
With businesses being opened, most of your employers are scrambling to get things prepared for you to go back to the office and settle into your cubicles once again.
For some of you, this may be an exciting step back to “normal.”
You’ve been ready to get things back to how they were, maybe you aren’t worried about the pandemic; you’re just excited to finally get out of the house.
For others, this may be a time of immense anxiety and stress. You didn’t think this transition would be happening so soon, you weren’t prepared for your kids to be out of the house yet, and you surely weren’t prepared to step back into a fully opened Texas.
With so many people on different sides of the spectrum, it can be difficult to navigate not only your own emotions but the emotions of those around you as well.
In the hopes of respecting the views and feelings of all of you, we’re going to explore ways to help you transition back to your regular routines. Even if it’s something that you’re not too worried about.
How to Transition Back to Work
Things have looked different at your workplace for the past year and a half. Even at the bare minimum, you’ve most likely been wearing a mask and social distancing. Not to mention those of you that have had appointment-only requirements, virtual meetings, or have even been working from home full-time or part-time.
After all of these big changes, going back to “normal” almost feels like it’s not so normal anymore, especially if you’re someone that feels anxious about the switch.
You may be experiencing confusion, anxiety, and discomfort as you adjust back to your pre-COVID routine, which is completely normal during times like these.
So what are ways that you can handle this transition? Especially if you are someone that doesn’t feel quite ready to make it happen.
1. Do what makes you feel comfortable:
I’m not saying you need to go and quit your job just because they’re making you go back to the office. But you can continue to wear your mask (even if those around you aren’t). You can have hand sanitizer on your desk and disinfectant for when your clients enter your office. And if you have the freedom to choose, you can also encourage clients to complete as many things as possible virtually to help avoid close contact.
Going back to the office may not feel as safe and comfortable as staying at home, but there are little things that can give you a sense of security when it comes to your health.
2. Talk with your manager:
If you are someone that is feeling anxious about the switch, reach out to your manager to see how things are going to look when the transition is made.
Oftentimes we’re scared of the unknown, but when we get a clear understanding of what things look like we can at least be prepared for what’s to come.
Another thing you may be able to talk to your manager about is your concerns about going back. See what your options are when it comes to handling COVID-19. Maybe they are okay with you continuing virtual meetings, or maybe they will allow you to handle one client at a time rather than multiple to help reduce numbers in your office.
You may find that things aren’t ideal, but asking about your options is the least you can do.
3. Respect other people’s wishes:
You may be someone that’s feeling a lot of excitement about going back. Maybe you’re bummed you no longer get to work from home, but you’re not worried about the transition at all.
You may be the person that was ecstatic when the mask mandate was lifted and you’re excited to jump back into normality since you’ve pretty much been trying to get there all along anyway.
If this is you, I’m sure you’ve noticed that not everyone is feeling the same way. You notice the backlash on social media about the lifted mandate and you almost get annoyed when you see people continuing to wear them.
Now, you obviously have complete control over how you handle your health and your body. However, it’s important to keep a sense of compassion during these times.
You never know how COVID-19 has affected those around you. Maybe their loved ones have passed, maybe they have underlying conditions, or maybe their anxiety is through the roof because this is just another thing on their plate that they can’t control.
I hope that as we navigate through these difficult and confusing times we can stick together and respect everyone’s opinions and decisions on how to handle the transition.
Sending your kids back to school
Do you have a choice?
For many people, it can really feel like you don’t. It seems that the school districts are pretty intent on getting everyone back to face-to-face classes without any options for those that are concerned about their health and safety.
Now, the majority of you have already sent your children back, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily what you wanted to do. On the one hand, your kids finally get to be finished with falling asleep during Zoom classes. But on the other hand, your concerns about their health still linger in the back of your mind.
Having your children switch school districts may not be something that you’re willing to consider, so what are some things that you can do?
1. Talk with your children:
Remember back in the day when it’d be a little cold out and you knew wearing a coat would be worth it, but you just didn’t want to because it didn’t look “cool.”
Well, the goal here is to do the opposite for your children when it comes to masks. Maybe they don’t want to feel lame for still wearing a mask, or maybe they don’t quite understand why it’s so important anymore.
One thing that you can do is encourage them to stay safe by finding ways to make it more exciting. Maybe it’s spending a little extra on a mask that they think goes well with their style, or maybe it’s finding ones that are more comfortable for them to wear all day.
And it doesn’t have to stop at masks. Look at different travel hand sanitizers, disinfectant wipes, or whatever other options you think your child can use while on the go at school. Whatever measures you have to take, it may be worth it to keep your own mind at ease.
2. Talk with the school district:
If they haven’t given you information already about what type of steps they’re taking at school to keep your children safe then don’t hesitate to find out for yourself.
Part of the school’s job in having your children there for eight hours a day is to also keep them safe, so see what they are planning to do.
Are they still using the plastic dividers between students during class? Do they still make the students clean their desks after each class? Do they even have enough sanitizing spray and wipes to do so? Are they helping them social distance in the hallways?
Knowing these things may help put your mind at ease or it may help you decide if you want to transfer your child after all.
3. Make prevention a habit:
Having routines and systems in place can be a great way for your family to get in the habit of staying safe, especially while transitioning back to the public.
For one family, maybe it’s washing your hands the moment you get home and then making sure you take your afternoon vitamins right after.
For a different family, it may be a temperature check in the morning and hand sanitizer with your mask on as you’re leaving the house.
These little routines and systems can help prevent the spread of germs in your home while also giving you peace of mind.
We know that we don’t have much of a say when it comes to transitioning back to work and school right now, but by focusing on the things that you can control you may be able to have a greater sense of comfort than you’d expect.
Reach out to friends and family during these times to help work through your emotions around the transition. Simply talking about it, rather than allowing the anxiety to build up inside, can help more than you know.