Post lockdowns – back to school. Top 5 worries

Its difficult not to see the irony that in this last year and a bit, of intense, relentless adapting and coping there has been a huge need for processing life and yet the least opportunity to write! The least opportunity for space and time to gather my thoughts. We have learnt so much together, struggled together, worried together (of course!) and supported each other. And now we stand at the brink of another seismic shift – the (hopefully) final lifting of lockdowns and going back out into the world and to school. Its making me feel exhausted just writing that. Its going to be another intense few weeks, and months as we face that, adjust to it and find a new pattern for this next season.

These are top of the list of things that I am feeling overwhelmed at the thought of. I’m writing not to wallow, not to scare myself further but to begin the processing of it all. I write in the hope that it helps to say it out-loud, and to find out none of us are alone in this.

  • Energy Have I got the reserves I need to support my family through another hugely stressful transition? Sleep patterns as always aren’t great, eating healthily – not my best to be honest. Work life balance is just about manageable in lockdown, but feels daunting and untested outside of it again. And already I am experiencing the sudden waves of lurching anxiety (keep on taking the tablets Cathy!) that I won’t be enough; strong enough, wise enough, present enough to give what is needed in support day in day out. Its madness to worry, I know. I’m never enough – in God’s economy I don’t need to be, and wasn’t chosen in the hope I would be – how freeing – how terrifying. Truth is He is enough. “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Cor 12:9 (Cathy – He is enough for you)
  • Catch up There’s a lot of talk about student catch up – not so much about parent catch up! Will I ever be able to get things back on track logistically? Will we get the washing & ironing sorted, how on earth did I ever do it? Will we ever find the dining room again – it has become storage, remote learning space, my at home office and my volunteering hub. It’s a mess. When will there be space and energy to unravel that as the pace of life picks up again? Even simple things like hoovering has been done less often – the noise levels for the sensitive bat ears we have in our family, the fact that almost always someone in the house is on zoom or teams – so there’s catch up everywhere I look. It’s not that important for our well being in one sense, its clean enough but at some point we’ll open the door again & people – other people – will come in!!! That’s a daunting prospect. “..but few things are needed – or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:42 (Cathy – don’t lose sight of the important things)
  • Clothing Thinking about washing & ironing reminds me that a huge bonus of lockdowns has been the relaxing of the type of clothing I’ve had to battle T into. We’ve got completely out of practice wearing socks for example – a daily battle I’ve not been missing. Similarly, shoes have not been worn regularly. T has also grown, so not only is there a battle on the horizon to get used to the feeling of ‘out of the house’ clothes, and school uniform I need to negotiate through finding out what is uncomfortable and what doesn’t fit, and then of course the introducing of new items. Usually these two factors wouldn’t perhaps coincide quite so dramatically. But that’s going to take some doing. It will have fall out. It will be noisy, genuinely uncomfortable, emotional and a long haul. “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.” Isaiah 43:2 (Cathy – you’re not going through this alone)
  • Separation I was reading just yesterday that for many of us it will be a similar emotional roller-coaster to starting school in the first place – parents and students alike. We’ll have to go through another separation. T & I have been together day in day out for months now. We have been learning side by side, not sleeping well – mostly side by side. In the garden letting off steam – side by side. Going back out of the house to work and school, separately will be difficult. I know T is acutely worried about having to do school on her own, away from that close support and understanding. I know that even though I will love having some space to breathe I will worry while she is away from me. Remote learning has been sooo tough, but with it has come an opportunity to see how she flourishes with that close support (on a good day). And to see that the demands of the school work itself is challenging for T, and know with new insight she will be facing that in the challenging environment of school again. A huge increase in demands and anxieties. “He tends his flock like a shepherd: he gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” Isaiah 40:11 (Cathy – hold onto this)
  • Pace I’ve already mentioned that it feels like the faster pace of life is looming around the corner. It is worrying me that its potentially a huge shock to the system to go from the pattern of life we’ve developed during lockdowns back into what I remember as a very fast paced, packed full (in a different way to the challenges of lockdowns) life. I’m reminding myself it will be more gradual than I’m fearing. School is the beginning, then other things will follow. Youth groups, Sunday services in the building, swimming lessons, in person social events will not all get up and running at the same time. It will be one step at a time. And I am telling myself to take those steps slowly and intentionally. I was packing too much into each week before, and here is an unexpected opportunity to do things differently – and perhaps push myself in an area I’ve never been good at – saying no to some good things, letting some things go. I simply have to. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me…” Matthew 11:29 (Cathy – don’t panic, not everything needs letting go of, ask for wisdom)

These are my top 5 areas to pray about, and think about. Do they resonate with you? Maybe for you there would be others that would push some of these out of the top 5. There are certainly plenty to choose from right now as a mother of SEND children. It’s been a tough year, and it will be a tough transition coming out the other end. Please know I pray for you. Happy to listen. Happy to connect. Please don’t feel alone as this new season looms ahead. You are not alone.