The New Normal
Are you excited about the prospect of a more relaxed and carefree summer? Or does the thought of parenting and navigating this new world fill you with anxiety?
Maybe it’s my psychologist mind, but I think about, how comfortable are we with “getting back to normal” and what does that even look like?
Some of your children (and maybe you) are probably just itching to get outside, connect with friends, and get back to normal. Other children may be fearful and reticent to connect with peers, adults, and even relatives. Many of you are probably somewhere in between – excited but also experiencing some reticence and anxiety over this new world. We need to be mindful that going back to normal may feel and look different depending on the individual and that both parents and children may have strong (and differing) feelings about what that looks like.
As with all family decisions, it’s a good idea to have a meeting to discuss and reach consensus on what the guidelines will look like for your family this summer. You do not have to capitulate to the wishes of your children, but hearing their wishes and reasoning might help you find a middle ground that meets the needs of everyone involved.
For example, if you and your children are immunized (or not), do you feel comfortable eating inside a restaurant, staying at a hotel, having your kids host a sleepover, or going to the pool? Are you planning to visit relatives, vacation with friends, or travel? Will you be going to outdoor or indoor concerts, movie theaters, or sporting events? Are you ready to put away your masks?
It’s also important to recognize that this transition may not go smoothly. I’ve known instances where individuals have had panic attacks, when being in a crowded place post COVID. It’s understandable – most of us aren’t used to being around a lot of people, especially in close proximity to one another. Experiencing unmasked faces indoors for the first time in over a year can certainly be a stressful experience for many of us.
Expect that conversations with your family, friends, and relatives will reveal different comfort levels. It’s important to have these conversations and come up with agreed upon expectations before you meet, so that you’re on the same page regarding what you’re comfortable and not comfortable doing.
Let’s imagine a common summer scenario. You plan an outdoor lunch with friends, but on the day of the lunch it’s raining. Do you cancel, move indoors, or find a new restaurant with covered outdoor seating? Knowing ahead of time the comfort level of the individuals will help you navigate that situation with greater ease and create a more comfortable environment for everyone. No one is left with the anxiety of wondering if they will need to leave, if the venue is moved indoors.
Mindful of Others
We need to be mindful and intentional about how we work and socialize. Just because we’re comfortable with a situation or action doesn’t mean others feel the same way. Family, friends, relatives, and co-workers may have differing feelings regarding giving and accepting hugs, shaking hands, attending large gatherings indoors and outdoors, and wearing masks. How do we navigate this while being mindful of our own comfort levels as well as those of others? We don’t want people to feel left out.
Perhaps that is our “new normal”, a world where people listen to the needs of one another and act out of mutual respect rather than follow the path of least resistance, distancing ourselves from those who don’t agree with our new normal rules and guidelines. So, pause, breath, and move forward with purpose and intention into this “new normal.”
At The Sycamore School, one of our core values is Respect. We are committed to promoting tolerance, kindness, and acceptance of others. Learn more about our unique approach to social-emotional learning in our blog post Culture of Kindness.