As summer begins to wind down and the look ahead to a new grade inches closer, nerves and excitement can fill any kid’s (and parent’s!) mind.

Will they like their new teacher(s)?

How easily will they adapt to a new schedule?

Will their social circles be the same?

So many wonders and worries!

And that’s just on any given year.

After the past 18 months of remote learning, social distancing, mask wearing, and quarantines, not only are there the typical frets, but now added concerns about sickness may be compounding it all.

Does your child feel safe without a mask?

What happens if your child comes home with a cough and fever?

What should you keep doing and what is okay to let go of?

This month, I tackle questions that many parents may be asking themselves as they get their kids ready to go back to school.

Following are 8 things we have learned from the last year and a half in a pandemic as well as what we can do to prep our kids physically for their comeback.

1. Be Mindful of What Kids See and Hear. Children and teens take cues from adults in their lives so if you show excess worry and concern, they may internalize the same feelings.

2. Pay Attention to Public Health Reports. Knowledge is vital for a realistic perspective so keep an eye on numbers for COVID cases as well as vaccination rates in your local area, noting any change in public health guidelines.

3. Read School District Communication. It can be easy to skim over emails and wait to read them until school gets closer, but this year, make sure to read information as it comes through for any tips and/or expectations that you need to prepare for.

4. Remember That Some Sickness is Healthy. This time of year is the beginning of cold and flu season and that is healthy in many regards! Occasional infections and viruses throughout the year are normal and keep our immune systems balanced so you can take a breath if your child comes home with the sniffles or tummy trouble as long as it isn’t too serious (such as a high fever, symptoms of COVID, and/or a long duration of illness).

5. We Can’t Stay Away From Germs. You may want to sanitize your child everyday when they get home (and continuing to wash hands as soon as he/she walks in should still be encouraged), but we can’t eliminate all germs, nor should we (see number 4). Our bodies aren’t designed to be lived in a completely sterile environment so while cleaning is important, excessive worry may not be as helpful.

6. There Are Readily Available Resources. Alarmed that your child has the flu? An infection? It can be nerve-wracking, especially after this past year. However, keep in mind that for many illnesses, there are resources for getting through such as: doctors, foods, supplements, over-the-counters, and prescriptions so you are not alone in treating and healing your child’s sickness.

7. It’s Okay (and Healthy) to Keep Kids Home When Sick. We live in a culture of production – where a perfect attendance record is celebrated and ideal. However, if regular colds and flus are relatively good for our immune systems, then staying home to rest and recover (versus wearing ourselves down and spreading sickness by pushing it) can be good for both your child AND the community. And hopefully, our culture is beginning to accept these “down days” as a healthy way of taking care of ourselves and those around us.

8. Focus on Healthy Preparation Rather than Troublesome Worry. If you’re concerned about going back to “normal” try to focus on what you can do to prep your kids for a healthy year rather than what may be out of your control.

To do this, I encourage:

– getting back on a regular sleep schedule with a calming bedtime routine (such as reading, epsom salt baths, journaling, and gentle feet or hand massages)

– offering a healthy diet of 5-7 fruits and/or vegetables per day, lean protein, healthy fats, whole grains, and clean water with limited or no processed and sugary foods

– outside play that keeps the body moving and getting the heart rate up for at least 10 minutes a day

– supportive supplements when needed such as a quality multi-vitamin, vitamin C, probiotics periodically (for a few weeks before and after school starts), and immune supportive options like ImmunoBerry™ from Designs for Health

As much as we’d like to protect our children from all germs, bacteria, and viruses, the bottom line is that it may not only be impossible, but also unhealthy. They are bound to come in contact with unpleasant bugs while in school, but with a realistic perspective, professional resources, and healthy lifestyle habits, they can get through it, and so can you.

If you live in the Boulder or Denver metro areas and your child comes home with illness or gets sick frequently, please call me at (720) 340-0193 or contact me here to address any questions you may have. For serious symptoms and/or concern of COVID, please seek immediate medical attention.