‘Focus on the present’ -- New tools to help overwhelmed parents handle back-to-school from home

‘It’s like you’re taking your mind to the spa,’

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown everyone how easy it can be to feel overwhelmed, and that is especially true for parents.

DETROIT – The COVID-19 pandemic has shown everyone how easy it can be to feel overwhelmed, and that is especially true for parents.

As school resumes, it doesn’t get much easier.

We hear so much about self care these days, but what do parents really need to get through this back to school season heading into fall?

Emily Hay is a work-from-home mother to 6-year-old Ainsley and 4-year-old Quinn. She runs her own business and with all their busy schedules, there’s never a dull moment.

“While I have been a work from home business owner for quite some time, this is a whole new territory to me,” Hay said. “So definitely thinking about what’s happening this month, and scheduling the time in very small windows in order to get things done when my children have their breaks with school, but that’s again going to be a real challenge to see how that all comes together with the school component.”

Her back to school plan? She said she’s promising to focus on being in the present.

“One of the things I heard this summer again in preparation for fall was to on focus on the next 20 feet,” Hay said. “That really helps me keep in mind to check my perspective every day. If I’m having a bad day, then only think about that day. If I’m having a great day, then maybe think about the week or the month, but not the next 90 days -- and certainly not the entire school year.”

Clinical psychologist Dr. Donna Rockwell agrees and said that’s a good strategy for parents to rely on.

“What I tell stressed out moms is that meditation or mindfulness, or coming back to this present moment is really like going to the spa, but it’s like you’re taking your mind to the spa,” Rockwell said. “If we can get our minds to be as calm as we are when we come out of a spa, that would be terrific and it would really help us gain the resilience that we need now to get through these days.”

Heading into fall, Hay decided to reprioritize her girl’s extra-curricular activities, so she wouldn’t feel as overwhelmed.

“Sometimes people will say pick one or two activities per child, but I’m really following the take one or two activities per family,” Hay said.

She said it helped to focus on her own professional development or upskilling.

“But you hear the expression sharpen the saw,” Hay said. “It seems to me like upskilling yourself and focusing on one thing that you would like to get better can help you keep a sense of your professional self and not feel like you’re going backwards and certainly not feel like you’re missing out.”

Experts said it’s important to not be afraid to ask for help, even if you think you’ve got it all under control.

Click here to learn more about Dr. Donna Rockwell.

You can find more information on Emily Hay’s business here.

About the Authors:

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.