Practicing Self-Care for Families: Engaging Without Burning Out

Posted on January 26, 2022
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Categories: Health & Wellness

Having a child of school age was always hard– but the pandemic has made it even more difficult for so many families. In today’s technology-driven world, family members need to know how and when to engage with a school, have superior technology skills, spend time effectively, and so much more. With such a long list of demands put on families, it is no surprise that burnout is a real problem for so many.

According to Mayo Clinic, burnout is not a strict medical diagnosis, but are “feelings of depleted energy or exhaustion because of continual stress”. Now more than ever, families, caregivers, and parents are having to engage with schools on a level that has rarely been seen. With the added stresses of the pandemic, it can be overwhelming for many families, especially new families that are unsure of what to pay attention to. Knowing where to focus and how to develop a strong routine is a good starting point to avoiding feeling burned out with engagement.

Unsure of where to start? FACE Coordinator Melanie has a wealth of experience from years of helping families and schools build successful communities. With any student in the District, Melanie recommends paying particular attention to:

  • The student’s attendance
  • The student’s behavior report (how they get along with peers, if they need support, etc.)
  • The curriculum being taught
  • What is going on in the school (programs, policies, etc.)

When it comes to engaging with a school, Melanie recommends making sure that family members stay active in their monitoring of grades and attendance, both of which are accessible using Parent Portal: “I encourage parents to get and use their Parent Portal account. I encourage them to stay proactive in monitoring their student’s academic progress, behavior report, attendance, and other assessment progress.” The School District of Philadelphia is running the I ♥ Parent Portal campaign now through March 27 – visit to learn more about how families and schools can participate.

Now more than ever is a great time to start a positive relationship with a school and make sure it can continue in a way that is healthy and helpful for everyone involved. To do this, Melanie recommends starting with getting to know the student’s teachers and “building a relationship/rapport with them” as well as getting to know other members of a school’s staff such as the principal or secretary.

While developing a routine is a great start, it is also important to know your limits. Hellena, a parent with multiple children within the District who is also deeply engaged with her school community, recommends the simple and yet radical act of self-care: “Take deep breaths to avoid the burnout. 15 minutes of self-care– my children know that sometimes I need 15 minutes.”

Hellena also recommends knowing what resources are available for families, so they can get help: “A lot of parents are looking for resources. Maybe they’re looking for tutors or want to get help in the community. Some parents still don’t know all the resources that are available to them.” Start the conversation with your school about what resources are available for you and how you can receive help if you should need it– and when in doubt, feel free to contact the FACE Office about resources and options you have to address your concerns or questions.  Staying in contact with and engaged with schools should be a partnership that is both enriching and manageable, so make it a priority to know your limits and how much time you can spend making sure you stay informed and engaged.

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