For me, the beginning of the school year is both super exciting and super stressful. I enjoy the slow speed of summer. Not packing lunches, not having to rush out of the house, no carpool (this is the worst!). But I also enjoy some routine and some quiet in the house when my boys are gone. I have 2 boys, Noah (11) and Luke (7). I’m not actually sure how they grew up so fast, but I guess the saying is correct “the days are long, but the years are fast”. Here are some things I have learned about going back to school and the school year in general while being chronically ill:
- My number one piece of advice for going back to school while battling Lupus/chronic illness, is to not compare yourself to other moms. This is SO hard for me! If I’m constantly thinking about what I’m not doing as a mom, I start to lose confidence and joy. I love the saying “comparison is the thief of joy”. That is true for me. I rather have my kids see a joyful mom, than one who is trying to keep up with abled bodied parents…and slightly grumpy while trying. Remember, there’s no one way to be a perfect mom.
- Try to prepare as much as possible the night before. If you can, make their lunches the night before, or use school lunch (I believe it is still free this year, for public schools in CA). To be honest, my boys are extremely picky eaters. They have an Uncrustable Every. Single. Day. They also take veggies and fruit. Now that they are older and they can make their own lunch, we buy fruit and veggies that are easy to pack, like broccoli, grapes, oranges, apples, packaged seaweed…you get the drift. One of the most difficult tasks in the Stephenson household is having socks and shoes ready for school. There is nothing like the chaos of a missing shoe when you’re already late for school, am I right? And for socks…it’s not my preference, but we have given up on socks. We live in SoCal so they aren’t technically needed for temperature purposes. Pick your battles…
- Use Zoom as much as possible! I know that now most things that were on zoom are back in person, but I think one of the great things that came out of Covid is the use of zoom. I am so thankful for the amount of learning, IEP meetings, conferences, piano lessons, art lessons, therapy… all through zoom! What a blessing to not have to drive to each of those places.
- In the past I have mentioned my chronic illness to my kids’ teachers, but as my boys age and become more independent I’m not sure I have to. When they were young, we’d have to sign their reading log or go through their backpack daily. I asked the teachers for some grace if I didn’t get that done 5 days a week. I think this is a personal and situational choice. Just know if your family needs a little break from the stresses of school and homework, it happens. Heck, we switched schools to one that was much more relaxed. Our kids don’t get homework and it is a great blessing to not have that stress everyday.
Give yourself and your kids so much grace. New routines and schedules take time to adjust to. Try to take it easy on yourself and your body the first weeks of school, so that you don’t go into a flare. WE GOT THIS!! 2022-2023 school year here we come!!!
By Krissy Stephenson
Krissy Stephenson has been living with chronic illnesses for over 12 years. Her full time job is managing her health and household with a supportive husband, two boys and 2 dogs. For Krissy’s full lupus story, watch Season 2, Episode #6 of the #YourStoryOurFight Podcast at lupusla.org/podcast! You can also watch the full episode here, on Lupus LA’s YouTube Channel.