Parents, I feel your pain. Your stress. Your panic. I feel it ALL. We have been trying to figure out 2020 since March and this fall will be no exception to the rule. Whether you are homeschooling, virtual schooling, private schooling or some hybrid version, this year isn’t going to feel normal, and the unknown is debilitating for many of us.

I’m not an expert, but I AM a parent of 2 elementary aged children and I have been deep in the trenches since March. Here are a few tips that have helped my family stay sane:

  1. Get outside. Nature is healing, and we live in a community full of beautiful lakes, hikes, forests and streams. Pheasant Branch is a favorite of ours, but we’ve branched out to local county parks, too. We especially love taking our kids to Donald County Park (the kids love looking for fish in the stream), Blue Mounds State Park (less busy than Devil’s Lake or Governor Nelson, but still fun for hiking) and Stewart Lake. Out in the elements you can *almost* forget we are in the middle of a pandemic. We try to get outside for a long walk every day.
  2. Find your crew. If you are able to find neighbors or friends that have similar thoughts on safety, social distancing, masks, etc, it’s great to get together with others. My kids have been lucky enough to play fairly frequently with neighbors, which has helped their mental health tremendously. We all have similar mindsets about the pandemic which is key to being comfortable with people outside our family.
  3. Take breaks. Screen breaks, naps, baths, quiet time, reading time. Whatever it is that helps you (or your kids) reset is fair game in my mind. Sometimes I pop on a movie and go hide in my room to read a book because my mental health has to be considered, too. I have let go of my screen-time guilt and consider this year survival mode. We all do what we need to do to get through the day and I’ve decided an extra movie in the afternoon once in a while is sometimes just what the doctor ordered. 
  4. Find activities you CAN do. I already mentioned getting out in nature, but there are still other activities open and available this year. Many local businesses are offering special programming this fall – with safety measures in place – to keep kids active or give parents a break. SwimWest is launching a brand new school year program with health and safety top of mind. From Swim & Recess Lessons to Family Open Swim to Swim&Gym Day Camp, there are tons of options for busy families.

Other local businesses are also offering special options this year:
** SwimWest Swim School
** Engineering for Kids
** Badger Gymnastics
** Monroe Street Arts Center
** The Little Gym of Middleton

Hang in there, folks. Things may not be normal this year, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be great. Feel free to share your own tips for staying sane below!

For more information about SwimWest’s school year options, look for the Fall Programming tabs on our homepage!