Back to School: Easing Anxieties for Parents and Kids With Vision Loss
My cue that school is starting again soon is the sudden and always shocking ‘way too early’ explosion of school supplies on the shelves at the stores I frequent. It seems like the moment the Fourth of July ends, BAM! Pencils, crayons, book bags, and calculators are everywhere screaming, ‘Get it together, Andrea, your lazy summer days are coming to an end!’
Working mom with vision loss
As if this isn't enough to worry about already, being a working mom with vision loss can add a few obstacles along the way. I have a lot to do during the school year, so slowing down due to vision struggles isn't an option for me. Staying organized is the only way I know how to tackle these obstacles.
Keeping my eye-healthy routine
Easing my anxieties and continuing healthy eating during any period of transition and change is important to me. Just because something changes in my routine doesn't mean I should stop treating my health needs as a priority. It just means it's time to get organized! In this article, I'll be highlighting some tips for parents who are struggling with vision loss as well as parents who have kids who are struggling with vision loss.
Back to school for the kids also means back to work for this teacher mom. Though I love my job and do actually look forward to going back, I’m not always ready for the preparation it takes to get back into the faster-paced ‘up early, packing lunches, everyone out the door on time...move, move, move...homework, and sports galore’ routine that the new school year brings.
With the ‘Back to School’ season approaching, my brain is beginning to feel anxious about all of the things I need to get done before the first day of school. Not only do I need to prepare my children and my ‘mother self’ for a change in routine, but I also need to prepare my classroom and my ‘teacher self’ for work.
Besides that, if I’m anxious, I know that my kiddos are as well. The first days and weeks of school can feel like a slight shock to the system for anyone. Children are no exception. It’s not always easy for kids to get back into the school year routine.
Being a child with poor vision
On top of that, I remember being the kid with extra worries sporting coke bottle glasses, struggling to see in class. Not only did I experience the same first-day jitters as my peers, but I also had to worry about extra stuff because of my struggles with my vision.
Would anyone make fun of me for my ridiculously thick glasses? Would my desk be in a spot where I could actually see the board? Would my teacher help me if I couldn't see anything? Would it be embarrassing to ask?
Organization tips for adults with vision loss
If your family is headed back to school soon or if you’re just looking for a few tips to help ease some anxieties of a busy work week, here are a few tips that may work for you.
Before grocery shopping for the week, make a list that's easy for you to see. I like to organize my list by section in the grocery store to make things easier to find. I know this may seem basic, but I’m telling ya it certainly helps to plan out meals ahead of time. It also so helps cut back on costs if you can stick to your list. Trust me, you don’t want to be in the middle of prepping grilled chicken for dinner to find out last minute you forgot to buy the chicken at the store. That’s a recipe for a fast-food dinner. (My kids would honestly be excited, ha! But, I wouldn’t.)
To do lists
Another ‘basic’ thing I do that really helps me is to make a to-do list. There is something that feels so satisfying about crossing everything off of the list. I’m a sticky note queen and proud of it. I know myself well and I know that my brain does not like trying to remember everything. I write it down and am able to move on much more at ease. Visually, it helps me to know that I have accomplished tasks.
Set Sunday afternoon aside for meal prep time. This is a priority in my house. Everyone knows it’s happening, so...Please.Leave.Mom.Alone.During.This.Time. Thank you very much (and also you’re welcome very much for feeding you so well all week long, am I right?
I usually spend about two hours in the kitchen on Sundays prepping easy grab-and-go snacks for school, healthy lunches for my family of four (kids and adults), and chopping veggies and essential dinner items in preparation for easy-to-make (but still healthy) dinners. Phew! I know, Friends, it sounds exhausting just thinking about it. Before you think ‘no way, Sunday is a day of rest,’ hear me out. It’s just two hours, there is still a lot of restful laziness going on in our house on Sundays. There’s still plenty of time for exercising and church if those are things you or your family enjoys.
One of the main items I prep for myself on Sundays is pre-made workweek salads. This is the most important thing I do for myself on Sundays. It ensures healthy eating, specifically for my eyes, and allows me to get in all of my essential nutrients in one sitting...lunch.
Tips for labeling food
Quick Tip: Clearly labeling ingredients, spices, and baggies helps me A LOT. If you struggle reading labels on food items, labeling them in larger print or in a contrasting color can certainly save you a lot of time when you need them. You can also organize your ingredients in a very specific way. My friends and family may call this OCD, but I'm really just making sure I know where everything is when I need it.
Helpful tips for kids with vision loss
Here are a few tips to help curb children’s anxieties as well.
Done the night before
Have everything ready the night before. Is your homework done, in your folder and in your bookbag? Do you know what you’re wearing to school...Oh, it’s crazy sock and purple polka dot shirt day tomorrow? Great glad to know that tonight (This one may be redundant...it’s probably on the to-do list sticky note). Children who struggle with vision could take longer to get ready in the mornings. Preparing everything the night before will help keep everything running smoothly (don't miss the bus!) as well as help curb possible anxieties in the mornings.
Establish a STRICT bedtime routine (my kids do NOT like this one, but #notsorry). Continuing to exercise daily during the school year requires a schedule change in my sleeping patterns since my weekday morning wake-up alarm is set for 4:06 am. If you’re wondering, yes, it’s hard to get up that early. However, once I’m up and moving I really enjoy the productivity and quite time that the early morning brings. This 4:06 AM mama needs her sleep and so do my kids! I know that if I don't get my exercising done in the morning, I’ll either run out of time or energy to do it in the evenings. Besides, sleep is so important to your child's overall health (as well as eye health).
Being open and honest
Talk to your kids. You'd be surprised about what kids will tell you if open up the doors of communication. Let your kids that you're always there for them and allow them to open up about possible worries about their day. Is your child struggling to see the board at school? Can you talk to them to help them prepare a conversation starter with their teacher to be moved closer to the board?
Know Your Needs
I know that being organized helps me to keep my anxieties at bay. It also allows me to keep everyone in my house eating healthy. Both of which are important to the health of my own eyes and mind. I promise you, it’s well worth it to be able to literally just grab snacks and lunches and throw them into bags in the morning and go. It's hard to imagine trying to do all of that each and every day. I know what would happen is we would be eating more junk and I’d be more stressed during the week.
If I’m being completely honest, it’s much easier for me to stay on track with ‘clean’ eating during the school year. If I only pack a baggie of almonds and an apple for a snack and a salad for lunch at work, that’s all I’ll be able to eat. Can’t eat the cookies in the pantry if they’re not staring me down, right?
Happy New School Year,
Do you still drive?