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Nervous About Returning to Work? Four Tips for Parents Managing Post-COVID Anxiety.

Dr. Meg Meeker

Dr. Meg Meeker

One of the most important implications of this new phase of the pandemic is that parents can now go back to work. If you’ve been working from home for the last 15 months or if you were laid off, chances are your employer is calling you back into the office, restaurant, or retail store to resume work.

I know for many parents this can bring both relief and anxiety. Relief that life is getting back to normal and anxiety over being back around people again, wondering if life as usual can truly resume. To assuage your fears, I have a few tips for those of you who are worried about going back to work and what that could mean for your family and their health.

Get vaccinated.

It’s very possible that you’re not able to go back to work until you are vaccinated, according to many employers. But if getting vaccinated is an option for you and you want to go back to work, I highly recommend being fully vaccinated first. I am pro-vaccine. I was a physician when chickenpox, HIB and meningitis killed far more people than they do now.  Vaccines make for a safer and healthier world and when it comes to being back in contact with people on a daily basis, the vaccine is what will prevent you from getting sick and bringing sickness back home to your kids.

Exercise precautions when you need to.

While being vaccinated greatly reduces your risk of being infected by Covid-19, I know many parents will still feel cautious around others, not wanting to get the rest of their family sick. Listen to your hesitations. If your coffee shop job no longer requires wearing a mask, but you feel nervous without one, wear it. If your boss no longer requires wearing a mask while meeting with clients, but you want to just to be safe, do it. There’s no need to create more anxiety for yourself because you’re worried about what people will think. During this grey time when the pandemic is easing but not yet over, many people will need to do what they need to do to feel safe in public again. Let’s have extra grace and understanding for each other.

Don’t wait until your child is vaccinated.

The Pfizer vaccine has been approved for children age 12 and up. I’ll be writing more about children and the Covid-19 vaccine later this month but for now I will say, don’t wait for your child to be vaccinated before going back to work and resuming normal life. There is no firm date for when children under 12 will be able to safely get the vaccine. At this time I do not recommend that children get the vaccine for several reasons which I’ll discuss later. If you wait until it’s safe for your child to get vaccinated to go back to work, you could be waiting a very long time. It’s better to get back to business and return to normalcy in your household than to hold out for your child to get the vaccine. 

Going back to work could be the best thing for you and your child.

While going back to work may make you fearful, remember what working from home was like, or what being laid off was like. Being home with your children 24/7 when that wasn’t your usual rhythm probably created more conflict than usual for your family. Kids fighting, parents exhausted, discipline out the window. That distance during the day and compartmentalization of work and life can be a game-changer for your mental health, which will be a game-changer for your home life. 

As life returns to normal, expect to feel some fear and anxiety. We’ve all been through a lot. But don’t let that fear and anxiety keep you from pursuing some semblance of normalcy. It will do wonders for you, your children, and your entire family.

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