Dr. Eve Loren Goldstein and Danielle Matthew, LMFT
It was Friday morning, the end of one of those typical exhausting weeks of work and weeknight commitments. The last thing I wanted to do was to squeeze in one more obligation, but I saw on my calendar “coffee with the principal” at my child’s school. I thought about skipping it, but, in the end, I convinced myself to go. I was surprised that after the meeting, I felt more connected, happier, and energized.
The scenario above is relatable to many. Parents’ stress levels and burnout are at an all-time high. Between work, taking care of the household, and shuffling kids to various activities, parents may feel like they don’t have time for themselves, and the last thing they want to do is add another commitment to their schedule. However, maintaining a happy and healthy life requires a balance of caring for ourselves and each other.
We often hear about self-care as being the answer, with solutions like take time for yourself, engage in mindfulness practices, and have self-compassion. All of these are essential, but there is another very powerful piece to self-care—connection to others. It is through connection that purpose, meaning, and support in one’s life is created. When you fill someone else’s cup, your cup overflows.
I wondered to myself, why did I leave that meeting at school feeling so happy and inspired? In that simple 45-minute meeting, I found connection and support on a whole new level. We talked about challenging topics that face children today. I felt that the other parents in the room along with our school were invested in creating a safe and supportive environment for my family.
People often say, “it takes a village to raise a child.” In that moment, I felt that way. There were so many benefits to being in the room and showing up for that Friday morning meeting. At CPE Collective, our advice is that getting involved with your child’s school is not only meaningful for your child but is essential to decrease parental feelings of being disconnected, overwhelmed, and tired. What are some of the key benefits to getting involved in your school?
The first one is support. Taking small steps to be a part of your child’s school community, whether it be attending a Parent Teacher Organization meeting, open house, or another event, enhances your experiences. It helps parents feel more engaged, know more about what is going on in the day-to-day experience of their children, and build a network on which to depend. Parents are an essential building block for helping schools thrive.
The next important benefit is creating new connections. In that meeting, I spoke with parents that I did not know well, and we were able to do things as simple as create plans for our children and make carpooling arrangements to help one another. These new connections provide a deeper sense of belonging. At CPE Collective, we know that when people feel connected and less lonely that depression and anxiety decrease. Having a network of trusted people provides a safe place for sharing and processing thoughts.
Participating in your child’s school also lets your voice be heard. You now become an active influencer and new advocate for what is important for your child and family. You gain a sense of control when you feel empowered. And when you know your voice is heard, you feel more enabled to influence positive change, which can help you feel more hopeful, purposeful, and less stressed.
Benefits when you get involved with a practice of community support includes:
- Asking and receiving help from your support system when you need it
- Getting to know other parents and building new friendships
- Working collaboratively with your child’s teachers to reach a common goal
- Decreasing common worries and fears about parenting because of your new built in support system
- Feeling less isolated and more connected to others socially
As you move forward, it’s important to remember that we aren’t meant to walk these paths alone. By learning from and supporting one another in your child’s school community, you’ll find support, new connection, and be able to influence your community in a positive way. When the opportunities arise, it is important to get involved, not just for others but for yourself. These little moments make a greater impact than you would ever imagine.