Back to School: Using Your Heart Space and Not Your Head Space

Posted on August 27, 2019

I know I just wrote a post with some back-to-school tips, but every day I still hear about the bittersweet “trauma” that parents feel as they send off their children. Parents who have younger children are excited to have their routines back, but they are inundated and exhausted by the back-to-school “to-do” list. Parents with older children—especially those with young adults who are going off to college—are experiencing separation anxiety, worrying about their children’s upcoming school year and crazy-busy helping them move in.

When we are anxious and stressed emotionally and physically, we get stuck in our head space with thoughts like these:

“We still haven’t received all the books.”

“I haven’t found the right lunch box yet.”

“I need to pick up the immunization forms from the doctor.”

“Is my 18-year-old ready for an independent life?”

“Will they make the right decisions?”

The worry and doubts go on and on—like the ticker at the bottom of a newscast!

Parenting is a job of the heart. Our most precious emotion for our children is love, which comes from the heart space, yet we handle our kid’s emotions and generally raise them from our head space. And under stress our head space is guided by fear. This happens all the time, when our kids have made a mistake, for example. That is when they need a hug and understanding most, yet we end up scolding them and punishing them first. We say it’s because we want to protect them, which is true, but we end up answering to our fear and parenting from our head space! That’s a misalignment from our deeper intention of connection and love.

When our children are dealing with their own fears of stepping into the unknowns of the new academic year what they need most is our support, love, and understanding. We need to match their energy of fear with our energy of love. So how can we move from the chaotic head space to our loving heart space amid the long list of to-do’s? Here are three quick steps:

  1. Activate your awareness: Notice your breath and heart rate. Put your attention on your breath first, and observe how shallow and fast you’re breathing. Then notice your heart rate and how fast your heart is beating. With this focus you will naturally start to slow down by taking deeper breaths. All you have to do is put your attention and awareness on your breath and your heart for just a few seconds, and your body will start to do the rest. This will surely start to move the racing energy from your head space to your heart space. It’s like taking your foot off the gas pedal.
  2. Anchor your intention: Now that you’ve slowed down your heart rate, intentionally take five deep breaths. You will notice a quick drop in your heart rate. This is like moving your foot from the gas pedal to the brakes. As you take those first few intentional deep breaths, you will quickly notice the drop in the speed of your racing thoughts as well. You have now naturally moved more energy from the head space to the heart space.
  3. Activate your awareness and anchor your intention—again: While your first round of these steps will take you out of fight-or-flight mode, the second round will bring your car to a full stop, to a calm and collected mind. Now you’ve parked your car in your heart space.

The heart space is where love lives. It is where all the fuel you need to build a good relationship with your kids is pumped from! If you tackle your to-do list from this energy space, you will probably do less; you will move definitely slower; some things will be left incomplete; some won’t get done at all. But I guarantee you that those tasks that fall off the list will be those that aren’t priorities anyway.

The heart space is one of productivity, so you will be more productive but less busy, more present and less rushed, more love based and less fear based, more calm and less chaotic. Isn’t that the goal? Isn’t that what you want your children to emulate as well? Isn’t this the energy you want them to be surrounded by as they head back to school? Isn’t this how you would want them to handle their life?

So roll up your sleeves and try it! Break the cycle! It’ll make for a memorable back-to-school send-off for you and your family.