Back To School Transitions Tips for Parents During COVID-19

anxious child

Contributed by our friends at Brightline

When you became a parent, you probably didn’t envision 18 months hunkered down at home with your whole family (or that spending some extra time hiding out in the bathroom would be keeping you sane). And we’re guessing you didn’t picture that you’d feel so weird about finally sending your kid or teen back to the classroom after that year and a half. Excited to be going back to the new “normal?” Yes. Confused about what that looks like? Also, yes. Worried about how your kid might handle it? Triple yes.

Raising kids can have its challenging days (don’t you love trying to convince a tired kid to…go to sleep?), but parenting your way through a global pandemic? It’s been like a chaos-filled Groundhog Day, but in real life. Nobody should have to navigate this uncharted territory alone. Whether you’re wondering if constant tantrums are “normal,” or you want to figure out if your kid might have anxiety or ADHD, it might be time to enlist a bit more support.

Not sure exactly where to start? Here are a few key back to school transitions tips for parents during this weird and challenging time.

5 Tips To Navigate Back to School Transitions

1. Talk to your child’s teacher

Wondering about your kids’ behavior, but you’re not sure what steps to take? Your child’s teacher — who observes them in close proximity every day and probably has years of experience with kids and behavior — can be a great resource. If the teacher notices your kid’s been struggling to focus or is having a hard time making friends, they might recommend resources at the school, or habits you can try at home as a family. And if your kid is struggling at school, but not at home, you can offer up your expert suggestions to help the teacher.

The more you work together, the more your kid will thrive at home and in the classroom!

2. Establish dependable routines

Consistency is the key to stability and enlisting more child care support, like a reliable morning or after school nanny—to pack up backpacks and lunches, then help with pickups and homework—could make a world of difference for a child struggling with the newfound busyness of their life. Not sure what kind of school year child care solutions are out there? Check out Before and After School Child Care: 6 Practical Solutions.

3. Consult your family doctor

Another great support to add to your team is your kid or teen’s doctor. Along with ruling out medical concerns that could be contributing to your kid’s behavior, pediatricians are trained broadly in kids’ health, so they can help you pinpoint potential issues and whether extra support (or evaluation) could be useful for you. And since your family doctor knows other professionals and your child, they can provide personal suggestions about which behavioral or mental health experts your kid would gel with (and send through a referral, if needed).

4. Try behavioral health coaching

If you’ve tried all the things to help your kid with tantrums or your teen with self-confidence, a behavioral health coach who specializes in parenting and family issues can work with you to identify growth areas and, more importantly, goals and ways to meet them.

While therapists tend to focus on the “why” behind the “what,” coaches hone in on the present and future — helping you reframe struggles and find and implement practical opportunities to get where you want to be. Coaching is grounded in evidence-based methods for kids and teens, then applied to work for everyday challenges and situations that might not meet a clinical level of need. So if your elementary school kid is struggling with worries or your high schooler just can’t seem to stay on top of homework, a coach can help you figure out the right tools — and how to use them to help your family grow.

“Coaching is a way to reframe your goals and push you or your child to the next level,” says Charlene Montgomery, MS, a behavioral health coach at Brightline. “Together, we’ll identify where you want to be, and give you the tools to help you get there.”

Coaching is a great way to set goals, so you and your family can thrive. Consider a behavioral health coach an investment in your family’s well-being — the cheerleader you need to power through this tough season.

Want to learn more about coaching? Check out 5 coaching programs that will help you tackle back-to-school.

5. Consider therapy

If things just aren’t getting better, or you think your child may need a greater level of care, it might be time to think about looping in a therapist — someone who is specially trained in identifying and treating behavioral health issues.

When you’re worried about how your child is doing — maybe they’re really stressed or feeling down lately, or maybe you think they might have ADHD, or tough behavior is really wearing you down — it can be seriously tough on everyone in the family. And asking for help can feel like a big (and scary) step. The first thing to know? “All of these things are totally normal, especially during a time of transition and uncertainty,” says Angel Herrera, LMFT, a Brightline behavioral therapist. “We all experience stress in one way or another, and it’s OK to need help sometimes.”

There are tons of therapists out there, and it can be hard to figure out where to start. In your search aim for a licensed behavioral health clinician who can diagnose and treat behavioral health conditions in kids and teens. You may also want to partner with a therapist who has experience in your child’s specific struggle, whether that’s anxiety, depression, or ADHD.

For kids, it can be especially helpful to work with a therapist who takes a positive approach. Strengths-based therapists will help your kid or teen to grow coping skills out of what they’re already amazing at, which can infuse the whole process with confidence and motivation.

Coaching or Therapy?

Need help figuring out what type of support is best for your family? Reach out to Brightline for a free, 15-minute consultation or download the Brightline Connect app for videos, articles, tips and resources, and more to help you through it all. 

Taking the Next Step

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by next steps, take a deep breath and remind yourself you’re absolutely not alone — and there are plenty more resources to build into your support system.

It can be difficult to take the first step and ask for help, but an incredibly important one. “I feel like the more parents are involved in their child’s treatment, the better results we see,” says Herrera. Remember: you’re not alone, and help is available. You got this!

Additional Online Resources for Children’s Mental Health

How to find a sitter for your pandemic pod

pod sitter

With many schools going online-only or adopting staggered schedules with distance learning days, some families are banding together to form at-home “pandemic pods” to provide child care, structure, socialization and educational help for their pod of children.

Here are a few tips to finding a pod sitter or nanny to teach, tutor, or supervise for your pandemic pod, or visit our Guide to Pandemic Pods for a full step-by-step guide to forming and running your pod.

Determine your needs and budget

What you are looking for in a pod sitter and how much you’re willing to pay? If your pod is academically focused a.k.a. a “learning pod,” you may want a sitter with a teacher or tutor background and credentials, which will come with a higher pay rate. You can also expect to pay more per child if your children are very young (i.e. a “play pod” for infants and toddlers) or if there are fewer children in your pod. The average rate for a pod sitter on UrbanSitter ranges from $10-15 per hour per child.

Write a detailed job description

Your job description should outline responsibilities and expectations, including the number of children and families, length of commitment, hours, location and rate. Be sure to share the ages and grade levels of the children and disclose any learning disabilities or special circumstances.

Some schools provide a distance learning curriculum, while others do not, so you should note if the sitter is expected to create their own curriculum. Additionally, indicate what type of interaction, if any, the children will have with their  school (video classes, assignments from teachers, online tools, etc.).

Your job description should also describe the learning space (is it your backyard or does the venue rotate from house-to-house) and the learning supplies that will be provided. It will also be important to note if parents or other adults will be in the home during pod hours. Most importantly, disclose COVID-19 requirements and commitments to safety.

Sample job description for a pod sitter:

Our group of three families is looking for a tutor to help our three first graders 5 days a week in a “pod”. All three kids are well-behaved and get along. Note: One child has mild dyslexia, so experience with that is a plus! The kids are distance learning with their curriculum from Washington Elementary School.

All of our families live in the same neighborhood and we’ll set up a learning space in my backyard. You’ll be provided with all supplies and a picnic table. Each child will have a tablet with wifi. My husband and I will be home but we will stay inside of our office while you’re here. Parents will drop off their kids at 9 am and pick them up at 3 pm.

COVID testing & safety: We’ll ask you to follow CDC guidelines and check your temperature every morning before coming. We’ll also pay for your regular testing and add you to our UrbanSitter family plan for test & symptom monitoring.


Interview qualified candidates

Next, use a child care site like UrbanSitter to find pod sitter candidates to interview. UrbanSitter makes it easy to find background-checked, qualified candidates with advanced search filters for type of teaching experience, COVID-19 related screening questions, and COVID-19 test monitoring & symptom checking in partnership with Collective Go™. Pod jobs on UrbanSitter receive an average of 20 applicants or more in most areas.

In preparation for your interview, pod families may want to meet ahead of time to discuss the interview questions that will be asked or to decide if one parent will lead the interview process, screening a longer list of candidates to narrow the list down to top picks for the rest of the families to meet. Video call interviews conveniently allow all families to join in at the same time.

pod sitter statistics

Hire and check in regularly

Once you’ve selected your pod sitter, hire them using a booking app such as UrbanSitter, which conveniently allows you to schedule weekly dates and times and set up payments by credit card.

To encourage communication between you and your pod sitter, schedule regular check-ins to talk about how things are going, what needs to be adjusted, and to give and receive feedback. Be sure to coordinate in advance with the other pod families about how and when feedback will be shared to ensure the pod sitter isn’t receiving conflicting feedback from the different families. Also, check regularly that you are complying with your state and county’s COVID-19 and child care licensing policies.

Ready to find your pod sitter? See our Guide to Pandemic Pods for more best practices or visit UrbanSitter now.

Meet super talented virtual babysitters

virtual_sittingVirtual babysitting opens up a world of exciting possibilities for kids to take yoga lessons, drawing classes, and even get homeschool help—all from the safety of home, while their parents get tasks done or work from home.

And, since virtual babysitting takes place over video chat, parents can hire sitters who live anywhere in the country, so they can book the best of the best. To book a virtual babysitter, hire one of the sitters below or post a job on UrbanSitter (Hint: Set your address to any major city for the biggest selection of sitters!). And, be sure to book jobs in your sitter’s local timezone.

Here are a few super talented babysitters ready to engage and entertain kids with a virtual babysitting session!

Singing & Music

Singing, reading, homeschooling, teaching Spanish
110 Reviews | 102 Repeat families

Singing, reading, acting out stories, finger play
32 Reviews | 23 Repeat families

Singing, reading stories, learning the alphabet and counting
42 Reviews | 45 Repeat families

Singing, reading, telling jokes, teaching knitting
28 Reviews | 26 Repeat families

Singing, storytelling/reading, science experiments, crafts, cooking, tutoring
16 Reviews | 1 Repeat family

Singing, reading
36 Reviews | 24 Repeat families

Singing, teaching piano
11 Reviews | 9 Repeat families

Singing, story time, helping with schoolwork
11 Reviews | 8 Repeat families

Singing, reading, helping with homework
6 Reviews | 2 Repeat families

Singing, doing flash cards
7 Reviews | 8 Repeat families

Yoga & Dance

Yoga, teaching violin
18 Reviews | 17 Repeat families

Dance parties, yoga, reading, help with homework
7 Reviews | 8 Repeat families

Ballet, choreography, coloring, drawing, origami
62 Reviews | 60 Repeat families

Yoga, children’s games
18 Reviews | 16 Repeat families

Dancing, yoga, reading, home schooling
21 Reviews | 15 Repeat families

Exercising, Spanish language, meditation
19 Reviews | 9 Repeat families

Yoga, teaching art, reading, homeschooling
18 Reviews | 8 Repeat families

Dance, yoga, story time, singing
18 Reviews | 8 Repeat families

Yoga, homeschooling
6 Reviews | 2 Repeat families

Yoga, cooking, music
7 Reviews | 4 Repeat families

Homeschool & Tutoring

Homeschooling (elementary), tutoring, reading, stretching exercises
45 Reviews | 35 Repeat families

Homeschooling, tutoring, teaching Dutch
50 Reviews | 51 Repeat families

Homeschooling (preschool, elementary), reading stories
23 Reviews | 14 Repeat families

Homeschooling, reading stories, playing games
17 Reviews | 15 Repeat families

Homeschooling (elementary)
6 Reviews | 3 Repeat families

Tutoring in phonics, elementary math, elementary science, middle and high school writing, biology, algebra, geometry, trigonometry
7 Reviews

Homeschooling, reading stories
6 Reviews | 3 Repeat families

Tutoring in math
13 Reviews | 6 Repeat families

Reading & Storytime

Reading stories, playing games, creating stories together
37 Reviews | 21 Repeat families

Reading, art, science projects
30 Reviews | 20 Repeat families

Reading, storytime
9 Reviews | 5 Repeat families

9 Reviews | 6 Repeat families

Reading stories, dance parties, I spy
9 Reviews | 7 Repeat families

Telling stories, puzzles, teaching meditation, drawing together
8 Reviews | 9 Repeat families

Reading stories, practicing ABC’s, math, science, art
6 Reviews | 6 Repeat families

Reading stories, Spanish language
6 Reviews | 5 Repeat families

18 Reviews | 17 Repeat families

Homework help (K-4th grade)
13 Reviews | 26 Repeat families

For the latest updates on UrbanSitter COVID-19 childcare, please visit our FAQ: Coronavirus Precautions and Resources.

Keeping Families and Caregivers Healthy

Coronavirus and Urbansitter

Updated 3/25/20

Family and sitter health is a top priority for the UrbanSitter community.   With concerns over Coronavirus increasing coupled with school closures and geographic areas under “shelter-in-place” restrictions we would like to remind our community of the following: 

  • We encourage everyone to refer to the CDC and local department of health websites for specific instructions and restrictions, which may vary by city or county.
  • If your area has a “shelter-in-place” order in effect, check your area’s guidelines to understand any policies related to childcare.  For example, in the San Francisco Bay Area, where a “shelter-in-place” order is in effect, home-based care for seniors, adults or children is currently classified as an “essential service” and permitted in all seven impacted counties, as long as the care is performed in the family’s home. In Colorado, however, there are more restrictions and unless the caregiver is living with the family, providing medical care to the child or is providing care in order to allow parents/guardians to work for an Essential Business or perform an Essential Government function it is not permitted. All parties must comply with all other aspects of the shelter-in-place order. Regulations vary both by location and time period so please regularly check your local department of health websites.
  • We encourage open communication regarding family and sitter health status. So, as always, if a child, a family member or caregiver is sick or has a fever, please disclose this information, with symptoms and relevant doctor information, to the other party so that families and caregivers can make informed decisions about whether to cancel a job. Specific to the Coronavirus, the CDC recommends that people should self-quarantine for 14 days if you have been in contact in the last 14-days with someone diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • Jobs should be canceled if a caregiver or anyone in the family they are working for fits into one of the above categories. Jobs should not be posted and booking requests should not be sent if a family member fits any of those criteria as well. Click here for more information.
  • Families and childcare providers should continue to follow CDC guidelines for keeping homes safe.  This includes good hygiene practices such as washing hands upon arrival, before handling food and at regular intervals.

We also encourage creative solutions for childcare.   Anything we can all to do reduce the number of social interactions we’re having the better, so parents and sitters may start to see requests from each other such as:

  • Parents may start requesting remote sitting, using online video conferencing, to keep kids entertained and help with homeschooling.  These jobs might be for shorter increments of time. Sitters and parents can think creatively about virtual activities like storytime, charades and age-appropriate games like, “I spy…”
  • Parents who need in-home childcare and have a spare room may offer to have the childcare provider “shelter in place” with them.
  • Sitters may ask for a minimum number of hours per week with each family to be able to limit the number of families they are working with.
  • Sitters may ask for rides to and from work if they do not have cars, to avoid public transportation.

We hope everyone stays healthy.

Your UrbanSitter Team



(As of 3/13/2020)

Family and sitter health is top priority for the UrbanSitter community.   With concerns over Coronavirus increasing and school closures happening around the country, we wanted to remind our community of the following:

We are encouraging open communication regarding family and sitter health status. So, as always, if a child, a family member or caregiver is sick or has a fever, please disclose this information, with symptoms and relevant doctor information, to the other party so that families and caregivers can make informed decisions about whether to cancel a job.

Specific to the Coronavirus, the CDC recommends that people should self-quarantine for 14 days if:

  • You have been in contact in the last 14-days with someone diagnosed with COVID-19
  • You have traveled to a CDC-designated level 2 or 3 area in the last 14 days

Jobs should be canceled if a caregiver or anyone in the family they are working for fits into one of the above categories.  Jobs should not be posted and booking requests should not be sent if a family member fits any of that criteria as well.

The CDC also recommends the following steps to protect yourself and other family members:

  1. Get your flu shot to protect against flu or symptoms similar to novel coronavirus.
  2. Wash your hands with liquid soap and water, and rub for at least 20 seconds.
  3. Cover your cough or sneeze.
  4. Stay home if you are sick, and keep sick family members at home until symptoms resolve.

Additionally, here are some requests that both parties should expect to encounter when communicating about child care jobs and scheduling bookings:

  • Sharing information about any travel within the past 14 days
  • Request to take temperature before leaving for the job or upon arrival at the job (for both sitter and family)
  • Disclosing information about exposure to large groups, events or activities within the past 14 days
  • Request to wash hands immediately upon arrival

Here are the latest recommendations from the CDC on how to keep workplaces and homes safe.
As the situation is changing rapidly, the CDC and local department of health websites are great sources for the most up-to-date information and recommendations.

We hope everyone stays healthy.
Your UrbanSitter Team