Parents around the country are grappling with the decision of what to do with their kids come Fall. Send them to school or daycare? Stay home with them yourself if that's an option? There is so much uncertainty and we know it’s a tough decision. With that said, find comfort -- easier said than done, we know! -- and know that there are no right or wrong answers. 

Read on for some tips from our team of M+A experts to help make that decision, ease the transition and prepare as much as possible. 

“Whatever decision you make for your family, is the right decision for your family,” says Dr. Payal Adhikari, MD. “If things don’t work out the way you planned, then you’ll pivot to a new plan.” 

Still on the fence about what to do? Emily Oster, Ph.D., a professor of economics at Brown University, created a framework for a risk assessment system that can be used to help you make that decision, especially when such little data is available. The framework is based on mitigating risk and then evaluating that risk and benefits to help you feel more confident about the decisions that you decide to make. 

With all the uncertainty of what the future will bring surrounding the pandemic, Dr. Payal recommends thinking though “Plan B” in advance should your first plan fall through or change. 

As for the kids, Dr. Payal urges parents to help normalize their new norm as much as possible. 

“Children can sense our stress, so emphasize the bright side when possible,” says Dr. Payal. “Let them pick out their own masks with their favorite characters on it or talk about how they can pretend their whole class are superheroes in their masks!”. 

With so much up in the air and so many decisions that need to be made, it’s likely you’re going to feel overwhelmed and stressed. Dr. Sarah Bren, P.h.D suggests slowing things down and organizing your thoughts and priorities. 

“Take stock of other areas in your life in which you can actively reduce stress so you have fewer things draining your battery,” said Dr. Sarah Bren, P.h. D. “ Can you take some things off of your plate at work? Try to improve your sleep by minimizing screen time before bed -- for both you and your kids? Can you subscribe to a meal service a few nights a week with balanced meals so your family is getting nutritious food without the extra work on your end?  Eliminating one or two stressors from your life will also give you a sense of control that can help balance the feelings of lack of control and helplessness that may get kicked up while navigating the back to school process.”

This is unchartered territory and things will get tough. But, remember to be patient and compassionate with yourself! We’re all in this together. 

About Dr. Payal D. Adhikari, MD

Dr. Payal is a graduate of Northwestern University (BS) and Chicago Medical School (MD). She completed her pediatric residency at Rush Children’s Hospital, is board certified in Pediatrics and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. She resides in Chicago with her husband and two little ones and is a regular digital contributor to Monica + Andy and teaches the Monica + Andy Newborn 101 class to expecting + new moms in Chicago.

About Dr. Sarah Bren, PhD.

Sarah Bren is a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in psychodynamic and relationship based approaches to working with young adults, adults, parents and families. She is passionate about helping individuals and families develop deeper, more meaningful connections within themselves and with others, foster respectful and emotionally secure relationships, reduce suffering, and increase effectiveness and confidence. 
Dr. Bren is now offering virtual services for family therapy, parenting coaching and postpartum support. You can connect with Sarah through her website, or at