"How to calm irrational fears for the anxious school mom" by Hannah Christensen (CatholicMom.com) Photo by Yamilette Platero (2017) via Posh Stock Photos. Licensed by author.

There are just a few more weeks left of summer in our household. I know many families are already starting back to school this week or next week. But for us, we have a little more time before our oldest daughter heads off to preschool. It's wonderful to have an extended summer, to squeeze in a few more carefree sunny days, but it's also a bit unsettling. Because this momma is trying to mentally and emotionally prepare for the start of preschool.

I never knew how easily I was prone to anxiety until I had children. I find myself worrying about their safety, panicking when I momentarily lose them on the playground and playing out in my head all the worse case scenarios that could possibly happen to them in every situation. Nervousness surfaces in my heart when they are with another caretaker and I'm not there to keep an eye on them.

Most of the time, my fear relates to the unknown. I don't know what is going to happen, I can't control everything going on, I can't picture the environment my kids will be in, I don't have a visual on them, or we are entering a new situation that is unfamiliar. The unknown is what makes situations more frightening, even though it is often a very irrational fear that is all in my imagination.

I realize that very often I mother in fear.

The feelings of fear and anxiety are a difficult pattern to break and sending my oldest off to school for the very first time is giving me a chance to test the extent of my nerve-wracking emotions.

It is affording me an opportunity to TRUST, to let go and let God.

Starting school in an unknown territory and a transition for a stay at home mom with children who have never attended daycare or other programs without me being there.  The anxiety that keeps popping up in my head throughout the day and making me restless when I'm trying to sleep at night is all in my IMAGINATION. I can tell myself that but emotions often don't want to cooperate with logic.

My head knows that worrying about all the terrible things that could possibly happen to my children when I'm not with them does not change anything.  I can't change the future by worrying. And it is very unlikely that anything terrible will happen to them just because I am not there. But, nevertheless, my mind continues to be terrified of all the "what ifs" and the "unknowns". So here are three things I am trying to do lay my irrational fears to rest.

When Anxiety Comes, Pray

Ever since I registered my daughter for preschool in the spring, I've been praying a daily prayer for her success in studies. I've also been praying for protection for all my children. Both prayers are found in this Mothers' Manual: Prayers and Directives for Mothers and Expectant Mothers.

I love this scripture verse as a reminder to not give into fear:

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27.

I have it on a sticky note in my home office to help me cultivate a calm attitude.

For the month of August, the blog To Jesus Sincerely is doing a virtue challenge on fortitude or courage. There was a section on fear that really spoke to my anxious heart.

"Let go of irrational fear. We all have fears that are overblown or don’t make sense[.....]Maybe it’s the worries that keep you up all night[......]We can’t always change our circumstances.  We can’t rid the world of spiders, snakes, worries, or error.  But we can always have courage to do the right thing.  Let go of your irrational fears.  Give them to God, and then step out in action to right wrongs and clear your house and your head of those nasty creepy crawlies."

Learn From the Experienced

Throughout this summer,  I have asked the more experienced friends of mine who have older children or who at least started on the journey of preschool a year ago, all the questions that are spurring my anxiety. Even though some of my concerns just seem completely ridiculous, they are still affecting my emotional mindset. They are REAL fears even if I know they are irrational and unnecessary.

Facebook groups and my local moms' group have been great outlets for me in learning about the experiences of others and being reassured that my worries are most likely needless. It is comforting, on the other hand, to know that other moms have gone through anxieties and transitions similar to mine.

Hearing the experiences and feelings of other moms reminds me that attending school is a normal part of growing up for many families.  Once our family transitions to the school life, it will become familiar and normal for us too.

Prepare For a Positive Year

Worry weighs on the mind and breeds negativity while optimism lifts the spirit and breeds positivity. Planning mentally, emotionally and physically for the school transition is helpful for my nerves and for my mindset. Finding ways to be excited about school and seeing my daughter's eagerness to attend preschool are also essential for refocusing my fearful attitude about this new season of life. I've been adding fun ideas to my "School Days" Pinterest Board and browsing resources to help me have a positive outlook towards the school year.

Worry weighs on the mind and breeds negativity while optimism lifts the spirit and breeds positivity.

[tweet "3 ways to lay fears aside + become a joyful mom this school year -@mrsdavidchriste"]

Lay those irrational fears aside and become a joyful school mom with a positive mindset. I know that's what I'm going to try my best to be.

Copyright 2017 Hannah Christensen
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