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Newsletter: June 2021

How to Handle the Longest Back-to-School Season

“I feel like the busiest person in the world! I know I’m not and it’s just because I’m trying to get used to doing things again. But it feels so busy!”

Fourteen-year-old Liam is exhausted right now. He’s tired in a way he hasn’t experienced for over a year — the kind of tired that comes from getting out of the house and doing some of the activities he’s missed during COVID. As kids and adults transition from a long stretch of empty calendars to a more full schedule again, many are feeling like Liam: A bit overwhelmed. But how long will it take before we feel “normal” again?

Paula Rauch, MD, says, “People should think about it taking as long on the other side of this pandemic to reestablish a sense of confidence in the world as the time we spent coping with the changes. If you think about things really opening up by July 4, consider it taking 16 months from July before it feels like things are going to occur more normally.”

We knew it was going to take time for families to get back up to speed now that things are gradually reopening. But Dr. Rauch’s suggestion of anticipating 16 months of transition time was still surprising to us. What does it mean? In a practical sense, it means that this summer is the beginning of the longest back-to-school season in memory.

Typically, we’d wait until schools everywhere were actually out for the summer — and then wait some more — before we started thinking about the next academic year. But 2021 is different. After having adjusted our family lives to cope with COVID, we all have to re-learn some things. Maybe your family is stressed out at the thought of adding lots of activities back into your calendar. Or perhaps some of your loved ones are feeling anxious about jumping straight back into social events. Maybe you’re excited about getting back to a more normal life, but wondering how to reset family routines that were changed during the past 16 months and now need to be adjusted for earlier wake-ups or later dinners. Whatever the challenge, it’s understandable for families to be feeling a mixture of emotions about re-entry after the pandemic, and none of us truly knows what to expect.

That’s why we’re kicking off a summer-long series of articles and helpful content aimed at supporting families through the post-COVID transition. We’ll be sharing expert advice from top child and family therapists on what to expect and how to cope at different points in the re-entry process. We’ll also have fresh ideas for food, fun and conversation to help you maintain close family bonds, reduce stress and get your schedule — and your meals — back on track. We’re all in this together, and if we’ve got a long back-to-school season ahead of us, The Family Dinner Project wants to be here to help every step of the way.

Join us throughout Summer 2021 for all the back-to-school, back-to-life resources you need to make this transition as happy, healthy and positive as possible. We can do this!

Start here: Read our full interview with Paula Rauch, MD, Founder of the Marjorie E. Korff Parenting At Challenging Times (PACT) program at Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Rauch shares her advice on how to help kids anticipate what to expect, how to talk about the resilience we’ve all gained during the pandemic, what to do if kids are feeling anxious or out of sorts during the transition, and how to ease back into routines wisely, without overindulging.


Getting back into busier schedules means we could all use some super-fast dinner ideas. Try these 10-minute Beef and Broccolini Bowls for a meal that’s faster than ordering takeout!

10 Minute Beef and Broccolini Bowls


Family picnics are a wonderful way to make mealtimes fun, whether you’re savoring a summer evening or taking dinner on the go for an evening activity.

Family Picnic Ideas


Dr. Rauch recommends helping kids understand the past year as a time of resilience-building. These conversation starters about resilience can help!

Talking About Resilience