Nearly a year ago, we started this collaborative venture and I wrote about Summer Parenting. This year, our COVID summer, we are taking summer parenting to the next level!
This summer is going to look like nothing we have seen before. At our house, my kids finished all of their school work before Mother’s Day, and they will not return to school until September at this point – crossing fingers and hoping that they go back in person in the Fall. That means our summer break is fully Four. Months. Long.
Plus, most of our regular summer travel and activities have been cancelled.
I don’t know about you, but I am on the hunt for things for my kids to do for this extra-long COVID summer.
I mentioned a few weeks ago that I had let my kids invite one friend each over for back yard sprinklers and snacks (see Angry Kids). We had an early heat wave that week, and took advantage of an 85+ degree day. I am waiting for the weather to warm up like that again, and I will definitely make the sprinklers/water fight/back yard snacks a staple here each week.
What else can we do? What other ideas do you have?
Now that things have loosened up a little, I am letting my kids play with a few friends while making sure we still follow the policies recommended by health experts. We have had to talk to each of them about keeping it to the friends we’ve already approved, and making sure to still play outside. We’ve had some issues – of course. Kids are going to want to go straight back to “normal” – which is not going to happen this summer. But, we need to be realistic, and kids crave social interaction – sometimes more than we do!
My 8-year old is living his best life. He and a couple friends have discovered they can ride bikes around the neighborhood and go between each of our houses (a few blocks apart). We live in a small town, and this is exactly why we love living here! I’ve told him that he needs to check in with me once every hour, and between us, the moms are all keeping track of them and feeding them snacks throughout the days.
My 5-year old has decided that the little boy across the street is her new best friend. He has a trampoline and two dogs…and we have a swing set and one old dog. They have caught butterflies and picked flowers and just played.
After nearly 3 months being home with just our family, our kids are chomping at the bit to get out and see other people and explore new places – really, any place that is different from our house and our back yard. And that is OK!
During this COVID summer, I want my kids to remember that they got some freedom to just be kids. They are allowed to ride bikes/scooters/roller skates or walk/run between our house and grandma (and the girls their same ages who live across the street from grandma). After several times of them just taking off, they know they have to check with me before they leave to go over there so I know where they are – and same goes with grandma and/or the other moms in our little circle.
I’ve often said that we live in our little town in order to give our kids that freedom – and to give them as much “normal” as we can. The world is not simple. This virus makes it more challenging. But, hopefully, we can still give them a taste of that kid freedom and the fun of summer.
My son bristled at having to check in with me hourly. He tried to argue for getting his own phone. That was a hard NO from us. I was tempted to get a Gizmo watch to keep track of him. My husband thought I was silly – and he’s right.
This COVID summer is our opportunity to give our kids the same freedoms that we had growing up – riding bikes, running between houses in the neighborhood, and just playing. Those are my best memories from growing up, and now as I look back those are the memories I cherish, just as much as any of the family vacations that we took.
What other things have you been able to do while you’ve been home this Spring?
Some of our favorite things include walks to the lake to feed the ducks, picnicking at the park/lake/baseball field, and taking a drive through the country to check out how the crops are growing.
After a takeout picnic a few weeks ago at the baseball field, we had an imaginary family baseball game on the field. It was so much fun!
National Parks are starting to open up – with limited capacity. Are there Parks in your neck of the woods that are open and are less popular than others? Check them out! Take your kids somewhere new to explore “staycation” sites close to home.
Just before the lockdown, we ventured into Nebraska and Kansas (about an hour drive from our house) to check out a geographic formation and a “cave” where horse thieves used to hide – aptly named “Horse Thief Cave” – as well as a state park and fish hatchery. All within 90 minutes of home!
Swimming pools are probably not going to open this summer, and all of our regular kid activities are off. No baseball. No swim lessons. No summer camps.
Instead, let’s make the most of what we can do!
A recent article in Reason argued that our Lockdown is Ending, Whether Governments Approve or Not. Americans do a very good job of exercising free will. We are resilient. We are strong. And while we want to be safe, we are also independent, and we want to live.
Staying home for another six months or more is not realistic. We can both follow the guidelines set by the experts and slowly get back to as normal as possible.
Will many of us continue to work from home for the foreseeable future? Probably. However, not all of us can do that.
So, how do we gradually loosen up and still stay safe, take care of each other, but live our lives? I, for one, am a rule follower. That said, some of the suggestions – especially the idea that anyone who is vulnerable should just stay home until there is a vaccine – is difficult to expect people to follow. They do not take into account people’s mental health.
We all want everyone to stay healthy. We want to take care of each other. Honestly? I kept my kids away from both sets of their grandparents for nearly 2 months. And the grandparents broke the isolation. That was their choice. They craved contact with the kids, and they decided the risks were worth it.
Friends, we all have free will. We all have choices.
I have loosened up our family restrictions – for my own and my kids’ sanity. Playing outside and riding bikes around the neighborhood are healthy. Having the freedom to be kids and enjoy summer – these are priceless memories – and I am for anything that helps them enjoy the things they can do, when there are so many things that we still can’t do this year.
Our COVID summer will be different. Embrace the things that we can all still do, while we continue to take care of one another and cautiously come out of the full lockdown.