With the warmth of the summer building, we’re starting to think about the fun of summer. Whether it is camp, vacation, or afternoons by the pool, summer usually means a slower, more relaxed pace for kids and their families. This summer, though, might be a little different because we might be moving towards post-COVID life.
We’re moving away from many of the restrictions put in place by the COVID-19 pandemic. Vaccination rates are rising and the transmission of the virus is slowing in many communities. Yet, many families are apprehensive about returning completely to normal. Adolescents over the age of 12 have just become eligible for the Pfizer vaccine and it’s not clear when a vaccine will be approved for younger children. Mask mandates and limits on indoor gatherings are changing, but often with a nuance about this being for vaccinated individuals.
Quite frankly, this is just complicated to understand and when we mix in our own anxiety as parents, it gets worse. Yet, we want our kids to have a normal summer. So what do we do?
Go Slow to Help Your Family Adjust
Remember those first few weeks of working and learning at home? How often did you run back into the house to grab a mask when the mask mandate was first implemented in your area? Did you have to visually check to see if you were standing at least six feet away from the person you were talking to?
All of this took time to get used to and going back to the way that life was before COVID-19 was a household name will also take time. Recognize that each member of your household will adjust to the changes at a different rate in a post-COVID world.
Let’s Talk about It
Make sure that you are frequently talking about what’s changing and why. Share the changes that are happening in your community, at your kids’ schools, or their camp as they move towards being post-COVID.
Allow your kids to voice their feelings about the changes. They may notice others moving faster or slower in adjusting to the changes in public health rules than your family. Give them space to have those conversations and to share their feelings about them.
Ask them questions about how they are processing the changes. Talk to them about what they think might change in the future and their comfort with it. Will they be ok not wearing a mask? How do they feel about peers not wearing them? What kinds of activities do they want to sign up for and what are the safety precautions in place?
Dealing with Differences
Depending upon where you live, the rules for you and your kids may be different. As a vaccinated adult, you may not be required to wear a mask in certain public spaces, but your child might be required to wear one. This inequity in requirements can create tension and a place for friction between you and your child. You might feel post-COVID and they might not.
Don’t be surprised if your child asks you to put a mask on if they need to wear one. Or your child might request that you shower after getting home from your unmasked workplace. As long as these requests are reasonable, it may make sense to go along with them because they are helping your child acclimate to the changes in COVID restrictions. Have conversations with them, of course, and share where the science is and how that is dictating your choices.
Relearning Social Skills
During quarantine, your children picked up a whole host of new skills. They may be able to navigate a Chromebook with ease and figure out why they can’t hear a relative on a Zoom call. They might even have figured out how to reboot the router and reset your wifi.
Unfortunately, at the same time, they may have stalled or lost ground on many social skills. Don’t be surprised if your kids struggle with in-person playdates or flounder when guests arrive in your home. Support them as they learn or relearn how to host or stay engaged with a friend. Be prepared to politely remind them of social norms or to suggest a new activity for a playdate.
Update the Bucket List
With the changing restrictions, it’s time to revisit your spring and summer bucket lists. Rethink what activities that you and your family are comfortable with. Talk with other members of your community to see what they have discovered nearby. Make sure to check on individual business’s COVID safety precautions, as this may vary and might be different from what is the norm in your area.