Post-Pandemic Summer: How to Navigate Getting Back Out in Public With Your Kids by Sherri L. Rose, MSN, PNP, FNP, HPN (Retired)
Being a parent is simply sometimes downright difficult. If you are reading this, you have rather amazingly survived: COVID, employment or lack thereof, having to work from home, schooling your children, and now (finally) summer is here! You want your kids to go to camp, play with their friends, get back to normal and get a life back for yourself! You need to congratulate yourself that you have survived this unbelievable journey!
Before starting, I’d like to ask: How are YOU feeling? The stress level through this experience has been insurmountable for so many. Do NOT overlook your mental health. Are you drinking more? Fighting with a spouse? Screaming at your children? Take a few minutes and assess – how happy is your family? Many people need some kind of intervention, so don’t hesitate to get it! It’s no different than when that little yellow cup falls in front of your face when you are thousands of feet in the sky – you need the oxygen first, before you are able to help anyone else. If you are not feeling OK, most likely, your children will not be feeling OK either.
COVID-19 and its multiple variants are brand new to humans. We have had horrific viruses in the past, but this one has been truly overwhelming for our generation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have done the best that they can (with some rare exceptions and true interferences) to inform the United States and our globe as to what to do, when to do it and how to do it. Our individual states have varied substantially in their responses. Unfortunately, politics has interfered in the appropriate recommendations to keep Americans safe from harm. I must send my deepest condolences to those who have lost loved ones or are long haulers and dealing with long-term effects of this devastating virus. My heart goes out to you.
As we dive into summer, here are a few tips to help keep everyone safe (from viruses at least!):
1. Start With Information From the Pros
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does an outstanding job of filtering through the information from WHO, CDC and the knowledge from their 67,000 pediatricians and creates guidelines for parents and shares these on their website, HealthyChildren.org. (Their website is also available in Spanish!)
2. Research Summer Camps
HealthyChildren.org can help you find a summer camp for your kids.
3. Eat Outside
If you can eat outside, eat outside. If it’s too hot, then go inside – but if your waiters are not wearing masks, you are in the wrong restaurant, in my opinion. Yes, many restaurants require masks for the entire staff and for patrons while going into the restaurant and to and from the restroom. This is not true in all states. Keep in mind that many people have chosen not to be immunized. You do not know who they are. Those that are angry about the vaccine philosophy will likely not wear their masks. Just remember these issues while going out in public.
4. Play With Friends
Again, if you tend to stay in your own bubble – kids play with the same kids, parents have been immunized, you wear masks when indoors (grocery stores, etc.) – you still have to take some risks, but some socialization is critical to everyone’s mental health. As older children become immunized, you will be able to ease your restrictions. I’m not sure there is truly another choice to NOT get all of our children vaccinated. Yes, we do not have all the information about the vaccine and long-term events; however, death is not a particularly kind alternative. Me? I certainly hope that all our grandchildren will be immunized.
5. Promote Herd Immunity
Many people think that they don’t need to get vaccinated because enough will and they will then have immunity. Because this is a brand-new virus, there are only ESTIMATES as to what percent of the population needs to be vaccinated to reach herd immunity. Not enough time has passed for us to accurately know what percent we will need to acquire this. Yes, this vaccine was developed very quickly, but it is also completely different than our usual vaccines. It does not contain part of the virus. It tells our body how to react to the virus.
Yes, there are going to be people who have side effects. I had a person tell me “You can die from the vaccine!” I wanted so much to respond and say, “You can also die from COVID and before that, you can give it to your entire family and they might die as well,” but I didn’t. In my opinion, people have been persuaded by unreliable non-scientific resources that vaccines are bad. I am so sorry about this.
6. Start Slowly
Remind yourself how precious those babies of yours are (even if they are teenagers they will always be your babies). And sure, COVID has been kind (so far) to most infants, children and teens – but NOT all. There have been more deaths and long-term issues than I dare to mention here. Even when you are immunized, there is not 100 percent assurance that you cannot catch COVID.
Keep your distance, wash your hands. And if you aren’t sure? Wear that face mask. It cannot hurt!
Wishing you a safe, healthy and happy summer.
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