As the months drag on during the COVID-19 pandemic, parents around the world are doing what parents do — trying to figure out what is best for their children. For many parents, that question centers on weighing heavy considerations around mental and physical health.
How can we prevent our family from getting sick?
How can we best protect others from getting sick?
How can we make sure our children are getting the social interaction that is important for their emotional well being and development?
Are playdates okay?
And when will this all be over so I can go back to complaining about playdates instead of desperately wanting them?
These are difficult questions to answer as every family’s situation is different, but if you are trying to have playdates in 2020 and into 2021, following CDC guidelines is the best way to go.
Set up outside playdates
For as long as the weather allows, keep the playdates outside. There is no perfect solution, but experts say that outside gatherings are safer than inside. When playing outside, it’s simpler to maintain physical distance. Also, particles from coughs and sneezes can be diluted more quickly in fresh air. All in all, outside is the way to go.
Keeping the silver lining in mind, outside only gatherings can be a huge win. Don’t worry about doing the “having company over cleaning,” no one is coming inside anyway!
Think about ventilation
As the weather cools off in many parts of the country, outdoor play dates may be a bigger challenge. However, they’re not impossible — you just need to bundle those little ones up! When we were young we walked to school in six feet of snow, uphill both ways. They’ll be fine.
If you do bring the playdates indoors, ensure you have good ventilation set up. Open windows or doors and keep the air flowing. Will it get a little cold inside? Maybe. But that’s nothing a little dance party and a warm scarf can’t fix! Let’s get creative here, people.
Maintain social distance
Whether you’re playing indoors or outdoors, set ground rules for mingling with friends. Just like in school, help children set up activities they can play from six feet apart. Things like passing a soccer ball, jumping rope, sidewalk chalk, or riding bikes all can easily allow for safe distancing.
As a bonus, children are far less likely to accidentally injure one another from six feet apart. Think about how much money you’ll save on Band Aids!
Science has spoken, masks are effective. So, if you are setting up playdates for your children, mask wearing should be part of the game plan for little ones older than two and for adults.
Someday in the (hopefully) near future we can retire the masks, but in the meantime, it’s so impressive to see how children have adapted. Many of them have adapted far better than the adults! Keep it up with the mask wearing at play dates and you can help stop the spread.
Keep up the hand washing
One thing is for sure, the children of 2020 are going to know how to wash their hands very well! Before and after a playdate, make sure your children have washed their hands. And don’t forget to keep the hand sanitizer on the ready! We asked a pre-k teacher about her tips for hand washing, check them out here!
Because they’re touching everything, children can turn into tiny germ factories — and of course, the lovely action of putting those germy hands in their mouths. Frequent hand washing and sanitizing is good practice for everyday life, but right now it’s even more critical and needs to be an important part of the playdate experience.
Honesty is always the best policy, but it’s especially relevant for playdates during COVID-19.
Has your child not been feeling well? Stay home. Did your child have a runny nose a few days ago? Call up the other family you’re planning on seeing in advance. The common cold and other ailments are still going around, but it’s really difficult to tell without a test if what seems to be the sniffles could be something more.
No matter how much you and your child want to get out and play, always be honest with yourself and your friends and stay home if there is any question about illness or exposure.