After months of quarantine, your kids are probably itching to get outside and have fun, especially now that the weather is nice. This may leave parents wondering how to keep their kids safe in the midst of a global pandemic while still letting them live their lives.
Let’s start off with some good news. Recent studies have shown that COVID-19 poses less of a risk to children than to adults. Not only do symptoms tend to be milder in people under the age of 20, on average, but young people are less susceptible to contracting the virus in the first place.
However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be taking precautions to keep your kids safe while they’re having fun. Fortunately, health experts understand a lot more about the coronavirus than they did at the beginning of the outbreak and their advice can go a long way in mitigating risk.
There are two different ways to think about mitigating the risk of coronavirus. The first is to consider the inherent risk level of a given activity. For example, a playdate outside is much safer than one indoors. The second is taking necessary safety measures such as social distancing and wearing a mouth cover like the N95 mask.
Lowest risk: staying home with your family or housemates
While businesses and public spaces have been reopening across the country, the fact remains that the safest place to be during the pandemic is at home. And the safest way to do it is to stay inside with your family or other household members. It doesn’t count if you’re throwing dinner parties and hosting playdates with people you’re not quarantining with.
It’s especially important to stay home if you or your kid is feeling sick.
There are all kinds of activities you can do with your kids inside. For older kids, you can teach them some of your favorite hobbies such as sewing or cooking. Board games are also always a welcome distraction. And maybe letting them play video games from time to time is okay if it helps them (and you) stay sane.
For younger kids, arts and crafts are an age-old classic. Meanwhile, it’s never a bad idea to take the time to read to your kids.
Moderate risk: playing outside alone or with very few people
Going outside is generally considered to be safe. It’s safer though if you keep the headcount to a minimum. Going to a big, open park with relatively few people is a great way to get some fresh air while staying safe, as is hiking.
But if you do want to organize a playdate with a friend or two, doing so outside is actually safer than doing so inside. Just remember to take the necessary precautions such as wearing a N95 mask and maintaining a minimum distance of six feet from people you don’t live with.
Higher risk: outdoor gatherings
Outdoor activities get riskier the more people are involved. In larger gatherings, it’s harder to maintain a safe distance of six feet. And to state the obvious, the more people there are around you the more likely you are to encounter someone with the virus. Amusement parks, crowded parks and beaches, and big family barbeques are all inherently riskier than outdoor activities with only a few people.
That being said, if you do want to partake in any of these activities, make sure to take the proper precautions. In addition to wearing a mask and social distancing, it’s also best not to share food with people you don’t live with.
Highest risk: indoor gatherings
The riskiest activities of all are indoor gatherings. The virus spreads much more easily indoors than it does outside in the open air. That means your kid’s big birthday party may have to wait until next year.
As with outdoor gatherings, if you are going to take the risk with indoor gatherings it’s best to—you guessed it—wear a mask and keep six feet away from others.
How to stay safe when venturing out
As mentioned several times in this post, masks and social distancing are a must if venturing outside. It’s also important to wash your hands with soap for 20 seconds once you’re back indoors.
Yes, staying home is the safest option during the pandemic. But that doesn’t mean that venturing out into the world is necessarily a bad idea. If you’re taking the necessary precautions to mitigate risk, there’s no reason you can’t go have fun with your kids outside.