All parents know that daycares are the most germ-ridden places on Earth, and every daycare parent knows about “Daycare Syndrome,” the catchphrase for frequent upper respiratory infections common in group childcare. Yet centers servicing essential workers’ children have largely remained open without contributing to the spread of COVID-19, which gives us insight into how schools, camps and nonessential childcare spots can re-open and remain safe.
This year, with outings to the community pool, day camps and pool parties still on hold, kids cooped up at home will be eager to get in the water as the weather warms. Experts worry that parents are stretched too thin to provide the required supervision, leading to an increase in child drownings this summer. As of mid-May, both Florida and Texas — the top two states for child drownings in pools and spas — are already seeing higher numbers than last year.
How can we help young children understand more about social distancing and wearing masks? This might seem like an impossible dilemma for parents of active and social kids. Part of child development is learning how to play, share, talk, and tumble together, and it’s hard to push kids to modify these sweet moments of interaction in response to COVID-19. As cities emerge from their shelter-in-place orders, the complexities of playdates and summer camps might be confusing for everyone to navigate.
Of all the hardships imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, few are as poignant as the reshaping of relationships between children and the grandparents who love them. Across America, where more than 70 million people are grandparents, efforts to prevent infection in older people, who are most at risk of serious COVID-19 illness, have meant self-imposed exile for many. At the opposite extreme, some grandparents have taken over daily child care duties to help adult children with no choice but to work.
As some countries ease coronavirus restrictions, mental health experts are noticing an emerging phenomenon; anxiety about life after lockdown. Meanwhile people who remain living under the most stringent measures are fearful about what will happen when these rules are lifted.
Grandparents have had enough. They want to see their grandchildren. A life in seemingly endless lockdown and isolation from grandchildren is not how grandparents want to spend their golden years. But adult children don’t want to risk exposing an older, more vulnerable generation to the new coronavirus during a family visit. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that eight out of 10 deaths from COVID-19 are in people aged 65 and older.
As parents settle in to becoming homeschool teachers overnight, the challenges they’re facing can certainly feel daunting, especially at a time when most are worried about their health and financial well-being.
This is grandparenting amid the COVID-19 crisis. For my wife and me, becoming grandparents meant a hurried drive across middle America — 1,500 miles in two days. It meant being barred from a hospital visit, then maintaining two weeks of self-isolation in a rented house before we’d eventually be allowed to hold our grandchild or hug his parents.
Sheltering in place with your family means more opportunities to share meals, play games, and possibly drive each other a little batty. The extra hours of togetherness are also a good opportunity to collect oral histories. Whether you want to dive into family lore or record a snapshot of life in the era of COVID-19, there are several ways to set yourself up for sympathetic listening and enthusiastic sharing on all sides.