Summer. It’s often defined by travel, vacations, family reunions, trips to the lake, beach, mountains for outdoor activity. Trips abroad and weddings, cross country drives, camping. Children go to day camp, sleep away camp. They play sports, do art, learn skills like team building, socializing, canoeing, rock climbing.
Kids relax because the school year is exhausting, busy, they need time to decompress. Kids who went from school, to play practice, to band concerts welcome a bit of downtime, visiting the neighborhood pool, watching some TV or playing video games. They welcome some much needed family time.
Well here we are. Approaching a COVID summer. So as we see that COVID isn’t going to disappear, while some things will begin to feel more normal, it’s not a normal summer. Maybe the park, or the zoo, or even a swimming pool will open. Things will operate at lighter capacity and with different restrictions.
Summer concert series are mostly cancelled. All the street fairs and food festivals and music events that cities hold in warm months will likely be postponed. We won’t have spectator sports or the outdoor showing of Back to the Future in the park.
So for the summer, what works? Maybe parks, the zoo, the pool at reduced capacity? Summer camps may operate with measures to reduce crowded spaces, using outside space and nice weather to help reduce spreading germs. We know some school district sponsored camps (aka Denver Public Schools) have been cancelled entirely but maybe other options will exist?
Maybe more people will be comfortable with small playdates or kiddo exchanges with a small number of your friends or family, depending on the immune systems and the respiratory health and age of family members. Maybe you will have a small outdoor gathering on your block, or meet with a few families to provide social outlets for everyone, yet doing what you need to be safe.
So what’s our advice at CLEAR?
Try to find an acceptable normal. Look at your needs and the needs of your family and determine what must change, what can change, and what will change for your family to make things work.
Everyone has a different circumstance and a different idea of what is okay for themselves and their family. We just want to keep our families safe. Some people will gingerly, carefully re-enter a social world of some kind, and we say do that if you feel okay with that step. Others will stay home, and that is what some of us need to do.
If you do stay home, what can you do? Maybe you usually do lake trips in the summer and play charades after dinner with the extended family. Get a wading pool, a sprinkler for the yard and play charades with loved ones via zoom. See if your immediate family can find a hike with limited crowds that visits a waterfall or lake and do some outdoor time that way, even if you need to have your space. In CO we are fortunate to have spaces that even on a Saturday in July can feel relatively peaceful and isolated and allow for great hiking and water adventures.
When I think of my family, one of the things we look forward to in summer is visiting extended family, across the country, usually in the mountains or at the beach. We won’t do that this year, I don’t think. We won’t have Jazz in the Park or other street and music festivals or Union Reservoir, more crowded places we like to visit. There will not be kid’s birthday parties and weddings.
But I think we will try to do local day trips that take us outside and to explore new places. We will go back to the zoo, assuming they have limited numbers and restrictions and you can sign up for your slots, that kind of thing. We will grill out and have picnics in our backyard and in the park. We will see a few families with similar situations who are comfortable with what we are doing to stay safe and vice versa.
The main thing is finding a way to live your life in the circumstances we’ve been dealt. Everyone’s tolerance and choices will be a bit different, and we should try to live our lives and enjoy summer while also caring for our families and loved ones. This summer is not normal, but maybe we can find love, peace and appreciation for family in it.
We wish you and your family the very best!