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Today's Family Magazine

MOMMY CHRONICLES: Planning Summer in a Pandemic

After roughly three months of staying home, schooling at home and working at home, summer is finally here and our state has begun to reopen.  Many summer camp programs have been canceled or have pivoted to online programming, and many families have had to rethink their vacation plans.  While airports are open and flights are inexpensive, some choose to take advantage of unbelievable deals, while others aren’t comfortable doing so just yet.

And while people are being discouraged from congregating in groups larger than 10 people not from the same household, and social distancing is still the norm, protestors by the hundreds have congregated to make their voices heard.  "Experts" caution us to be wary of a second wave of the outbreak, but aren’t sure whether to expect this in the summer months, or when the usual cold and flu season is back.  Or how recent protests may or may not cause a spike in COVID-19 cases.  This is new territory for most everyone, and most everyone has opinions on it.

Uncertainty abounds as some have lost their jobs, while essential workers work overtime, and still others transition to working at home.  While school is out, it’s unclear what we’ll expect during the coming school year. It seems the only constant is uncertainty.  “What will your family be doing this summer?” used to be an innocuous conversations starter, but now seems fraught with judgment or uncertainty, as people defend their choices and preferences.

While most communities have canceled summer festivals and July 4th plans, many families use the opportunity to reconnect with their neighbors, planning socially distant bonfires, picnics, and get-togethers. In pre-COVID summers, these opportunities would be difficult to schedule, with too many activities to find time to gather. Sidewalk chalk is cool again, as artists of all ages create inspirational masterpieces on sidewalks and driveways. Fireflies and frogs have returned for the season; thankfully, no murder hornets. And sunshine and warm weather have opened up even more ways to head out and take advantage of the season.

Re-create the good old days by catching some rays in the back yard with cold drinks and loud music. (As a mom, I think I’m required to advise you to swap out the baby oil for sunscreen, though.)  Ice cream stands and coffee shops have opened up, with adjustments to keep visitors safe, and outdoor seating at restaurants helps this strange time seem more normal. Pick-your-own berry farms keep you socially distant, while still enjoying the season.  Bike rides, hikes in local parks, and a day at the beach are still within reach.  And as parks, playgrounds, and drive-in theaters open, you’ve still got plenty of ways to squeeze in some family fun this summer.

Our pre-COVID summer plans were pretty low key -- swimming at home, kayaking the local waterways, and taking a few camping trips.  Luckily, our plans haven’t had to change much, and more than anything, we’ve been taking advantage of the gorgeous sunny weather.  Some friends have begun to venture out further -- road tripping to Carolina beaches or heading off to stay in cabins off the beaten path.  And others plan to stay home because that’s what’s best for their situations and comfort levels.

As we each decide how to spend out precious time off with our families and friends, please be kind. Some may feel comfortable resuming normal activities, while others may have their own, equally valid reasons to proceed with caution.  We all need to accept that others may act in ways we don’t agree with, but if their actions don’t impact us, we need to remember that if we can’t be kind, we can be quiet.