This summer is likely going to be more different from any other summer you’ve experienced before. Although the world is slowly starting to reopen after the quarantine caused by the spread of COVID-19, your everyday activities and routines are not going to return to normal immediately. In addition to the coronavirus pandemic continuing to disrupt your daily happenings, it has also caused organizations across the country to cancel festivals, camps, concerts, and all of the other events that families fill their summers with.
Not only are these activities and events the things that bring people joy over the summer, but many of them are essential in keeping your family active and healthy. With a little creativity, however, you can find ways to keep every member of your family physically and mentally healthy this summer. From your parents to your pets, let’s take a look at how you can keep your family healthy during this very different kind of summer.
At the forefront of many parents’ minds is the question of how they will keep their kids entertained and active without their usual summer activities. During a typical summer, you may have sent your little one to summer camp, taken them to different programs during the day, and arranged plenty of playdates with their friends. With camps and programs canceled and friends staying apart in order to adhere to social distancing, you have to find alternatives to keep your family healthy and happy over the summer.
The first thing you can do to help your children during this time is to acknowledge the changes in your routines and have an open conversation about them. If your child is used to going to arts camp every year, they may be trying to process their feelings about not being able to go this year. Even if your child isn’t talking about not being able to go to camp, they may still be affected by it. They may be holding onto feelings of sadness, anger, or disappointment, emotions that can seriously affect their mental health in the long-run.
Don’t hesitate to be the one to start the conversation. You won’t upset your child by just bringing up the issue; they are already well-aware of the situation. You can keep your family healthy mentally by creating space for a dialogue on the subject. Ask your kids open-ended questions, such as “How are you doing without being able to go to camp?” or “What is it like for you without seeing your friends at camp?” When you ask questions like these, you give your child the opportunity to share their feelings rather than give a simple yes or no. You can also ask them what they think is better and worse about having to stay home during the summer, allowing them to recognize the positives and negatives of the situation.
Talking about the pandemic and why it is important to stay home is a great way to keep your family healthy. They’ll better understand the health risks, which will help them stay physically healthy, and open dialogue will help their mental health.
As you continue to speak openly and honestly with your kids, you can start moving towards finding replacements for the activities they’re missing out on. If your children are used to going to a camp where they get do to a lot of outdoor activities, try to plan a camping trip for your family where you can do a lot of those activities. Although public spaces like swimming pools may not be open for the summer, many parks and campgrounds are letting people stay there with social distancing measures in place. If you can manage to keep your family separate from others in the area and isolate your campground, you could recreate activities like hiking, kayaking, and swimming for your kids.
If your child usually goes to a camp where they focus on a certain skill, like arts camp or soccer camp, recreate those activities at home. Online resources have been a great tool for parents helping their kids finish out the school year at home and they can continue to be useful over the summer. You could enroll your art-loving little one in online art classes for kids, allowing them to practice their craft while you keep your family healthy at home. To replace sports camps, take the time to play with your child regularly throughout the summer. Work with them on different moves and techniques and remember to have plenty of fun while you do it.
This summer, parents are also going to face the challenge of not being able to rely on child care services while they’re working. If you’re used to sending your child to toddler care during the workday, you’ll have to make some adjustments to your schedule to accommodate having to care for them. If you’re able to, try to work out a care schedule with your partner that splits the duties between the two of you. You can also talk to your bosses and see if you can work a more flexible schedule that allows you to care for your children more easily.
Many people consider their pets their furry children and watching out for their health during the COVID-19 pandemic is part of your goal to keep your family healthy this summer. One thing that many pet parents are wondering is whether animals can contract COVID-19. While there have been a few cases of cats and dogs coming down with COVID-19, it is not very likely that it will happen. There has also been no evidence that pets can pass the coronavirus to humans, but humans can pass it to their pets. If a member of your family is sick, it is important that they don’t care for your pet and stay isolated from them like they are isolated from the human members of your family.
Outside of protecting them from COVID-19, however, there are other new techniques you may need to use to keep your pet healthy this summer. Animals need mental and physical enrichment just like humans do and they can also feel anxiety from major changes to their regular routines. Try to keep your pet’s routines as unchanged as possible. Stick to their usual meal times, walks, and playtimes. While you should cut out trips to the dog park or doggy daycare to keep them socially distant from other people and animals, you can ensure they get plenty of time to play at home.
When it comes to pet healthcare, you should call your vet to see what kind of hours and policies they’re operating under. Many clinics are allowing people to drop off their pets for emergency needs, but they may choose to cancel non-essential appointments. If you’re concerned that your pet is missing out on necessary shots or vaccines, be sure to contact your vet as soon as possible to discuss your options.
Other services, like grooming or training, are being put on hold right now as well. Again, if you feel like your pet really needs the service in order to be healthy, contact them to see what your options are. Many dog owners rely on groomers to keep their pups’ hair at a comfortable length, especially during the summer. This means that many dog grooming services are still open, they just may have limited hours and no-contact drop-off policies. Do your research on these policies so that you can stay up-to-date with the best methods for keeping your pet healthy.
Older adults are particularly susceptible to catching coronavirus and developing life-threatening symptoms, which has forced many seniors to stay in complete isolation during the pandemic. As quarantine rules loosen, older adults will likely remain at home so that they can stay healthy and completely avoid the virus. This means that you may not be able to see or interact with your parents for months to come.
Being cut off from family can have a major impact on their mental health. Grandparents tend to find a lot of joy when they get to regularly see their grandkids and many older people have close relationships with their adult children. The pandemic has also caused gatherings and events that older people rely on for socialization to be canceled, giving them a wealth of free time to fill.
You can keep your family healthy by focusing on boosting your parents’ mental health. To do this, schedule regular video chats with them. Video services like Zoom and Google Hangout allow multiple to join in on calls, so you could also invite your siblings and their kids as well for a full family reunion. Over video chat you can simply talk, or you could play games together that make everyone laugh. Staying connected is one of the simplest and most effective ways to help your mental health. If your parents are missing out on their social groups, see if the groups are meeting online or offering other virtual resources to stay involved. If you find that they are, teach your parents how to utilize technology to stay connected with their friends as well.
When you check-in with your parents, take the time to make sure they are staying physically healthy as well. Everyone needs to find ways to stay active during these times, whether that is through taking daily walks or practicing yoga every morning. When your parents talk about physical ailments, actively listen to them and see if you can help them find solutions. For instance, your mom may talk about how her arthritis is acting up more lately. Take the initiative and search online for ways she can relieve her arthritis at home. You can also help her set up a virtual appointment with her doctor to discuss arthritis treatment options. If she isn’t technologically-savvy, she may never have considered this as an option. Offering this kind of help will show her that you’re listening to her and providing care, even when you can’t see each other in person.
Yourself and Your Spouse
While you and your partner are busy trying to keep your family healthy this summer, you have to remember to take care of yourselves too. If you don’t take the time to focus on your own health, you won’t be very effective in your efforts to keep your family healthy.
Every week, or even every few days, take the time to check in with your spouse and discuss how you both are doing at the moment. If you don’t have a spouse, check in with yourself or call a close friend that you trust. Whether you talk about your emotions with someone else or you identify them on your own, taking the time to acknowledge and honor what you’re feeling will help you better manage your mental health. Having virtual appointments with a therapist can also be very helpful during this time, as they can provide an outside perspective to help you work through everything that you’re dealing with.
Another way that you can care for yourself this summer is to have a space that is just for you and your spouse. With the family cooped up under one roof, it can feel like you never get time apart from your children. Make that separation happen by setting boundaries on where the kids are allowed. You can let them know that your bedroom is off-limits so that you can use it as a calming, rejuvenating space.
If your bedroom isn’t the ideal spot for your personal sanctuary, consider where else in your home could be. If you find peace in reading, create a reading nook in the family room or office. You could even turn the garage into a personal haven that you can use for working out, meditating, or just as a quiet place where you can gather your thoughts. Just be sure that the space is completely comfortable for you. If you choose to use the garage, for instance, you may need to invest in new garage door installation to ensure that you can open up the space easily to get fresh air. If you choose to carve out a corner of a room, get a privacy screen to really separate it from the rest of the room.
You also need to remember to prioritize your physical health. Remember to eat well and try to stick with any exercise routines you followed pre-quarantine so that you stay physically fit. If you’re used to going to certain appointments, such as to the chiropractor, contact them and see what services they’re offering. You may still be able to receive chiropractic treatment, which will do a lot for your physical and mental health. Your chiropractor may have different hours or policies, but unless you contact them you may just assume they’re closed.
If the resources you usually rely on for your health are closed, research remedies you can try at home. When you’re researching, be sure to use an abundance of caution and only use a remedy if multiple sources support it. If you’re looking for hair replacement, for instance, you’ll want to wait for the professionals to be open again to help you get your hair back. While you can’t try DIY replacement methods, you could look into vitamins or supplements that help make your hair stronger and prevent you from losing more hair. Small acts like this can help keep you physically healthy as well as boost your self-confidence.
The effort to keep your family healthy during these trying times is essential. When you can keep your family healthy mentally and physically, you can better protect them from COVID-19 and all of the changes the pandemic has caused. Try out these tips to keep your family healthy this summer and you’ll be doing your best to look out for all of your loved ones.