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Proceed With Caution

Three months ago, covid–19 arrived in our country, in our state, and in our neighborhoods. A virus that changed the way we work and the way we socialize. A virus that made grocery shopping more stressful and turned parents into teachers. A virus that pushed us into our homes to play games, enjoy family dinner and wash our hands frequently. And now, although that virus still lurks around corners, we are told we can proceed with caution. But, will we?

When businesses were closed and shelter in place orders were in affect, there were limited decisions to be made. Most of our community followed the orders and preventive measures that kept us healthy. On any given day our friends and family members were living the same way we were living. Now that orders are lifting and things are reopening, the decision to resume activities lies with each individual family.

For some of us, these decisions are tough. We are weary and we want our kids and ourselves to have socialization back in our lives. We want to ignore the risks and dive head first into play dates and dinner with friends. We want to roll around in our social life which has been set aside for months. Parents have to make decisions on who they see, where they go, and what they do. Some will tiptoe into the water and some will dive head first, while others will remain on the shore.

Our family has decided to remain on the shore for a bit longer. We have a plan to include activities that bring us joy while continuing to avoid public places. This is a challenging commitment to keep as summer starts and others resume their social life. Receiving daily social invitations and seeing other’s lives on social media is a struggle for me. I question myself with every interaction. Am I overreacting? Am I under reacting?

Instead of sitting in this space and spinning, I wrote down several actions items to alleviate my struggles. These actions are helping me become more present with my family’s daily life instead of assessing each social opportunity that comes along.

1. Have a conversation with your spouse to define boundaries and comfort level for your family. This is an important conversation so that you and your spouse are on the same page. Chances are you and your spouse have varying opinions, risk tolerance and comfort levels that need to be discussed and compromised on.

2. Identify specific activities that you will participate in and specific activities you will avoid. Make a list of social activities that you are both comfortable doing. My husband and I agreed that as adults we are comfortable with each of us meeting up with friends in outdoor spaces; however, we are not comfortable with our kids being around other kids in small spaces or for long periods of time. For us, the need for constant reminders to our kids to keep space is stressful and outweighs the benefits.

3. Identify things you are missing and brainstorm ways to bring them into your life safely. I miss going out with friends so I have a plan to meet up weekly in an outdoor space with a friend to enjoy conversation and a glass of wine. My children miss playing at the playground so we will find new and fun picnic locations for them to explore.

4. Inform your social circle of your family’s plan so that you avoid having to turn down daily invitations. I miss my social circle like crazy but receiving daily texts with social invitations is too tempting for me. I had a conversation with our friends to let them know what our family has decided to do for the next few weeks.

5. Avoid becoming defensive when other families inquire about your decision. I answer most questions about my decisions on the defense. I am a work in progress. In regards to our plan, I am being mindful that just because someone wants to know why we made a decision does not mean they are questioning my decision. Perhaps they are curious and gathering information for their own decision making process.

6. Respect the decision that other families in my social circle have made without judgement. I am being mindful that everyone’s circumstances and risk tolerance are different and even though they have made a different decision than we made does not mean it is the wrong decision.

7. Limit my time on social media to avoid “FOMO.” This is something I learned when coping with holidays and living far from family. Seeing pictures of family outings, dinners, and celebrations that we are missing out on makes it harder for me. I get caught up in what I am not doing instead of what I am doing. Taking intentional social media breaks can help me to become more present in my daily joys.

I would love to hear your thoughts on these action items.Are you struggling with the decision making process? What actions help you process these decisions? Do you have a plan in place or are you making decisions on a case by case basis?

Are you staying on the shore a bit longer until more information is known?

Are you getting your feet wet in the shallow area of public spaces?

Or are you completely “over it” and have dove right into the deep end of those beautiful blue social waters?

Whatever your decisions may be, you are a good parent and I wish you all the love and health as you proceed with caution.

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