Can I have a playdate…I see them at school?

AH! Are we there yet?! It is so tempting to let down our guard with the return of in-person classes, stay-at-home orders being lifted, and the vaccine rollout underway, but we are not there yet. Insert Debbie Downer music. We know that COVID-19 variants of concern are increasing in our community. They can spread more quickly and it is possible they can cause more severe illness. We also have seen that public health measures work to lower COVID-19 case numbers, hospitalizations and deaths. Yes, we are worried about the emotional health of our kids and really want them to participate in social activities. Yet, it’s not the time to let down our guard and open the doors to our homes.

Young daughter mimicking dad both holding pencils to chins in contemplation.

So how do we help our kids understand that supervised play at school is different than playdates? Here are a few differences to help guide your discussion:

1) IPAC measures…say what?

Eight year old female student sitting at classroom desk wearing a mask and applying hand sanitizer.

IPAC means Infection Prevention and Control. These include daily screening, cohorting, physical distancing, wearing masks, hand hygiene routines and frequent cleaning and disinfection protocols…to name a few. Our homes do not have these measures in place the same way they do at school. At least mine sure doesn’t!

2) Did I mention cohorting?

Outdoor classroom with 5 students spread out sitting on individual mats looking at teacher.

Play at school involves interacting with the same group of kids each day (a cohort). When one child tests positive for COVID-19, then contact tracing efforts begin. Public Health determines with whom the child has been in close contact for example, their class and household. When our list of contacts is consistent and small, Public Health can reach out to individuals quickly and people can start isolating immediately before they may unknowingly spread the virus in the community.

3) Close contact

Two preschool boys each sitting in a bin pretending to be pirates each holding a paper towel roll to eye.

The highest risk activities for catching COVID-19 are ones that involve close contact with others. Playdates expose your child not only to their friends but also to members of another household.

4) Location, location, location

Seven year old girl at school wearing backpack and face mask with other students spread out in background.

Halton schools have done an incredible job limiting the spread of COVID-19 within school settings. This means the IPAC measures are working. Public Health has linked the spread of COVID-19 more to activities like private gatherings. We can help keep community transmission low by only having close contact with our own household members.

I know…this has been very tough. Understatement of the year. For now, it’s about giving our kids a sense of connection with their pals in other ways like video chats and phone calls. What new ways have your kids connected with their friends through the pandemic? Share with us. We’d love to hear from you. 🙂

For parenting information or to speak with a Public Health Nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) simply call 311 or 905-825-6000

Posted in Children & Tweens, Keeping Your Child/Tween Safe, Keeping Your Toddler & Preschooler Safe, Parenting, Parenting Your Child/Tween, Parenting Your Toddler & Preschooler, Play, Growth & Development, Toddlers & Preschoolers | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Helping teens and tweens maintain mental well-being throughout the pandemic

The demands of COVID-19 have been difficult for everyone. For teens and tweens, there has also been a fair amount of loss. Beyond missing out on major rites of passage, this past year has also meant the loss of everyday experiences, connection with friends and independence – at precisely the time in their lives when all of it is so important.

As parents, here are a few ways we can help them through this challenging time.

Connect and show empathy

Mom and daughter dancing in kitchen
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Posted in Children & Tweens, Emotional Well-Being & Mental Health for Your Child/Tween, Emotional Well-Being & Mental Health for Your Teen, Healthy Eating for your Teen, Keeping Your Teen Safe, Parenting, Parenting Your Teen, Teen Brain, Teens | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Navigating COVID-19 with your teen

Parenting is tough, period…but during a pandemic, it’s even harder! If you’re living with teens, your parenting skills have likely been stretched a lot lately. Your teen may feel frustrated and disappointed about missed opportunities like milestone celebrations. So how can we support teens who want to test their independence during a very restrictive time?

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Posted in Children & Tweens, Emotional Well-Being & Mental Health for Your Child/Tween, Keeping Your Teen Safe, Parenting, Teen Brain | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

Grandparenting during COVID….

Mother and daughter visiting grandparents in window during a COVID-19 pandemic

As I wake up to another beautiful spring day, I am filled with joy. Birds are singing; the flowers are blooming; and I have time to enjoy a cup of Chai tea before heading to work.Yellow daffodil flowers in the ground

And yet…and yet. I hear the birds clearly, because my neighbourhood is now quiet. I keep checking on my daffodils through the window, because I no longer travel 30 kilometres to work….instead I walk a few steps to my new office in my home.  And if I’m not careful, that cup of tea will be followed by another and another as I adjust to my new routine and try not to think about COVID-19.

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Posted in Emotional Well-Being & Mental Health for Your Child/Tween, Emotional Well-Being & Mental Health for Your Teen, Parenting, Parenting Your Toddler & Preschooler | Tagged | 6 Comments

5 great ways to enjoy winter with the family!

I remember getting my kids bundled up for winter outdoor activities. What a process! First figuring out what activity to do and then telling myself – maybe more than my kids, that going out into the cold weather would be fun. Then getting them ready to go outside by putting on snow pants, boots, coats, hats, scarves and mitts, while they squirmed and said that they were hot. By the time we were done, I’d already had a workout and needed to rest!

Little boys sliding on sled in winter with helmets

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Posted in Emotional Well-Being & Mental Health for Your Child/Tween, Emotional Well-Being & Mental Health for Your Teen, Parenting, Parenting Your Child/Tween, Parenting Your Teen, Parenting Your Toddler & Preschooler, Play, Growth & Development | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment