Updated 30 April 2021.
Are you having trouble remembering the “before times”? As the USA reopens, folks are starting to venture out while adhering to federal, state and local guidance. Your area may be starting to open up a little. The Center for Disease Control revised its mask guidance in April 2021: Masks may not be necessary when you are outside or with people who live in your household. It may be a good time to come up with some ideas about things that you can do outside with the kids and how to ensure that it is done safely.
Review Local Guidance
Guidelines about social distancing and face coverings are mostly being organized on a state and local level, so look into what is required and discuss that with your host family. The key questions are, “Who needs to wear a face covering?” and, “Under what circumstances do they need to wear them?” You can find the information you need on the website for your state or local county. Keep in mind, what you see others doing may not be a good indicator of the actual rules.
Talk to your host family about being around other children at playgrounds or other communal areas that may have opened in your area. What are their expectations about water fountains, hand sanitizer, and wiping down equipment. Everyone is still working through these questions, so having a discussion with your host family will help you feel more confident when you are out.
Prepare to Go
Pack a bag ahead of time so you are ready to go! Pack enough masks and face coverings for everyone, plus a few extra. Pack a couple of bottles of hand sanitizer, some disinfectant wipes, sunscreen, water, and, of course, snacks! Having everything ready to go will make getting out of the house much easier.
Here are some quick ideas for easy activities outside with your kids!
- Plan a picnic: Make some sandwiches or just bring snacks. Grab some toys, frisbees, or balls and head to the local park with a picnic blanket.
- Go on a short hike: Many hiking trails have remained open for small groups. Pick an easy hike and be ready to not get very far at all before heading back if you have little children.
- Skip stones at a pond or lake: For kids of a certain age, this can provide a lot of fun. Check out youtube for some good how-to videos if you haven’t done this before.
- Take a soccer ball to the local playing fields: With team sports still cancelled in some areas, the fields may be empty. Grab a soccer ball or a frisbee and enjoy some wide-open spaces.
- Visit a local farm or orchard: Family-friendly farms have opened in many areas. Some have animals you can see. Some have apple or berry picking. See what is around your area.
- Organize games and fun challenges for your host kid(s): you don’t need reservations or days of pre-planning to stimulate your kids; sometimes, a little structured activity can make for a memorable afternoon all by itself! Au pair Poppy, for example, took some cardboard to the park and challenged her children to build a structurally-sound house! (She cleaned up the area afterwards, of course!) Au pair Paloma, meanwhile, got everyone involved with family Olympics. Challenges included blindfolded dodgeball, a three-color coloring challenge, Fork Potato Toss, a staring challenge, and more!
Take some time to explore your area on apps and websites like google maps. You can often find parks and places of interest. You can “star” the ones that seem like good options and save them so you can easily find them again.