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COVID-19 is Not Cancelling Summer

By Jay Greenfeld

Our country and world have needed to adjust to the way we operate. It has been a colorfully interesting few months for all in our city with a lot of adjusting, changing, and making choices that we likely never in a million years thought we would have to do. The adjustment from formal classes being cancelled in March to doing online classes with one or both parents juggling working from home. As parents we have needed to shift from optimism, excitement, and altering the plans to then managing our own emotions and thoughts to prevent our houses from becoming some local version of Lord of the Flies. Either way, as Summer legitimately approaches (as opposed to pretend hot days that were followed by snow in May), it is time to start making new decisions about how you and your family will continue to both thrive and survive amidst the current pandemic. One thing is certain, we cannot cancel Summer. We can be forced to cancel FolkFest, summer camps, day camps travel plans, and movie nights at the parks and beaches across the province while also closing the famous Bridge Drive-In, but that does not necessarily mean we cancel a season altogether. For our own mental health and general level of sanity, in Manitoba, we rely heavily on Summer to rejuvenate our mind and body after 6 months of winter. However, the most recent one will never be forgotten and it is that much more important to ensure that we are getting out while also respecting appropriate social distancing. After being inside all winter and even more so with extreme and necessary social isolation practices that needed to be in place, we have been indoors for a long time. The longer we spent indoors AND away from so many of our loves ones and friends, the harder it can be for the mind and body to cope.

Some of the most important coping methods include exercise, socializing, and exposure have been limited implementing those coping skills has been more difficult, yet still necessary to do. Therefore, start with, it would be best to begin reframing your thinking about summer. Change the mindset that we are stuck at home, with limited options for our children to recognizing we are safe at home and although the options for activities may not be what they have been in the past, it just means changing what you do. I know my daughter has been distraught about the fact that she will not have her Summer camp experience this year- one that she looks forward to for over 300 days a year. However, many of the activities that she would be able to do at camp, can still happen in the current circumstances. So, she cannot do many of these things with her friends this summer, but it just means we will have more bonfires at home, more sleep outs under the stars in the backyard, and more creative games and art contests that can be created in your home. Instead of focusing on the disappointment that your time at the lake will look different, appreciate that you are able to go to the lake. I have often been told that you do not know what you have until it's gone, but I also think we do not know what we have been missing until it arrives. So, what has arrived this Summer has been the ability to spend more time engaged in Summer activities with our family; days, moments, and memories that would not have happened otherwise because of how over enrolled many of the children would be. Start planning now while accepting that you cannot change the circumstances, but rather your perspective on them.

Be sure to plan virtual connections with peers, family members, and neighbours. We thrive off of human contact and that has been limited the last number of months. There is a direct inverse relationship between stress and social support. The more social support you can have, the less stressed you will be. Our social interactions will continue to look drastically different these coming months AND they do not need to be obsolete. You may not be able to give your family members, neighbours or friends big hugs but you can sit six feet from them and have conversations or play a variety of games, because remember, it is not -50 Celsius out there in June or July! You can use COVID as a reason for not being physically close to others, but you cannot use the weather as an excuse, so if it is nice enough, establish plans with people that can be outside or even done virtually (if needed) to ensure that you are getting some degree of social connection on a regular basis. Although many summer camps may not be happening, but virtual groups are still happening for your children that focus on reading, Math, and gaming. Any way your children can connect with others will benefit them. Thankfully much of our world is wireless or at least does not need to happen attached to a desk in the basement. If you are relying on a device like a laptop to connect with others, use it outside to remind you of what we wait so many bitterly cold months for to embrace.

Finally, Summer is happening --get moving! We are limited because gyms are slowly starting to re-open, summer activities and many organized sports are cancelled. Often times, we focus too much on the doors that are closed, that do not pay attention to the windows that we can open. The Summer of 2020 is one that can be focused on the windows that are open. The window of learning a new sport or skill with one of your children, engaging in an activity that you can do together that they would likely have otherwise done with their friends. As many parents know of their older or adult children, the years move fast, so instead of recalling that life was a haze when the children were growing up - engage with them. Do yard work with them, go for longer walks that can evolve into jogging or running, and without question get on the bike! Follow one of the million exercise apps available that teach home workouts (e.g., Leansquad; Fitness Blender) and ensure that you are devoting at least 60 minutes per day to exercise for you and your family because without that outlet, the Anxiety we already have that has been heightened from the current pandemic, can decrease. COVID-19 is not cancelling Summer, it is modifying it, so create 19 activities you will do differently this season that you would not have done otherwise. Certain doors are closed, but Summer remains open!

Feature Articles:

COVID-19 is Not Cancelling Summer

Fatherhood: What does it mean?

Top Ten Summer Family Fun Activities

2020 Summer Day Camps & Programs Directory

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