The latest news shows that the United States is close to having ‘exponential spread’ of coronavirus in nearly half of our states in the country and we continue to report the highest number of cases seen to date. As if parents didn’t have enough to worry about, the hardest part may still be ahead as we approach the later fall and winter season this year.
A potential climb towards the “third peak” of coronavirus cases may be on the horizon, according to Christina Caron (NY Times,10/23/20). Although an upcoming surge of the virus may sound frightening, experts say there are things parents can do right now to start preparing.
Here are 5 ways to help protect your family’s physical and mental health:
1. Make sure your family vaccinations are up to date
Experts recommend that both adults and children 6 months and older be fully vaccinated against influenza by the end of October.
Remember to also check with your pediatrician to make sure your child is up-to-date on other vital vaccines for diseases such as measles, tetanus and whooping cough.
2. Confirm your backup plan for child care needs
As we saw in the spring, child care solutions can be tough to find.
With cases going up and down, there may be closures at different times for schools at all levels. It’s helpful for parents to plan for all possible scenarios for the coming fall and winter.
Make sure you understand your day care or school policies well in advance.
Look into alternate options for child care (perhaps a few trusted babysitters or grandparents who live nearby) and discuss their availability and willingness to assist in advance of a shutdown.
If your children are exposed to someone with Covid-19, your family may have to quarantine for 14 days. At that point, you won’t have the option of backup child care because you’ll need to stay away from people who aren’t in your immediate family. Spend some time now thinking about how you’ll get through those 14 days.
3. Remember the importance of your family’s mental health
As we know, there is a great deal of anxiety in both parents and children due to the pandemic uncertainty.
Fear and anxiety about what could happen can be overwhelming and may cause strong emotions in adults and children. In addition, public health actions, such as social distancing, can make people feel isolated and lonely and can increase stress and anxiety.
In your family, it may be helpful to avoid speculating about the future and instead, focus on the present while implementing structure and routines.
Stick to consistent bedtimes and mealtimes.
Focus on expressing gratitude – every morning, you can make a routine of listing a few things that you or your children woke up to and felt grateful for in their lives.
4. Buy necessary supplies
You may feel more secure if you are prepared with needed items.
There is no need to hoard, but simply have a few necessary items on hand in the event of any illness for you or a member of your family.
Some of these items may include:
A) Fever reducers (such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen)
C) Hydrating liquids (such as pedialyte or apple juice)
D) Disinfecting wipes
E) Alcohol wipes for your electronic devices
F) Extra formula, baby wipes and diapers
G) Long-lasting food and snacks (such as canned beans, nuts and frozen vegetables and fruits)
H) Puzzles and games to keep your family entertained
5. Be aware of pandemic fatigue
As the pandemic drags on, following Covid-19 prevention guidelines can feel like more and more of a challenge.
However, the experts report that the reason we’re seeing increasing cases now is due to relaxed containment measures.
Please do not let pandemic fatigue prevent you from keeping yourself – and others – healthy and safe. The trick is to balance physical distancing with social connectedness.
It is critical to wear a mask if you’re going to spend time with people outside of your household, wash your hands frequently (or use hand sanitizer), maintain six feet of distance from others when possible and avoid crowded indoor spaces.
The pandemic can be exhausting. At times it can feel depressing and even interminable. But if your family makes good choices now, you’ll feel stronger and more mentally prepared to ride this out.