Covid-19 probably altered many of your family’s summer and fall plans. Some activities that you’ve been looking forward to for months might have to wait until 2021. But just because this period is going to be different doesn’t mean that it can’t be special. Here are six ways that your family can make the most of the remainder of this unusual summer and fall and create some lasting memories. Regardless of what activities you participate in, you obviously want to follow guidance from authoritative health officials and take into account your own health situation – stay safe!
1. Cancelled vacation? Take a few mini vacations.
Destination vacations involve some combination of airports, restaurants, public bathrooms, hotels, resorts, and theme parks. Each one of those stops increases your family’s chances of catching or spreading Covid-19, especially if you were planning on staying in a shared indoor space for multiple days.
Travelling closer to home by car can limit many of those risks. A more local vacation schedule could also give you a chance to take multiple small trips instead of one big trip. Mix up a weekend at a campground with day trips to apple orchards, nature preserves, or hiking trails. Find the best burger, ice cream, and pizza place in a 60-mile radius. Has an old drive-in movie theater reopened a couple towns over? Is there a new golf course within driving distance?
These smaller trips are never going to replace Disney World, especially if you have kids. But you and your family might discover new interests and activities near your home that become treasured traditions.
2. No camps or sports? Organize your own.
Sharing group accommodations and playing close-contact sports are also off the table for many kids during this time. Baseball and individual sports like golf and tennis can be safer as long as everyone uses their own equipment, wears a mask, and maintains social distancing while playing. Maybe this is the summer or fall to encourage your soccer star to branch out a little bit and pick up a tennis racket.
On the other hand, if you have older kids who are really trying to hone their skills, your backyard or a local park could host your family’s own sports camp. Schedule some time every day to help your athlete practice or play small games with household members. If you’re not usually the coaching type, you can find drills and training exercises on YouTube and other online learning platforms.
You can use those same services to recreate an indoor social camp experience for your young scientist, craft enthusiast, musician, or chef. You could even organize a video call with some of your child’s friends so that they can all work through a project together. Roast some s’mores in the oven while your daughter is knitting and Zooming and she’ll enjoy some of the fun of camp with none of the homesickness.
3. Big party? Move it outside.
Grandma and Grandpa’s 50th anniversary dinner might require a little extra planning. Depending on local guidelines, your family’s health, and your risk tolerance, you might still decide to get together at a restaurant. But moving parties outside can relieve some stress and keep everyone safe while also allowing your family to celebrate important milestones together.
If you don’t want to ask guests to bring their own food and drinks, designate one food handler who will wear a mask and gloves while pre-portioning everything in disposable containers. Clean a bathroom near a door and stock it with hand sanitizer and disposable towels. Encourage your guests to wear masks when they’re not eating and drinking. And if you’re worried about maintaining social distance, use cones or groups of chairs to designate specific areas of your yard for individual households. You probably have heard of “drive-by” parties where – rather than getting out of the car and standing 6 feet apart – the attendees stay in their car and drive by with various congratulatory signs. This has been done for graduations, birthdays, anniversaries and other occasions. I know of one family in Brentwood, Tennessee that celebrated their father’s 85th birthday in just this way!
4. Have you been losing touch with family? Take advantage of bonding time.
While many jokingly talked about how the divorce rate and pregnancy rate would increase during this era, the truth is that requiring families to stay closer to home can help nurture relationships. A close friend’s family in Franklin, Tennessee talked about how his family had more dinners together than they had since their kids were all under 10 many years ago. It was the happiest and most relaxed I had seen him for quite some time.
Bonding could occur through having more meals together (including meal preparation as a family), forming a family band (for the many musically-inclined families in the Middle Tennessee area), having more bedtime chats with your children, reading books and sharing thoughts as a family (spiritual growth with the good book, perhaps?), watching classic movies and compiling the family’s Top 10 movies (or blues albums) of all time, having epic ping pong tournaments (or Balderdash marathons) with cheesy trophies and all, making a family quilt (with COVID ’20 squares), piling time (endless rabbit holes) into working on genealogy as a family, building a deck, etc.
What has your family done thus far?
5. Need to catch up on personal development? Spend time picking up long-lost hobbies.
Many of us have personal growth goals or hobbies that we have consistently said “only if I had time would I…”. Sure, some of us may not have much more time than we did pre-pandemic, but many of us likely have a bit more time due to less travel, less work or less obligations overall.
What is your only-if-had-time hobby? Learning the piano, guitar or accordion? Reading more of the classics? Yoga or P90X? Genealogy? Learning coding language for website development? The possibilities are endless, but it is probably wise to take an inventory of what hobby(ies) you want to pursue. Consider the time that these hobbies take in light of how deep you want to take those hobbies. Just like with any task or skill we want to learn, the more you focus on developing this hobby, the more effective you can become at the hobby or skill. Your goal, however, may not be to become an expert in any one area and you merely want to experience the hobby. You may want to have your hands in many hobbies, but you may not want to spread yourself too thin. Perhaps you can develop a hobby that will last for your lifetime and into retirement.
6. Have you not been spending time with relatives or friends as much in the last several years due to distance? Use technology to develop those relationships.
Isn’t it funny how a pandemic and being tied to our homes a bit more can bring us closer to those that live far away? More individuals and families are becoming accustomed to technology like video conferencing (somewhat out of necessity). We can all take advantage of this new routine by setting up conference calls with those we want to rekindle or deepen our relationships with. Whether it is playing jackbox tv with nieces and nephews in Kansas or zooming with my parents 5 hours away to check in on them more frequently with face-to-face (across the screen) conferences, you don’t have to limit your relationship nurturing with those that live in your home.
Those are just six ideas to consider for this era. You undoubtedly have come up with your own unique ideas and have created some memorable times from this. Planning a way to entertain your young and older aged children; scheduling a vacation outing, or party; visiting with elderly parents/grandparents, and taking time for personal development are all still very possible. Everything just might require some extra thinking and planning. We will look back one day and say, “Do you remember the Pandemic of 2020 when we . . . "Speaking of planning, one benefit of having plans is that when you know what you want to accomplish, it’s easier to make adjustments when the unexpected pops up. If you need some help keeping your new plans in sync with your long-term financial planning, let’s have a chat