Living with COVID-19
With COVID-19 soon to be declared an endemic, it doesn’t mean that the virus is going anywhere, but instead, life will resume but we’ll have to protect ourselves and our loved ones from being infected. True, all concerns are valid but there is no denying the fact that the virus isn’t disappearing anytime soon, and that our children (and even ourselves) have lost so much time, so isn’t it time we move on with things and try to work around the virus instead? For children, interaction and play time are crucial in their development, so parents should consider the following activities while also taking precautions with kids so that they could enjoy their lives again, and also keep themselves safe at the same time:
1. Outdoor play
Take the kids for a stroll around the neighbourhood either on foot or on their bikes! Have a run yourself and take in the fresh air – it relaxes your mood, and also keeps your body fit. Most importantly, you get precious “we” time with your kids out there! Have a variety of other outdoor activities as well, such as playing ball (ideal for really small children – just a few rounds of throwing and kicking the ball around is bound to excite them for extended periods of time!), or if you live in a terrace house community, do the “gate-minton” thing – playing leisure badminton with your kids using your gate as the net! However, do mind the SOPs though, it’s still not advisable to have the kids play around in large numbers, and do carry sanitizers and disinfectants in hand.
2. Hanging out
How about a stroll at the neighbourhood mall, or even eating out? We’re not to say that you should be doing it often without a care in the world, but bringing the kids out should actually be encouraged, albeit sparingly. Let them see the world they once knew, and have them get some air out there! However, with the virus still lingering, perhaps the frequency of such “hang out” trips should be controlled, and strict self-SOPs must be observed at all times so that the kids get some valuable time outdoors and can stay safe at the same time.
3. Additional classes/courses
If the kids have been enrolled to classes such as tuition, daycare centres, or additional classes like arts, sports, etc., putting them back might be a good thing to do, but do ensure with the class providers the SOP measures that they’ll be taking and the percentage of staff fully vaccinated just to be sure that your kids are in an environment that is as safe as possible for them to continue learning. Do address any doubts in their SOPs, but most importantly, have the kids be ready and properly informed of the risks before they return.
Perhaps the least avoidable one of the lot, sending kids back to school has been a topic of contention since the past few months. Whatever your take on it, there is an undeniable difference between online and physical schooling. Kids have lost out on the benefits of physical schooling for far too long and with the government’s recent effort in keeping school safe for the students by allowing only vaccinated teachers to teach face-to-face lessons once schools reopen, perhaps it is time that we send the kids back to school, but similar to item (3) above, do liaise with the school authorities on their SOPs and most importantly, prepare the kids themselves physically and mentally to observe a new norm. After all is ensured, ultimately you reserve the right to return the kids to school.
Practising the new norm
In the event you do bring the kids outdoors for any of the above reasons, please observe the new norms to reduce their risks of contracting the virus (after all, they’re still unvaccinated). We can never be too cautious when it comes to prevention, so do consider preventive methods while they’re outdoors such as wearing double layered face masks plus a face shield; shortening their time whenever possible to minimize their exposure and sanitizing their hands constantly. Plus, once they return home, practice top-to-toe cleanliness by getting your kids to shower and change into fresh sets of clothes. Gargling is an often-overlooked method but could help in oral cleansing, especially with airborne viruses. Last but not least, beef up their immune system and antibodies by having them eat well, rest well and play well so that they develop a natural resistance inside their little bodies to fight against viruses.
The anxiety of living together with a deadly virus can be stressful especially when kids are yet to be vaccinated. However, we have lost a lot of precious time to the pandemic so the announcement to declare COVID-19 as endemic after 80% of the population has been fully vaccinated should be a welcome boost for all of us to resume our lives as usual. However for our kids, let’s be more vigilant and moderate with their exposure outdoors. It is necessary for their growth and development, but should still be properly managed with methods of caution such as those shared above so that not just them, but yourself and other people your kids will come into contact with are protected.
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