Adjusting to Covid Life with Mask Wearing and Safety – A RIE Chat Summary

(Beginning in mid-March 2020, when the world shut down, I began a bi-weekly conversation with the parents who had been in my RIE classes. Since not every family could make it to these conversations, but each conversation touched on important elements, I would often write up a summary of the conversation. What follows is one of those summaries.)

What a beautiful afternoon today, and what a beautiful day it was yesterday. Are you all taking advantage of the sunshine and warm temperatures? Tell me what you are doing outside, I’d love to know…my google doc has some suggestions for creative outdoor explorations, but I’m happy to grow it.

Another tiny call last night, but it’s really okay…I’m happy not only to be there for whoever wants to talk, but for the idea of me being there for anyone…and it is also good for my own mental health to stay present and simply ready to talk to someone for a few hours at night, knitting and reading.

One question/concern that did come up was, “what if LA goes the way of NYC and requires masks all of the time? How will that be for my child?” I think that’s such a great question because we all know how challenging it can be to ask a child to put ANYthing on their head (sunglasses, hats, headbands, clips, ponytails…). It’s a challenge if it isn’t their express idea, and further, even if it IS their idea, it often comes off.

So 1) keep in mind that even if LA goes that route, the CDC doesn’t want children under 2 to wear masks, period. And at this point, the only places that masks are required are in stores, and hopefully we don’t get to the place of needing to wear masks when you are simply out for a walk. But that leads me to 2) Practice (practice, practice, practice). It’s a good idea to normalize the concept of wearing masks because it is pretty odd to see someone with a facemask on…I know I’m finding it a little disconcerting to see people from the eyes up, only. If you are going out, put your mask on before you leave, so your child sees you putting it on, and sees that it is still you. Just say something along the lines of this is a new way you are keeping yourself and everyone outside healthy. Simple as that. If your child is over 2, you can offer them a mask to wear at home, just in playing, so they get comfortable with the mask. As they get more comfortable, go on short walks with the masks on, so they can get used to the idea that it has to stay on (this is hard even for me!!).

Has anyone experienced using masks with older toddlers? What’s working for you?

Another challenge I think many of you are facing is getting the groceries brought in and sanitized before your child jumps in to help. Strategies include: putting groceries away while children are napping or out for a walk. If you have a kitchen that you can close off, you can close it off before you bring the groceries in to sanitize and put away. I wanted to also suggest the possibility of…IF you have the space to do so…consider sanitizing and re-bagging groceries to bring in to put away. I know, I know, I know…even as I type this, I kind of hate this idea, too. BUT if your choices are to bring groceries in with a wide awake and interested toddler or sanitizing in the garage, the latter might make sense. Personally, we are keeping some stores of things in the garage, just so we have less to bring in the house to sanitize and put away immediately.

What’s working in your house?

Lastly, we talked about some simple pleasures to share with children… for example, the joy of reading books together with your child is such a simple pleasure that they love and is so wonderful for language development, creativity, and yes, bonding. It sets such a lovely habit and practice for life. Another one: listening to music together…one Dad has brought out his old record collection, yep, record player and all, and has been happily wandering down memory lane, toddler in tow. When I heard that story, I remembered listening to my Dad’s old Beatles albums as a kid. I loved listening to them and I loved the Beatles, but I realize that I also loved them because my Dad did.

What gifts are you giving to your child? What are they falling in love with because you’re in love with it?