As COVID-19 quarantine rules are relaxing and we’re about to go out to the world again, John Volturo, Author, Speaker, Executive Coach and dad of twin girls, shares his thoughts on how to do it wisely.
Dear Dads, Guncles and others caring for our beautiful kids,
We’ve been sheltering in our homes for like 100 years, I mean nearly three months. Wow, congrats, every parent deserves a medal for getting through this. And now the good news! Scientists and leaders say we can venture outside with our kids a little bit each day. Woohoo! Just in time for summer.
I am overjoyed to get out, to stretch my legs, to get my kids to stretch their legs, and to get to experience surroundings other than the small home housing my husband, myself and our twin girls (that must have grown a foot during our sheltering in place. No kidding. They’re getting taller!)
You may be wondering how to keep everyone safe, what to do, where to go and how to enjoy yourself. Luckily, I’ve been thinking about this a lot too. Let’s start here.
Establish your family’s safety rules.
If you’re married, partnered, co-parenting or doing it all on your own, do this first: determine the safety measures for you and/or your co-parent to feel comfortable with before you head out.
This is important because we want to present a united front to our kids. Kids will take their security cues from their parents or guardians, so having a plan that says something like “we all wear our masks whenever we see people coming toward us” will set the ground rules for making the transition to outside easier and more fun. Oh yeah, fun. Keep that in mind.
Bring a mask or skip it?
Depending upon where you live, your leaders may require you to wear a mask when in public. If you live in an area where masks are mandatory in almost all situations, have them handy. In Los Angeles, I’ve seen the police stop pedestrians and ask them to put on masks. Seriously-so it’s a real thing. At my house, we bought black cotton masks that make us look like bandits. At first they were super fun. We wore them each time we went out and they made us feel a little bit dangerous. In fact, I wanted to dress up in leather pants and wear a cowboy hat in town…A dad can dream. Joking aside, we got bored of the basic black, and now we have masks for our girls that make them look like they’re the animals they talk about all the time, dogs, rabbits, and cats. The dads: we have cool patterns. So, we changed our masks from basic black to masks that present our personality. I secretly wonder if my mask makes my Italian nose look big. Just saying.
Make a plan or just wing it?
If you’re going out for the first time with your kids, it may be both super fun and scary. Some kids may think experiences will be similar to the way they were before, but you’re a dad, you’ve been paying attention to the news, and you know that’s probably not the case. No worries. We can do this!
Yes, your experiences will feel different. Streets will look a bit emptier, people may be wearing masks, and some of the things your kids used to enjoy doing freely, like sitting on the beach or running in the park, may have restrictions. Your kids will notice. Mine definitely did and talked to me about it. So, it’s important to talk to your kids about what to expect when you head out and how you will protect them. My kids, for example, are concerned that when we go out their dads will catch COVID-19. We tell them we will protect ourselves by wearing masks when around other people and staying away from densely-populated areas. That’s it. When we can, we also make it a game to ensure their compliance with our safety rules. Ideas like take off your mask when you see no one, put on your mask when you see someone, and whoever sees the first person and puts on their mask gets a prize actually work. Yes, money is being spent. Safety first!
Where to go?
We all want to get out, so, what can you do and where can you go?
The park! Do you live near a fantatic park? If so, go to it. Run relay races with your kids. Use the stopwatch function on your phone. It’s fun and it tires out the kids. Just stretch please. You’re not as young as you used to be.
Bike riding! With friends, six feet apart. This is so much fun. We’ve been social distant bike riding with our kids’ friends and their parents. It’s a great way to get out, get exercise and get to know other parents better. We ride over to what I call the racetrack, which is an area near my home that has a median and we ride around and around until we are sweaty. Then we sit on the grassy median and snack, chat, and climb trees.
Pedestrian malls! Yes, they’re open and you get to window shop. Stores are putting their merchandise back into the windows and it’s fun to look at all the things we want to buy again!
Drive someplace you’ve never been: We’ve been doing this every other weekend or so. We drive to see flowers in bloom, we drive to look at the ocean, and then when we get to that amazing destination, we get out of the car and run around. We may also get drive-through or pick up take-out on the way home. For our kids, Dominos and In-n-Out are the best.
No matter what you do or where you go, remember that creating outdoor family safety rules, talking about the experience you’re going to have, and then going out to have fun will go a long way toward making the transition to outside much more smooth. Enjoy!
John Volturo is an Executive Coach at Evolution, Speaker, Author and Success Strategist. With over 20 years of experience, John advises CEOs and leaders on how to make better decisions, overcome obstacles, hire peak performing teams, realign vision, and train and retain the company’s best talent. Through sound strategy, tight execution, team leadership, and spirit, John and his teams helped generate over $1.5B in topline growth.