Opening up our social bubbles to caregivers and grandparents
With COVID-19 still sweeping the country and putting people in critical conditions of all sorts at an alarming rate, we are left with so many questions that have everything to do with keeping our families safe.(Visit the CDCs website for all the latest information to keep your children as far out of harm’s way as possible).
It’s true that the virus seems to have less obvious (or at least more mild) effects on children at this time. Though, that is not to be confused with no effects. Children are indeed dying from COVID-19; some suffering from severe inflammatory symptoms and others, potentially lifelong complications. It is also true that children can carry the virus to others without knowing it – as they may show no symptoms themselves.
With all that said – how do we keep both our children safe, and the people around our children safe? When it comes to bringing the grandparents and caregivers back into our lives, there is a lot to think about.
1. If you plan to visit / spend time with grandparents – the safest thing you can do for your older parents is to quarantine you and your family for 14 days before their visit. It would be incredibly beneficial if you can have both parties do this instead of us one. Once this stage is complete, think about combining your ‘bubbles’ permanently so you don’t have to do it again. In terms of combining permanently, that only works as long as everyone is strict with the outside world – social distancing, wearing masks, avoiding unnecessary travel and crowds, diligent hand washing and taking other safety precautions recommended by the CDC and other *experts*. (Base your decisions on data and professional expert advice). If any of the bubble members are considered essential workers, and it is not essential to combine your bubbles for child care/financial or other critical reasons – you probably shouldn’t.
Be On the Same Page
2. If you are hiring a babysitter or inviting your nanny back to the house – make sure they have been social distancing and taking ulta careful precautions. Make sure you understand if any of their household members are also leaving the home on a normal basis before you invite them into your home. It really is important for folks to have reliable and safe childcare so that they can work and the world can go ‘round. But those providing the childcare, and others receiving it, must all be doing everything in their power to keep their circles small and their exposure events to a minimum (grocery store runs, etc.).
Be Fully in the Bubble
3. I would find it really hard to expect babysitters, nannies or grandparents who are with you and your family on a prolonged basis (everyday, extended hours each day, etc.) to wear masks inside the home. First of all, the masks will not protect them but only protect others for them, so unless your kids and you are going to wear masks too – it doesn’t seem like a two way street. If you are going to permanently join bubbles’ with these folks – make sure you are all on the same page about strict standards of COVID precautions and then treat them like you would the other members of your household unit. (i.e. I wear a mask when I go into the post office, but not at home with my kids. I wouldn’t expect differently from someone I trust to be in my strict in-home bubble). If you cannot trust the added person to be incredibly safe and diligent in all their choices and regimes, then you should consider going the route rather than combining bubbles, if possible.
Keep Going the Extra Mile
4. It doesn’t hurt to continue with diligent protocols like hand extra handwashing, changing clothes daily, showering often, being super careful with coughing or sneezing, not sharing drinks, wearing gloves when it makes sense, etc.
But it also doesn’t hurt to go a step further, like keeping windows open when possible for freshly circulated air, or being together outside instead of inside.
You could also take temperatures every morning (we just got the no-contact thermometer and love it).
If it’s possible to stay 6-feet apart – great! Though, that is probably unlikely for babysitters trying to change diapers and comfort crying children, or grandparents helping out with childcare so parents can work.
Build Only One Bubble
5. There is no such thing as a zero-risk way to open up your ‘bubble’. All it takes is one person in your bubble to catch novel coronavirus at their quick jaunt to the grocery store or contracting it from a high-touch door handle while picking up their to-go order at Starbucks to bring it home to the entire ‘bubble’.
The more people in the bubble (that are interacting at all with the outside world), the more chances for exposure.
Plain and simple.
That doesn’t mean you can’t take the risk to make your bubble function enough to make your world go-around — like your parent caring for your child so you can work — (if that is allowed by your state/county) but take precautions, be safe, diligent and mindful to the best of your ability.
Stay in one bubble, make sure everyone knows who is in it and be strictly on the same page.
6. Stay home and isolate when sick. Communicate regularly about health. Don’t be cavalier or selfish. End of story.