Deciding about having kids at the park during coronavirus is not a yes or no question. It is a great activity for kids and adults. All it takes is a bit of preparation and common sense.
So do you have kids at the park during coronavirus? I do (air quality permitting-as if we did not have enough obstacles these days!) Short of a vaccine the rules for coronavirus are:
• Maintain physical distance
• Practice good hygiene
• Wear a mask
The first two are rules you should ALWAYS follow, so follow them on your trip to the park as well. Where I live in Oregon, masks are only required indoors (I am paraphrasing a bit, but you get the idea). I do not think that masks are necessary for you or your kids at a park since it is outdoors with plenty of space. The exception to this rule is if you cannot maintain physical distance. If you are going to a park where that is the case…I say don’t go to the park!
The rules seem cut and dry but there are nuances. What do you do if the park is empty and then kids start showing up? How about if another kid is getting too close to your kids? What do you do if other parents are behaving as if they are oblivious to the rules you are adhering to?
How To Have Kids At The Park During Coronavirus
Let me start by saying I am a rule breaker. The parks I take my kids to, all operated by the county, have “closed” the playground equipment. Of course, it is difficult to close a playground.
The park is open, but the equipment is not. I’ll admit I ignore that fact. In fact, I find the risk of catching the virus from touching playground equipment low.
I am not a scientist and do not claim to be one. Common sense says equipment that is outdoors all day is going to “clean” itself. Rain, sun, and wind should all help to do the trick.
There may have been kids there before you arrived that “contaminate” things. Again, use your best judgment but I do not worry about this.
If in doubt, pack some hand sanitizer and keep it on your kids hands when having kids at the park during coronavirus.
Get The Lay Of The Land
First things first, take a general overview upon arrival. I recently went to a large park. There were several families there. We were the only ones NOT wearing masks! Masks at a park where you are distancing and outdoors seems like overkill to me. Suffice to say, this seemed like a SAFE park.
If you arrive and see a playground packed with kids, move on. I bet you have many outdoor locations in your area to choose from.
Be prepared for grumbling from the kids. You arrive at the park and then say “sorry” we are not going here. Kind of like putting a chocolate bar in front of their face and then saying they cannot eat it.
Have Plan B Ready When Having Kids At The Park During Coronavirus
Since you cannot know what the park you are heading to will be like, plan ahead. I always like to know where we are going if we cannot go to our first choice.
If you have to take the kids elsewhere, the last thing you want is angry kids sitting in the car while you are on a map app. So give yourself some options ahead of time. If you have to go with plan B, make it sound as if this park is even better than your first choice.
Try To Pick Parks With Variety
My kids are in a bike-riding phase. They love riding bikes and it even has me riding my bike.
With that in mind, I try to find parks with some paths to ride on. You don’t need long trails but open paths to ride bikes on. Long bike rides are a different activity altogether (more on that in another post).
So beyond that see if parks have:
• Playground equipment
• Basketball courts
• Tennis courts
• Open grass space (like, a park for example)
• Tables or other seating (you cannot always keep up with the kids)
The more there is to do the more that the kids will want to stay and play. It also helps to have activities you can all do as a family to keep you interested. If you are more of a sit and read a book while they play, that is fine too. Either way, variety will help with kids at The park during coronavirus
Safety Beyond The Virus
Watch for parks that are near busy streets. Also, keep an eye out for spaces where kids can get away from you.
I have two kids. If they decide they are going to go opposite directions, it can be easy to lose track of them.
I have written a separate post about using Jiobit trackers to help keep a virtual eye on them. Even without this, make sure you are not picking a space that is so vast you might lose track of the kids.
Virtual Physical Education
My kids each have a virtual P.E. class from their school. They log into a zoom call and do P.E.
Yeah, that is most likely as stupid as it sounds. If that is the best you can do so be it. I like to get the kids outside every day and do our own P.E.
That is one of the great parts of a big park with lots of activities. In a world of virtual schooling, visits to a park can be an invaluable part of your kid’s educational day.
Is there anywhere else to take kids for fun?
Of course there are. They all present a risk versus reward quotient. My kids love Chuck E. Cheese. These are open near me. Given the givens of what is going on in the world, I am not taking them. Indoor dining is a hot spot for virus. They seem to have great protocols in place so this might be fine with you. Like with the parks, do your homework first and bail out if it seems sketchy.