The COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult for many people for many different reasons. Many of us have lost loved ones or jobs due to the illness. Others have had to cancel dream trips or lifelong plans. Social isolation and loss of intimate family relationships are some of the most common casualties of the pandemic.
One of the relationships that many seniors value the most is that with their grandchildren. There are many life milestones that come quickly for grandkids, especially if they’re young, and missing months or even a year of their lives can have you missing a lot. Until the pandemic is under control, it’s smart to come up with some COVID-safe ways to maintain a strong relationship with your grandkids. By following the most up-to-date Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and careful planning, you can stay connected with your grandkids without putting them or yourself at risk.
Tips for the Vaccinated Grandparent
At time of publication, most seniors have received at least their first shot of the COVID vaccination, whether that’s from Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, or one of the other vaccines that are available. Once you’re fully vaccinated, you may have a greater degree of freedom in terms of who you can see and what you can do, but that may not apply to your grandkids. There has not yet been a vaccine that’s approved for use in people who are younger than 12 years old. There are some being tested right now, but results and official approval could be months off, with some estimates aiming at late summer or the beginning of 2022. This means that while you may be able to go to a restaurant, house of worship, or small party, your young grandchild may not. Of course, the safety of your grandkid is paramount, so what can you do?
Fully vaccinated means you’ve received the full dosage of the vaccination and the proper amount of time has passed for your body to build immunity, generally two weeks.
The current CDC guidelines for fully vaccinated people should allow you to see your unvaccinated grandchildren fairly freely. Keep in mind, fully vaccinated means you’ve received the full dosage of the vaccination (two shots for Moderna and Pfizer, one for Johnson & Johnson) and the proper amount of time has passed for your body to build immunity, generally two weeks. So, what can you do? Unless your grandkid has a condition that makes them high risk for severe COVID, if you’re fully vaccinated, you should be able to see them at their house without a mask or social distancing. That means hugs are possible again. This is only true for vaccinated people though. Unvaccainted people should still follow safety guidelines, like wearing masks and social distancing.
Of course, one option that’s been available to many of us throughout the pandemic has been virtual hangouts. In fact, we discussed the topic previously, listing several ways you can be together, even when you’re physically apart. For grandparents, this can be an excellent way to keep in touch with your grandkids, even if they’re at a great distance or you’re unable to see them because you’re not vaccinated yet. Even if you are vaccinated, a virtual hangout on something like Zoom can allow you to see people in multiple households at once.
Virtually available games may also be a good idea if they all have access to another smartphone or tablet to play along.
You can do more than just talk while you’re on the video call! You can incorporate activities for everyone, like we suggest in the article we mentioned above. While some of the ideas, like a book club or cooking, may not be suitable for children, you could create art, knit, or do any number of child-safe activities that can be done and shared over video. Virtually available games, like the Jackbox games, may also be a good idea if they all have access to another smartphone or tablet to play along.
Have Fun Outdoors
Spending time outdoors with your grandkids has several benefits. First and foremost, outdoor activities are generally safer during the COVID-19 pandemic for several reasons. Outside, it’s easier to socially distance. It’s often better ventilated, as well, meaning fresh air is cycling through, making you less likely to come into contact with enough droplets carrying the virus to make you sick. So, as long as you’re socially distancing and taking reasonable safety precautions, outdoor activities are usually pretty safe.
Getting lunch together and having a socially distanced picnic could be a nice way to spend an afternoon.
This leaves you with plenty of ways to get together with your grandkids outside safely. Getting lunch together and having a socially distanced picnic could be a nice way to spend an afternoon. If you have access to a private pool — where fewer people will likely be crowded in — swimming may also be fun. Don’t forget about the numerous sports you can play together, like socially distanced catch with a baseball or football, or golfing if your grandkids are a bit older. Tennis, basketball, and soccer are all sports you can enjoy together while giving each other enough space to be safe during COVID.
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Staying connected with loved ones throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has been a struggle, to be sure, but that’s amplified for young grandchildren that grow like weeds before reaching adulthood. You don’t want to miss a second of those precious years. As long as you can do it safely, you don’t have to!