How My Family Still Adventures Outside During An Outbreak
I see things differently when I'm looking through the perspective of a Coronavirus lens nowadays. I understand that it's "not that bad" for most people and those who get it usually recover. BUT if you get it and not know you have it for a while, I would hate to unknowingly pass it on to a sweet old lady at the grocery store for whom it could be deadly for. And who knows what the after effects of it even are since this is a "novel" virus that nobody really knows what it's capable of doing. Also, nobody really knows where it is, who has it or how long it's even been circulating in our city.
For those of you familiar with who we are and what we do, know that we're ALWAYS out adventuring with our kids to new and old places around town. We're learning how to adapt and live with the current situation of a nasty viral outbreak in our city, but still trying to maintain our normal activities of being out and about. So, for as much as we love to Adventure out with the kids, we've changed our habits a little bit to hopefully help us avoid the Noid! Here's what we do....
WHEN WE GO:
If we're going to a place with generally a lot of people like a museum, restaurant, library or grocery store, we try to time our visits during the "low peak" times. That means for some places it's right after they open for an hour or an hour before they close.
For other places like popular playgrounds, libraries, children's museums, etc. I've found the best time to go is during most kids' afternoon nap times. Since my kids don't nap anymore, we can go out during the general 1-3pm nap time.
If we're going to a restaurant, we avoid peak eating times; which means we eat a late breakfast, an early or late lunch or an early dinner.
For errands like grocery shopping and Target runs when I have the kids with me, thank goodness for Click & Pick Up services and delivery!
WHERE WE GO:
We haven't been going to our usual places as often like museums, playgrounds or other well-frequented kids' destinations. Instead, we've been going to places that don't have a lot of hands-on touching opportunities.
There are so many places you can get out to see that don't involve a lot of touching things. Here are just a few places...tide pooling, the beach, pier walks, open space parks and grassy areas, hiking or walking trails, bike paths, duck ponds, ball fields, picnics, neighborhood walks, Cabrillo National Monument, the Water Conservation Garden, Leo Carillo Ranch, bookstores, libraries, pet stores. I've linked to a few other blog posts at the very bottom of this one for some other fun places to go in San Diego that don't involve a lot of people or touching things. ;)
We love open space parks to play chase, kick the ball around and have picnics. You don't have to make picnics based on food...have you ever tried an arts & crafts picnic? Or a reading & writing picnic? Just find a good spot on the grass, throw a blanket down and do whatever you might do at home. It's nice to have a change of scenery and get out of the house while still doing what you might normally be doing at home.
Hiking or walking trails are perfect because you're still outside, the kids still get their energy out and they're not touching things that have just been touched a million times. Going to a lake or pond to feed the ducks is another fun activity to do. Finding a bike trail where the kids can ride around is perfect too.
My boys love to play miniature golf and we still do that. They actually got their own putters a few months ago and they're so easy just to keep in the car! They use them whenever we play mini golf or if we happen to find a little putting green to play at for 30 minutes. They even love to put the golf ball around a local park; they'll always find something to play on, even if it's just the sidewalk or a dirt trail.
The same goes for a ball of any kind...soccer ball, basketball, baseball, football...even if they don't actually play that sport, kids will have fun no matter what if you just give them a ball of any kind and some open space to play in.
We love to roam around pet stores to look at the animals and bookstores or libraries to read some books.
I'm a sucker for an open house tour, even though we're not buying anything I still love to look at homes for sale. There are lots of new community construction builds with a few model homes usually available to tour. You can make up a fun story for the agents who will ask you where you live now and why you're looking. Maybe you've always wanted to practice your French accent and teach art so you're moving for a new gig, ha! Or tell them you're just out for a fun day to see some new homes. My kids love to go looking through a new house and pretend which bedroom they'd choose.
Small coffee shops are great places to go with kids if you bring a few games, puzzles or toys from home you can usually find a small table where the kids can play at and have a little snack to pass some time.
What are some other less-crowded non-touchy places that you like to go with your kids?
Depending on where we're going or what we're doing, I'll try to steer us towards a less crowded corner or part of the area where most people are not. I'll try to keep our backs to a larger crowd in case anyone coughs or sneezes. I'll look for a napkin to use when opening doors (entry or bathroom, etc.), and use a napkin or paper towel when turning on faucets to wash hands. When making purchases with a card, I'll grab a tissue from my travel pack before I pick up a stylus to sign or I'll wrap the tissue around my finger if I have to use the keypad to enter a PIN number. Instead of using your hands to open public doors, find an automatic disabled button to push or use the automatic doors if there's an option. I teach my kids to keep their hands in their pockets or ask them to hold something for me that will occupy their hands to keep them from touching every single thing they see.
OUR HAND WASHING PRACTICES:
We wash our hands A LOT when we go out...we wash them just after arriving to a place, we wash them frequently while we're there (maybe every 20 minutes if we're at a really "hands on" place or less often if they're not touching as much); and we wash them just before we leave.
After the final hand washing before we leave, I grab a paper towel and take it with me to open the door from the bathroom (I do this all the time), but I hold onto it in the same position of my hand to use when we open the exit door and then throw it away at a nearby trash can (not in my car).
We still wash hands right away when we come home and I grab a Clorox wipe that I have by the door to wipe down the door knobs on the front and bathroom doors and wipe down the bathroom light switches, faucet handles, toilet lid & handle and the soap dispenser. Don't forget to run a Clorox wipe all over your car: steering wheel, handles, gear shifter, seat belts, glove box, back of front seat head rests where the kids usually put their hands first whenever they enter the car and wherever else everyone touches. I know this may seem really extreme but it only takes a few extra seconds and when it becomes a habit it's just part of the routine.
Just to give you some perspective from me, I've never really been a huge germaphobe before. I actually welcome the little germs to help strengthen our immune systems. We've always been big on hand washing and using hand sanitizer when we can't wash, but it's never been a huge concern of mine. So adding these extra measures is a bigger stretch for us, but I think it's necessary at least for the time being to be a bit more cautious.
Every challenge we face can bring about teachable moments for kids; which is what we're trying to integrate with this current outbreak situation. I don't want my kids to be paranoid of catching something, but I also don't want them to be afraid to go outside or be around other people and do things. The way we teach our kids about using a paper towel to turn the faucets on/off and to open the bathroom door with it after hand washing is a more nonchalant approach. We're not uptight about it or get mad at them if they don't do it. We model this behavior by doing it ourselves and show them that it's not just an extra step, but rather just part of the routine. By showing our kids how to still be active and get outside, but still protecting ourselves in little ways will teach them young so these extra precautions will become innate for them as they grow up.
These past couple of months have been a big change for us in the ways and wheres of what we do on our Adventures. I sure do miss going to our usual museums and theme parks and we do still visit them on occasion using our practices noted above, but not as often as we used to. But we've still been able to have lots of fun going on NEW Adventures and revisiting some places that we haven't been to in a while. I'm sure we'll ease up on these practices over time when the outbreak calms down and hopefully goes away to never come back. But we're not afraid to go outside and have just as much fun!
Here's a few other fun places to go in San Diego that don't involve a lot of people or touching things. ;)
In case you don't want to go into a grocery store, here are 7 San Diego grocery stores that DELIVER