Finally! The playgrounds are open! But is it safe to go? How do I manage it?!
As occupational therapists, we’re sharing 11 ways to increase safety (and decrease stress) on your next trip to the playground!
- Go early in the morning or later in the evening when there are fewer people.
- Bring masks in case there are more people than expected.
- Bring wipes or a spray bottle and cloth to wipe frequently touched surfaces (monkey bars, slide rails).
- Make full use of the green spaces.
- Pack a snack and picnic blanket—if the park gets busy you can take a break and eat until the crowd thins out.
- Make sure to go over expectations prior to going to the park.
- Set an amount of time, such as 30 minutes or an hour, to stay before leaving so kids don’t get overwhelmed.
- Be sure your kids are confident in asking other kids for more space if needed—rehearse situations at age level and practice verbiage (“I need more space. I’m going to take a step backwards.”)
- Bring wipes and hand sanitizer for when you leave. Wipe any visible material from hands first then sanitize. If your child touches their face frequently, wipe that as well.
- Be aware that everyone’s comfort level is different. Verbalize your boundaries and be respectful of others’ boundaries. Be mentally prepared to leave early if needed and prepare your child for that possibility.
- Know that it is OK to not be ready to use the playground equipment. There are plenty of other ways to enjoy the outdoors!
For more ways to enjoy the outdoors, check out our new ebook, “Pandemic Play: Promoting Socialization While Social Distancing.” To write it, we used our skill set as occupational therapists to break down risk factors in order to help parents eliminate them and allow children to play together safely during the COVID 19 pandemic.
From pre-play conversations and mask-wearing tips, to activity modifications, we have tried to take the guesswork and struggle out of planning safe screen-free time with friends. We hope this minimizes stress for parents, and reduces the stress children perceive and undoubtedly experience as a result. Children’s mental health and development do not have to take a backseat to their physical well being with the ideas we’ve provided. Our Facebook page has more advice.
Azure Cutter and Miel Binford are Triangle-based moms and occupational therapists.
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