4 weeks ago
How We’re Keeping Our Children Safe During COVID
When I look back at my three years of motherhood, it’s sort of shocking to think about the fact that I’ve spent a year-and-a-half of that time navigating a pandemic with an immunocompromised toddler and the last year, caring for a new baby. Today, I’m going to share what we are doing to keep our girls safe during this pandemic. I would normally lead with a disclaimer that says we all have to do what works for us, but the reality is that we should all be masked for those who are at risk and for those who can’t mask / cannot be vaccinated. Perfectly healthy kids are now getting sick. Vaccinated people are getting and spreading the delta variant.
For those of you who asked what you can do to make families like ours feel safer, thank you for caring about people like us. We are not rare – there are so many people with issues that put them at risk. Since we don’t know who is and who isn’t vaccinated, please wear a mask indoors. I feel so much safer when everyone around me is masked. I become so tense and anxious when I see people unmasked indoors, so much that I don’t really go anywhere anymore. I hate feeling like I’m putting my girls (especially Margot) at risk.
we should all be masked for those who are at risk and for those who can’t mask / cannot be vaccinated
Everything feels like a calculated risk right now. I am extremely risk-averse and always have been. Any risk could mean ending up in the ER and that is not a chance I’m willing to take. If we were not going through treatment, I still wouldn’t have taken my girls inside anywhere without masks on, and I would not be at any gatherings where someone might not be vaccinated. Indoor dining, flying, weddings, etc. all go far beyond my comfort level. For a while, I understood how some people felt safe doing those things but given how bad things are right now, it seems very dangerous.
I felt a little more comfortable after getting vaccinated last spring and would do a few masked things inside, like pilates, errands, and eventually, a manicure, but when the mask mandate was lifted, that no longer felt safe. Once people were out unmasked, I found myself feeling extremely anxious knowing not all of them were vaccinated.
At this point, we will not see any adults who are unvaccinated and we do not have anyone who is not living the way we are inside of our home. I suppose would feel safe seeing people indoors and masked, but since the weather is nice, we keep everything outside. Conor is a realtor and has been working – all of his showings, inspections etc are indoors and masked, and he’s able to keep distance. It’s all pretty quick so with space, that feels as safe as running an errand with everyone masked. I do think we’ll start doing masked indoor visits this fall and winter. Outdoor visits feel safe, but if someone is running errands or going anywhere indoors unmasked, I’m not comfortable seeing them unmasked without distance – that feels too risky with the delta variant. And as you all know, distancing is hard with kids, so it’s tough. Pre-delta, there were a select few people (just two friends) I would see indoors unmasked but we stopped doing that for now. There are still a few friends we will see outside, but because COVID can be transmitted outdoors, we’re being very careful and not doing much. My vaccinated hair dresser comes over every 4-6 weeks – we are both masked and in the sunroom with the windows open. So I suppose under those conditions I would be willing to visit with vaccinated friends, but that’s just not something we do.
I do not go inside anywhere but my home without a mask on. When my in-laws are able to isolate and test, we’ll go to their house and have them over. I’ve seen a few friends (you know, the ones I have left after a year and-a-half of isolation) outside, but that does not happen often.
It feels safer to keep kids in masks with delta, but prior to delta, we were starting to feel ok with some outdoor playdates. I’m fine with those with a select few friends who are extremely careful. Most of the friends I’m still close with either don’t live nearby or it’s hard to schedule something. We don’t really have anyone over, and if we did, they’d be masked. I am always asking our oncologist and oncology nurse where we are with COVID, and right now, everyone should be masked around Margot unless they are always fully masked around everyone else, the way we are.
We were planning on sending Margot to preschool (just a few hours a day) this fall, but that no longer feels safe, so I’m going to do a preschool program and Big City Readers at home. Truthfully, I feel crushed because it would have been so great for her. I consulted with some other moms in treatment, doctors, and a child life specialist, and based on a few factors, we think it will be fine to keep her home this year. Preschool would have been great for her but she will be ok. She is extremely verbal, very outgoing and social, has us, our nanny, and her little sister. If she were in kindergarten or did not have a sibling, it would be a much more difficult decision. Cold and flu season is not safe for her and would likely land her in the hospital so we need to take every precaution.
I’ve done my best give her normal moments whenever we can. We have done the following:
Parks – masked if crowded, unmasked if fairly empty
A few patio lunches, only when waiters were masked
Road trip to a lake house
I updated our playroom again, signed Margot up for a few online classes, and we now have a big swing set in our yard. Margot’s ballet pod was outdoors, all adults were vaccinated, and everyone wore masks. We see other kids outside when we can but that’s pretty rare – most kids will be in school so we’ll be pretty isolated this fall and winter. When we do take Margot out, she’s usually in a mask unless we’re outdoors with some space.
My one year-old has been inside our home, her grandma’s house, and to the pediatrician the entirety of her life. When we do go to the doctor, I call when I arrive and wait in the car with Kate until her room is ready since she can’t be masked. Our pediatrician offered to meet us outside the last time she needed to see Kate. The girls have been to 2 or 3 patios for lunch, the zoo, and a few other outdoor activities. Kate is too young to wear a mask but Margot is great in a mask, so we do put one on her if there are people nearby, but will let her play at the park unmasked if it’s not crowded. Since Kate can’t be unmasked, we don’t let her near anyone we don’t know.
Our nanny was fully isolated with a husband who was working at home, so she had been coming unmasked, but now that he’s back to work, even though he’s careful, she will be wearing a mask. I honestly hate that she has to come in a mask because we were past this, but delta is so scary and we talked through it – she loves the girls and wants to keep them safe. With cold and flu season coming up, it’s probably best for Margot, anyway.
A random tip, but the parking garage elevators at the hospital are horrible and do not feel safe to me, so we take the stairs. Once we’re inside the hospital, if it’s crowded, I’ll nicely ask the security guard if he can make sure no one else gets in our elevator since people crowd in and are not always mindful of space. They are always so nice and helpful, and that feels a lot safer.
It also has to be said that I know it’s a privilege to be able to keep my girls safe at home. We have access to grocery delivery and childcare (again, also at home) so I don’t need to take them to crowded places.
Just writing this makes me sad and anxious because we were so close. I was feeling like I could start taking Margot out masked just before the mandate was lifted. Honestly, there was never a point of going “back to normal” for us and I’m trying not to fixate on how much lonelier winter will be.
Please keep in mind that you should talk to your doctor if you are at-risk or caring for someone who is at risk, stay up to date on the CDC’s protocol, and become as informed as you can. I am not here to tell anyone what is or is not safe, but will share what I, as a mom to a toddler in medical treatment with a compromised immune system to a baby who can’t be masked, am doing to keep my daughters safe.