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high-risk children summer activities

When COVID-19 hit, parenting our kids with medical needs became especially complicated—and the current reopening phase is proving to be just as complex in its own way.

Most families quarantined similarly through the first few weeks of the pandemic. But now that many areas are beginning to re-open, people have started socializing again. For families of high-risk children, however, our quarantines continue. Just as their friends begin going to pools, sleepovers and socially-distanced sports practice, our high-risk kids are staying home and trying to stay healthy.

High-risk kids of all ages are, understandably, feeling left out and frustrated when they see their friends socializing. Younger children may see the neighborhood kids biking together or playing in yards through their windows, while older children may see their friends spending time together via social media.

Keeping high-risk kids connected to their friends is important for social development and emotional health, but keeping them apart is essential for physical health. How can parents manage both?


Here are some simple tips for helping your high-risk child still feel connected to peers while maintaining social distancing this summer.

1. Virtual camp

This year, many activities have gone online—lessons, camps and classes. Look into something that sparks your child's interest and see if you can find a camp or group lesson online. These kinds of activities can help kids feel connected to existing friends, while also helping them build new friendships with children who have similar interests.

2. Facetime

Although talking on the phone is an easy way for kids to stay in touch, it just doesn't feel the same as seeing a friend's face. Talking via a video conferencing app, like Facetime, Skype or Zoom, may help kids feel more connected to one another.

Pre-schedule chats just as you would schedule a play date. Make the chats even more interesting by adding activities. There are tons of online apps to let kids play with one another while video conferencing, from online Uno to Battleship to puzzles and trivia games.

Kids can also engage in real activities while chatting. They can paint matching pictures, or build the same creation out of blocks while they talk. Giving kids a shared goal adds some extra excitement and engagement to their chat.

3. Multiplayer games

Depending on your child's interests, consider allowing a little extra video game time for them to engage in child-safe multiplayer games. Some systems allow users to wear headsets so kids can talk to one another while they play. Allowing kids to play preferred games with friends, while actually talking to them, can make a huge difference in how connected they feel to their buddies.

4. Parking lot chats + sidewalk socializing

If your child's medical condition allows, you can find creative ways for them to see friends in person from a safe distance. Meet another family at a local parking lot where you can park at a distance, and allow kids to roll down the windows and talk, open the hatch and sit in the back of an SUV, or sit in a parking spot while talking with friends. Or if your friends live in your neighborhood, have kids stay on their driveway or sidewalk while they talk to friends across the street or across the yard.

During outside chats like these, it's important to supervise children to ensure they're both safe, and safely apart, at all times.

5. Six feet a-party

If you're okay with your child seeing friends from a distance, consider having a "six feet a-party." All guests at the party must stay at least 6 feet apart from one another (you can require them to wear masks, too). For younger children, it can help to mark out a space for each child—draw a large circle with chalk—and encourage everyone to bring their own chair (so nobody touches anyone else's stuff). Kids can talk, listen to music, watch a movie on an outside screen, draw with chalk, eat snacks they brought from home or play word games.

6. Zoom parties

If you're uncomfortable with an "in real life" party, try a Zoom party. Kids can decorate their rooms and then sign in to a video conferencing app at the same time. They can see lots of friends at once while they dance, talk or play games. For younger kids, build in some activities, like Mad Libs, show and tell or Lego building contests. For older kids, let them plan the agenda and have fun reconnecting.

7. Pandemic parades

Pandemic parades have been all over the internet, and for good reason—they're so much fun! If your child loves being the center of attention, coordinate a group of friends to all drive by at the same time. Your child can sit in a chair on the front porch, driveway, or sidewalk—far enough back from the cars to be safe—and chat with friends as they drive by. Extra points for funny or creative signs in car windows!

8. Snail mail

We live in a digital age, but there's still nothing better than getting actual, real mail. Encourage your child and their friends to mail each other letters, drawings or small items. Getting something directly from a bestie is a great way for kids to know their friends are thinking of them. They can also send a letter or drawing back, which helps your child extend that connection while doing a project at home.

Being unable to see friends during this pandemic has been hard for everyone, but it's even harder for kids who are now watching their friends start to go out while they still can't. Remember that developing friendships is a key milestone of childhood, and encouraging kids to stay connected to their friends is important. With a little creativity, you can help your kids continue to stay safe while feeling like part of the group again!

When expecting a baby, there is a lot you can test-run in advance: Take that stroller around the block. Go for a spin with the car seat secured in place. Learn how to use the baby carrier with help from a doll. But breastfeeding? It's not exactly possible to practice before baby's arrival.

The absence of a trial makes it all the more important to prepare in other ways for breastfeeding success—and it can be as simple as adding a few of our lactation aiding favorites to your registry.

MilkBliss chocolate chip soft baked lactation cookies

MilkBliss lactation cookies

Studies have shown the top reason women stop breastfeeding within the first year is because they are concerned about their milk supply being enough to nourish baby. Consider MilkBliss Lactation Cookies to be your secret weapon. Not only are they wholesome and delicious, but they were formulated specifically for breastfeeding moms based on the science of galactagogues—also known as milk boosters. They also come in peanut butter and wild blueberry flavors.

$23

Evereden multi-purpose healing balm

Evereden multipurpose healing balm

Also up there on the list of reasons women stop breastfeeding: the toll the early days can take on nipples. Made from just five ingredients, this all natural healing balm is ideal for soothing chafed nipples, making for a much more comfortable experience for mama as her body adjusts to the needs of a breastfeeding baby.

$20

Lansinoh milk storage bags

Lansinoh milk storage bags

For a breastfeeding mama, there are few things more precious and valuable than the milk she worked so hard to pump—and it's the stuff of nightmares to imagine it spilling out in the fridge. With these double-sealed milk storage bags, you can be assured your breastmilk is safe and sound until baby needs it.

$12.50

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Nursing a baby is a 24/7 job, which calls for some wardrobe modifications. Because Belly Bandit specializes in making things more comfortable for the postpartum mama, they've truly thought of every detail—from the breathable fabric to the clips that can be easily opened with one hand.

$47

boob-ease soothing therapy pillows

Boob Ease soothing therapy pillows

For nursing moms, duct can quickly become a four-letter word when you suspect it's getting clogged. By keeping these soothing breast pillows in your breastfeeding arsenal, you can immediately go on the defense against plugged milk ducts by heating the pads in the microwave or cooling them in the freezer.

$25

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

A unfortunate reality of nursing is that it can really seem to limit the wardrobe options when you have to think about providing easy, discrete access. But by adding functional basics to your closet, you can feel confident and prepared for breastfeeding on the go.

$59

Bebe au Lait premium cotton nursing cover

Bebe au Lait cotton nursing cover

Nursing in public isn't every mama's cup of tea. But babies can't always wait until you've found a private place to get down to business if that's your preference. That's where a nursing cover comes in handy. This one is made from premium cotton and features a patented neckline that allows for airflow and eye contact even while you're covered.

$36

Lactation Lab basic breastmilk testing kit

Lactation Lab breastmilk testing kit

Curious to learn more about the liquid gold you're making, mama? The testing kit from Lactation Labs analyzes your breast milk for basic nutritional content like calories and protein, as well as vitamins, fatty acids and environmental toxins to help boost your breastfeeding confidence.

$99

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Why do all of my good parenting or baby-focused inventions come after they've already been invented by someone else? Sigh.

Like the Puj hug hooded baby towel, aka the handiest, softest cotton towel ever created.

Safely removing a wet, slippery baby from the bath can be totally nerve-wracking, and trying to hold onto a towel at the same time without soaking it in the process seems to require an extra arm altogether. It's no wonder so much water ends up on the floor, the countertops, or you(!) after bathing your little one. Their splashing and kicking in the water is beyond adorable, of course, but the clean up after? Not as much.

It sounds simple: Wash your child, sing them a song or two, let them play with some toys, then take them out, place a towel around them, and dry them off. Should be easy, peasy, lemon squeezy, right?

But it hasn't been. It's been more—as one of my favorite memes says—difficult, difficult, lemon difficult. Because until this towel hit the bathtime scene, there was no easy-peasy way to pick up your squirming wet baby without drenching yourself and/or everything around you.

Plus, there is nothing cuter than a baby in a plush hooded towel, right? Well, except when it's paired with a dry, mess-free floor, maybe.

Check out our favorites to make bathtime so much easier:

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As told to Liz Tenety.

Around the time my husband and I were turning 30, we had a genuine conversation about whether or not we wanted kids. I was the hesitant one because I was like, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Let's just hold on. Okay, let's talk about this. Because we love our life. We like traveling. Is this what we want?"

My husband said, "Let's ask our three most pessimistic, crabby friends who have kids whether or not it's worth it."

And every single one of them was like, "Oh, it's unmissable on planet earth."

So when I got pregnant, I was—and I'm not ashamed to say this and I don't think you should be—I was as connected with the baby in my belly as if it were a water bottle. I was like, I don't know you. I don't know what you are, but you can be some gas pain sometimes, but other than that, we're going to have to meet each other and suss this relationship out.

But all the cliches are true that you just know what to do when the baby comes out. Some of the times are hard, some of them are easier, but you just gotta use your gut.

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