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MOM SCENE: Parenting beyond the family bubble

Restrictions are loosening, which means parents have difficult decisions to make about how to reintroduce their kids to a life outside their family bubble.
Restrictions are loosening, which means parents have difficult decisions to make about how to reintroduce their kids to a life outside their family bubble.

Our kids understood that we all had to “stay the blazes home”. They understood that only Dad went to the store or picked up take-out. They understood that if someone stopped by our house, we stood on the porch and talked to them from a safe distance.

Now, everything is a bit wishy-washy.

Most Fridays during the province’s update, our world changes a little. As more restrictions loosen, there’s more room for interpretation. Some of us are gun-shy, while others are eager to push the new limits, especially as the province’s number of COVID-19 cases dips even lower.

It’s hard for all us to keep up with the updates, but it’s especially confusing for kids.

We can hug those in our bubble but no one else. We can see other people but not up close and not too many at once. We can go into someone’s house but also we shouldn’t. We can go to public places but not touch anything or get too close to people.


I think most parents, right now, are teetering on whether they should indulge their lonely, sad kids with a playdate or if we should continue to isolate them for everyone’s safety.


The gathering limit is currently 10 people. We are a family of four. In theory, we could invite six non-bubble people into our home as long as we’re social distancing and don’t share food or dishes. But . . . can we?

The kids keep asking me when we get a second bubble. We’ve all loved getting to bubble with my sister and her husband, knowing we can safely hug and hang out without distancing. But they want more bubbles – their friends, in particular.

I’ve told them honestly that I don’t know how that will work. Bubbling with one additional family will expose all four families to each other’s germs. I’ve tried to explain the newest set of restrictions, but it’s just not as clear.

Our kids both recently celebrated quarantine birthdays, so they’re now eight years old and 10 years old. They’re desperate to invite their friends inside again, but how could they stay properly socially distanced when their smallish bedrooms would make it difficult to stay six feet apart? Also, how do you invite a child into your home without feeding them when kids are constantly hungry. Is it a BYO fruit snack situation?

While I’d love to invite my kids’ friends over to play with them, are their parents going to be comfortable with that? Will I be comfortable with it?

I think most parents, right now, are teetering on whether they should indulge their lonely, sad kids with a playdate or if we should continue to isolate them for everyone’s safety.

For so long, the rules have been firm. Stay home and see no one, basically. While those rules were scary and upsetting, there was also no wiggle room. We knew what to do.

Now, things are more relaxed but I still can’t shake the feeling that we might get in trouble. In mid-April, a neighbour called the police because they felt our children were getting too close to the neighbours’ children in our shared backyard. The kids are still playing “together,” and doing a pretty good job of social distancing.

Now, we could officially invite five more children to join them out in the yard, but we’re all hesitant to relax what had been the rule for so long. Would we be putting ourselves or others at risk? Or are we just being overly paranoid?

I keep thinking of how COVID-19 has been called “Schrödinger’s virus.” None of us wants to unknowingly infect someone else, but we might not know we have it. So every interaction with another person means we could be infecting them, or they could be infecting us.

I go through waves of feeling pretty confident that we’re OK, that our risk of getting or spreading COVID-19 is quite low for the moment. I feel a panicked need to embrace our new freedoms while we still have the chance, since no one will stop talking about the looming second wave that’s going to steal everything away from us again.

But then I find myself worrying again. The risk isn’t over, my mind whispers. Anyone could have it! You could have it! You could be spreading it to people if you go near them.

I’m back and forth, constantly. What will be good for our children, and what will be an unnecessary risk? I have no desire to take the kids into a restaurant right now, even if it’s just with our bubble family. I don’t want to take them into a store, even though we could.

Adjusting to “stay home, see no one” back in March was incredibly difficult, but we got used to it. Now we have the option to navigate a less-strict way of life, away from the security of our bubble, and it feels . . . uneasy.

Like every other day in this pandemic, I guess we’ll just have to take it one day at a time.

Heather Laura Clarke is a freelance journalist who married her high-school sweetheart. They moved from the city to the country, where they spend their days making messes and memories with their 10-year-old son and eight-year-old daughter. Follow their family’s adventures over at www.HeathersHandmadeLife.com.

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1 being least likely, and 10 being most likely

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