Spring has finally arrived! With the warmer weather around the corner and abundant vaccine availability locally, people are starting to venture out more.
I have noticed some sense of normalcy this spring. Children are returning to school, ballfields are again active, and birthday celebrations are resuming. My family has already celebrated a baptism and two birthdays for grandchildren over the past two weeks!
In planning for these events, there was a great deal of discussion on how to host them. Inside or outside? How many do we invite? How should we serve refreshments? Is social distancing necessary if adults have been vaccinated? There are so many concerns that, until a year ago, would have never entered our minds. All of this can lead to what I call FOJI, or Fear of Jumping In.
As adults, we have seen our social interactions––beyond our bubble––shrink significantly. As difficult as this was, jumping back in can also be challenging and uncomfortable. You may feel stressed in larger groups or venues, such as resuming in-person church activities, office work, restaurant dining, and air travel.
If this is the case, start small. Try an earlier church service with lower attendance. Consider dining out during off-peak times when restaurants are less busy. Check with your employer to see if they will allow hybrid schedules for awhile. If possible, travel at times other than holidays, and midweek rather than on weekends. Ease back in. Only you can know what feels comfortable. This is not a race!
What about the kids? Will it be odd for them to be face-to-face with their friends in social settings? There are several ways in which to help your child re-engage with other children. Most are simple for both parent and child.
Recently I brought my grandson (age six) to an in-person golf camp with several children, some of whom he knew and others he did not. He has a somewhat shy nature at the best of times, so I was curious as to how he would respond. And he was a bit shy for the first five minutes, but I watched him warm up quickly once he saw a friend from school in the group. A few icebreaker activities conducted by the coach helped the kids feel comfortable with each other. Kids are remarkably resilient, and in my opinion, much more adaptable than adults.
As a grandparent, it is wonderful to again be able to watch and share in family life again, especially outdoors. Have a great spring, readers, and enjoy the warm sunshine!