Ask Scary Mommy is Scary Mommy’s new advice column, where our team of “experts” answers all the questions you have about life, love, body image, friends, parenting, and anything else that’s boggling you.
This week … what to do when social distancing has everybody bored to (literal) tears and you just want to have a teeny get-together with a couple of symptom-less friends. Can it really be that bad? Have your own question? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Scary Mommy,
Are playdates with other healthy kids appropriate during the COVID-19 quarantine? I’m not talking large gatherings. I’m talking a few friends at my house (or theirs) where nobody has been sick or is currently displaying any symptoms. We do not have a yard, and the park is off-limits right now, and my kids are in desperate need of interaction and exercise. Is it really THAT BAD to visit with close friends for an hour or two? I want to be mindful of others, but also feel like maybe this is overkill.
These restrictions are being put in place by the most respected health authority in our country, in resounding agreement with the vast majority of healthcare professionals, so I would say it is definitely not overkill. We are not qualified to label the protective measures we are taking during a literal pandemic as “overkill.” Public health matters. The life of the immunocompromised, medically fragile, the elderly, the folks in the “severe risk” category for severe complications (and death) from this deadly virus certainly matter. They are our family members, friends, teachers, caregivers, and community members. We should want to protect them.
So no, you can’t have a playdate right now. Doing so is essentially saying that you do not feel that ending this pandemic, flattening the curve of this deadly virus, is a priority. That a couple hours of social interaction is of more importance than public health. Under normal circumstances you could label these sort of measures (and my tone) as dramatic, but not right now. Right now, this is real life. The more strictly we adhere to the social distancing guidelines set forth by the CDC, the sooner we will be done with this tragic, scary mess and able to start to pick up the pieces and (hopefully) resume our normal lives.
If schools are closing for the rest of the year, and major corporations are closing all of their retail locations, and restaurants are forced to close their dining rooms, then we can manage our cabin fever and forego the playdate.
I know it’s stressful, boring, unnerving. I know that sometimes we crave that social interaction, especially with our favorite friends, so that we can just breathe and take our mind off the scary news. I know our kids tap-dance on our last freaking nerve and we want nothing more than to have them climb the walls with their friends, so that we can have just a minute of peace.
The anxiety of all this, and what the aftermath will be for our economy, job market, hospitals, schools, etc. is HEAVY. The thing is, we can’t get through this unless we work together, and right now that looks like staying the fuck home, unless we are essential personnel and/or mandated to be at work.
I have four little kids of my own, so I understand the toll being alone in four walls can take on someone’s mental and emotional health. Puzzles, board games, painting, reading and watching movies only lasts for so long before they are whining and asking us for another snack. I hear you.
You can’t go on a playdate, but you can try FaceTime. FaceTime, if available to you, is your friend. My daughter ate lunch with a friend via FaceTime this week. My friend’s son had “virtual circle time” with his class (they were all fortunate enough to be able to take home their school-issued iPads) while their teacher read a story and sang a song with them. My preschooler has been FaceTiming his grandparents, uncles, cousins and (to my surprise) my co-workers all week.
I realize that some families have access to technology and resources that others do not. I know some parents are worried about how they are going to feed their kids. That’s not fair, and it certainly makes things much harder. That’s why my hope is that we can push through this as quickly as possible and help folks get back on their feet. The way to make that happen? Yep, you guessed it: STAY HOME.
If you’re looking for some inspiration, we’ve got some suggestions:
Information about COVID-19 is rapidly changing, and Scary Mommy is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. With news being updated so frequently, some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For this reason, we are encouraging readers to use online resources from local public health departments, the Centers for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization to remain as informed as possible.
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