Why This Pediatrician Stopped All Playdates.

The kids will survive if we stop sleepovers, but will grandma survive if we don’t?

The novel coronavirus pandemic is here, and I’ve canceled all my kids’ playdates and sleepovers. They don’t like it, but they understand why.

As a doctor, it’s been hard to watch the COVID-19 pandemic spreading like wildfire. As soon as it was clear what we doctors were seeing, I was hoping our communities and leaders would do what it takes to stop the spread. But even I struggled with what to do about playdates when the schools closed.

By Friday afternoon we knew the schools were closing, but on Saturday morning I still hadn’t processed that yet. I thought maybe it would work if we chose a close circle of my kids’ friends and did playdates exclusively with them for the next three weeks. You know, keeping the kids sane but limiting exposure.

Both of my kids had playdates scheduled that afternoon. That is until one family canceled because the father was showing cold symptoms. My other son went to a friends’ house and played Twister. The exact opposite of social distancing.

Sunday morning, I woke up knowing that I was doing the wrong thing. My emotions wanted to continue playdates because my kids are social and will get lonely. Normally, I schedule as many playdates as possible for my kids, because it’s good for them. But my doctor brain knew for sure that playdates needed to stop.

The one who stayed home saved all the rest.

We have so many vulnerable people around us, who are at risk of getting dangerously ill or even dying of COVID-19. Casual behaviors we take for granted can put them at risk. In our area, the governor closed the restaurants except for takeout because people who did not understand how this disease spreads went on pub crawls over the weekend. He did the right thing.

This is the image that went viral online. Doctors in Greece posted it to help people understand how they could help each other by staying home.

Have you heard about flattening the curve?

Flattening the curve is something healthcare professionals are talking about all over the place online. Do you know what we mean? It’s when we slow down the spread of this virus so that the number of people who are sick is not more than the hospitals can handle. At the hospitals, we only have so many beds, and we need to make sure we don’t run out.

The President of the United States just announced that we should not have gatherings of more than 10 people, and Harvard recommends we keep it smaller than that. No playdates, no sleepovers are two of the recommendations from the Harvard health site.

What are we going to do with the kids when we are stuck at home?

These are difficult and unusual times, and we are staying at home. While I’m in clinic caring for patients, my husband will be working from home and my kids will be doing elementary school via e-learning.

We’ve loosened our screen time restrictions a little bit, and the kids have figured out how to live chat with their friends while they play video games together. We’ve also exchanged information so our kids can text or facetime their friends on iPads.

We’ve ordered some new art supplies, and this morning we made edible Jell-O slime. I’ve been grateful for the way the community is pitching in with virtual events for kids, like the one at the Cincinnati Zoo.

We’ll be reassessing the situation week to week. In the meantime, we are focusing on family time.

Originally published at https://theprimarycarer.com on March 16, 2020.

How can we take effective action under pressure? Forbes Contributor | TEDx Speaker | Pediatrician | PsychToday | ShouldStorm.com

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