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Courtesy of Donahue family

Seattle-area families planning a memorable, coronavirus-era summer

Many families await the decision about the possibility of summer camps (what we know about that here), counting on them for a much-needed break from distance learning and to accommodate child-care needs. Others have decided to make the best of summer, in their own way, with children brushing up on their gardening skills and taking on the responsibility of owning a new pet or a coop full of chickens.

Parents have ordered trampolines and pools, started to build treehouses, or are taking interest in online camps and classes in preparation to combat the idleness and inevitable boredom that summer will bring. Here are what four Seattle-area families are planning for their 2020 summer break:

“I figure the great outdoors is a great way to spend a summer isolating and educating the kids,” said Kirkland mom Katie P. She and her family have planned a road trip to camp at Yellowstone National Park this summer.

Katie stresses that her husband and two kids, Lizzy, 10, and Emma, 8, will be taking major precautions and have talked about the importance of social distancing as they travel and when they reach their destination.

“Having an RV means that we will be able to be very strict about distancing – only cooking our own food and using the RV toilet. We plan to be up early and wear masks and hats with visors to explore the park and have agreed as a family, that if a site is too busy we will skip it because it’s not worth putting ourselves and others at risk [of COVID-19].”

They won’t be staying at a lodge, dining at local restaurants or visiting the gift shop, but it will be a summer together, and one to remember.

Finding more space in the outdoors than at home, the Werner family plans on spending most of their summer hiking and “quaranteaming” with friends who have stayed equally isolated as they have been these past few months.

“We [hiked] to Dash Point yesterday and got down to the park boundary on the beach and let the kids, Gabe, 8, and Tate, 5, play mask-free. They got wet and sandy and were happy. I felt comfortable with that compromise,” said Tahoma mom Jessica Werner.

Although this is Jessica’s plan to keep her children entertained for the summer, she worries about not having child care when she heads back to work at a local library, set to open in Phase 3.

“We may not open right away, but if we open, I don’t know what we will do for child care,” said Werner. “I worry about taking a day camp spot from someone who may really need it [like a first responder].”

Thirteen-year-old Brady Christopherson usually spends his summers swimming with friends, spending time on a farm with his aunt and uncle, and going camping with his grandparents, but this summer, he’ll be staying close to home.

Brady’s mom, Becky, says, “My husband is building a wooden swing set for our son who turns 13 next month, but still loves to swing. He has special needs and is also immune-compromised, so we probably wouldn’t be playing on public swing sets this summer, even if they opened. This past October/November he had a cold, pneumonia, flu all in a six-week span. So, I will not let him touch play equipment or be in large groups of kids.”

Having just celebrated his 13th birthday, Brady will be zooming around his neighborhood on his new go-kart, making the best of his summer break.

With the coronavirus halting all home-construction projects, the Donahue family hopes that before the summer hits, their kitchen renovation will be complete in Phase 2 of the state’s safe-reopening plan.

In the meantime, construction on a new DIY playhouse has begun in their backyard. At 6 feet off the ground, the platform will soon have walls and railings, giving kids Henry, 8, Sam, 6, and William, 3, a wonderful place to hide out, plan their pirate adventures and use as a cozy nook.

“The boys will love it,” said mom Jennifer. (It could be an escape for the parents, too!)

Maybe you won’t be able to build something in your space, purchase yard toys or go on an excursion to keep your kids occupied. Keeping summer low-key may be the way to go.

As Seattle-area parent Erica Pina said, “I’m hoping as we all manage through this, we don’t begin to feel the pressure to revert back to overscheduled calendars and expectations. … think this summer will look like something from the 80s — bike rides, popsicles, chalk and playing outside.”

And that, too, sounds like a perfect summer break.

  Jasmin Thankachen is a contributing writer and Eastside mom of two boys, ages 6 and 8.

More parent to parent tips and ideas:

Too much family time? How to try to make the most of it
Struggling with at-home learning? Take a deep breath and read this
When cake is the new self-care: Thoughts from a slightly stressed mom

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Seattle Child Staff

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