Hacks Newsletter – Week 34 – The Antidote to Social Distancing for Children


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The Antidote to Social Distancing for Children. 

As protective face coverings transform from hospital-only garments to commonplace accessories, the world is now dominated by images of people wearing masks. From my modern dance days, I remember choreographic exercises where we would literally wear a mask and “move” in the style of whoever or whatever was portrayed. From a psychological sense, wearing a mask provides you with the freedom to “escape” and “transform”, given that your “true” self is protected by a physical barrier between you and the rest of humanity.

So what I can’t help but wonder is, how will having a generation of children who are comfortable wearing masks impact us (and them) in the decades ahead? As a mom, wife, entrepreneur, executive, I’ve been asking myself, in an era where children were forced to socialize through digital means for months on end, and are now re-entering the world with partial shields to their identity, will there be negative or lasting effects? While I don’t have the answers, I do have some ideas for fast-tracking their return to a normal degree of “socialization” in the months and years ahead: 

  • More time outdoors recalibrates the mind and body.

In observing our daughters return to outdoor athletic activities, albeit in appropriately socially-distanced ways, I recognize that they are, not surprisingly, bouncing back to their normal behaviors and routines faster than an adult might. They are eager to play with friends and coaches and, frankly, act as if nothing has happened. Thank goodness for their resilience. 

  • More time with other children (besides their siblings).

Our daughters love each other- and love to fight with each other, like most siblings who are less than three years apart do, I suppose. But seeing them with other kids, again, albeit in appropriately socially distanced contexts, brings a sigh of relief. They are upbeat, playful, and eager for reconnection. 

  • More time without screens.

We weren’t slaves to a screen as it were- but instituting a screen break for all family members forces/inspires even more games, even more music, even more books. I have to believe this “antidote” to months of eLearning will be a “cleanse” for the brain before we return to the fall and what will likely be a hybrid of in-person and eLearning.

  • More classic escapes into books or journals.

We marked the end of the eLearning calendar year in our home by buying a record player, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong LPs, and new books for summer reading. Our girls also have journals, although they have heretofore used them more for doodling than writing. My hope, however, is that this summer, the rising kindergartener and third grader can escape into physical books, dive into daydreams or doodles in their journals, and rediscover the joy of getting lost in – and building their own worlds with – words. 

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