You’ve probably heard by now (and in a variety of ways) that it has been nearly a full calendar year since the Corona/Covid-19 global pandemic forced the majority of us into confinement all the way back on March 16th, 2020.
What you may not have seen yet – is that as of today – it has been exactly 347 days and counting, meaning we are less than three weeks away from hitting the one year mark. I can’t speak for the rest of you, but I’m about as close to being on the list of those eligible for the vaccine as I am to winning megabucks. Which feels about the same right now anyway. Once those of us considered relatively young and in good health are given the vaccine, hopefully life will go back to some shade of normal. But for now, we have to make do with what we have – which is not that different from what we had in the early stages of quarantine.
The pandemic needs to end soon, and hopefully it will. The rate of vaccination is increasing every day, but it’s going to be a while until a majority of the population is getting vaccinated. Right now we are being asked to mind way too many things, and it’s not going well. Every era is the most challenging era to be a parent ever, as the expectations are always growing with each shift in technology and with it – how things are expected to be done. That doesn’t mean your parents didn’t have a challenging time, it just means they had a more challenging time than their parents, and so on. You would have to go back to the depression of the 1930s or war time of the 1940s to find a time for the general family that can compare to the daily challenges of being a parent today.
The short version of a long story is that you and your kids need a break. That year mark is coming up quick, and now is the perfect time to have a short little getaway. We need to prove to our families they don’t live in a box with windows. We need to get out of the house.
Before you even say no, you can’t tell me you already have plans! You need somewhere to get away to for even five minutes, but right now those places don’t feel like they exist. Local public places are more accepted as safe for use – as long as you’re careful. You still need to be cautious about interacting with high contact areas of public places, like door handles and other things we all probably took for granted when we were almost a year younger than we are today. We watched Bill Murray walk around with a cloth in character as Bob Wiley in “What About Bob” early on in quarantine, and wondered how it would feel to be that person every day. Well, now we know better. We are that person right now. The main difference? Bob got to vacation if he wanted to, we don’t really have anywhere to go (other than changing the scenery around us), even if the Marvin family in our lives is willing to accept our visit. If you haven’t seen the movie, I won’t say you should see it now, it might be too close to what you are seeing daily. But on the other hand, perhaps a parody of what you are seeing now as seen through the eyes of Bill Murray could be what you need. Maybe that would be like a vacation – a vacation from your problems.
But if watching a movie about a person almost kind of maybe experiencing what you are experiencing is not enough of an escape I totally get it. The things we did to escape for anywhere from five minutes to five hours we have likely done about 500 times by now. We need new ideas, and we just don’t have many of those. The weather isn’t great right now, and like most people you probably have limited means to do anything anyway.
So what can you do to get your family out of the house without spending more money than absolutely necessary? That’s an interesting question. We all need to protect our funds right now, but we also need to protect our mental health. Obviously, some folks just don’t have anything they can spare right now, and I totally get it. If that’s the case, I would locate a local nature park, creek, river, or just a heavily wooded area you can visit and walk there. Just get out of your house, out of your neighborhood, out of your bubble. Go reconnect with nature for a few hours. Your problems aren’t going away, but you can take a break from them for a few hours and mentally and physically take some healing deep breaths.
I would recommend taking a day trip to the coast, or to the mountains, depending on where you live. Maybe a lake? Just get the family in the car, pack lunches and snacks, and play some tunes. It might sound crazy, but just the change of scenery could be enough. Now you’re definitely going to have one or more people not into this idea, and that’s to be expected. It’s important they get some bonding time, but let them do so on their terms. Let them put in their air pods, listen to their music or podcast or whatever, and interact with the group when they are ready. If we have learned anything from the past year, it’s that everyone deals with this situation differently, and we shouldn’t force them to make themselves uncomfortable. But everyone should get out of the house, if just for their own sanity, even if they spend the whole time driving everyone else a little crazier than usual.
Go to a major forest or a major body of water and wander the area, making sure to give other people space. If masks are required where you are going, make sure you bring them and wear them. We are all tired of wearing masks, but that doesn’t change anything. If they are required, they need to be worn regardless of your stance on the subject. No matter what you are wearing on your face, it’s simply amazing how good being around large natural areas makes the average person feel. There’s just something magical about it, and whether you all get along during the day or not, I can promise that when your family without fail all nods off on the drive home – leaving you to finally enjoy your own brand of music at a lower decibel level than you would prefer – you’ll feel some sense of relief and relaxation. You might feel as calm as the trees or water you visited earlier in the day.
And that’s the best vacation any of us can hope for right now. A vacation – from our problems.
Casey Mabbott is a husband and parent first, and also an experienced and dedicated writer and researcher. Born and raised in the Portland area, when Casey is not spending time with his family gallivanting around Portland and the surrounding areas, he genuinely enjoys helping people (especially families) find the “hidden gems” in the Pacific Northwest. In today’s world of lightning fast information at our fingertips, it’s truly a wonder to stumble across a place, an experience, or an activity you’ve never heard of.