The PSP Guide to Socially Distanced Fun

Even with our city moving through the phases of reopening, heading out for a far-flung vacation is likely not in the cards this year. Fortunately, as the warm weather continues, our local area presents plenty of possibilities for fall festivities. Below, check out PSP’s recs for lockdown-friendly fun. And for a crash course on planning an awesome distanced meetup, download the PSP Socially Distanced Meetup Tip Sheet!

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Safe social distancing in the park! Image source: Wikimedia Commons

 

In this article:

 

Planning Your Distance Meetup

 

Post in your PSP baby group. Everyone has different levels of comfort when it comes to risk, so frame your post as a series of open-ended questions: Who feels comfortable setting up a meeting in the park? What ways can we make sure to socially distance? You may also want to specify that you’re looking to meet with a limited number of families and ask folks who are interested to contact you offline.

 

Not a Park Slope Parents member? Join us and we’ll get you connected to your baby group!

 

Use the Podding Form. PSP has a quick questionnaire to help you connect with families for podding, playdates, or homeschooling!

 

If you want to cap the size of your meetup, take RSVPs. Park Slope Parents can help you with this. If you have more than eight or so families attend, you can do breakout groups so that everyone can still hear one another.

 

Make your meet-up long enough. Something in the neighborhood of two hours accomodates for extra-long naps so that people can join late. If you make it too long, though, kids do start to wilt a bit.

 

Be clear about social distancing expectations. If you want everyone to wear a mask, including kids over two, then state that up-front. Attendees should be respectful of the organizers' wishes. "Oh, my kid just won't keep a mask on" can make for an uncomfortable meetup if the request was to have kids abide by masking guidelines.

 

Remind folks to bring supplies. That means blankets, drinks, snacks (but no sharing!), hand sanitizer/wipes, and maybe a spray bottle if it's hot. Don't forget a trash bag so you can leave the park better than you found it.

 

Send a reminder the day of the meetup for any last-minute folks who want to join in.

 

Stake out a space. Arrive at the park early to find your perfect spot. If it's a hot part of the day, try to search for a place with shade. Prospect Park is always about 10 degrees cooler than the surrounding areas. Once you've found it, set out physical distancing guidelines, such as blankets or circles (hula hoops?) six feet apart for each family to sit in. Then take rope or some yellow “do not cross” tape and create a boundary around the entire meet-up area so that other folks know not to step inside your bubble. Drop a pin in a map and give your phone number so people can find you.

 

Enjoy! Depending on the age of the kids, you might let them go enjoy some socially distanced fun within eyeshot of the parents (see below for guidelines and ideas), or you might sit and chat while keeping your babies close. After the meetup, you might considering taking a walk with folks who are up to it.

 

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Guidelines for Social Distance Playdates

 

Keep your children safe and healthy. Teach and reinforce everyday preventive actions such as washing your hands and keeping a six-foot radius from other children. Try to explain why you are doing these things to ensure your children see the seriousness of staying away. If anyone in your family shows symptoms or has been exposed to someone with the virus, stay home. 

 

Wear a mask. Research has proven that wearing a proper protective face covering slows the spread of germs. We know it's hard to get your children to keep their masks on, but it's important nonetheless, as the CDC recommends all children over the age of two wear a cloth face covering. For more, check out our article on convincing kids to wear a mask.

 

Stay close to home. Pick outside areas (parks, beaches, etc.) that are close to all of the families attending the playdates. Traveling increases the chance that you will come into contact with someone who has COVID-19. 

 

Follow published guidelines when at parks and beaches. As of July 1, NYC beaches will be open for swimming as long as there is a lifeguard on duty, but visitors still must abide by social distancing and masking guidelines. Avoid contact with surfaces in these areas as much as possible, and check out the NYC Park’s guide to staying safe when visiting parks and beaches. 

 

Vet your playdate partner. Make sure the family you are playing with shares your ideas about appropriate distancing and slowing the spread of the virus. Make sure you are on the same page about what activities are allowed and how you are going to take precautions when interacting. 

 

Playdate with folks who are already in your bubble. Precautions are still important, but making plans with folks who are in the same class or program as your kids reduces exposure more than hanging out with folks who live and learn in a different community.

 

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Form separate eating spaces. If you are planning on having lunch or dinner while together, bring disposable utensils, plates, and cups (bonus if they are biodegradable) and ensure that there is an accessible garbage bin. Avoid finger foods and bowls of snacks, as hands going into those can spread the virus. Instead, give them individual snack baggies. 

 

Create a handwashing station. Bring a bucket or spray bottle and soap so that your children can periodically wash their hands. If the playdate is happening in someone’s backyard, do not bring the kids inside to wash their hands; rather, bring the handwashing station to them.

 

Use tricks to remind kids to clean their hands regularly. When children are playing together, put a timer on the game. At the end of each game, draw a mark or use an ink stamp on the outside of their hands. All children need to wash off the mark before beginning the next game.

 

Use physical barriers to separate the kids. This could be creating two lines with six feet between them in your backyard and keeping the kids in those spaces. Setting up your blankets in the park six feet away from each other is another idea. There are many fun activities that can be done while distancing, such as art projects, water balloon fights, bubbles, and scavenger hunts in the park. 

 

Remember, while the risks are lower outdoors, they are not zero. The New York Times has a piece up on how seemingly harmless interactions with friends and family can nevertheless drive the spread of Covid. Be smart and be safe.

 

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Ideas for Socially Distanced Play

 

Our creative PSP members have bright ideas for socially distanced and/or solo fun:

 

Fun with no equipment needed

  • Playing “I Spy” or “I Hear”

  • Freeze dance game

  • Jumping on your shadow

  • Playing “fast,” “slow,” “stop” with running and walking

  • Relay races with silly rules (skipping, hopping, doing the grapevine, etc.)

 

Fun with simple supplies

  • Egg-in-spoon races, or races while holding cups of water (try not to spill!)
  • Putting some dried beans in soda bottles to weight them down and going bowling or playing with them as an obstacle course

  • Stomp rockets

  • Sidewalk chalking

  • Soccer

  • Hopscotch

  • Hula-hooping
  • Jumprope

  • Flying kites

  • Playing catch, wiffle ball, or Frisbee (as long as kids can keep their hands away from their face and wash them as soon as the game is over)

  • Blowing bubbles or using a bubble machine

  • Water gun/water balloon fights (but clean up the balloon skins after!)
  • Scootering

  • Making art outside

  • Making houses and cars out of boxes: “I’ve even paper machéd the cardboard house so that it’ll be prettier to paint.” Afterward, you can play car racing!

  • Checking out the ideas from @busytoddler and @hellowonderful_co: “She has so many brilliant creative games to play with kids that include science experiments.”

 

Nature/park activities

  • Pretending to cook on tree stumps, using branches to stir, etc.

  • Building a fairy house in the wooded areas
  • Counting games with rocks/putting rocks in and out of buckets

  • Hunting for sticks and rocks in the park

  • Making mud pies
  • Listening to the bird calls and imitating them
  • Digging with buckets/shovels/dump trucks/bulldozers in the wooded areas of the park

  • Bringing a disposable camera and snapping the nature and wildlife you observe
  • Bringing binoculars and watching birds, ducks, and turtles

  • Bringing magnifying glasses and examining the nature and wildlife (worms and bugs)

  • Making leaf rubbings or leaf collages
  • Harvesting grass/moss/rocks to create a mini terrarium

 

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Places to Explore

 

Wherever you go, please remember to practice responsible social distancing and wear a mask if you’re within six feet of other folks!

 

Walking distance to Park Slope:

Green-Wood Cemetery (play the name game or download the scavenger hunt)

Fort Greene Park

Zucker Exploration Area

Prospect Park Lullwater

Grand Army Plaza Fountain (bring lunch and people-watch)

 

Farther Afield:

Brooklyn Bridge Park and walking across the Brooklyn Bridge

Domino Park

Coney Island Boardwalk

Washington Square Park

Marine Park (Brooklyn’s largest park, with 530 acres of grassland and salt marsh!)

Shirley Chisholm Park

Jacob Riis Park/Fort Tilden

Bike riding out to the beaches (renting a Citibike is easy)

The Industry City parking lot and Ikea Parking Lot are great places for kids to run around!

 

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Even Farther:

Berry or peach picking (Alstede Farms is planning to open for Pick Your Own!)

Forest Park in Queens

Greenbelt Nature Center on Staten Island (SI has some great parks that are less populated than those in Brooklyn)

Van Cortland Park in the Bronx

Bear Mountain hiking

Cold Spring hiking

Sandy Hook beach in NJ

Sterling Forest

Rockefeller State Park Preserve

Fahnestock State Park

Tallman State Park

Ore Pit Pond, Copake Falls Area, Taconic State Park: one PSP member reports, “There is a really nice swimming pond (with a separate area for young children), picnic area and hiking trails near Hudson in the Taconic State Park area. It is usually quiet during the week and my 4 and 6 year olds love hiking and looking for rocks in the area.”

 

If you’re planning on taking a hike, also check out PSP’s Top Tips for Hiking in the Age of Coronavirus and PSP Member Recommended Family Friendly Day Hikes.

 

 

Resources

 

 

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