What a difference a year makes. This time last year we were elbow-deep in sourdough starter, savoring the occasional walk outside, and locking ourselves up in the pantry for some alone time (just me?). I have such a mix of emotions now that we’re finally coming out of this. It’s been a hard year. But things are looking up just in time for summer.

Whether you’re ready to get your vaccine, already vaccinated, or undecided, the one thing we all have in common is that we’re living in a new normal. Everyone has to decide what’s best for them. For us, that means expanding our horizons but doing so safely and comfortably. You can make the most of summer while still keeping your family safe and healthy!

Studies show that COVID-19 vaccines are effective at keeping you from getting COVID-19. Getting a COVID-19 vaccine will also help keep you from getting seriously ill even if you do get COVID-19.

family sitting on bed kids playing outside

Keeping Up With the Guidelines

First off, good luck. They’re ever-changing. But I think that’s why at some point you just need to do what works for you and your family. In California, the mask mandate will be lifted starting June 15 (as of now). Will that mean we’re going to rip our masks off the next time we step out? I’m not sure yet. I do think we’ll be comfortable taking them off when we’re outside and a good distance from others. But you won’t see us diving maskless, headfirst into the first backyard barbeque we see.

Decide what you’re comfortable with and start there. Also, remember that every business will have its own guidelines this summer—some may require masks and some may not. Have a discussion with your family to hear what their concerns are, what they’re comfortable with, and come to an agreement. I want all of us to be on the same page in the Schaffer household so that there’s no misunderstandings. There’s no shame in still wearing your mask if that’s what you decide—do you, boo!

family packing carmom and kids camping

Finding New Things to Do

Despite so much darkness, there were a few silver linings last year—one being a new appreciation for the outdoors. Much like so many others, we went on so many walks last year and grew a much deeper appreciation for our neighborhood. It sounds silly, but more walks are definitely on the agenda.

Whether it’s in our neighborhood, by the beach, or at a park, going on a family walk is an easy way to spend time together. In fact, any outdoor activity is a great transitional activity—and during summer, why wouldn’t you want to be outside?! Going to the beach, the zoo, or even heading out on a hike are great options. Just pack some extra hand sanitizer and stick to low-crowd hours (early morning or late afternoon) to stake out a good spot and have more room to yourself.

It typically takes two weeks after vaccination for the body to build protection (immunity) against the virus that causes COVID-19. You are not fully vaccinated until 2 weeks after the 2nd dose of a two-dose vaccine or two weeks after a one-dose vaccine.

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kids sitting in poolfamily walking through disneyland

Enjoying Old Favorites

But the things we loved—and missed—most are still available, just with some adjusting to fit your comfort levels. For example, we loved going to Balboa Park to check out the museums. Back in the old days (yes, I’m calling them that), you could just walk in and go. Now, we’ll probably plan ahead by buying tickets online to see what’s available, getting there early, and wearing our masks inside until all of us are vaccinated. (And as all of our kids aren’t old enough to get the vaccine yet, we’re taking extra precautions.)

Additionally, I’ve become a germaphobe (thanks, Covid), so I’ll be packing extra hand-sanitizing wipes, plain old hand sanitizer, and extra masks in case anyone loses theirs. It doesn’t hurt to be a little extra prepared.

We’ll probably do the same with trips to amusement parks (we’re itching to go to Disneyland again). During this transitional phase, different places will have different guidelines. And with a lot of places requiring reservations, it’s good to plan out the summer ahead of time and make sure you have everything you need.

There are a few getaways we have planned, too. Traveling is something we did a lot of before 2020 and something we’re eager to do again. Our method to keeping the family healthy is to stick to smaller groups, book accommodations we trust, and bring those previously mentioned essentials.   

mom and kids at the beachfamily in backyard patio

Deciding What Works For You

I’m no expert. Please check the CDC guidelines and the specific restrictions mandated in your state and city. I simply wanted to share our thoughts here because it seems like a conversation worth having. Keeping my family healthy is my top priority and their safety comes first to me. How will you be entering this new normal?

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After you are fully vaccinated for COVID-19, you may be able to start doing some things that you stopped doing because of the pandemic. For example, you can gather indoors without masks with other people who are fully vaccinated.

funny mom quotekids in parking lot


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