After a late start, summer weather has finally arrived in BC. As with all things in the wake of COVID-19, summer plans are taking a different shape this year for Canadian families. 

With many vacations upended, parents struggle to balance summer activities with the health and safety measures put forth to combat the spread of the virus. This balance becomes especially challenging to navigate for divorced or separated parents. 

A case emerged recently out of Ottawa where a mother raised concerns to the court over the father’s plan to take their son on a cottage trip with extended family. She argued the necessary safety precautions would be impossible to maintain in the close-quarters style of cottage living. She also took issue with the expansion of the social “bubble” with family members from throughout the province. The father maintained his son’s health and safety would not be compromised. He deemed the mother’s request unreasonable and echoing of past attempts to disrupt vacations. The judge ruled in favour of the mother, but the case rings close to home for separated parents in similar circumstances. 

While BC is in Phase 3 of the Restart Plan, the comfort level of families to venture out or expand their social circle can vary dramatically between individuals within the family unit. Is one parent pro-mask 24-7 while the other leans toward a more measured approach, allowing mask-off playtime when outdoors? Are the parents divided on travel within the province, with one a strict no and the other a yes, with precautions? The list goes on. In the face of a global pandemic, answers to the above questions are not clear cut when it comes to the health and happiness of our children. 

In addition to following the advice and protocols published by health officials, the best approach to easing tension within families may be to establish their own “Restart Plan” for summer. Using the government plan as a guide, parents can comb through and assess their own feelings on reopening measures. One parent may not feel ready for their children to dine at restaurants, while the other is more open to venturing out within the guidelines. Could outdoor patio dining be a compromise in that case? Keeping in mind that as the virus situation evolves, answers to these questions could change on a weekly basis, so consistent check-ins are a must. Establishing this open dialogue now could serve parents well to set themselves and their children up for a safe and happy summer.

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