How I prepared my kids for our family trip—and stayed virus-free

Published January 21, 2021, 1:48 PM

by Jane Kingsu-Cheng

With the second strain of the Covid-19 confirmed in the country, parents have been thinking twice of pushing through with their travel plans. But life—and the world—has changed, and things will never go back to the way it was. 

Make airline travel stress-free, especially when you’re with children.

This doesn’t mean that we should live in a bubble inside our houses forever. Eventually, we will have to go out, and we all need fresh air and nature’s wonderful view from time to time. So how do we get through this, especially when we have children who aren’t as mindful as adults? Here are some travel tips to keep your children (and family) healthy and virus-free.

Talk to your kids.
Our children have been living inside the four corners of the home with very little exposure to the outside world. They might not even know the gravity of this pandemic, so it is important that we talk to our children in a manner that they understand. Psychiatrist Aileene Nepomuceno, who has a grade three boy suggests to find something that your children understands. Her son loves playing with soldier toys, so she explained the virus as “bad soldiers” who try to invade our body and make us sick. 
From there, we can start explaining how things are different now and that access to travel will be limited, but that doesn’t mean we won’t get to travel at all. This is where we lay out everything that will happen when and if you do get to travel so that expectations are met with minimal disappointments from the children and even lower stress levels from the parents. 

Start with proper hygiene.
Before booking those tickets and room accommodations, we set rules with our children on the habits that they should practice at home. This includes washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds and other practices that you follow at home. Plus, the frequent use of alcohol (and UVC light for adults).

Maintain social distancing.
Upon arriving from work or errands, we have made it clear to our children not to go near us or touch anything we’ve touched. They can only approach us after we’ve taken a shower. Doing this at home will prep our children not to go near anyone.
Our children have gotten used to this. They would ask me and my husband if we just got home and we’ve already taken a shower. Funny? Yes, and no more kisses and hugs until we’re “sanitized” thoroughly.

Make face masks and shields fun to wear.

Practice wearing a mask. 
We know this is one of the more challenging tasks to accomplish. It is best to purchase kid-sized face masks and shields, even those with fun prints, so they’ll enjoy wearing them. You can start by wearing masks inside the house, then a few steps outside the door, etc… Remind them not to touch the exterior of the masks as it may contain viruses, and that the mask should be worn properly, covering the nose as well.

Prepare their very own hygiene kits.
Each family member should have their own bag/backpack with all the essentials in it. I always sit down with the kids as we packed all the items together in their bags. This way, they know where the items are and can easily access them when needed. 

Go for short car rides.
Now that we’ve given all the family members enough time to prepare for that much-awaited trip, start with short car rides such as going to the drive-thru or visiting other family members as a way of breaking in the whole family for the upcoming trip.
You’ll encounter quite a number of “bumps” on the road for sure. Treat it as a practice test for everyone. The kids will also get a feel of how cautious and mindful they should be whenever they’re out.  

Pandemic or not, the buddy system is a great way to keep tabs on every one.

Be a role model.
All of these will not be properly implemented if the parents do not lead and practice all of the above. Showing our children and explaining the importance of all of these while practicing them will help them follow through with the rules and the habits we’ve set in placed.
Lastly, if you’re a family of more than three members, you can also create a buddy system so that everyone will be able to watch out for each other. Our youngest daughter is the most alert, calling my attention every time her older brothers’ masks are about to fall off or when they absentmindedly touched their surroundings. Let’s always watch out for each other.