Welcome to my travel blog! Except, this post isn’t about travel — far from it, actually. It’s about helping kids wear masks and protect themselves in a pandemic. One day, when my family is finally able to safely travel again, I am 100% sure we will be wearing masks. We should be pros at it by then!
With the start of the school year quickly approaching in Canada, many families are facing a new reality about having their kids wear masks in schools. It’s going to be challenging. But, I feel like we can help kids do this!
These past few months, my son and I have been working hard to wear masks and keep our family safe and well. My little guy is only 4 and he does an amazing job wearing a mask. Although it is not mandatory for little ones to mask up in schools (noting that in my area, the TDSB will be voting on this), he will definitely wear one if he returns.
Read on for tips to help your kids wear a mask.
Let’s face it. No one likes to wear a mask. But for my family of three with an immune-compromised husband, it’s not about whether we like it or not. We just do it. All of us.
Back in March/April when things started to lock down, I started ordered my son’s first masks. His first mask was Spiderman. He was so proud to put it on. He wore it outside riding around on his motorcycle (tricycle) and cars honked at him and people waved — they were cheering him on, and it helped a lot.
Superhero mask for kids
Give them options
I hear a lot of parents say that their kid doesn’t want to wear a mask. Well, no one really does. But we have to. So, for my son, I give him options. Ie: do you want to hug grandma? Then put on your mask and sanitize. Do you want to see your friend for a backyard playdate? Then put on a mask.
If not, we don’t have to do any of those things. My son got his head wrapped around this very quickly and does not argue at all about it. He always chooses the mask.
What is hard though is the few times we have seen other kids and they don’t keep their masks on. So, now, if we see any friend, I talk about mask use with the other parent beforehand and make sure we agree on our approach.
It will be too hot for them
I have been challenged by quite a few parents around whether my son has worn his mask for hours when they articulate concerns about kids wearing masks all day in schools. It’s true that we have not worn it for a full day, but we do wear it whenever we can. Even in some cases when it’s not necessary for him to wear one, we put one on. I want him to get used to it and feel comfortable. I know a lot of parents are concerned about heat waves in schools (and the wave that hit an Israeli school because of it).
I understand the reasons why it can’t work for everyone, but for my family, the opportunity for my son to be out and socializing or in school/ camp right now is a true gift. If ever we don’t feel comfortable with the environment, we will always put health and safety first and keep him home.
These days are not normal. And we are trying to be as flexible as possible, understanding we have health risks and our safety is paramount. So, if it was too hot for my son to wear a mask in school, I would keep him home. If it was forecasted to rain all day and the kids needed to be indoors all day, I would keep him home. These are the kinds of concessions we are willing and able to take. But I know, full well, this kind of flexibility with work and childcare is not every parent’s reality
We practice every chance we get. In the car? Put on your mask. At home watching TV? Put on your mask. It’s not just about wearing it, it’s about putting it on and taking it off that we are trying to teach him. Our son is just four, so his little fingers struggled to even get the elastics around his ears when we first started but now he does a great job. These days I am working on making sure he sanitizes his hands when he takes it off. Every. Single. Time.
Wearing his Old Navy kids mask
This time last year, I was teaching him how to open his lunch box (which was an effort for a 3-year-old kindergartener). But what can we do? I want him to be as safe as possible.
As you likely know from my Made-in-Canada mask review, I have tried a lot of masks and I have largely tried to support small business. It really isn’t cheap. But, there are options through big chain stores like Old Navy and Gap to buy multiple masks for about $3/ mask. I have ordered my son many hand-made ones but he is just as happy with the Old Navy ones too. They are super easy for him to put on. And what I like is that they come in packs. If kids are going back to school, they are going to need more than one mask.
If my son returns to school (that is a big IF right now), I am planning to send him at least two masks a day, that way, he can change one mask if he has to wear it for too long — ie, one for morning and the other for afternoon. The challenge here will be to teach him how to store the used ones safely. I’m working on that with him.
Try different ones
If you can afford to, it’s worth the investment to try a few different brands and masks for kids. Let them try it a few times in different settings to really see if the masks works for them. But, if you can’t afford to do that, but you can afford something, my recommendation is Old Navy masks. They fit my son well and are easy to put on.
Do you need financial support to get a mask for your child?
If you are a parent who can’t afford to get a mask for your child, can you please reach out to me? I have come to know many mask-makers in our community who have been sewing and donating masks for people who are in need of one. Please do not be shy and contact me so I can help you.
**I am updating this section to add that we started using lanyards. We enrolled him in an outdoor education camp and the kids are meant to wear a mask on a lanyard so that if they ever need to gather around to look at something, they can easily put on a mask. It’s very smart – and makes sense. I purchased quite a few but these Crayola ones are my favourite. I ordered a pack of five kids masks – all with adjustable ears and name tags inside – and five lanyards that are also adjustable and easy to clip. We are already having success with them.
Crayola kids mask and lanyards
I know that lanyards are the new thing out right now to help kids keep their masks and have easy access to them. I purchased some from local Etsy designers in Canada, but I haven’t used them yet. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this.
One thing that has been widely shared about the dangers of masks is not handling them properly. You should never be touching your mask. So, to me, it doesn’t make a lot of sense then to have kids wearing dirty masks around their necks.
On the other hand, if all kids are wearing masks, my logic tells me kids are wearing masks to protect others, not to protect themselves. And in that case, it’s more likely that the virus is not on the outside of a mask.
Honestly, I’m still trying to wrap my head around it and research it. I would love to hear your feedback or thoughts about it.
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