I live in Ontario, a part of Canada where COVID-19 restrictions have been tight, lockdowns have been long, and it feels as though almost everything has been taken away from my children.
When the province went from open to locked down to colour-coded zones, I was confused by what it all meant. However, one thing was very clear: my kids could no longer do the things that kids are used to doing. They couldn’t play soccer or hockey, their dance classes switched to Zoom, and they couldn’t go to in-person school. It was long and tough, and we all waited for waves to end and numbers to decrease so our children could safely have their lives back.
About the author
Heather Dixon is the managing editor of Active for Life, a writer, and a mom of three school-aged children. She currently resides in Ontario.
Now that we’re about to start another school year, and as Canada enters yet another wave, I feel that familiar low-level constant anxiety creeping back into my thoughts. The Delta variant is changing the game, and while I certainly don’t want my kids to get the virus, I also worry that further restrictions on their activities and sports and school (again) for a third year in a row could have long-lasting devastating effects on their health and well-being, especially their mental health.
I watched my youngest go from a happy, carefree kid to a six-year-old who cried on a daily basis over everything from schoolwork to doing crafts. It’s not a place I want to go again.
Many medical experts and scientists have been talking about kids and their mental health over the past year and a half, especially when it comes to school, and I think it’s time we consider the importance of physical activity more seriously. As the World Health Organization states, “health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
Being in school in person is crucial to my kids’ well-being. But now that I’ve seen first-hand what happens when you take away activities for eight months, I can safely say that playing hockey is crucial to my kids’ well-being, too. (For other kids it might be soccer, or dance, or yoga.) In this sense, the pandemic has helped to highlight that play is what our kids need.
I’m just a parent in one part of Canada, and I recognize that my feelings are my own, but I think I’m also every parent, still nervous and unsure of how to navigate this territory—18 months after it all started.
If you had told me in March 2020 that we would be approaching the end of 2021 with the same worries and concerns as we had back then, I wouldn’t have believed it.
But it’s happening. And for many parents, it’s serious.
If we’re going to continue with COVID-19 being a part of our lives, we need to find a way to help our children thrive.
As a parent, I want nothing more than my kids to be healthy and safe and happy. But to me, that’s more than just keeping them free of the virus. It’s also about giving as much of their lives back as possible in a safe way.
Read more about mental health:
Parenting through the pandemic: Simple tips to help you cope
A beginner’s guide to meditation for calming the mind and emotions
How to curb your pandemic blues: Choose to move every day