During the pandemic, it is difficult to find ways to maintain bits of normalcy.

While many of us are experiencing milestones in our lives, honoring them while remaining as safe as possible requires a little more planning than usual.

A few months ago, I quietly celebrated my 40th birthday. I went to work, where my coworkers created a festive atmosphere in my office. I also received awesome gifts and went to a wonderful dinner.  I was grateful for seeing another year, but at the same time I was a bit depressed. In the years leading to my 40th, I’d envisioned how big I wanted to do it and started saving for it.

My thoughts were since my birthday was on 9/29, and my station was 92.9… both 9-2-9, I could create a station event that would allow for a grand celebration. Then, COVID hit and everything closed. I tried to come up with modified versions of my original plans: Partnering with local businesses to do giveaways every hour from 9am to 9pm, finding something to give away in the 9:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m., and 9:00 p.m. hours (still playing on the 9-2-9), etc. My family even attempted to plan a surprise car parade at the station (of which I was notified after the fact), but that idea was rejected by company officials. So, I had a quiet celebration.

I refused to deprive my daughter of the joy that comes with reaching her milestone: the double digits.

Because my siblings and I opted for virtual learning and keep our children away from the public as much as possible, it was important to me that we practiced social distancing. So, I did a bit of research on what would be the best option for us.

Admittedly, THE BEST option would have been to stay home and have a conference call. However, I did a bit of weighing of pros and cons. I thought about the fact that as a single parent, I often have to take my daughter out with me on errands. When we go to get groceries, we wear our masks, use our wipes, and use hand sanitizer when we return to the car. What’s the difference between going to a grocery store where thousands of people visit each day vs going to a facility with fewer people and more open spaces?

With this in mind, we decided to have a small birthday party at Shindig.

Here’s why we chose this venue:

  • I went online and saw that Fridays are fairly slow. Since Jireh’s birthday fell on a Friday, I thought to do a party on her actual birthday rather than Saturday to minimize the risk of exposure and to give everyone the chance to do whatever they wanted to do on the weekend.
  • The bowling area at Shindig is spacious. So, if we were already going at a slow time, if another party came to bowl, the likelihood of them being placed next to us was slim, but if it did happen we’d still have a bit of distance between us.
  • The party room wasn’t tiny. While the children weren’t six feet from each other, they weren’t elbow to elbow either.
  • While they played laser tag, the room held our children exclusively.

The only time the children removed their masks was to eat, and the only time they were around other children is while they were in the arcade. Luckily, I’d purchased hand sanitizer bottles with clips for each child so they could hook the bottles on their belt loops, purses, etc. They were instructed to use the sanitizer before/after playing each game.

Speaking of games, in addition to bowling, laser tag, and the arcade, Shindig has mini golf. But for adults looking for a child-free good time, the upstairs space also has a pool table AND AX-THROWING!!! During our stay, I was offered a tour of the facility. I took my brother along and decided to record the tour to share with others who may be curious but don’t really want to get out.

(Side note: We wore our masks and maintained at least six feet from others the entire time.)

 

A great time was had by all, and many found a new place to duck off for a little bit.

While all medical professionals will encourage staying home as much as possible, for those who "need" to go out or to interact with others, consider the following factors:

  1. How many other people will you be around?
  2. Can you maintain social distancing?
  3. Are you committed to keeping on your face covering?
  4. Is there a way to keep your hands washed, or will you use hand sanitizer?
  5. Are you willing to accept responsibility for everyone in your care?
  6. Are you willing to offend others who don't take your safety seriously? (Keeping distance from those who refuse to wear face coverings.)

Consider all of these questions and decide what's best for you, just as most parents had to do when considering their children's education programs. What works for some doesn't work for others. At the very least, attempt to model the same safety precautions taken by school systems to keep your family safe.

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