For the whole of spring, those picnics in the park that we all enjoy were sadly limited to our back gardens. COVID-19 restrictions also meant that we could only share the fun of a family picnic with people in our households too, which quite frankly wasn’t quite the same. Not having our closest friends, aunties and uncles and grandparents to share those family moments with us has felt like we have missed out on some special time.
Just as it was looking like we might not really be able to make the most of the recent sunshine however, the world has sort of reopened. Country parks, nature reserves, beaches and other public spaces are now just some of the places we can go. Okay, so it’s not quite all of the freedom that we’re used to, but compared to lockdown, we feel like we are getting there.
With National Picnic Week happening between 22nd and 28th June, it couldn’t have come at a better time either.
Picnic safely with friends and family
According to the current restrictions, we can still only gather in groups of up to six people, and we must socially distance. That does mean though, that as long as you go to a location where you can follow the guidelines, you can now enjoy a summer picnic with other people.
For some families, it could be the first date to see grandparents, friends or other family members, and more importantly, for some grandparents living alone, they can get that much needed hug from their grandchildren.
Having said that, we all want to keep each other safe, and none of us want to cause a second wave of coronavirus. Here are our tips for how to have a safe socially distanced picnic.
Keep your distance
Two metres is the current distance that we should stay apart (although as we speak, this may be changed to one metre). Short of taking a tape measure out to explain this to the kids, the best way to keep them apart is by creating ‘zones’.
Use picnic rugs and blankets so that they have a physical boundary to stick to, and ask them to stay within their own zones. It’ll be much easier to remind them that they are off their blanket rather than them understanding what is ‘too close’. You could even make it fun by using a buzzer noise or saying a silly word when they forget!
Avoid sharing food
It goes against the nature of a picnic, but perhaps the safest way to eat is by making picnics a ‘bring your own’ affair, and not sharing anything with others. If you do want to share, prepare foods that can be easily made and shared around without touching. For example, finger foods such as mini veg and egg muffins or homemade pizza slices that are great for toddlers and adults.
For kids especially, it might be best to pack lunch bags for each child, and take cartons or drinks bottles that have been disinfected. That way, everything can stay separate and there is no need to pass between each other.
Our new lunch bags are ideal, as they can be turned inside-out and cleaned thoroughly, right into the corners, but still remain waterproof and insulated for days out. They are available in some fantastic fun and colourful designs too – in fact, we think they are too good just for kids, and we want one too!
Take antibacterial wipes or sanitizer
This is a must for most parents anyway, but keeping a stash of wipes or sanitizer nearby will help to limit risks and add reassurance. Pack antibacterial wipes and hand gel, and make sure that you dispose of them carefully. These are particularly important if you are using any toilet facilities that may be open, or buying takeaway foods such as ice creams.
Unfortunately most of the public toilets are still closed. If you can, take a travel potty or a small portable camping toilet with you, as its no fun cutting your picnic short if one of your group gets caught short!
Encourage non-contact games
Of course, parks with playgrounds are off limits, but that doesn’t mean kids can’t have fun. Try to encourage games where children don’t have to actually touch, such as hide and seek, virtual tag, scooters, tennis, or having a sports day with races spaced out.
Support local businesses
Coronavirus has hit restaurants, pubs and cafes hard. Some may only just be opening for the first time now, but others rejigged their offering early on. If you’re heading out to a public place near to a business that is offering a takeaway option, treat yourself and help them out too. This will save you having to make food ahead or have an awkward conversation about not sharing, and you can be part of supporting your local community.
We are certainly not out of the woods just yet, as far as coronavirus is concerned, but this is our ‘new normal’ now. By following the social distancing guidelines we can at least try to make the most of the simple pleasures we didn’t have a few months ago.
National Picnic Week is from 22nd – 28th June 2020.