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No Battle Plan Survives the First Encounter with the Enemy AND No COVID-19 Plan Survives the First Contact with Grandchildren

My daughter and family were moving to Arizona from Georgia. We were excited to have them all including our two young grandchildren (ages 1 and 4) living closer to us! The catch.... they were moving in the middle of the COVID-19 isolation recommendations, and they needed to live at our house for up to 9 days during the transition. My wife is a former Pediatrics ICU nurse, and I was the CEO of a healthcare organization. We could handle this!

We were confident we could develop a plan that would at least reduce our chances of being exposed to the virus. We had been diligently isolating for a month so our concern was more about the virus being transferred to us not spreading the virus to them. On with the move!

We carefully coordinated every step with our daughter. They would fly directly from Atlanta to Tucson; find seats that were distanced from other passengers and wear masks during the entire trip. I would pick them up at the airport wearing a mask and surgical gloves and maintain distancing as best we could during the car ride home from the airport. After arriving at the house we would practice frequent hand washing with the kids and maintain some level of personal distancing. What could go wrong?

I could make this a very long blog with a lot of details but let me just summarize:

  • The masks on the grandkids were ripped off less than 1 minute in the Atlanta airport.
  • My 4-year-old grandson immediately hugged me when he saw me at the airport baggage claim area.
  • My 1-year-old granddaughter screamed at the strange man wearing a mask and gloves. I already hugged my grandson so off went the mask and gloves and into my arms went my granddaughter.
  • As for frequent hand washing...let's just say it seemed the equivalent of waterboarding to my granddaughter but our grandson loved it. He loved it so much that he scrapped chairs across our polished concrete kitchen floors every 5 minutes and proceeded to create a minor flood in our kitchen.

The CDC offers recommendations on how to deal with children to reduce virus exposure, but I'm not sure that anyone writing those recommendations has young children. The only protective measure we were able to implement was some level of isolation of all of us as a group. We are now 2 weeks out from that first contact and so far so good!

In hindsight, maybe we should have said no and had them make other arrangements during their move, but that was never an option for us. I am guessing many grandparents have found themselves in similar situations particularly related to helping out with their grandchildren. We would love to hear from other grandparents about how they are coping with helping out with the grandkids but still trying to protect themselves from the virus.

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