Tag Archives: social distancing

Drive-In Movies

Have you ever been to a drive-in movie? Drive-in movies are outdoor theaters where the movie is projected on a large screen and you watch from your car. There were once over 4,000 drive-in theaters in the U.S., now only a few hundred remain.

One of those still operating is right here in Maryland, in the Baltimore area.  Bengies Drive-In has been in business since 1956.  It is about an hour drive from most parts of our cluster, but since they are the only one left in the entire state of Maryland, that doesn’t sound so far.

During the pandemic, drive-ins have become popular with many regular theaters closed and people being concerned about the risks of going to an indoor theater. Drive-in theaters were social distancing before it was even a thing!  You either sit in your own car or outside in a chair in your parking space. Bengie’s is enforcing mask wearing when people are outside of their parking space and limiting the number of people inside the concession stand. You can check out their full COVID precautions here.

Bengies

Click photo to visit their website

I have been taking my kids to drive-in movies at Bengie’s for the years and we love it.

The drive-in is only open Spring-Fall.

Drive-In Movie Tips for First Timers:

  1. You pay one price whether you stay for 1, 2 or all 3 movies.  Tickets may be purchased online in advance or with cash only at the gate. Since you are driving a good distance to get there, I would recommend purchasing tickets in advance online.
  2. You may stay in your car or bring chairs to sit in in front of your parking space.
  3. If you go in the summer and plan to sit outside, bring insect repellent spray or bug bracelets.
  4. If you go in the fall when the weather is cool, bring blankets.
  5. You cannot bring in outside food or drinks, unless you purchase an outside food permit. I recommend you buy your snacks there. They have some interesting options that you don’t see at a regular movie concession stand and that’s part of the full experience.
  6. Before you go, read the information on their website about headlights. You need to know how to disable your headlights when you are inside the movie.
  7. You also need to figure out how to turn your vehicle to the “accessory setting” with your key. This will allow you to listen to the movie without draining your battery. VERY IMPORTANT
  8. There is a note on their website about how to enter their address with GPS.  There address is listed as “Middle River”not Baltimore on GPS.

As with all activities, please discuss this with your host parents first to make sure it fits with the social distancing precautions you all are observing.

Education Update 2021

Updated June 22, 2021Due to COVID-19, Au Pair in America has temporarily given approval for online/virtual classes, with a few conditions. Au pairs must still produce certificates or other acceptable documentation confirming the completion of the class. Classes must be offered by an accredited U.S. college, university or other post-secondary school and completed by 8/31/21. In September, au pairs will be required to resume in-person classes. If you have any concerns about in person classes, please contact Christine or Lisa.

If in doubt, ask your counselor to check if the school is accredited. All class hours must be completed by the end of your 11th month in the program if you wish to extend.

Online Class Websites – These platforms will list online courses all over the country. These courses come from a variety of sources and some are not accredited. You must be sure you are selecting a course that is from an accredited university.

*This class would be great for au pairs who have already taken or plan to take a PGCC Transition ESL class when things go back to normal. Those classes usually earn 50-60 hours, so this could be enough to complete your education requirement, in combination with one of those classes.

Photo: Nenad Stojkovic

Preparing for Cold Weather

We’re in that time of year where Maryland temperatures start dipping a little lower. It can be 70°F (21°C) one day and 40°F (4°C) the next. This is a time when many people begin to opt for indoor activities instead of outdoor ones. With the pandemic, we may be rethinking that this year. CDC guidelines state that outdoor gatherings and activities are generally safer than indoor ones.

I recently heard a Scandinavian saying about this…

If you come from a warmer climate this may sound impossible to you. As a person who often complains of being cold when the rest of my family is comfortable, I definitely understand. But, I think this winter I will need to rethink that. I will need to push my boundaries of cold tolerance in order to be able to still see a few friends or family members outside or dine at an outside seating area. I encourage you to give outside a chance too.

One thing I have noticed in my years of working with au pairs is that the temperature difference is much easier on those who have a gradual adjustment. It allows your body time to adjust to the lower temperatures. So, that’s the good news for all of you who are already here. Your body is already getting adjusted, give your mind a chance to stay open to enjoying the outdoors.

The next thing to do is get yourself the proper clothing and accessories. Start shopping for cold weather clothing: sweater, coat, gloves, hat, scarf, long underwear & boots. Ask your host family if they have some you can use and then start looking out for sales and checking thrift shops for the rest. Take a look at what you already have and think of ways to layer it. A long sleeve t-shirt under a sweatshirt may be as warm as a jacket. A pair of leggings or tights under a pair of jeans adds a lot of warmth.

It may also help to remind yourself that people in other parts of the U.S. and other countries experience much colder temperatures than we do and are still able to enjoy the outdoors.

Pick your activities carefully. If you are sitting next to a fire pit or doing physical activity you will feel warmer. When you take the kids to the playground or out in the snow, don’t sit on the bench and watch. You will feel warmer and have more fun if you are actively involved and having fun with them.

If you have tips on enjoying the cold weather, please share them!

CONTEST: The first au pair in our cluster to message Christine or Lisa with their favorite cold weather activity will win a prize!

Image: Canva.com

Fall Traditions: Trick or Treating Safety Tips

cdc.gov

We always share trick or treating safety tips each October. This year those tips are very different. While we still want to be sure kids are visible to cars and safely supervised, there are new health and safety considerations due to COVID.

Not all families will feel comfortable going trick or treating and that is completely understandable. For those who do, here are some tips from the CDC:

Steps to Take when Trick or Treating

Traditional Halloween activities are fun, but some can increase the risk of getting or spreading COVID-19 or influenza. Plan alternate ways to participate in Halloween.

illustration of a child wearing a pumpkin costume holding a Halloween treat bag wearing face masks appropriately and Make trick-or-treating safer

  • Avoid direct contact with trick-or-treaters.
  • Give out treats outdoors, if possible.
  • Set up a station with individually bagged treats for kids to take.
  • Wash hands before handling treats.
  • Wear a mask.

Wear a mask

  • Make your cloth mask part of your costume.
  • A costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth mask.
  • Do NOT wear a costume mask over a cloth mask. It can make breathing more difficult.
  • Masks should NOT be worn by children under the age of 2 or anyone who has trouble breathingillustration of two children in costume wearing face masks appropriately

Stay at least 6 feet away from others who do not live with you

  • Indoors and outdoors, you are more likely to get or spread COVID-19 when you are in close contact with others for a long time.

illustration of a child wearing a wizard costume washing their handsWash your hands

  • Bring hand sanitizer with you and use it after touching objects or other people.
  • Use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Parents: supervise young children using hand sanitizer.
  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds when you get home and before you eat any treats.

Images: cdc.gov

Fall Traditions: Visiting a Pumpkin Patch

The pandemic has changed lots of things this year, but one tradition that experts seem to agree poses a low to moderate risk is visiting a pumpkin patch. Social distancing, mask-wearing and general hand sanitizing precautions should be taken to reduce the risk. We cannot go to the pumpkin patch as a cluster meeting, but it is still a great fall tradition you could experience with your host family or a friend.

From the CDC website:

Below is a list of some local pumpkin patches. Visit their websites for details before you go. Many are requiring advance registration to eliminate crowds and comply with social distancing requirements.

Anne Arundel County:

Charles County:

Howard County:

Montgomery County:

Prince George’s County:

* These are my personal recommendations. 

Photo:  Don Graham

Social Distancing: Make a Family Time Capsule

When you are stuck at home, everyone tends to have their own ways to occupy that time individually. It’s also fun to have some activities you can do all together. Board games, puzzles and movie nights are always great options.

But, if you want to create something together that will be a keepsake to enjoy in the future, consider making a family time capsule. You can use materials you already have on hand at home. Working on this project together can also remind us that there is more going on in our lives than just the coronavirus, the things we enjoyed before this and what we have to look forward to when this time is over.

How to Make a Family Time Capsule 

Creating a family time capsule is a fun way to preserve what life is like today, to look back on it in the future.  Just 5 or 10 years is plenty of time for things to change. When you open the time capsule you can look back and see how things are different and whether some things remain the same. Making a time capsule with an au pair adds another layer to this idea. You can include traditions or recipes she has shared with your family.

There are many online articles about what to include in a time capsule and how to make one. Here are a few basic ideas to get you started:

Pick a container –  A large canister, plastic jar or any container with a lid that fits on tightly. Decide where you will store the time capsule to make sure you pick a container that is appropriate. Packing it away in the attic or basement is probably safer than burying it.

Decorate the container – You can decorate the container if you will be packing it away somewhere indoors.

Fill it up – The possibilities are limited only by your imagination (and the size of your container). Here are some things you may want to include:

Family photos – children’s artwork – letter to future self – newspaper, magazine pages showing popular hairstyles and fashion trends – postcards from most recent family vacation – list of prices of common items (gallon of gas, loaf of bread, etc) – tickets from movies or events, family recipe – a list of favorite things – pop culture list (movies, TV shows & music that are popular) – tracing of the children’s hands – something in each child’s handwriting – list of the technology devices you use now

Decide when you will open it – This could be in a certain number of years or on a special occasion in the future (child’s high school graduation, au pair returning to visit, family reunion).

Photo: Woodleywonderworks

Social Distancing: 5 Apps to Plan Your Future Trips

Being spontaneous and just traveling to a place and deciding what to do as you go along can be fun. But, there are benefits to doing research and planning before your trips. These ideas are to help you make general plans. You shouldn’t book any tickets or make any financial commitments until you know when travel will safely resume.

Planning can help you:

  • Save money
  • Make the best use of your time
  • Fit in more adventures
  • Visit places you might not have heard of before

It also extends the joy of the travel time. Planning all the thing you will do, gives you something to look forward to. We can all use things to look forward to right now.

If you are looking for travel inspiration and ideas or a place to keep your travel ideas organized, Pinterest is a great place to start. You can browse other people’s travel and bucket list pinboards. You can create your own pinboards for places you want to go and ones you have already visited.

These three apps are all trip planners and offer the ability to research places and create your own itinerary. Each one has its own look and feel and slightly different features. Download them and see which one is the best fit for you.

Road trips can be the ultimate adventure. You set your own pace and stop to see what you want. The journey can be as much fun as your destination.

  • Road Trippers is an app that helps you plan the ultimate road trip. It helps you determine your route and find interesting stops along the way.

We won’t be stuck inside forever. Once travel resumes, be ready with your plans!

Photo: Natacha R. from France

Social Distancing: 5 Online Adventures for Kids

Reading, playing, and doing art projects are always great ways to entertain children and keep them physically active and learning. It’s a good idea to limit screen time. But, in this time of social distancing, technology can play an important role in allowing kids to see and connect with the world outside of their homes. Many online resources are popping up to create those opportunities.

Here are five to get you started:

And if kids have questions about the coronavirus, Live Science has created an ultimate kids’ guide to the new coronavirus that has lots of information and is appropriate for school-aged kids.

Social Distancing: 10 Things You CAN Do Right Now

Social distancing is important right now to help slow the spread of coronavirus. This means avoiding places where you come in contact with lots of people (schools, movies, restaurants, museums, concerts, parties, etc.)  I am sure you keep hearing a lot about the things you should not do.

It’s also important to have ideas of things you can do. There are plenty of activities you can do at home and away from crowds.

While we can’t control many things going on right now in the world, we can choose how we deal with it.

“She turned her can’ts into cans
and her dreams into plans.” 
– Kobi Yamada

Here are 10 things you CAN do right now:

  • Stay connected with your friends and family via social media, texting, and Skype.
  • Go for a walk or run on your own. As long as you don’t go to a populated place, it’s fine to go out for some exercise.
  • Enjoy nature. That could be sitting outside in your backyard on a nice day or walking on a nature trail.
  • Read a book or listen to an audiobook or podcast. Getting lost in a story is a great way to take your mind off of things. Or if you pick a non-fiction book or podcast you may learn something new. You could even create an online book club or podcast discussion group with friends.
  • Do yoga. Yoga can be a great way to relieve stress and maintain your fitness. There are many free yoga videos on Youtube. Sign up here to receive daily emails for 30 Days of Yoga.
  • Take virtual tours of museums online.*
  • Make memories in the kitchen.* Cooking recipes from your home country is a great way to share your culture with your host family and give yourself a taste of home. Cooking classic American recipes is a way to continue your cultural exchange. You can find lots of recipes online. Also, you will be able to share that taste of America with your own family by cooking some of these recipes after you return home at the end of your program.
  • Have an online watch party with friends. When you watch a movie alone do you miss talking to a friend about what’s happening? Pick a time and a movie and from your individual homes you each stream the movie on Netflix at the same time. You can text or do a group chat during the movie.
  • Make top 10 lists of your favorite things like movies, foods, songs and more. Share and compare lists with your friends. You may find out some things you didn’t know about each other and get some ideas for new things to try.
  • Research and plan trips to places you want to visit while in the U.S.* This time of social distancing won’t last forever. Use this time to do some research online and make plans. This will help you make the most of those trips when you get to take them a few months from now. It will also give you something to look forward to.

*Future blog posts in this series will have more detailed information on these topics.

 

Dealing with Social Distancing

The coronavirus has caused lots of temporary changes to our daily routines. Right now, we are being asked to practice “social distancing” to reduce the spread of the virus.

What is social distancing?
Social distancing is a way to keep people from interacting as closely or frequently enough to spread the virus. Schools, sporting events and concerts are being canceled. People are being asked to stay at home more to avoid being in contact with a large number of people.

What are some ways to take care of yourself?
Some people may feel anxious, lonely or frustrated and that is totally normal. It can be very helpful to talk with friends and family about those feelings. It helps to know that others are going through these same emotions. Reach out to your community counselor if you need support during this time.

It is very important to practice good self-care. Connect with people you love via Skype and text, maintain a healthy diet, stay active, make plans for things you want to do once things get back to normal. Staying out of crowds doesn’t have to mean just staying in the home. You can go for walks and enjoy nature. Both exercise and spending time in nature are beneficial for your mental health.

Where can you get practical tips for dealing with social distancing?
We recognize that some of these changes will require patience and resourcefulness. During this time, we will be doing a series of blog posts with resources to assist you with two specific aspects of this situation:

  • Ideas for keeping the kids occupied (while they are home from school)
  • Ways to continue your cultural exchange from home

Photo: Meg Willis