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Staying connected while social distancing

"Airdrie City View" editor Allison Chorney started a virtual library to help keep her daughter connected to friends during the COVID-19 pandemic. Screenshot: YouTube

As a mom to a social butterfly, social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 has been a difficult pill to swallow.

My daughter is three years old and is a busy bee, and the closures of playgrounds, play places, libraries and other venues we would normally frequent has left me desperate to entertain her. A big part of what makes her tick is her friends, and not being able to visit with them has left her sad, confused and, quite frankly, a little lost.

She is that wild child that will convince the other kids to strip naked and run through the house chanting, "We're having a beach day." I'm not kidding, that happened. She's also the kid who says she's "going to make a new best friend" when she sees children she doesn't know at our local playground. That interaction is a huge part of her happiness and it's now unavailable to her.

I've tried to explain why we can't physically interact with friends, but she's three and the message doesn't seem to stick. As the days drag on, the more lonely and attached to me she becomes. (Side note: I am not looking forward to the separation anxiety when childcare reopens.) I hear telling her stuffies how much she misses her friends, and it kills me.

Like many parents also struggling with this, I have had to be creative to pass the time. We have gone on rock hunts to collect rocks to paint and then leave around our neighbourhood to bring cheer to other children. We've created obstacle courses with objects found throughout our home. We're working on learning letters and often play word games. We've discovered our neighbourhood's Little Free Library and have sorted through books she's outgrown to trade for new reads. But the distance from her friends hangs heavy in our minds.

In an effort to patch up our breaking hearts, I've reached out to her friends' parents and attempted to arrange a virtual playdate using Zoom or FaceTime, but the timing hasn't seemed to work out. My next idea was to record the two of us reading her favourite book and send the video to friends in the hopes they would send one back to us, creating a virtual library of comforting tales and familiar faces.

It was a blast to make and received a lot of love from those we sent it to. We've since selected our next book and I'm thinking of ways to up the "production value" with costumes and a greater role for her dad.

As we all face this challenging time, it's important to remember we are doing the best we can and not to beat yourself up when allowing screen time is your only reprieve. Hang in there, this will eventually end. In the meantime, I'd love to hear how you are entertaining your little ones. Send me a note at