As the country slowly reopens after months of social distancing, many still rightfully fear going back to normal life this summer. New cases are still being reported every day and nobody knows for sure when this threat will actually be gone.  

Though the fear of COVID-19 lingers, that doesn’t necessarily mean this summer must be a season spent entirely indoors. There are still ways to enjoy the benefits of summer weather (when it’s not too hot), while keeping yourself and others safe by social distancing. Ed Mejia, an art director for Nelnet in the marketing department, was kind enough to share how he is making the most of a socially distant summer, along with his wife, Senia, and two daughters, Livy and Amelie. 

New Ways to Explore

We’ve taken a lot of walks in our neighborhood, which usually wouldn’t be extraordinary but because so many people have been outside to get out of their homes, we’ve gotten to know a few neighbors in our area that we would otherwise not know as well. Especially those that live on different streets,” Ed said. “We’ve also done walks solely for bird-watching and bird photography because my 10-year-old daughter, Livy, really has a fascination with birds in Nebraska. It’s been a great way to get outside, learn more about nature, and practice photography. 

Though they are finding new ways to explore the world and pursue their interests, safety is always the number one concern for this family. They take necessary precautions to make sure that when they do need to go out in public, they do their best to eliminate any risk of infection. 

We only go to stores when we absolutely have to, and prefer only one parent runs errands. We’ve taken our daughters to Target once in four months and that’s the most they’ve been exposed to others, and they wore masks that time,” Ed said. “We try to order online delivery for as many services as we can to minimize exposure to others. 

New Ways to Be Social

This much time spent at home has illuminated that humans need the occasional breath of fresh air and social interaction, even if it’s through unconventional methods. Even if crowds are a no-go, there are still ways to give the mind some much needed soothing by getting out and taking in the world around us.   

The one area I, personally, did not account for as much as I should’ve when self-isolation started, was mental health. I’ve found that going out, even if just for a drive in the car to listen to music or walk at a park, has had an immense effect on our mental health as individuals and as a family,” Ed said. Getting away from screens and walking has really helped us feel connected to others and to nature, even from a distance. 

Though Ed’s family is making the most of this unprecedented season, there are some summer traditions that they definitely miss. Though some public attractions and businesses may be reopening, there is an understandable sense of caution to go back and enjoy them since the number new cases hasn’t slowed down. 

I’d say we miss swimming with other people at public pools or lakes the most,” Ed said. We’re just not that comfortable yet with being around big groups of people in swimming scenarios. 

If you’re feeling the need to get out more this summer, keep an eye out for social distancing events in your community like visiting a local park or turning back the clock with a drive-in movie.