Holidays and COVID-19: Celebrate Safely and Still Have Fun

Pharmacy Times, November 2021, Volume 87, Issue 11
Pages: 66

Pharmacists, who have doubled their efforts during COVID-19, can follow these tips to make this special time of year less stressful.

The holiday season is often a stressful time for pharmacy professionals, but the COVID-19 pandemic has made life even more frenetic for pharmacist moms, who are working twice as hard at administering vaccines yet still need to take care of their families. Moms often try to get time off from work to spend more time at home, but they too frequently find themselves trying to “run an errand” to get away. In the best of times, stressors include maintaining a healthy diet and dealing with family members who are difficult or may not be around next year. With COVID-19, moms take on the additional stress of determining which guests are “safe” to invite over or visit.

I asked some pharmacist moms and colleagues for tips on how to make the holidays more of a celebration and less of a hassle. Here is some advice they shared.

Be flexible when traveling. Consider driving or renting a recreational vehicle to avoid overcrowded airports. Travel early or late so children can sleep in the car or on the plane. Keep in mind that airports will be much more crowded than in 2020. Consider buying travel insurance, in case fear takes over or someone gets sick.

Create a shared calendar. This helps families keep track of all arrangements, children’s and holiday events, and work commitments, including end-of-year deadlines or reviews.

Make a “safe” list. Decide in advance with whom to spend time and to pass up because of the pandemic. Many individuals still have a limited social circle and are not obligated to open it up during the holidays.

Purge and donate toys. This is the best time of year to get rid of clutter. Teach children about the spirit of giving and have them donate toys they no longer use.

Save the menu. If hosting, create a menu and save it. Pull it out each year and take notes so that nothing is forgotten in subsequent years.

Simplify shopping. Before moms built a family, and definitely before the pandemic, going to the mall to browse and maybe grab a latte was easy. Now shopping online is the way to go. Stalk family and friends’ Instagram or Pinterest accounts to get ideas. Or forget about gifts altogether and exchange recipes or donate to a charity instead.

Tap family and friends for childcare. Childcare can be a nightmare around the holidays. Day care centers do a better job of staying open than regular schools, but even day care centers close for breaks. Once children are in elementary school, they often have at least 1 to 2 weeks more time off than their parents do. The end of the year can be a busy time for deadlines, so enlist family members and friends to spend time with and watch the kids.

Finally, and most importantly during the holidays, be thankful. This can be a hard time of year for many, even during normal times, let alone during a pandemic. Those who are missing loved ones should think of ways to honor them during their festivities. Be grateful for family, friends, health, and a job, even while acknowledging that the past year and a half has been really difficult and that we have lost a sense of normalcy that many are only starting to regain.

Suzanne Soliman, PharmD, BCMAS, is the chief academic officer at the Accreditation Council for Medical Affairs and the founder of Pharmacist Moms Group, the largest group of female pharmacists in the United States, with more than 35,000 members.