Emily Oster

7 min Read Emily Oster

Emily Oster

Christmas Trifle

Emily Oster

7 min Read

The first vaccines really do feel like the beginning of the end, even if the end is far off. It’s a little bit of light in the dark. A promise that at some point when my kid starts vomiting it will just be vomit, not vomit plus the fear of COVID.

But we are not there yet. And winter break — Christmas for some, New Years, general holiday festivities — is looming. So, today, I wanted to revisit (again) the question of seeing family or friends, in the context of these holidays. I’ll pull on earlier posts here, since many of the issues are the same, but add a couple of points to your consideration set.

Oh: and just to let you know I hear you on wanting to hear more about vaccine and pregnancy. I’ll write on that Monday.

First, Sidebar: A School Resource

Most schools are headed towards a winter break, but discussions about January reopen — if, when, how — continue.

One of the (many, many) challenges school leaders have cited is how to communicate protocols to their student populations. When do you stay home and for how long? What if a family member is exposed? When does my kid need a test?

My hope is that as part of their school reopen push, the Biden administration will help provide consistent messaging on this, including better ways to communicate. But until then, the void will continue to be filled by volunteer efforts. And, today, I feature one by Emily Marsh of Colorbox Industries, who is offering this tool as a visual decision tree for schools to distribute.

Basically, this is a flow chart schools could provide to families for what to do if a child is sick or if a family member is. An example of the image produced is below, but the tool is in a Google Slide, which you can download and edit, so schools with varying rules can generate their own. I found this very helpful, and thought maybe some of you would, too.

Christmas Safety

Back in October, I wrote about Thanksgiving, in this post on Safety Turducken. I’m not going to revisit all those points here. The basic message is that you can increase safety of a family gathering with layers of safety protocols — there are ways to decrease the chance the virus arrives at your gathering, ways to decrease the chance it spreads, and ways to decrease the chance it gets out to the broader community. If you do plan to see family, perhaps this will be helpful to revisit.

As we all think this through, both what we are going to do and how we talk to others about it, I wanted to add two additional points. The first is on messaging, and the second is a more direct answer to whether anything has changed since Thanksgiving.

Messaging

In the lead-up to Thanksgiving the “Do not see others” messaging took on an increasingly loud tone. The message that came out ended up sounding, in some cases, like there was no safe way to do this in any situation and that anyone who did choose to see family or get together in a group should be publicly shamed. (I know this wasn’t the intention of all the messaging, but this is how it often came across).

I think such extreme messaging can be counter-productive in that it may make people listen less. I made a version of this point in the New York Times in the lead-up to Thanksgiving, noting that we may want to provide people with intermediate options for safety. There, I emphasized the value of testing. Stepping back, a similar point could be made about any intermediate option. When we tell people there is no safe way to see family, and do not engage with intermediate options, we risk that people take the least safe route.

I see some overlap with early parenting rules, with a similar message to one I wrote about in The Atlantic last year. When we tell new parents every rule is equally important, and it’s impossible for them to follow all of them, we risk them making less safe choices.

The fact is that there are relatively safe ways to see family over the holiday. I know I will be pilloried by some for saying this, but it is possible to dramatically reduce risks. If everyone can quarantine for 7 days and get a test on both ends and there is no possible exposure on the way to see each other and no exposure on the way home, then that is really quite safe. Can you guarantee safety? No. But you can’t ever guarantee safety, COVID or not.

Quarantining for 7 days on either end is a luxury, and one that many people will not be able to afford, and there is an inherent inequality in this, as with most things in COVID-19. But even a shorter quarantine will help. Three days is better than zero days, and a test is better than no test. Wearing masks when inside if possible is safer than not. Seeing people outside is better than seeing them inside.

There is no question that from a COVID standpoint, the safest thing is to stay home with your immediate household. But it will not be everyone’s choice, so let’s focus on practical risk reduction steps over shaming.

Is this any different than Thanksgiving?

Many people didn’t see family for Thanksgiving and are now left contemplating: is this winter break any different? Is there any reason it would be safer to see people? Or less safe?

Answering this requires, again, going back to recognizing that there isn’t a pure safe versus unsafe dichotomy but, rather, a continuum. When I wrote about the Safety Turducken, I emphasized thinking about rates in your area as part of the risk. If the rates are higher, the chance that someone comes to your celebration with COVID are higher.

COVID rates are different now than a month ago, in some cases higher and in others, lower. In mid-November, for example, North Dakota had the highest case rates in the country and hospitalizations were climbing quickly. Rates are much lower now and hospitalizations are falling. Obviously, this doesn’t mean anything goes, and gatherings over the holidays could increase these rates again. But when you think about risk, the numbers matter.

On the flip side, Tennessee (for example) has much higher rates now than in November. A randomly chosen set of guests will be more likely to bring COVID to a gathering. More caution is warranted.

The other difference here is that the winter holidays are, for some people, longer. This provides a little more flexibility. Kids are out of school for longer, and a number of districts have delayed return to in-person learning (if they are doing it at all) for a week in January. This all delivers more opportunities to isolate for some period, test, see people and re-isolate. Again, this is a luxury not everyone will be able to afford, but if you can, and if you do choose to see people, it makes the decision a little different from Thanksgiving.

Why Can’t Everyone Just Stay Home?

I hear what you are saying, people of the Internet. Why can’t everyone just stay in their houses? Why do you need to see people at all? Can’t you wait? Why are you so selfish?

It’s absolutely right that our choices have consequences for other people in the pandemic era, and the generalized American attitude of personal freedom is up against overflowing ICUs. There are more ways than usual to act irresponsibly, and more significant consequences.

However: we need to be less quick to judge. As salient as it is, COVID-19 is not the only thing going on in people’s lives. There are reasons why people will see their families, reasons you may not be able to see. Helping people understand how they can do this as safely as possible if they choose to is fundamentally not the same as denying the reality of COVID. Recognizing that may lead us to more compassionate, and ultimately more effective, messaging.

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Happy Father’s Day to the Fathers and Father figures in our ParentData community! 

Tag a Dad who this holiday may be tricky for. We’re sending you love. 💛

Happy Father’s Day to the Fathers and Father figures in our ParentData community!

Tag a Dad who this holiday may be tricky for. We’re sending you love. 💛
...

“Whilst googling things like ‘new dad sad’ and ‘why am I crying new dad,’ I came across an article written by a doctor who had trouble connecting with his second child. I read the symptoms and felt an odd sense of relief.” Today we’re bringing back an essay by Kevin Maguire of @newfatherhood about his experience with paternal postpartum depression. We need to demystify these issues in order to change things for the better. Comment “Link” for a DM to read his full essay.

#parentdata #postpartum #postpartumdepression #paternalmentalhealth #newparents #emilyoster

“Whilst googling things like ‘new dad sad’ and ‘why am I crying new dad,’ I came across an article written by a doctor who had trouble connecting with his second child. I read the symptoms and felt an odd sense of relief.” Today we’re bringing back an essay by Kevin Maguire of @newfatherhood about his experience with paternal postpartum depression. We need to demystify these issues in order to change things for the better. Comment “Link” for a DM to read his full essay.

#parentdata #postpartum #postpartumdepression #paternalmentalhealth #newparents #emilyoster
...

What does the data say about children who look more like one parent? Do they also inherit more character traits and mannerisms from that parent? Let’s talk about it 🔎

#emilyoster #parentdata #parentingcommunity #lookslikedaddy #lookslikemommy

What does the data say about children who look more like one parent? Do they also inherit more character traits and mannerisms from that parent? Let’s talk about it 🔎

#emilyoster #parentdata #parentingcommunity #lookslikedaddy #lookslikemommy
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SLEEP DATA 💤 We asked you all about your kids’ sleep—and got nearly 15,000 survey responses to better understand kids’ sleep patterns. Comment “Link” for an article that breaks down our findings!

This graph shows sleeping location by age. You’ll notice that for the first three months, most kids are in their own sleeping location in a parent’s room. Then, over the first year, this switches toward their own room. As kids age, sharing a room with a sibling becomes more common. 

Head to the newsletter for more and stay tuned for part two next week on naps! 🌙

#parentdata #emilyoster #childsleep #babysleep #parentingcommunity

SLEEP DATA 💤 We asked you all about your kids’ sleep—and got nearly 15,000 survey responses to better understand kids’ sleep patterns. Comment “Link” for an article that breaks down our findings!

This graph shows sleeping location by age. You’ll notice that for the first three months, most kids are in their own sleeping location in a parent’s room. Then, over the first year, this switches toward their own room. As kids age, sharing a room with a sibling becomes more common.

Head to the newsletter for more and stay tuned for part two next week on naps! 🌙

#parentdata #emilyoster #childsleep #babysleep #parentingcommunity
...

Weekends are good for extra cups of ☕️ and listening to podcasts. I asked our team how they pod—most people said on walks or during chores. What about you?

Comment “Link” to subscribe to ParentData with Emily Oster, joined by some excellent guests.

#parentdata #parentdatapodcast #parentingpodcast #parentingtips #emilyoster

Weekends are good for extra cups of ☕️ and listening to podcasts. I asked our team how they pod—most people said on walks or during chores. What about you?

Comment “Link” to subscribe to ParentData with Emily Oster, joined by some excellent guests.

#parentdata #parentdatapodcast #parentingpodcast #parentingtips #emilyoster
...

Humility. That’s why. That’s the whole reason.

#emilyoster #secondbaby #parentingjokes #parentinghumor

Humility. That’s why. That’s the whole reason.

#emilyoster #secondbaby #parentingjokes #parentinghumor
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Bug season is upon us. Besides annoyance, this can bring up safety concerns, particularly with ticks. They are carriers of diseases, most notably Lyme disease. So what’s the best course of action?

Prevention is key! I suggest:
⭐ Regular tick checks
⭐ Using bug sprays with DEET 
⭐ Wearing long sleeves and pants in the woods

Some parents worry about DEET, but repellants with up to 30% DEET are recommended by both the CDC and AAP. The data says you’re in the clear, so go for it. Enjoy your summer!

#parentdata #emilyoster #tickseason #bugbites #bugspray

Bug season is upon us. Besides annoyance, this can bring up safety concerns, particularly with ticks. They are carriers of diseases, most notably Lyme disease. So what’s the best course of action?

Prevention is key! I suggest:
⭐ Regular tick checks
⭐ Using bug sprays with DEET
⭐ Wearing long sleeves and pants in the woods

Some parents worry about DEET, but repellants with up to 30% DEET are recommended by both the CDC and AAP. The data says you’re in the clear, so go for it. Enjoy your summer!

#parentdata #emilyoster #tickseason #bugbites #bugspray
...

The list of what not to do while pregnant feels longer than a CVS receipt. At ParentData, we want to empower you to make the right decisions for you. 

What an amazing group of women, and an honor to speak at the #MomsFirstSummit debunking parenting myths. 

What are some pregnancy rules you chose to bend after being empowered by data?

#emilyoster #parentdata #pregnancyproblems #pregnancymyths

The list of what not to do while pregnant feels longer than a CVS receipt. At ParentData, we want to empower you to make the right decisions for you.

What an amazing group of women, and an honor to speak at the #MomsFirstSummit debunking parenting myths.

What are some pregnancy rules you chose to bend after being empowered by data?

#emilyoster #parentdata #pregnancyproblems #pregnancymyths
...

Looking for Memorial Day Weekend plans? Might be the perfect time to give potty training a shot. Potty training is notoriously difficult, and we unfortunately don’t have a lot of evidence-based guidance on what works best. So I asked the ParentData community to fill out a survey and share their knowledge — about 6,000 people responded.

👉Comment “Link” for a DM to an article that summarizes all of the best potty training advice we collected. 

Remember, you are not alone in the potty training struggle! It can be incredibly challenging, so please give yourself some grace.

#emilyoster #parentdata #pottytraining #pottytrainingtips #toddlertips

Looking for Memorial Day Weekend plans? Might be the perfect time to give potty training a shot. Potty training is notoriously difficult, and we unfortunately don’t have a lot of evidence-based guidance on what works best. So I asked the ParentData community to fill out a survey and share their knowledge — about 6,000 people responded.

👉Comment “Link” for a DM to an article that summarizes all of the best potty training advice we collected.

Remember, you are not alone in the potty training struggle! It can be incredibly challenging, so please give yourself some grace.

#emilyoster #parentdata #pottytraining #pottytrainingtips #toddlertips
...

We’re hiring an Associate Editor at ParentData! More details at my link in bio. Please share with the great writers and data-loving people in your network. 📊💻

We’re hiring an Associate Editor at ParentData! More details at my link in bio. Please share with the great writers and data-loving people in your network. 📊💻 ...

Do you brand things a certain way to get your kid to accept it? Like calling carrots “rabbit popsicles”? Or telling them to put on their “super speed socks” in the morning? Share your rebrands in the comments below! You never know who you might be helping out 👇

#emilyoster #funnytweets #relatabletweets #parentingjokes #kidssaythedarndestthings

Do you brand things a certain way to get your kid to accept it? Like calling carrots “rabbit popsicles”? Or telling them to put on their “super speed socks” in the morning? Share your rebrands in the comments below! You never know who you might be helping out 👇

#emilyoster #funnytweets #relatabletweets #parentingjokes #kidssaythedarndestthings
...

Have you ever panic-googled a parenting question when everyone else is asleep? If so, you’re not alone. 

Today is the first episode of a new biweekly series on my podcast: Late-Night Panic Google. On these mini-episodes, you’ll hear from some familiar names about the questions keeping them up at night, and how data can help. First up: @claireholt!

Listen and subscribe to ParentData with Emily Oster in your favorite podcast app 🎧

#parentdata #emilyoster #claireholt #parentingstruggles #parentingtips #latenightpanicgoogle

Have you ever panic-googled a parenting question when everyone else is asleep? If so, you’re not alone.

Today is the first episode of a new biweekly series on my podcast: Late-Night Panic Google. On these mini-episodes, you’ll hear from some familiar names about the questions keeping them up at night, and how data can help. First up: @claireholt!

Listen and subscribe to ParentData with Emily Oster in your favorite podcast app 🎧

#parentdata #emilyoster #claireholt #parentingstruggles #parentingtips #latenightpanicgoogle
...

Sun safety is a must for all ages, especially babies! Here are my tips for keeping your littlest ones protected in the sunshine:
☀️ Most importantly, limit their time out in hot weather. (They get hotter than you do!)
☀️ Keep them in the shade as much as possible when you’re out.
☀️ Long-sleeve but lightweight clothing is your friend, especially on the beach, where even in the shade you can get sunlight reflecting off different surfaces.
☀️ If you want to add a little sunscreen on their hands and feet? Go for it! But be mindful as baby skin tends to more prone to irritation.

Comment “Link” for a DM to an article on the data around sun and heat exposure for babies.

#sunsafety #babysunscreen #babyhealth #parentdata #emilyoster

Sun safety is a must for all ages, especially babies! Here are my tips for keeping your littlest ones protected in the sunshine:
☀️ Most importantly, limit their time out in hot weather. (They get hotter than you do!)
☀️ Keep them in the shade as much as possible when you’re out.
☀️ Long-sleeve but lightweight clothing is your friend, especially on the beach, where even in the shade you can get sunlight reflecting off different surfaces.
☀️ If you want to add a little sunscreen on their hands and feet? Go for it! But be mindful as baby skin tends to more prone to irritation.

Comment “Link” for a DM to an article on the data around sun and heat exposure for babies.

#sunsafety #babysunscreen #babyhealth #parentdata #emilyoster
...