Father’s Day in a pandemic can create pros, cons and unique opportunities

Normally Joel Carty would be out of town for two or three business trips a month, usually for three days at a time, for his job as a management consultant.

With international travel a no-go during the COVID-19 pandemic, the married father of three has been able to spend those extra days at home in Pickering, Ont. With Father’s Day approaching, Carty has been able to reflect on that treasured additional family time.

“It’s a combination of giving Mom a break as well as being able to connect with the kids,” Carty said. “I haven’t been home for this long since (they were born). I’ve always travelled. So them seeing me every day is definitely a good thing.

“You learn a little bit more about the kids and you learn a little bit more about yourself and how you want to teach them.”

Carty, 46, who works from a home office, was already regularly engaged in activities with his children: nine-year-old Mason, seven-year-old Quinn and three-year-old Piper. He said the additional nine or 10 days a month at home have been a bonus and helped strengthen the father-child bond.

“I’m (also) trying to do more at bedtime, get them tucked in, and have that time with them before they go to (sleep),” Carty said. “It’s always nice to read a book with them and it’s an opportunity for us to connect in the evening.”

Like Mother’s Day last month, there are some Father’s Day hurdles this year due to the pandemic. Physical distancing measures and different interaction guidelines may be in place depending on the province/territory and the region.

Event planner Karen Garscadden said there is a variety of ways to make Dad feel special even if an in-person visit may come with caveats.

She suggested setting up a family mini-Olympics with activities like croquet or games like “Charades” or “Name That Tune,” so that people can distance if needed and avoid sharing equipment. Other ideas included homemade lawn art, personalized signs and posters, or arranging a hike, golf or fishing day, she said.

“I think that people are recognizing how valuable time together is even if it’s at a distance,” said Garscadden. “You just want to be together and it’s good for everything … you think about it the next day and you go, ‘You know what. I’m so glad that we got to be together.’

“For whatever way it was, you got to be together and I think that’s the essence and what’s important.”

Garscadden added that washing Dad’s car or mowing the lawn for him might also be a nice touch. Traditional activities could be a good fit as well.

“It’s old school but you could put on your own little talent show,” said Garscadden, who runs “Karen G Events” in Thornhill, Ont. ”So different members of the family, they sing, they dance, they do a little show.

“They could do a skit with my favourite things about Dad or Dad-isms.”

If you can’t get together with Dad in person, she suggested trying an online caterer to deliver a Father’s Day meal like deli offerings, BBQ or brunch.

For many, Sunday will also be a day for family members to remember Dad or Grandpa if they’re no longer with us.

However, many cemeteries have made changes to prevent crowds from gathering. For example, Montreal’s Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery — the country’s largest — has cancelled its memorial mass on Father’s Day.

Most cemetery sites are open for those who wish to pay their respects in front of a burial site but restrictions may be in place on the grounds.

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