If there’s one thing 2020 has taught us, it’s that people get creative when they’re trapped at home and really out, which is how face mask straps came to be. Early on, we realized we needed to figure out kids should do with their face masks when they take them off temporarily. Seriously, if the fast-moving entrepreneurs who have mobilized to invent special face mask lanyards, extenders, ear savers and straps had studied biology in school, we’d probably have several COVID-19 vaccines to choose from by now. But as it is, we’ll have to settle for these clever offerings. As you shop for your kids’ back-to-school supplies in this strange new world, you might want to add some of these to your list.
If you buy masks that already loop all the way around your head, you are probably unfamiliar with the need for these necklace-like accessories for face masks, since you can just slide those down and forget them until they’re needed. But ear loop masks have presented a challenge for many. When you take off your mask to eat, drink, or get a socially distant break from people, do you wear it on your chin, hang it from one ear, or stuff it in your pocket? The answer for children is often none of the above, while their parents find masks scattered all over the floor and the ground outside. That, perhaps, might be defeating some of the purpose of the masks, right?
Where there’s a minor inconvenience, there are dozens of people on Etsy, Amazon, and other retailers ready to solve the problem and then some. We now have available, all kinds of simple shoelace-style lanyards, clever straps made from elastic or silicone, and attractive beaded necklaces that can be customized with the wearer’s name or initials. You don’t even need to buy something specifically designed for attaching to masks, since any lanyard can simply hook onto those ear loops.
What we love about these clever new accessories is that, like reusable face masks and face shields they offer a bright spot in our pandemic-dulled lives. Why not buy some adorable tie-dye and unicorn bling for your kids while questioning how on earth you’re going to manage this year of hybrid learning?
One other great thing about these mask lanyards, necklaces, and straps: The ones we list here are quite affordable. That means you can stock up on a variety of options as you see which ones are less likely to be lost or rejected by fussy kids. We get that it’s a lot to ask little ones to wear a face mask, so they might as well get an accessory they love out of the deal.
Here, you can shop for just the right face mask, clasp, and strap-hook-doohicky thing that your child will want to wear all day, every day.
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A version of this article was originally published in July 2020.