In the last week, shit has got real; things have notched up a gear. I know some families are already self-isolating and like many mums out there, the thought of a 7-day lockdown with my kids fills me with fear. The longest we've ever spent cooped up inside was the weekend of Storm Dennis. It was a long weekend.
Matt Haig recently tweeted, "I think there has never been a better time to stay in than in this century. We have Netflix and books and home delivery and Skype and social media. If we can stay in, we absolutely should. We will make our sacrifice on sofas."
If you don't have kids and your work situation is ok, then self-isolating isn't really a big deal. Provided you're well, it's actually the perfect opportunity to binge watch Netflix and read a book with your feet up.
But with kids around, it's a different story.
Today I spent some time thinking about how I would tackle quarantine so that if the dreaded announcement that schools are closing comes along, I'll be prepared and I'll have a plan. Here's a few suggestions I found useful.
1. Structure the day with the kids. Five Minute Mum has written a really helpful blog post showing you how to plan a day if you find yourself self-isolating. She breaks it down in to sections and shares ideas about how to fill the time. There's also helpful tips about online resources and a great reminder that it's ok to tell the kids you need some rest time and they need to play on their own. Remember, we're not superhuman.
2. I've been using a method of setting 30 minute timers to boost my efficiency while working recently and it's been a gamechanger. Someone suggested setting shorter timers for kids, maybe 5-10 minutes and in each block of time you play a different game or set the kids a challenge.
3. I've put together an ideas jar. I wrote down lots of activities and games the kids love on folded bits of paper. They can pick an idea from the jar and we'll do whatever's written on the paper. For example, play hide and seek, do a jigsaw, make a card for the grandparents, bake banana bread, build a lego tower, etc. It takes the pressure off of me always having to come up with something fun to do.
4. I then put together an ideas jar for myself. This is all about finding some time for some self-care and saving my own sanity while being isolated at home. Anything from having a hot bath, calling a friend, reading a magazine to planting bulbs in the garden. By now, you should know I'm a BIG believer in taking time for yourself and it's important now, more than ever.
5. If you haven't got yourself a copy of Five Minute Mum's book, get it! This book is amazing. Daisy has come up with 150 different activities you can do with your kids that take five minutes to set up and five minutes to put away. It's genius.
6. When in doubt, Pinterest is brilliant for ideas.
7. Self-isolating doesn't mean you can't enjoy fresh air. Give yourself time in the garden each day. It's the perfect time to get the kids interested in gardening and they'll love being outside just as much as you do.
8. Talk to your partner and come up with work a game plan you're both happy with. Establish your priorities and be honest with each other. If your partner is working from home, think about who needs more time to work. How can you share jobs in the house? Can you split time with the kids so you both get a break? If your partner isn't around, is there any flexibility for him to work shorter days and relieve you as soon as he's home? It's good to talk about your options early to avoid arguments and resentment building up.
9. Be realistic, you will lose it at some point. Don't feel guilty about losing your temper. This is an extraordinary situation and it's not easy containing small strong-willed children. Reset your expectations and don't set yourself any tasks you know you're unlikely to achieve. For example, if we end up on lockdown, I'll need to scale back my business. I'd concentrate on just the essentials to keep the business operating like getting orders out and customer service.
10. If you find yourself feeling overly stressed and anxious, unplug yourself for a while. Take a break from social media and the news if you need to. Anna Mathur has written a brilliant blog post about dealing with coronavirus anxiety.
11. Make use of your support network, whether that's friends, family, colleagues or neighbours. Self-isolating doesn't mean cutting yourself off completely so check in with people when you can.
12. If you're in to stockpiling, I'd suggest stockpiling chocolate and wine. Self-isolating will be much more manageable with copious amounts of both.
Remember, whatever happens over the coming weeks, YOU GOT THIS.
Photo taken from Unsplash; illustration from Laura Jane Illustrations.