Tuesday 17 March 2020

5 Things I'm Going To Do During The Coronavirus Pandemic

The UK coronavirus panic has been playing out in the media for a couple of weeks now. Last night, they included pregnant women in the list of vulnerable people for the first time, and I think that's made me feel more nervous about it all. I don't like to be a vulnerable person. 

Nobody knows what will happen over the next few months. I'm not too fond of uncertainty. I like to have a plan. I don't know when the schools will close or how being classed as vulnerable will impact me. I am worried about a million different things, and worrying about them all doesn't help to make any of them less worrying. So, instead, I decided to make a plan. It's not detailed, and it's not an hourly breakdown of how to spend your day at home with children, it's just a list of points I want to focus on during the next few months. Here are the handful of ways I'm planning to take control of the chaos caused by the coronavirus pandemic:

1. Not freak out my kids
This is not a good time to be an adult. Massive global catastrophes are much more manageable when you're a child and are not in charge of:
a. making decisions to keep your family safe
b. buying the snacks
c. two siblings who love to argue loudly at 6 am (used to be 6:30, but then the stupid birds started singing)

I don't want to be the adult who has to do all of those things. And if I am the adult who has to do all of those things, I want to do them with the help of a trusted and competent government (back slaps for everyone who thought a vote for Boris was a good idea), but, alas, that is not what I have. The media is full of panic; my social media stream is full of panic, hell, even my dreams are filled with anxiety. Last night, I dreamt we had to go on lockdown with another family, and we all had to share a room (can you imagine). 

I think it's important to think about how kids are experiencing what is happening. They aren't subjected to the constant Facebook stream of people giving out terrible and misinformed medical advice, and they aren't obsessively checking the BBC News site, so to them, it is less invasive. However, they're still very much aware of it. There are playground rumours, and they know schools might close soon. I've tried to be honest with my eight-year-old when talking about why Coronavirus is serious, but also to focus on the fact that we're taking precautions and doing what we can. 

If your kids see you panicking, they will panic. If they can sense your stress levels rising, theirs will rise. Yes, this is a very stressful time, and there is a lot of uncertainty, but it's important to show our kids how to handle stress and anxiety. We need to show them that we can cope with whatever life throws our way. 

2. Worry about my parents
My parents got old, I don't know when it happened, but they did. They're not over 70, but my dad is heading that way, and he has heart problems that leave him in the vulnerable person category. So, I will be spending the next few months worrying about him, I suspect. We won't be seeing them anytime soon, because it's too risky. However, he did do a big shop at Asda yesterday, so I'm not convinced he has the hang of self-isolating just yet. Hopefully, he will continue to improve his self-isolating skills until he is actually self-isolating, and then I can stop worrying. I will also be worrying about my grandma, who thinks self-isolating is something you can do while getting a bus into town to meet your mate Pauline at a cafe. I hope that with enough exasperation from the whole family, she will eventually stop doing these things. 

3. Slow down
If (when) the schools close, I am going to look on the bright side and embrace the slower mornings. I love the school holidays when I'm not required to ask anybody to put their shoes on fifty times before 9 am. I know that I am in a privileged position that the school closure won't be horrifically stressful for me. I will do my work at the weekends and look after the kids in the week. We don't need to depend on elderly grandparents or worry about alternative childcare, and it probably won't affect my earnings (because they are so tiny to begin with, you understand). 

I plan to go for a walk every day (ideally before Laurie starts work so I can go alone and listen to my hypnobirthing books and pretend the world isn't crumbling around me) so I can get some exercise. I'm going to keep eating the low glycemic diet, which will be way more depressing when the kids are next to me eating popcorn or crisps. I'm going to plant some vegetables with the kids and hopefully remember to water them. I'm going to sort out the garden. I'm going to keep reading every day and try to distract myself from the news. I'm going to follow Ebony's and Ember's lead. If they want to do their workbooks or dig out a book of science experiments to try, then we'll do that. But if they want to build with Lego and play board games, then we'll do that. I'm not a teacher, and this is not a school. If the schools close, I'll see that time as extra (very limited and samey) summer holidays, not as me trying to replace the school.

4. Limit my phone
I am feeling anxious at the moment. I keep checking my phone to see if the guidelines for pregnant women have been updated. Am I really expected to stay home in isolation for the next 12 weeks? I keep checking Twitter because it's reassuring (in the short-term) to see other people feeling anxious as me. But none of it is helping. I'm not feeling calmer or finding out more information because of my endless scrolling. Instead, I'm overwhelming myself and emphasising the fact that nobody knows what's going to happen. I'm going to wean myself off my phone. If the kids are off school, I'll leave it out of sight, so I'm not tempted to check it obsessively for news. 

5. Sign up to Disney Plus
Yep, that's my grand plan. I can't spend months stuck watching the shit on Netflix and Amazon, so when they close the schools, I'm pushing the boat out and signing up to Disney Plus. Judge me all you want, but I will happily watch Moana every week rather than spend hours scrolling through the utter crap we usually watch. It's £50 for the year, and I'll be saving that just by being stuck at home forevermore, so you can't talk me out of it. Disney, take my money, I just need an hour of peace. 

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