Coronavirus and how it is affecting us

Coronavirus, or covid-19, is affecting every single one of us. This post isn’t about saying ‘we’ve got it really hard, feel sorry for us!’. Because we haven’t got it hard compared to most. We are a family consisting of a couple in our 40s and three teenage kids. None of us have any underlying health conditions. We are definitely the lucky ones. But these are unprecedented times and I wanted to record how it is affecting us at the moment.

I’ve already told you about my son’s travels being cut short. That was a worrying few days for us, but more so for my son, who was worried that he was going to get stranded abroad – either in Sydney where he was staying, Singapore where he was originally flying to on the way home or Bangkok where he eventually flew through on the way home. Luckily he made it home in one piece. He is now working from home and we are giving him a bit of a wide berth while we wait to see if he shows any coronavirus symptoms. Although I think we are now at a point where any of us could show symptoms, not just the person who flew across the world.

The biggest thing for us has to be the cancellation of the GCSEs. That has left us reeling and it’s still hard to believe it’s real and not just some crazy dream. We knew school would have to be cancelled at some point, but assumed there would be a way round doing the exams. Because GCSEs and A Levels are essential, right? My son didn’t want school to end so soon, because he knew he would struggle to motivate himself to work at home. Now it seems that isn’t an issue, although he is going to keep up with studying for the subjects he intends to do a A Level.

GCSEs, Revision guides, Books, 366

My daughter has had a tough time at school lately, with so-called ‘friends’. Two or three weeks ago, she was saying she never wanted to go to school again – or she wanted to change schools. But she cried when she realised she may not go to school again in year 9. Both kids say that the summer is the best time of year at school. We are waiting for guidance from the school about what she should be doing at home. But in the meantime, the main priority at the moment is to keep occupied and not bored.

Which brings us on to the next issue – exercise! As a family, we thrive on exercise. In addition, for me, I have to be outside. The thought that I may have to stop running outside at some point is a scary one. We’ve already seen Brighton marathon postponed (more on that separately) and now wonder if our half marathons later in the year will be hit. My son in particular was really looking forward to the outdoor athletics season, having got his jumping back on track after he fractured his pelvis last year. Between big regional and national competitions and small local competitions, he thought he would be taking part in around 15 or 20 competitions over the spring and summer. My daughter was looking forward to competing for the first time. Who knows if they will now get to compete at all this year?

In the meantime, they will practise their sprints training in quiet roads and my son will do some weights at home. My daughter will work with her ballet DVD, ready for her next exam in November (although that is now likely to be postponed until next spring). Needless to say, athletics club, ballet classes, parkrun, Scouts and Beavers (where my daughter volunteers) are all off.

We’re lucky in that my kids aren’t typical teenagers in the sense that they don’t spend time with their friends out of school, so that is not going to be such an issue for them. Although they will of course miss seeing them at school. We do spend a lot of time together as a family, but it will be unusual to have four or five of us at home every day, when it’s normally only me here.

My husband has his own business, with two business partners and a handful of staff. The staff are working from home, so my husband occasionally goes into the office. He is fidgety and not very good at staying in the same place for too long. I’m not sure if my son will continue to work at home, or whether he will go back to his office once the two weeks since his travels is up. I’ve already seen my own work pretty much dry up and, as a freelancer, I guess that’s the way it’s going to be for a while. Hopefully it will get back on track in a few months.

Like many people of my age, I have parents in their 70s. They live locally and we generally see a lot of them. We are lucky that they don’t have underlying health conditions, but we have all accepted that we will have to see less of them in the coming weeks or months.  We are talking on the phone very regularly and have also talked to them through the window. I am now doing their shopping for them so that they don’t need to go into crowded places – it turns out that the ‘older and vulnerable shopping hour’ is extremely busy.

The shopping situation is frustrating. I wish I knew who was doing all the panic buying, because someone certainly is! The number of empty shelves in our local supermarket is ridiculous – soap, toilet rolls and paracetamol of course, but also bread, potatoes and random stuff like crisps and squash. I get a Tesco delivery every week and was initially annoyed when I couldn’t get one, as a regular customer, but now I have decided not to have them and leave them for the more vulnerable. We tend to do a lot of top-up shopping anyway, so we’re moving towards just shopping for enough food for a day or two.

So that’s how coronavirus is affecting us. How is it affecting you? No doubt things will evolve over the coming weeks, and I’m sure it won’t be the last time I write about it.

Coronavirus, Covid-19, Travel

Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. It’s frustrating how this is affecting our lives so much and how events are being cancelled/postponed because of it. My son was due to sit his SAT’s which are also now cancelled so I bought some previous papers for him to sit his exams from home. Possibly. Wishing you all the best at this time x

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    • Thanks very much. It is a very strange time and it feels like every day our freedom is being limited that bit more. It will all be worth it to get this damn virus under control though. Good luck to your son with his home SATs! x

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  2. We are ‘little and often’ shopping, today we were in Tesco at 8am and it was reasonably stocked, and last week Wilko were the only place we could find loo roll. Our older daughter, 21, has come back home to work at home, so like you we have a house of 5 all day rather than the 2 usually here and its fractious at times BUT we will find a way through. We all have to!

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    • Thanks very much, we really do have to find a way! Now we’re being told we shouldn’t shop little and often, to minimise the amount of time we spend at the supermarket, so we are going to need to rethink that all again. It’s remarkable how much a family of five gets through in the way of food, toiletries and cleaning materials! I hope it’s not too fractious for you all.

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  3. Sarah,

    I’m also puzzled about shopping. I use a few different supermarkets, but when I’m at my local one, which is fairly large, both the car-park and the supermarket itself seem if anything less crowded than usual. I haven’t seen any frenzied shoppers stripping the shelves bare, at that supermarket or elsewhere. But some items are out of stock, and other items are in short supply. Having said that, it’s only happened once or twice that I’ve gone to buy something specific that was readily available pre-virus, and found that it was sold out.
    It seems that the five of you are not in too bad a position yourselves, but you are concerned about other people. That’s certainly true of me. Until a few weeks ago, I’d almost forgotten that quite a few family members and friends have non-trivial health conditions (asthma, cardio-vascular problems, type 2 diabetes, obesity). As I understand it, these conditions would put them at greater risk if they do contract COVID-19. Some of my friends, and my cousin Naomi, are similar in age to your parents; two of Naomi’s friends, whom I’ve got to know in recent years, are 86 and 97. Yet the best thing I can do for all of them is to stay well away.

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    • You’ve obviously found somewhere good to shop! Over a period of about 10-14 days, there were more and more empty shelves in our local supermarket, although I did notice that they were starting to improve at the weekend, so hopefully things will get better now. I hope your vulnerable family members have people who can shop for them, so that they can minimise their risk of getting the virus. It’s hard to stay away, but it is definitely the best thing for them!

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  4. It’s such a horrible situation isn’t it? I feel grateful and also slightly guilty that we are minimally effected like you. We’re still managing to get out and exercise whilst keeping our distance from people, which is a relief. I’m also feeling lots better about the whole thing now my sister is home – on the penultimate flight out of India before the whole country went into lockdown for up to six months! I am sure you are even more relieved to have your son home. Sorry to hear about your work situation, mine is very similar unfortunately. I am hoping enough drips through to keep us going.

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    • It’s a really horrible situation! I know what you mean about feeling both grateful and guilty. We definitely are the lucky ones, although I didn’t feel lucky until my son got home. What a relief that your sister got out too. Hopefully if we don’t get enough work (and I’ve already had several days with no work), the government will come up with something for the self-employed to keep us ticking over. x

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  5. The world has changed so much in such a short time. I hope your son stays well and the rest of you do too.
    Good luck with keeping up with the exercise. When I heard about marathon’s being cancelled I did think of you.
    I have given up with getting my shopping delivered. We have a little Tesco locally and I am going to have to get what I need from there. x

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    • Thanks very much, it really has changed so much in a short time. So far, so good, my son is still healthy! I am making the most of my ‘once a day’ exercise and hoping that doesn’t get banned too. We have got into ‘little and often’ shopping, but now Boris Johnson is saying we should go as little as possible, so we need a rethink and a bit of meal planning so we can cut down our trips to the supermarket. x

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  6. It’s so tough for everyone isn’t in, in different ways. I kept my Tesco slot although they’re 4 weeks apart and I can’t get another one. I can’t take N with me shopping, and can’t leave him with the inlaws. Nipping to the village shop would only be 15 mins total so I’d leave him at home for that, but not for a supermarket shop which is 15mins drive each way, plus god knows how long to queue to get in and pay, and to shop. I’m planning on topping up bits from the local village shop and trying to get a local wholesale delivery. There are also several pubs starting micro shops and pop ups with wholesale food too.

    I feel for your children missing their competitions. N is missing probably all his county training, and was going to start back in competitions, but they’ll be unlikely to start back for a while. Gutted for all the great things people are missing out on.

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    • That’s such a shame for N and his county training and competitions. My son lives in hope that the athletics season will be back, but it’s looking increasingly unlikely. It sounds like you have a few options for shopping, even though none of them are ideal.

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  7. I think the word surreal comes to mind at the moment. I am struggling with the boys as I think they think they are now on an extended holiday. We were really shocked about the exams but my husband thinks they don’t see us coming out of this for quite a few months to cancel them completely. I feel really sorry for Year 11 and 13 it must be very strange. We are muddling along too and I have managed to keep my tesco slots booked for the next few weeks so thankfully the cupboards aren’t too bad but I certainly haven’t been stockpiling food like some people have.

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    • My son is treating it pretty much like a holiday, but I don’t mind that as he doesn’t have any school work to do. He has at least been keeping himself fit and also thinking more about healthy eating, for himself and the family. Our cupboards have recovered now, but I felt too guilty hanging on to my Tesco slots, so I let them go to someone in greater need. I’m glad you’ve managed to keep your Tesco deliveries, as they really are like gold dust!

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  8. Hi Sarah I really feel for your son and all those like him who have been working for so long towards exams that now won’t happen and of course they also miss out on so many final milestone moments too as a result. For us the biggest hit has been missing out on travel plans – a long planned family safari in South Africa and for my eldest who is on a gap year from Uni travels with mates around the states after months of doing internships to pay for it. We are now like many others battling conversations with airlines, hotels and insurers. The main thing is we are all safe but it’s hard to deny there is an air of disappointment in our house. I also hate not being able to go out on long walks and even on the ones I do manage to do social distancing in a crowded London park is so stressful it’s almost not worth it. As a family we are a tight unit and can manage to rub along together ok but of course the teens are missing their social life – as are we! At least the sun helps to life our mood a bit and we are getting creative at finding ways to keep busy and entertained. Take care

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    • Sorry to hear about the travel plans. That must be a huge disappointment for you. My son had a rugby tour to South Africa in July, which has been postponed until next year. In the end, he wasn’t too disappointed about the cancellation of the GCSEs. He will take any in the autumn he isn’t happy with. His school has also promised there will be a prom – even if it’s at Christmas!

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