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.
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.