Well, we’ve passed the week mark on our isolation here in London. We are all healthy, no symptoms of anything, other than cabin fever—mild depression, anxiety, and boredom. We are pretty well stocked, with food and toilet paper and other supplies. Coffee and wine (and port). Basic medicines. Home workout equipment. Electronic devices connected to the Internet (except for the one day this week when the Internet went down for everyone on our street). Homeschooling is not something I EVER wanted to do, and the house is way messier than normal, but needs must. M can work from home; it’s not ideal, but at least it’s possible. We’re some of the lucky ones.
We are not “making sacrifices.” We are mildly inconvenienced. Those who are on the front lines of this thing—all the medical professionals who are working as hard and fast as possible to save as many lives as they can… those who have lost their jobs or had to shut their businesses and don’t know when they’ll see another paycheck… and all those delivery people still out there, working long hours to get food and supplies to people in self-isolation… there are heroes among us and we are just trying to stay out of their way.
I have some choice things I’d like to say to the entitled princesses who have been whining on our uppity nursery school WhatsApp group chat about their favourite fancy restaurant closing (“I’m petrified I’ll have to start cooking!”), or having to make their own oat milk lattes now, or the hair and nail salons closing (we’re about 3 weeks away from finding out what everyone’s natural hair colour is), or the trials of trying to work from their country house with the two children and the nanny there. Those are all real things people have actually typed. Shut. Up.
We feel very far from home and family right now. M and I are so torn on what to do. Do we stay or do we go? Is this it, is this how our living-in-London adventure ends? Should we go ahead and call it and move back to America? The pros and cons list is so long for both sides that it’s completely useless in helping us make this decision. I haven’t come close to completing my London bucket list or European destinations to visit list, but now I can’t do anything at all, and who knows when it will again be possible? Will our kids even be able to go back to school here?
One of our biggest, if not THE biggest, concerns is that if they end up shutting down flights completely, then we are completely stuck on this island and can’t get home to our families. And it would also be really, really nice to have more outdoor space for the kids (and us) to be able to use when having to isolate, which America can provide but London cannot. But we have our dog, and we can’t just simply buy her a plane ticket to come with us, it’s a lot more complicated than that.
Fortunately, M can still go for his long bike rides every morning. He goes really early, and it’s not like he makes contact with anyone, so for now, he still has that, and that’s huge for his physical and mental health.
Sure, my home school lessons this week were a bit light on the academics and heavy on the arts, but I think I did a pretty good job, all things considered, and I’m proud of myself. There are so many resources online now it’s overwhelming. I mean, it’s great, but overwhelming. Now that the schools have finally been ordered to close, they’ve provided me with some lessons for the kids, so at least I’m not flying totally blind this week.
One of the hardest things is seeing how sad my kids are that they can’t see their friends. They’ve both written notes/letters/emails to some of their friends, and they just break my heart.
Someone in E’s class is setting up a class Zoom conference call on Tuesday. It will no doubt be chaos as 30 children try to be heard, but I think it will cheer E up a bit. I think this would be a lot easier if we had an actual end date to look forward to, but it’s all so unknown.
In addition to the home school lessons, I figure this is a good time to get the kids regularly doing household chores, and to try to teach the kids some life skills that have always been pushed to the bottom of my priority list, given how busy our daily life normally is.
Now I can afford to have the patience to let my 3-year-old dress herself, and devote some time and effort to teaching my almost-7-year-old how to tie her shoes, and cut her food with a knife. And we’re learning a dance routine to the Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme song, which E can nearly now rap in full. See? Life skills.
M’s working with her on rules-of-the-road for riding her bike, now that traffic is lighter than it’s ever been.
She’s also gotten into skipping rope, which is the perfect thing for her to do to get some exercise at home, and challenge herself to break her personal record.
I don’t know where it originated or whose idea it was, but I saw something going around on social media about hanging rainbows in windows to give kids something to look for when they are out on a walk instead of being at the playground. I loved this idea, as the rainbow is such a symbol of promise that a storm will end, and so visually cheerful.
I passed this idea around to the various WhatsApp groups I’m a part of, and today on our family bike ride we saw so many we lost count!
In terms of what it’s like outside our walls, it doesn’t look like enough people are really isolating and social distancing to make much of a difference. And as the weather gets nicer, that’s only going to get worse, as everyone wants to be outside in the parks. We continue to try to get the kids outside once a day, and we walk the dog to the common, but we are staying well away from others when we do.
But there seem to be a lot of people who are not practicing the 6-feet rule. Then again, in a city this densely populated, is that even possible? You walk down any sidewalk, and you’re going to pass people, and the sidewalks aren’t 6 feet wide. Sigh.
I went to a shop for the first time today. A gloved employee greeted me at the door with a squirt of hand sanitiser, and they were operating a one-in-one-out policy, with a queue outside the door, and weren’t accepting cash payments. So that’s how that works.
We haven’t taken advantage of any of the restaurants offering takeaway around here, but this did arrive today:
M knew I had given up sugar for Lent, but evidently he decided that we’re already giving up enough things that make us happy as it is right now, and he’s not wrong. So Happy Mothering Sunday, from our quarantine to yours.