2020 was a total surprise package. When a lot of us planned our new year resolutions for this year, little did we think that our lives would change so much and for this long. That we will be ‘asked’ to stay home to save our lives and others is something that we never thought in our wildest dreams.
Since this is something that has affected almost all parts of the world, we found it interesting to know how life has changed for homemakers around the world. We asked a few friends of ours to share their bits of happiness and challenges during this time.
Not everyone of us has a choice of staying at home. Some of us need to get into the battlefront. The health workers all over the world are the brave warriors who are working long hours and fighting the virus day and night.
Being a nurse, Soumya was anxious about two things. First, being exposed to the virus on her Work-front and then facing the risk of infecting her family; Secondly, lack of enough protective gear at work, which she says is the most challenging thing she had to face over this period.
“The supply of PPE equipment is limited. It’s given as if we are receiving our ration on a case by case basis. It is locked away in cupboards and one has to ask managers to issue it to us. There are instances when we had to wash and share the same goggles and face shields. The hands were all getting dry and burned by frequent handwashing and use of alcohol gels.
My child had a 1-year developmental delay, which I managed to overcome to some extent with lots of activities and one to one bonding. I know homeschooling allows creativity but wouldn’t be equal to kids socializing in classrooms or educational excursions. I try my best and I am happy that it is making a difference.” “
She juggles work and household chores while taking care of her kids. However, she stays positive by prioritizing her health and by practicing mindfulness and other self-care activities. With the help of resources and ideas available online, she uses her time at home to set up a homeschooling routine for her daughter.
Kudos to Soumya and other health workers like her who are leading this frontline battle.
The most challenging thing I faced during this time is coping with online schedules of schooling for my two daughters. Setting up their classes, making sure they are paying attention and following up the activities along with managing the house chores is demanding. Yet another challenge is to find time to rejuvenate myself. Even so, I find that there are many more things to be happy about; Like more family time, never feeling lonely at home and very often, I am overwhelmed with love and hugs. With kids at home all the time, it is a wonderful opportunity to teach moral and religious values to kids. Last but not the least, I end up doing a lot of research for easy recipes.”
Patson & Lallu
Patson and his wife Lallu, work in health care and are front-line warriors. Patson ( respiratory therapist) worked day shifts while Lallu ( nurse) worked night shifts. Like many of us they also had to deal with the sudden change in kids’ school routine, unavailability of essentials, overtime duties, uncertainty… and also COVID-19. Patson and Lallu are both COVID-19 survivors.
Lallu, was the first to be diagnosed. She was asymptomatic, but she was isolated as soon as symptoms appeared. Patson was taking care of her with necessary precautions. But almost a week later, he was diagnosed too.
“It was expected since I would have been exposed while my wife was asymptomatic. It didn’t come along as a shock nor was it worrying as I was familiar with the situation and had attended to COVID-19 patients at work. I was positive about dealing with the sickness and recovering from it.”
The symptoms and cases are different from patient to patient. Patson’s symptoms were a lot more severe than his wife’s. The first five days were really difficult with high fever and hallucinations that followed, body pain and vomiting. When the condition worsened, he was taken to the hospital where he was diagnosed with viral pneumonia.
Lallu resumed her work after three days of being symptom free. However Patson’s work requires him to have two consecutive negative Covid 19 tests, which he has not got yet.
“I was prescribed antibiotics and medicines for cough and fever. Fever reducer nor the antibiotics were helpful as this was a case of viral infection. However after another 4-5 days of rest the symptoms subsided. It has been over 5 weeks, I have not yet got my sense of smell and taste back.”
The best thing that happened to me is that after a really long time, I could chart out a daily self care routine. After waking up at a reasonably early morning, start with yoga, a cup of tea, write a journal (brushed up an old habit of mine). All of this takes about 30-45 minutes and it does make a difference for the rest of the day. The main challenge I face is to keep the routine going on 🙂 . “
In Sweden, things are a little different from the rest of the world. We don’t have a lock-down here. The government trusts the citizens to behave responsibly instead. We have been asked to stay at home even if slightly sick, avoid crowding, reduce public transport travels, work from home if possible, and maintain social distancing strictly. Schools are open and so are most businesses. As citizens, we try our best to care for each other by maintaining distance and staying home if we feel sick”.
Tasnim along with her husband and son found this new weekend routine of going out into nature as much as possible.
I feel we have been able to connect more to nature since the corona times. We spend a lot of time in the woods or at the riversides. My son enjoys taking long bike rides, collecting stones and leaves, and listening to birds. We also do little picnics in the woods or parks( maintaining our distance from others of course).”
Staying indoors becomes even more grueling especially when you are living far away from your loved ones and you can’t travel.
What I feel challenging is that you cannot meet your friends like you used to, you cannot make much of the spring weather in terms of traveling or just hanging at a street cafe. The work from home routine can also be a little stressful when both of you are stuck at home and each may end up disrupting the other’s routine.”
Remya: Wisconsin, USA
Earlier, all three of us had a very hectic 7-5pm schedule followed by after school activities. But now that the office and school are functioning virtually at the same time and place, often issues pop up at the same time. We are yet to figure out a routine to function through this ‘new normal’. Snacking and confusion about what to cook is something I find challenging everyday. It gets messier over weekends, with gyms closed there is nothing driving us to wake up early.
However, we are glad that we get to spend quality time as a family now. Long evening walks without gadgets is something we as a family look forward to everyday.”
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND
Lima, with her husband and kid, moved to New Zealand a couple of years back. Amidst all the chaos and confusion, her family was getting ready to welcome a new member to their family. Lima was 37 weeks pregnant and ready to pop anytime. The whole situation gave her a lot of stress that she stopped following the updates from news, social media, etc. She now looks back and laughs at it saying that her baby was self-isolating itself by delaying the labour for another 3 more weeks. Finally, after 40 weeks and 3 days, baby Sairah was born.
With the lock down in place, my elder kid could not attend his daycare. In the beginning, I was always worried about taking care of a toddler and a new born together. Shopping for the newborn was difficult. With so much panic buying happening, we were in a dilemma deciding what to buy, and how much to buy and with the summer giving way to fall here, I was always worried about not having enough warm wear for the baby.”
But on the whole, Lima feels that this has been a blessing in disguise. With the daycares shut down, she is glad that Steven, her elder kid, is home safe from all the risks of infections. There is a higher level of bonding in the family, be it with their son who is 3 or among him and the baby sister.
This pandemic has taught us to plan our shopping lists better and these times will be a reminder of how little we need to survive and be happy.
Joseph was supposed to take a month of leave to look after the baby, but because of the COVID 19 situation, he got to stay home and take care of us this whole time without losing any pay. We go biking and walks together, Joseph and Steven practice cricket in the evenings and I get creative finding new games and activities for Steven. There are no visitors expected so there is no pressure to clean and organize the house, that’s one less chore to do. 😀 ”
Smitha: Pennsylvania, USA
The thing I miss the most is going outdoors, the morning walks and hanging out with friends. Making use of this opportunity to explore new interests like baking, DIY crafts, gardening etc. Also, having lots of fun playing online LUDO games with family back home.”
Working at a bank, I am at risk of exposure to infection. So the most challenging thing that I have to do during this lock-down is to keep myself healthy and safe and thereby keep my husband safe too. Also that we are not able to be with our kids, breaks our hearts.”
Kasargod was one of the worst-hit places in Kerala. Reshma is a bank manager. Since it is listed as an essential service she does not have the privilege of staying home to keep herself safe. She lives with her husband and 2 daughters who are now staying with her parents in Calicut.
But Reshma is determined to make the best use of this situation. She always had a busy life from day one of her job. Then marriage, kids, job transfers, work-pressure..she had almost forgotten how life was before all this. But now her days are much more relaxed, she finds time to exercise, learned biking, and takes much better care of herself.
Vishnu and I have been married for almost 10 years, and this is the first time in our lives that we got to spend so much quality time with each other. We enjoy exercising, cooking and doing house chores together. Seems like this lock-down has rekindled our relationship.”
Apart from missing her house-help and her eyebrows growing out of control, she feels that the COVID-19 situation has brought a positive change in her life.
Deepa, Pennsylvania, USA
We get to spend more time with family and have longer conversations with our family in India over calls. Being a person who likes to do new experiments in cooking, now I have enough time to try various recipes. Challenges are more work-related, As there is a toddler at home and an adolescent who is having all his classes going on online. I got to manage all these during my working hours. Apart from that, normally these are the months of the year we go out for trips with family and friends. The Friday night dinner outs, gym time, long walk in the trails. Miss all these things from life very badly. As there are fewer work-outs and more cooking and eating going on, I am gaining weight too. “
Our lives are never going to be the same after all this is over. It might be awhile before we go out into a crowd without hesitation or shake hands with a stranger. Let us hope that we come out of all this as a better race and a better world. Till then let us be grateful for all the privileges that we have while being considerate about the less fortunate ones around us.