How Quickly Things Change: Our COVID-19 Diary

Like any writer I feel the need to document what is going on right now. I love reading back old posts on my blog because they bring back family memories, those happy little milestones I had forgotten about or those long dark times that time has dulled. It’s my history, but this? This is so much bigger.


My children (2 girls and a Baby Boy) sitting on a rug staring in front of them at a TV screen which isn't visible for a cosmic yoga session which was their PE lesson as part of coronavirus homeschooling
Waiting for PE class to start online: a new normal?

The contemporary accounts of history as it happened in the past have been hugely important for both understanding and humanising historical events. It’s no surprise that diaries from figures like Pepys to Anne Frank are studied in schools. In 2020 there are no shortage of people documenting their personal accounts, every man and his dog has a blog (although I guess dog’s tend to be more popular on Instagram). Who knows what will still be around in 50, 100 years though? I want my stories to still be available when my children are grown, I want them to have the choice to read their personal history, good and bad.

I wrote a diary post a week ago and in the long, non stop days since I didn’t manage to finish it, but it is already so out of date. Things have changed so quickly. 

A month ago


The girls had just returned to school after half term, my mother was staying for a few days after seeing other family members and before flying back home to France so we went to a softplay. I was carefully spending our tight family budget on food. Going to several shops to buy the best meals and economising wherever I could from the wide range available. I was getting regular work offers and G had a job. 

In half term we had several days out including to a farm and socialising with friends. M entered a Karate competition and received bronze and silver medals so we went to McDonalds to celebrate. We all went as a family to buy Baby Boy his first shoes in a shop on the high street.

None of these things could happen right now: no flights, no seeing family outside of our household, soft plays closed, shops empty of food, shoes shops, attractions and schools closed, gatherings of more than 2 not allowed. Even McDonald's and other restaurants are closed.

a photograph of a macbook screen with the Ocado virtual queue page at position 502 of 13653
Struggling to get food deliveries during the coronavirus pandemic


Now


I sit at the the dining room table, enjoying and appreciating my bagel breakfast and cup of tea. Every time one of us goes out to the supermarket the shelves are pretty empty. The dairy free milk in my tea and spread on my toast are precious commodities and I am worrying if I will be able to get more when our current supply runs out.

In front of me my lap top is open to a food delivery website which tells me I am in an ever growing virtual queue (currently at 13000). I am letting it sit there and refresh with the almost certain knowledge that there won’t be delivery slots when we get to the front of the queue.

I had a smart pass for Ocado for over 5 years (maybe 10), but I let it expire just days before we realised COVID-19 was a threat to our lives. My partner lost his job, but we are having to spend more money than ever on food and basics. Instead of picking up 6 or so boxes of cereal from Aldi in a shop (cereal being a very popular food in this house) I am paying 3 or more times as much for the branded versions and not allowed to buy more than 2 boxes at a time. Not only is this more cost that I can afford but it is more visits to the supermarket just to feed my family for a week. It also means increased frustration over food waste. I always tell my children to stop eating when they are full. It’s much more important to listen to your body than to have an empty bowl, but now part of me inside is incredibly frustrated about why they needed to pour such a big portion only for some to have to be thrown away.

The schools are closed and we are giving the children various learning activities throughout the day, but I wouldn’t claim to be home schooling, rather ensuring the ongoing development of skills that are essential to their education. With 3 children of different ages and needs it isn’t really an option to do more. Our school send us new links to resources daily and it’s all too much, even if I were prepared to hand over our laptops to the girls for most of the day. Our laptops are our only chance of future work and paying bills is more important to me than pleasing teachers. 

Our iPad is 8 years old and fine for some games, but struggles it with many newer apps and M spends too much of the day with her nose in her iPod Touch as it is. My focus is keeping the girls off screens.

Yesterday we went for a walk around the block as our one permitted outside exercise of the day. We saw very few people and those we did see kept their distance. One family even crossed the road to avoid going anywhere near us.

Staying inside it is easy to forget about all the madness that is going on. The sun shines and I can hear the busy home lives of neighbours. And then I check my emails to find another business is closing it’s doors for the foreseeable future. I am slightly scared to go on the next visit to the shops because I worry about seeing all the normal shops closed, the queues with most people keeping 2 metres apart from each other, the plastic screens between serving staff and customers. What has happened to the world we knew?

Home is where I feel safe, but I worry about getting the food I need for my family. I worry about when Friday comes and my eldest daughter goes to her Dad’s house, when she will no longer be under my protection and with in arms reach for me to hold. 

G found a temporary work contract quickly after leaving his old job, but days go past without us hearing if it will actually start in this changing world. We don’t yet know if we will have an income to cover mortgage payments or if we will have to make a request to defer them (for all the good 3 months will make).

We are just a few days into this initial 3 week lockdown period and we just don’t know what is going to happen. No one does. I check the number of reported coronavirus deaths in the UK each day, but it still feels slightly removed from reality. Yesterday the UK reported a total of 422 to date, but by the weekend it is likely to be over 1000 because even if social distancing is working it will take some weeks before deaths peak. We are all starting to know of people who have the virus, but we aren’t expecting them to die, will we soon all start to feel differently? I’m not too worried about the vulnerable people in my family because I know that while inside they are safe, but none of us have 3 weeks worth of food and even if we did eat up all our reserves will we be able to get anything in the shops to eat? 

I go between calm and panicked. My children know, but no one really understands. 

How long will this last? How much will our lives change? What will be the cost?

I treasure the time with my family. I value the regular virtual chats with my family. I am grateful that lockdown has started with some spring weather. I can count my blessings, but it still sucks.

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