At the risk of repeating every news outlet in the World, #Coronavirus (COVID-19) is officially here. Wait, what? You haven't heard? Yep! We're on the cusp of an enormous, Zombieland-level public emergency and preparations are fast being made to ensure our families are safe, well fed and ready to survive. By the way, if you haven't seen Zombieland or its sequel, they are absolutely marvellous.
I won't harp on too much about my opinion on the handling of COVID-19 as it's almost completely futile. But it's really weird, isn't it to be in a situation in which we're acting with such extreme panic (and that's the 'royal we' - Tom and I are obviously very calm and collected) based solely on news from media outlets and the government. Media outlets and a government who persistently lie, mislead and whip up controversy for their own gain (OMG Daddy's getting very contentious there). To make matters more bizarre still, despite all the news and statistics we're faced with, the majority of us don't actually know anybody who has contracted the dreaded Coronavirus.
I'm naturally cynical of the government after all the misleading information and distractions leading up to the UK's departure from the EU. A government who predominantly voted against equal rights for LGBTQ people at almost every opportunity but claim to represent a modern, diverse Britain. I don't personally believe they have my family's best interests in mind, nor those of vulnerable people. But, this is the best we have, so 🤷🏼♂️
And here we are - in the blind faith our government are acting on the advice of medical and sociological experts and not their own financial pursuits - in household isolation. Yep; Tom, Lyall, Richard and I are now enjoying (definitely not enduring) our fourth day at home together without any visitors or family outings beyond the perimeter of our garden.
How did we get here? Well, on Tuesday morning, Lyall woke us all up with a cough. When I say 'cough', it was quite persistent, gravelly and noisy - it was obviously a level-up from the normal, everyday throat clearing we usually hear from Lyall's bedroom.
"You alright, Lyall?" I called from our bedroom.
"My cough won't go away, Daddy" replied Lyall.
"Get up and get a glass of water, babe".
With a sigh, I remembered hearing about self isolation for people who present a new, persistent cough. Well, Lyall's cough is definitely new and persistent. I turned to look at Tom, lying next to me with the pillow over his head to drown out all the 7am noise.
"We're going to have to call the school, aren't we." I said.
"Muuh" sighed Tom, pulling the pillow down from his head, his eyes poking out over the pillow, looking at me with a sense of reluctance.
So, a quick phone call to school and that was that - two weeks of 'household isolation' ahead. We're quite lucky in our line of work we can work from home so this needn't affect our everyday routine too drastically, we thought.
Day one (Tuesday) was fairly busy but uneventful. Tom printed out some worksheets from the internet and a couple of mock-SATs tests to keep the boys occupied. We made Mothers' Day cards for Grandma and Granny, wrote letters to Granny Jean and we baked a cake.
After the boys' bedtime at 8pm, Tom and I kicked back on the sofas with a glass of red wine (our daily moment of comparative bliss) and put the news on.
Breaking news | Coronavirus: UK Schools to close
"Bloody hell, Tom - how on earth will we string this out if we're card making and cake baking on day one!?"
"Well, by the sound of it Jamie, this could go on for months."
"MONTHS? Oh my god."
With 'months' in mind, rather than the two week 'holiday' we'd originally signed up to, we planned day two a little differently. As we've discussed before, like many adopted children, Lyall and Rich are creatures of habit and thrive within a predictable routine.
So, Tom produced the boys a timetable. The timetable splits the boys' day into hourly activities. Inspired by Crystal Maze, we decided on a mixture of mental, physical, skill and mystery activities.
The first hour of the morning is bed making, room tidying and breakfast. Then, both boys have a double-period of creative writing and worksheets that we print from the internet. An hour of TV and lunch and then a craft hour with a daily crafty challenge.
Then, a physical hour, depending on the weather either outside with the football or an exercise video in the living room, or a walk up to the park and back. We then have an hour of reading or a language app on the tablet followed by two hours on computer games. Dinner, reading and then bed. Phew.
We've even included German lessons in the timetable, courtesy of a language app we found on the app store. Heck, if the kids are going to be cooped up here they may as well return to school in a few months' time with a new skill. With the help of a colourful 'balloon' popping game, we've learned some basic colours in German this week, with Sch-farts (black) causing enormous hilarity every time. Just wait until they find out what Dad is!
The hope is, after a week or two of our timetabled routine, the boys become a little less dependent on us in their activities and more self-serving, allow us time to work and, well retrieve a grown-up life again!
If you'd like to download and personalise your own timetable for your children, we've uploaded our timetable - download it by clicking the image here:
How are you coping with social distancing and/or household isolation? Do let us know your ideas to keep the kids occupied.
Stay safe, Jamie, Tom and boys xx