Guard your mind and your time. It’s too easy to visit every major news site throughout the day when you should be working. It takes discipline to stay focused on what really needs to be done.
A year ago, or even a month ago, I wouldn’t have believed I’d ever be facing the possibility, and perhaps even the likelihood, of living in near or total lockdown. Yet already here in Ontario we’ve been instructed to venture out as seldom as possible and are just waiting for further restrictions. Meanwhile, parts of America and swaths of Europe have already seen significant lockdown measures put into place. To learn how to do this well, and to prepare as much as possible, I wrote to everyone I could think of in Italy to ask them for tips. This, after all, has already been their reality for at least a couple of weeks. The first response came from pastor Clay Kannard, whom I’ve met during visits to Rome. His tips may be especially helpful for families.
Two weeks ago we received notice that all of the schools would be closing in Rome. The cases of COVID-19 in the north were multiplying and the nation’s leaders were quickly beginning to understand the severity of the situation. Just one week prior, the news began to break about the cases in the north and the new quarantines that were being implemented for that part of the country. As you would expect, the supermarkets were overwhelmed by panicked shoppers. We all watched from Rome in disbelief.
While some might call me paranoid, I saw the need to be prepared and asked my wife, Lauren, to purchase enough non-perishable foods to last us a couple of weeks. At the time she considered my request to be an over-reaction, however, it did not take long to realize that being prepared was not a fearful response but a wise one. When the quarantine was extended to the entire nation, we did not have to participate in any panic shopping. Praise God, food supply chains are not being impacted.
So what can we do? We can still go to the grocery store, but only one person from our home is allowed to exit the home to do our shopping. Additionally, we can go to the pharmacy, take the dog for a brief walk or go on a brief run, and if your workplace has not closed you can go to work, as long as social distancing is possible. If you have a garden/yard, you are able to go out and get some air. However, most of us live in densely populated neighborhoods, in apartments, and only some with small balconies. Every time we leave the house, we are required to take a government issued document explaining our motive for leaving the house. The permitted motives are listed on the form, and this form is to be given to the police if the police stop you. They are on patrol and ready to fine citizens over 200 euros for violating quarantine.
This initial quarantine went into place on the 12th of March and was set to expire on the 25th of March for the public and businesses, and until the 3rd of April for schools and universities. However, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has since announced that those deadlines will be extended, and the lockdown requirements will become stricter due to the fact that too many people are still out and about. So for the moment we still don’t know when this will end.
What has been somewhat more challenging is adjusting to life in quarantine as a family of 6. We have 4 kids between the ages of 4 and 16. In fact, our daughter Ava will be celebrating her 14th birthday in quarantine. As students in the Italian public school system, we have been patiently and graciously waiting on the schools to organize and work with teachers who, although having little to no training in distance learning, are now being asked to choose an online platform and ensure their students can continue in their studies.
Then there is the fact that all of us are now at home together with a 4-year-old named Kian. He has not left the house since the quarantine, is full of nuclear levels of energy, and bouncing off the walls. In fact, as I write this to you I can hear my 10-year-old daughter screaming, “Daaaaaad! Kian is being crazy in our room and won’t calm down! He’s messing with the dog!” Usually we would take him outside to burn some energy. However, our only option now is the balcony and that just sounds incredibly dangerous for a bouncing 4-year-old!