Schools, creches and childcare facilities are closed along with most entertainment venues, but we need to make the most of this time. What will your children remember in five years time?
Two to three weeks off work, to be spent at home, with nothing to do - would have been celebrated as a holiday not so long ago. But now because it is imposed upon us it sounds like a nightmare. Strange how context changes everything.
Schools in Leitrim could be closed for over a month until April 20 (or further). The Government ban will be in place until at the very least March 29. That means us parents will be forced off work or will be working from home. The situation changes daily and we are truly in uncharted waters.
But forget about stocking up on the essentials, what the hell are we going to do with the kids for a month (or more) at home? This is not the Summer we can’t smother them in suncream and send them out into the garden with a bucket of sand and a hose and hope they will entertain themselves in the sunshine.
This is Spring; rain, cold, wind and possible frostbite lurks outside …
Look we are all worried, Leo Varadkar's speech on St Patrick's Day did not help anxiety levels. While he was calm and assured us all we will get through this, for many of us he confirmed what we thought was worse case scenario. This is our new normal for quite a while. Many of us cried into our pillows, ate our way through a packet of bisuits or downed a bottle of wine (or all three!) on our national holiday. And it is ok to feel like that, but don't let it take over.
While our frontline staff go to war every day on Covid-19, our role is to keep the show on the road, to stay positive and to show our children and our vulnerable family members that we can do this, we must power through and be defiant.
It is important to keep panic and anxiety at bay especially in front of children, yes there are concerns and we need to be cautious and proactive and also we need to look for the positives - use this time to your benefit.
If you will be spending 2-3 weeks at home, have a look around and see if you can do any home improvements during this time, plan out your garden, plant some seeds, make something creative, sort out all your old photos.
This is the opportune time to learn new skills or improve your education, the whole family can get on this.
Do you have a library card - well this is the time to use it, your library card gives you access to newspapers, magazines and e-books from around the world online. You can also take up some online courses - emerge out of this anxious and worrisome time with something new. Check out Leitrim libraries online here.
The whole family can use this time to improve their knowledge - take an online course in photography or film and get everyone involved. If your kids are older why not try and learn a new language online?
This is the time to bring out the old and maybe un-used board games and cards, but try and keep games friendly, we don't need any unnecessary fights or family feuds, the A&E is full enough!
Personally, I hope to use the time to potty train our two-year-old, teach him his colours and work on counting. The extra time at home should mean our five-year-old will be writing like a pro by summer, we will work on a few life skills and hopefully spend time on creating Lego worlds that will be unrivalled!
We might take up family yoga or a new sport, build obstacle courses or even learn our old dog some new tricks!
I will finally get the time to video chat my cousins in Australia or call that aunt I have been putting off. My ‘to be read’ book pile might actually get a shaking and our Netflix subscription/ broadband will really be put to the test. Documentaries can teach us history, geography and science. Don't feel guilty about movie marathons or watching cartoons for a few hours - thank technology for allowing us the mode to escape!
Unless you actually have the virus, you will not be in lock down, you do not need to stay indoors and close the curtains. You will still be able to get out for a walk, ride bikes and kick ball; just try and make sensible decisions and limit social interactions.
You should of course check in on people living alone or elderly people and if you can help them out. If you can volunteer to help the most vulnerable in our community.
This is not Armageddon or a zombie apocalypse, it is a time to be considerate, look after yourself, your family and friends and stay positive. We can do this together (but at a safe distance away).