We’re now officially on Day 3 of the government-enforced quarantine here in Madrid. I never would have imagined something like this happening a few years ago. Actually, I never would have imagined something like this happening a few months ago, let alone a few weeks ago, but here we are. We’re at war with an invisible enemy.
Every time I see the news there’s something new: Spain is closing its borders, Western Europe is closing its borders, the number of cases in Spain is almost at 12,000 (a few days ago it was roughly half)… I’m thinking about trying to not watch the news for a little bit, although that will probably be hard to do. What’s also startling is the economic impact that we’re already seeing and will probably see for many years. In Spain a number of large companies have already announced massive temporary layoffs to thousands of employees. If companies are completely shut down and don’t have any income I guess there is no other viable option, but it’s still startling nonetheless.
Here’s a picture of the supermarket the day people went crazy and thought a zombie apocalypse was coming.
And here is the supermarket the next day stocked up and ready to go. Clearly this was a false sense of security that things were under control as this was 2 days before 100% quarantine.
On a personal note, I can’t remember the last time I spent so much uninterrupted time at home, especially without having any defined end in sight. In my opinion this is definitely a necessary step that the country is taking. When the government in Madrid decided to close schools for 15 days last week, this resulted in the public parks, bars, restaurants, etc. overflowing the following day and multiplied cases- clearly this wasn’t going to work without some sort of formal enforcement. I’m not going to tell the US to watch out; I think even since starting this post it’s gotten more serious there. I’m the first one who thought this was all overblown and a bit crazy a few weeks ago..
Quarantine is a challenge! Especially when trying to balance working from home and having two little kids in the house all day. (We can’t even go downstairs to the common area in our apartment complex). The challenge is trying to organize activities, schoolwork, routines, playtime, etc. and work at the same time without everyone going crazy – ideal, but most likely not 100% possible. Work-family balance has gone out the window.
Here are a few thoughts:
- Feel lucky to have such uninterrupted family time. When was the last time you can think of that you were with your children, spouse (or both) for an extended period of time? In this day and age we tend to complain or worry about not being able to spend enough time with family due to work and other commmitments. So take advantage of this time. At some point (hopefully in the not too too far away future), playing endless games of Go Fish and Candyland will just be a memory.
Now, imagine if we lost internet access as well… is it just me or has anyone else noticed an increase in the amount of mobile phone usage? (well, in your household since you can’t observe anyone else really)
2. Find humor where you can; it’s the best medicine as they say. Everyone’s in the same situation, so we might as well try to find ways to laugh. Memes are great. Within minutes of any of the more-confining public announcements there were more memes. There are too many too post and almost all are in Spanish, but trust me – they made it a little easier the first day. Here’s one of my favorites:
3. Exercise, but with caution. I’m an avid outdoor runner, so of course one of the first things that came to my mind when the quarantine was announced was “what am I going to do if I can’t go out for a run, let alone leave the apartment?” I’m a firm believer in the importance of exercise for not just physical, but also (and almost more importantly), mental well being. Of course there are a ton of online exercise channels, but I had never been one to try this out. Now came the time.
My word of advice: don’t overdo it! The first day in quarantine I decided to do an intense Hiit cardio workout thinking it would be too difficult since I’m used to running. Wrong: the workout was great; great until I couldn’t walk the next day…
4. Buy bread. Thank goodness buying a fresh baguette is sacred here in Spain! This is one of the few “necessary” reasons why you can still leave the house, but only one person at a time and maintaining your distance if you see anyone. Yesterday I went out to buy bread at the gas station up the street. Everyone had to leave a distance of at least 2 meters between other people in line, and you had to buy the bread through a little window.
Buying bread at the gas station
On the way back the UME (the Military Emergencies Unit) drove by me. Good thing I had the big loaf of bread or they would have asked what I was doing out. Definitely weird, but at least this is one way to get a little fresh air if you can’t take it anymore (unfortunately not for the kids though 😦
5. Take advantage of your apartment terrace if you have one. Who knew terraces could have so many uses? We’ve been living in our current apartment for almost 5 years. I can probably count on one hand the amount of times I’ve used our terrace for leisure. Usually it’s just to get something we have out there in storage or to hang up clothes on the clothes rack. It’s time to be creative. Over the past few days the terrace has been converted into a workout studio, picnic station, chalkboard, disco and weak leak to the outside world. I am counting my lucky stars now that we have the terrace!
Pretending to go out for a run
The terrace. Sans bikes for now
Check out this great article in thelocal.es about what some people are doing from their terraces: TheLocal.Es article. I’m waiting for our apartment complex to get on board.
To be continued. This looks like it will likely go beyond the 15 days…