There’s this beautiful wrought iron gate at the end of our drive-way. I used to love the gate for its intricate designs but lately, I’ve come to hate that same gate as now it presents the only thing standing between me and going out.

I am trying to write this blog without sounding too dramatic, which I most probably am without trying too hard. What can I say, it’s a flaw in my personality.

We’re exactly one week into (only) a (supposedly) 14-day lock-down in Mauritius and although I am MORE than aware that I am NOT the only person ever to be in this position I just have to state: LOCK-DOWN SUCKS! It is equal to involuntary house-arrest which I am damn well sure NONE OF US SIGNED UP FOR. To add some spice to our lives, 24 hours ago they announced a complete SHUTDOWN meaning that until the 31st of March everything will be closed and one will have to make do with what you have in the way of foodstuffs. They are busy working behind the scenes to ensure the poor, infirm and the elderly have food by providing food-packets to about 35000 families from what I saw flitting past on my timeline somewhere. Online shopping services are said to also be restored with permission to continue their services but I shudder at the backlog they will be dealing with. I am grateful that we are blessed to have enough food to last us for another week or so.

These days I am suffering from an overload of information and facts, some true and some fake. It takes a lot of energy to sift through the mountains of information and tons of potential conspiracy theories. I don’t do them well.

No writer could have made this up. Life has changed irrevocably for all of us. And at the end of the day, WE ARE ALL IN IT TOGETHER. From the poorest to the wealthiest, from the ordinary guy on the street to the most famous person in the world. Eventually, we are all affected. In many different ways, but this is GLOBAL, NOT Local! This is not a war in the conventional sense but it’s a war nonetheless. A war against an invisible virus. We’re not called to fight but we’re called to stand together and stop this virus from spreading. As of today Mauritius is on 52 confirmed cases and 2 deaths. Let us all play a part in stopping this and follow the rules.

As I follow the news I see China has come out of isolation, other countries like Italy, the UK, Mauritius and a few other are already a ways in, some more are only entering lock-down now as South Africa announced lock-down starting on Thursday(26/03/2020) at midnight for 21 days and Australia having closed their borders for 6 months. A friend let me know the lock-down commenced in New Zealand yesterday if I remember correctly. In Mauritius, flights have been canceled until the end of April. For now. Time will tell whether it will be prolonged or whether the allocated time would have been enough to stop COVID19 in its tracks.

In the meantime, we stay indoors listening to the helicopter patrolling twice a day. The one thing that I hate most is hearing sirens every day and not knowing what they are for. Did someone get hurt? Is there an emergency? I hate not being able to go out and help.

Nevertheless, despite it all, I’ve never felt both so connected to the world out there but at the same time so disconnected. I miss opening that gate at the end of the driveway to go for a walk on the beach. I miss opening that gate to go out and do normal things. Like shopping and meeting up with friends. Thanks to social media I can have that connection online with my friends and family.

We try and find meaningful things to fill our days, things to make us feel like we’ve been proactive and productive. I’m still struggling slightly with that one….even 7 days in. I don’t mind sitting down and working on my own, but, I need human contact.

I have come to the conclusion that I am probably not walking out of lock-down with having learnt to play guitar, speaking French fluently or certificate in hand. Don’t get me wrong, this is just me. This might change in the weeks to come but for now I’m at peace with my routine.

If online learning is your thing, be my guest. I love learning new things but just at the moment being forced to be indoors for an undetermined time, my whole being revolts against sitting at a desk for hours during the day if I can rather cut the lawn with a blunt pair of shears or clean the pool so that it sparkles. Doing even those mundane little things at least gives me a reason to be outside without just lounging by the pool feeling like I’m wasting away time. So far I’ve not yet had the crazy urge to deep clean or spring-clean the house either, which I probably should. Not that our house is dirty as we keep it in relative’ good nick, I just haven’t had sudden urges to scrub walls or deep steam the lounge suit. Perhaps it will still come or perhaps I’ll just sit and read my book quietly waiting for the feeling to go away.

Having said that, I have to confess that I am forcing myself each day to do an hour of yoga and other exercises. Something that I could never manage as anyone who knows me well can attest to the fact that I am a serial procrastinator, so I count this as a win! Where would we be without wi-fi, our best friends Google and YouTube! At least I’ll be more limber at the end of this lock-down.

Whilst I see numerous posts on social media, yes note the irony in this statement, about how one should use this time spent in forced confinement wisely, I know real life is different for each one of us. It is advised to spend it with your loved ones, well that is if you are not alone in which case my heart goes out to you. People advocating less screen-time more read a book, play games with your kids, sit and smooch with your hubby more type of time. All fair and well. That is if your husband or partner is around, mine isn’t, he happens to be on a fishing vessel out on the ocean for 18 days. I know of other women in a similar situation. It’s not ideal but here we are.

These same people are super active online sharing all these tips, get that? They are online. So am I. Mostly. I’ve found that my screen-time has probably quadrupled in the last 7 days. Being stuck with my (favorite) 18-year-old son doesn’t always make for social media worthy, magazine featuring moments or days. Mostly we move around in the house, keeping ourselves occupied. There are certain things we do together like cleaning, cooking, watching a show or two at night or a dip in the pool. He’s very good at helping with chores and helping me clean the house, but ultimately he’s 18. He’s not keen on sitting chatting with his mom the whole day. I’ve come to the realization that teenagers were designed to survive a lock-down better than some adults. As long as he has wi-fi and his PS4 he is happy! Throw in a meal or 2 and all is well in his world.

And in Mom’s world, you may ask? I have to admit currently social media, reading a good book, swimming in the pool, chores around the house, etc is what’s keeping me from losing my cookies. After 7 days I have some sort of routine which keeps me sane. I even forget about that gate keeping me inside now and then.

What I’ve learned so far, I say so far because I still learn something new about this unique situation that we are in every single day. I’ve learned to cope with my boredom, to an extent. It’s something that’s been affecting me badly before all this happened. Living on an island as a dependent not being able to work is not always what it’s cracked up to be I’ll have you know that. I’ve always been known to think outside the box but these life-changing circumstances are enhancing one’s ability to be creative and innovative. It’s teaching us resilience and having to make do.

I’ve learned that self-care is important. Do whatever you need to do to keep your sanity going. You don’t have to follow the glamorous Instagrammers which makes one feel inadequate for just being alive some days, or compete with your neighbors and friends about who’s walking out of this gloating about making the most of each second. You don’t have to feel guilty if your house is not pristine because you’d much rather read or have a nap. You’re not pressured to cook gourmet meals to prove your worth. Hang in there, do what works for you, not for others.

Do try though to do the following;

  1. Get out of bed and get dressed. Don’t laugh, it is easy to think there’s nothing to get up for
  2. Create a routine, it can include cleaning, exercise, studying something new online, watching a series or movie, reading a book, even taking a nap
  3. Delegate house chores or do them together as a family
  4. Talk to someone each day
  5. Plan your meals so you know what you have in the pantry and aren’t caught on the hop as shops won’t always have stock 
  6. Exercise each day
  7. Meditate, it helps to calm the nerves
  8. If you are in lockdown with kids or family members be sure to take some time for yourself to be alone each day, use earphones to indicate that this is YOUR time and that you are NOT to be disturbed

Last but not the least, probably the most important thing I’m going to share here so take note!

I’ve learned that one cannot be in this alone. If you are in lock-down by yourself you must reach out! Reach out to family, friends, a whats-app group, on Facebook. It doesn’t matter, just reach out. You don’t have to go through this alone. Without our special WhatsApp group, I would have felt lost. We share tips, information, jokes, and bits of our daily lives. It’s been a lifesaver. Know that you will need this contact with the outside world. Not only because of the jokes and fun but it keeps us updated on what is happening on the island, protocols that are put in place. Some people might not have access to this information. If you are not the one needing the support then BE the one that provides the support. Pull in the elderly, the lonely and the people that cannot deal with this on their own.

We mourn the deaths of those that didn’t survive to tell the story but we are still alive so let’s make it count. Let’s stand together and help one another through this journey. Let’s accept the things we can change and accept the things we can’t. I’ve changed my mindset about not being able to go out whenever I can and I’ve accepted that I have no control over certain aspects of this situation. It’s brought me some peace of mind. I hope for you too. If you’ve read up to here you deserve a medal. It’s a bit of a long-winded post and all that I wanted to say is my thoughts are with everyone that’s going through this. Chins up. This will pass, like a kidney-stone, painfully so, but pass it will.

Above all! If you are going to be spending a lot of time online, just remember to be NICE. If you can still go to the shops don’t be selfish and empty the shelves, leave some food for the others. Most importantly, stay home and Stay Healthy!

Much love, K

ps be sure to follow on Facebook for daily lock-down updates. If you are alone in lock-down with no support be sure to reach out on my page through Facebook Messenger for a chat. (no creeps allowed, I will report you to Facebook and block your ass) https://www.facebook.com/karolien.thereslifeafterkidsmauritius/