It’s surreal to think about how much our lives have changed over the last couple of weeks. In two short weeks things went from pretty normal to catastrophic.
On March 3rd we left for vacation to sunny Palm Springs. We were excited to spend time relaxing with family after the crazy year we had in 2019. Everything was fine when we left on our trip. There was no one cancelling vacations for COVID-19. We spent our first few days of vacation oblivious to our world being flipped upside down.
I watched from afar on social media as people in Edmonton seemed to tailspin into raiding grocery stores for lysol and toilet paper. I couldn’t understand why people were in such a panic and hoarding supplies. Everything in the US where we were staying was business as usual. From the 3rd to the 6th we spent time shopping, soaking up the sun and heading to a photoshoot with Flytographer to capture our vacation memories. From there we headed to Costa Mesa for a few days with Denny who was working a trade show. It was business as usual, the trade show was on, people were out and about, the shelves were fully stocked at Target.
When we headed back to Palm Springs on Sunday it seemed all hell started to break loose. I was watching on Twitter people getting into a fist fight over toilet paper in St Albert. There was wide spread panic as people went out trying to hunt these hard to find items down. It was around this time things started to change in the US. The President was saying everything is fine, stop panicking. Monday Target started to empty out, all the Lysol, Airborne and toilet paper was gone. Festivals started to get cancelled, including a last minute shut down of the huge tennis event that happens every year (some people hadn’t heard the news and were lined up at the gates waiting to get in). There was now talk about postponing Coachella and Stage Coach. Disneyland announced it was closing, vacations started to get cancelled.
We spent our last day on Wednesday March 11th with family, meeting them at Cheesecake Factory for one last dinner before heading home. From there, my anxiety went through the roof. My son was up throwing up at 1 am the day before our flight. My heart was racing because I thought he had the flu. I was terrified we weren’t going to get back to Canada now that so much had changed within a few days. Thankfully it wasn’t the flu, turns out he ate too much dinner.
We arrived at the airport to pure mayhem. I have been travelling to the region for the last 11 years and have never seen the airport so busy! It was pouring rain so the tiny outdoor airport was even more jammed. People sardined their way inside to either check in or try and get home early. Many people just showed up at the airport with luggage in hopes to leave on an earlier flight. I didn’t even know how to process all of this. I was travelling alone with two children who are old enough to know when something is not right. My anxiety was through the roof but I kept a smile on my face for them. As we sat at the gate I prayed our flight wouldn’t get delayed or cancelled. I wasn’t sure how much more stress I could handle at this point.
Thankfully we left without a hiccup. Denny was waiting at the Edmonton airport for us with a car full of groceries he had just picked up from Costco (he came home days before us). At this point they hadn’t announced the 14 day isolation they were asking travellers to do. When we arrived to Canada I turned on my phone and was greeted with a barrage of text messages. Jr high orientation cancelled, hockey tournament cancelled, and then the 14 day mandatory quarantine. Panic set in again, how were we going to get groceries, what would we do at home with the kids? They already missed so much school from vacation I didn’t want them to miss anymore. A few days later we found out school was cancelled as well.
Our family adjusted quickly, friends and neighbours rallied around us and delivered groceries when we needed it. We even had a stranger pick up our favourite donuts for us and deliver them to our doorstep. We have been so thankful for everyone who came together to help us. I don’t know what we would have done without them.
We adjusted to our new reality of no more school, Denny now working from home and the fact that we couldn’t leave the house for 14 days. The kids haven’t seen their friends in person for over a month between our vacation and quarantine. Thankfully technology has kept them connected.
I had to adapt very quickly into uncharted territory with my marketing business. We’ve never been through a pandemic before so there was a lot of unknown about what to do. It really wasn’t something we had ever planned for. We’ve lost clients because they can’t keep their doors open during this time. Some clients are still operating but in different ways so we’ve been able to help them adapt. I think the hardest part of it all is the unknown. It has been an extremely difficult couple of weeks both personally and professionally.
Being in the house for the last two weeks has sheltered us so much from the outside world and everything that has changed. With our quarantine period done we decided to venture out to the grocery store. I reached out to twitter to see what people were doing at the grocery store to protect themselves as we hadn’t experienced shopping in a store during a pandemic.
Costco has done such a great job of adapting to the new “normal”. We lined up outside spaced apart as we awaited our turn to enter the store. They are limiting people in the store so as one person leaves the next one is let in the doors. Our wait was minimal outside, maybe 10 minutes total. As we entered the stoe, signs were everywhere reminding people about “social distancing”. Employees were scattered throughout to help you with things like wiping the cart down to handing out bags in the meat section. They also had staff at the coolers to make sure not to many people were in the area at one time. When it came time to pay an employee directed us one at a time to a check out. We kept our distance until the person in front of us had paid. Everything was fully stocked (except lysol).
From there we stopped at a grocery store and found the experience to be a bit more stressful. People were all over the place not distancing themselves, more shelves were empty. We couldn’t get out of there fast enough and plan on using click and collect services instead.
Our last stop was Cobs bread for some treats for the kids. They were fully stocked and had a sign on the door allowing only 4 people in the store at one time (two employees, two customers). People were respectful and waited outside making it a pleasant shopping experience.
Since there are so many people using the online shopping options, its inevitable we will need to venture out to the grocery store. After the advice of many on Twitter we’ve put some things in place at our house.
- Leave your reusable bags at home (the stores we went to weren’t allowing them)
- Sanitize hands before entering a store
- Wiping down the cart handle before touching it or entering the store
- Wearing gloves while shopping and pushing the cart
- Using tap pay wherever possible
- After unloading groceries and returning the cart remove gloves and apply sanitizer
- Unload groceries and them immediately put all of our clothing into the wash
- Wash hands before unpacking groceries from bags
- Wipe down every item coming into the house with a cleaner like lysol or bleach solution.
- If groceries had an outside package, remove items and discard packaging
- Wipe down all surfaces the groceries may have touched with disinfectant
- If possible leave children at home and don’t allow them to put away groceries
Our first trip to the store was a bit overwhelming as we adjusted to all the new precautions put in place to protect us. We know that we are all in this together and are doing everything we can to keep our family safe and healthy. What may work for some, doesn’t work for others and that is ok! We wanted to share our personal experience with isolating our family and then getting back out to the world.
For now we don’t know how much longer we are expected to stay home. It’s been a big adjustment for us all but we are doing well despite the circumstances. All we can do is lean on each other for support, and make the most of our time together. The kids have adjusted well to learning from home, Denny has adjusted to working from home and I have been adjusting to having them all home. Our dog Bandit loves having us all at home, and our cat Mr Grey is rather annoyed that he doesn’t have a quiet house to nap in during the day.