ANYONE that follows me, knows I am an advocate for anyone struggling with really hard life issues. If this is your first time reading, I urge you to look around my website, Written by Dida, to see that I am all about compassion, raising awareness, & treating people fairly. I generally believe we should be respectful of each other, and have a “to each their own” type of perspective on different personalities, habits, etc.,- as long as you aren’t stepping on the rights of others &/or causing harm.
The last part of that sentence is why I’ve felt it necessary to write this post. We are in the middle of a pandemic that will change this world forever. Things will NEVER be going exactly back to how they were because this situation has uncovered many problem areas, in many countries. At this point, all ANY of us can do, is try to do everything we can to minimize the loss of life that will occur.
I’ve seen many posts on social media speaking up about how some people NEED to be out doing seemingly non-essential tasks. This can be for a variety of reasons, including:
- the need for mental health self-care & coping
- they live with a disability
- they’re being abused & need to escape
- they are single parents that have to take their families everywhere
- they are dealing an uncooperative co-parent, and probably several other reasons I haven’t yet seen mentioned.
Please understand that I get it. I have anxiety, PTSD, & other mental illnesses. I also have chronic illnesses that keep me fairly isolated much of the time.
(Visit my About Me Page for my story)
I understand that daily errands and specific techniques can be a lifeline that keeps you going when you feel like you can’t, or don’t want to.
I understand using them as an escape from physical, mental, emotional, and even sexual abuse. I’ve been there, too.
I recognize that there are many families out there with children with disabilities who do not understand, or aren’t coping well, because their lives have been completely disrupted, and their routine is everything to them.
I see the parents who are trying desperately to handle their children while juggling work, and the rest of life, who have been thrown into chaos because schools and daycares are closed.
I see all of these very serious problems with being limited to your homes. I LIVE several of them. I am not unsympathetic to your struggles, because I can relate.
Strict social distancing guidelines can make using everyday errands as relief, and many self-care methods, hard to accomplish. I have had to adjust the methods I would normally use for many things, because my compromised immune system puts me at a much higher risk of dying from COVID-19. This is what made me search for different solutions than I would normally use. Not only does it help protect ME, it also helps minimize my contribution to how many deaths will happen in the end.
I know it’s rare that people want to look at it from that perspective, but that’s really what we have to do, right now, because this is a brand new virus that we have virtually no real defense against. Until a vaccine, or cure, is developed, or healthcare workers are able to combat it enough that antibodies from recovered people start helping to protect those around them- we have to evaluate all of our actions to determine whether we’re doing all we can to help. It’s EVERYONE’s responsibility because this can literally kill anyone. Yes, the risk is higher for people like me, and the elderly,
but that doesn’t mean it CAN’T take a healthy young adult, strong single mother, or a middle-aged CEO.
It can kill anyone, and every single time any of us step outside our homes, the risk is increased both for ourselves, and others.
My goal here is to offer some of the things I’ve been using myself as alternative methods, and also give you links to helpful information I found when researching. I’ve only included a very limited amount of my own suggestions because the resources I was able to find cover things pretty thoroughly between all of them. I figure if it’s already written out for you, and the information is of high quality, it would just be redundant to list many of them here, just for you to go read them again in the articles. I’m all about using quality resources.
So, what am I doing differently?
For even more resources than what I’ve listed, you can visit my COVID19 Page. It’s loaded with information to help anyone throughout this virus.
For mental health-related issues-
One of my coping mechanisms is to jump in the car & take off anytime my anxiety can’t be controlled using my normal methods. A few minutes driving anywhere can help me greatly.
Even though some officials still say taking a drive, and such activities, are okay- my logical mind tells me that every time I start my car, it takes gas, which will eventually lead to a trip to the gas station. On top of that, what if I wreck? Or get pulled over? Both of those things will increase my risk, even above what it already increased by just leaving my house. So, only using the car when absolutely necessary is the smart move, in my mind. Because of this, I am doing everything I can to manage my anxiety, and all other issues, in ways that allow me to still minimize my risk and contribution.
I’ve applied this thinking to pretty much everything because this is such a serious situation.
- I’ve found that just going out, sitting in the car, listening to music for a few minutes, helps moderately. It isn’t as good as taking a drive, but it’s something. I’ve thought several times about what I’ll do if that becomes ineffective, and came to the conclusion that as long as I try everything else I can, first, in that situation, that car ride WOULD be essential for me, but, because I’ve made a serious effort to adapt my daily activities, that hasn’t happened yet.
- I also have taken a few walks when I REALLY needed to get out. Again, it doesn’t help as much as my normal routines, but it’s something I can deal with, in combination with other techniques, for now.
Here are some really great resources that I’ve found for coping with, and managing, mental health issues while we are all isolated. I took the time to really look through and make sure each offered something different to maximize the resources.
Mental Health Resources
Those Living With Disabilities, Their Parents, & Caregivers
Another demographic facing issues that many don’t understand are those who live with disabilities, their parents, and caregivers. Some people rely on routines, therapies, & treatments; and the social interactions they have during them. For children, especially, the routine of going to school can help them in their daily lives. So can things like holidays, weekly/daily outings, etc., so being in a stay-at-home order can be especially rough.
I live with chronic illnesses that make me live in isolation much of the time. I use my short daily trips to the gas station and Walmart as a way of keeping a routine even though I can’t work anymore. Since this virus has shown up, those daily trips are too dangerous for me to take. To help find other things to do, I started researching and found several helpful resources that I can turn to whenever I start feeling like the isolation is taking over. I made sure to go even further and find some resources specifically for those with children living with all types of disabilities. I hope at least one of these can help you find solutions for how to work within the guidelines and still keep your world stable.
There are even more resources and suggestions for parents of children living with disabilities below in the parents section specifically. Be sure to look there for more information.
Resources For Caregivers & Those with Disabilities
If You Live With Domestic Violence
Those living in domestic violence situations are another group of people facing serious issues with the stay-at-home order. Daily errands & outings may be the only chance some people have to get away from their situations. These few moments they get away are their lifeline. Many even have to use the errands as an excuse or else they can’t leave.
Restrictions and guidelines can create obstacles to getting that “safe time.” I went deep with the researching for these resources because this is definitely a concern. A couple of suggestions I have in addition to the huge amount of information in the articles below:
- MANY items are sold out in stores right now, so if you would normally use the store as an excuse to get out of the house, go ahead and use it, and say they didn’t have the items you needed OR on one of your grocery trips, get an extra item, or two, to keep hidden until you need to get out. Then just go for a drive and use the hidden items as “proof” when you come home. Remember, this is just a temporary solution until we can get the spread of this virus under control- then you can go back to using the methods you normally would to survive your situation. **Note: Many domestic violence survivors know their abusers well enough to know whether this technique would work, or not. Please evaluate any method you use thoroughly and consider all the risks involved.
- Take time to evaluate your situation to see if this may be the time to leave. There has been a rise in domestic violence since the restrictions have been in place, so law enforcement officers all over are taking those calls very seriously. They don’t want people feeling in danger from their significant others, or feeling like they have no options to get help. Domestic violence shelters all over are staying open, but there may be limited availability because of the rise in occurrences, and social distancing limitations. They also aren’t the best place to be trying to stay away from the virus, so seeing if there is a family, or friend, that you can stay with, may be a better option right now. Most of the resources listed below give you many safe ways to go about doing this, if you feel it’s time, so please go through them and get all the info you can before taking any action.
Domestic Violence Resources
Single-parent, Two-Working Parents, Larger Families, & Those Who Co-Parent
Parents, in general, face many challenges dealing with following all the guidelines, especially if one, or both, are an essential employee that still has to work, have an especially large family, or are a single parent. Guidelines now ask that only one person from a family go do the grocery shopping, which creates challenges for many families. In many family-related situations, it comes down to thinking about what will increase your exposure risk the least.
For instance, if the problem is that you have a child with a disability that is used to the routine of going to the store with the parent, there may be limited options for doing anything differently, depending on many factors, but a couple of options to think about could be to:
- Allow the child to go TO the store, but not inside (take one other family member to sit in the vehicle with them.) This at least limits exposure risk more than allowing them to accompany you into the store.
- Explain to the child that it isn’t safe right now and leave them with another family member. This only works in some cases where there is the ability to understand the basics without it causing unnecessary harm to their mental state.
Since there very well may not be an option other than taking them with you into the store, there are some safety precautions that should be taken if that happens. Those will be listed at the end of this article, so be sure to follow all you can.
Having a large family can also make only one person going to the store a problem because one person may not be able to manage all the supplies needed. While we shouldn’t be overbuying, sometimes it just takes quite a bit to feed a family. In these cases, my suggestion would be to try to split your trip up into two, so that only one person needs to go. No, going twice in a week isn’t recommended, but neither is having more than one person from the home go to the store- so it comes down to which creates more risk. In my opinion, having more people out of the house increases the risk more than the same person going out twice- so that’s the solution I would go with.
There are also some people still offering daycare services for essential workers that absolutely have to be away from home. It can be hard to find, but it’s definitely at least worth a try. When I did a search, the results were mostly localized, so your best bet is to search online under childcare+essential+covid19+YourLocalArea or some variation of that combination.
Some private sitters are also still working, but both options do come with risk. That person is obviously in contact with others. The best option in these times would be a friend, or family member, or even neighbor, that you know has been practicing the social distancing guidelines. This minimizes the risk as much as possible. I have two kids myself, who are both teenagers. If I had found myself in a pandemic when they were young, and had to go to the store, or somewhere else, I would probably have had them stay outside with someone watching them, but staying ten feet away (kids aren’t as careful as adults, they need a buffer.) If it was a long time away, like for working, that option isn’t always doable. Keeping kids outside for an eight-hour shift isn’t usually practical.
Co-parenting is another challenge during the stay home orders. Parents that have a civil relationship should discuss amending any custody plans during this crisis. Having children going between homes right now will just increase the risk of spreading the virus, so the safest move is to keep the child in one place until restrictions have been lifted.
If you don’t have a civil co-parenting relationship, things may be much harder. If one parent is insisting on keeping up any custody plans, this is creating a dangerous situation.
When I researched what to do in this situation, I found many articles put out by law firms, but nothing from an official government source. Since child support is handled by the state, individual states may have some further guidance on their COVID19-related websites. If the other parent is really giving you trouble, I would definitely keep everything well-documented, and get in contact with an attorney. You should never have to put your child at risk because the other parent is immature, or just doesn’t care.
Resources For Families
All the situations I’ve went over here are serious issues that aren’t getting nearly the official help with solutions that they should, but many of the ideas in this piece, and in the links provided, are useful workarounds for these challenges. For those challenges that you AREN’T able to find better solutions for, there are things you can still do to minimize your risk and impact. Remember, the goal is to do your best to find a temporary solution that minimizes your risk of exposure as much as possible.
If you’ve exhausted all the options you can think of without coming up with a solution, here are some precautions to take.
How To Stay Safe If You Must Leave Your Home
- They are now suggesting that everyone who goes in public wear a homemade mask of some sort.
- If you have disinfectant wipes, take them with you.
- Gloves, when used outside of healthcare setting, do not help nearly as much as washing your hands for 20 seconds after every interaction, or after going in somewhere, but BEFORE getting back in your vehicle.
- Stay as far away from others as possible, but the minimum is six feet.
- Do not go in anywhere that is not limiting access and forcing social distancing. Too many people sharing the same air results in everyone in the building being exposed if there is even 1 person who has it.
- Disinfect every item that comes into your home from the outside (best for the one who went out to do this to limit exposure to the rest of the family.) If at all possible, even change clothes before going inside and leave your shoes outside. Put all clothes worn out of the house in the wash, then take a shower after disinfecting everything, but before doing anything else.
- Think about every action you take when outside of your home. Try to think from the perspective of “what minimizes my risk the most?” and make decisions based on that.
- If taking children with you to the store– if they are small enough at all, even if you’d normally let them walk, put them in the shopping cart AFTER wiping it down. This keeps them from touching random items that may expose them, so it’s just the safest practice. For children you can’t put in the cart, be sure you are being even more vigilant than usual about making them stay very close to you, and be wary of them touching things. The virus can live on surfaces for AT LEAST hours that they know of, so it could be on anything.
- Be as efficient as possible with any trip you need to make. Know what you want before going into the store, both for your sake, and others. Many stores either have an app, or website, that lists all of their products. Take advantage of that, and do your “browsing” online so you know exactly what you are getting when you get there. Doing your searching and decision-making before ever walking into the store saves an enormous amount of time, and keeps you from touching items unnecessarily.
All of these practices will help to minimize the risk of exposure, both for you, and the rest of your family, if you DO have to leave your house for anything, and the rest of the tips, and all of the articles I linked here for you, can hopefully help you find solutions that will let you stay home. Many of these challenges are things other people never even realize are challenges, but that doesn’t mean they are any less important than the ones everyone recognizes. This is, unfortunately, a common occurrence for those of us living with chronic conditions, even when there isn’t a pandemic happening, so we often have to find creative solutions just in our normal lives. This allows us to understand how frustrating this experience is for everyone. I hope something here can help relieve some of that frustration, and give you solutions that will keep you safe!