Have structure in your day if faced with self-isolation, advises a family who are halfway through their unexpected homestay.

The Kāpiti Coast family of Aaron and Amy Cook and their three children, Emily, 10, Devon, 7, and Travis, 3, have been bunkering down in their Margaret Rd home in Raumati Beach.

They took the precaution after Aaron had been to Melbourne to watch the Australian Grand Prix, which was cancelled, and returned to New Zealand a day before the strict Covid-19 two-week self-isolation restrictions were imposed for people coming into the country.

The family decided to play it safe, and prevent any risk to others, by self-isolating at home: their two weeks finish on Sunday.


"We didn't want to put our community at risk," Amy said.

"The hardest decision was actually the social stuff for the kids, because I thought if we're the only ones from the school isolating, then the next thing there would be rumours that we've got coronavirus or something like that.

"All of us are perfectly healthy and don't have any symptoms."

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Having structure throughout their day has played a big part in keeping everyone sane.

Amy had set up a daily schedule for the children, after they've made their beds and tidied up after breakfast, which starts with making their lunches.

Making their lunchboxes, apart from weekend days, was important as it stopped a lot of pantry visits and promoted healthy eating.

At 8.30am a wooden spoon is banged on the side of the metal bowl "which is when school starts".


"The kids are eager to be ready first so they get to ring the bell."

Amy has printed off various work sheets for the children and devised various hands-on activities too.

During the children's free time there are activity ideas they can choose from if they get bored.

Device time was limited to half an hour "because I know what it does to my kids' behaviour if they're on it for too long".

The family made their weekends on every fourth day "because we wanted our weekends to be when it's not weekends in real life".

"We wanted to go to the beach when there was no one around."

They washed their hands beforehand, walked the back roads, and went at low tide so if they had to walk past people there would be distance, and kept family dog Darcy on a lead when passing others.

The isolation had presented some challenges including grocery deliveries.

The Cook family, (from left) Devon, Amy, Emily, Travis and Aaron with dog Darcy. Photo / David Haxton
The Cook family, (from left) Devon, Amy, Emily, Travis and Aaron with dog Darcy. Photo / David Haxton

Amy created an online grocery delivery on day two but had to wait until last Sunday for a delivery.

A number of items were out of stock which Amy found a bit alarming.

"I thought what happens on Sunday when the person goes to pack my groceries and there's even more out of stock.

"So I almost felt like I should be ordering more than I needed if that happened.

"I'm really concerned about this scarcity mindset that's happening with groceries, and it's taking some effort to keep that fear down, but at the back of my mind we've got our earthquake supplies."

On the upside the couple were "loving spending more time with the kids, loving seeing how more [keen] they are with their schooling, loving working to our own schedule".

Their eating habits had "changed for the better because we're around more".

When Amy had time to go online she was "loving seeing the different ways people are running their businesses such as yoga instructors that are now working via Skype and stuff like that.

"There's been a really massive boost in innovation and people are becoming far more aware of sustainability close to home."

An unexpected highlight was when a neighbour dropped off a Remedy coffee for her.

"This was after three days - it was the best coffee I've ever had in my life."

And they've managed to clean out their shed and have a "big pile of stuff" to drop off to an op-shop after their isolation period ends.

Her advice to anyone who might have to self-isolate was to "definitely plan your time".

"It would be so easy just to stick your kids in front of the Xbox or television and not make the most of it. So plan your time and have some structure. That's been our saviour."