Nicola Alpe is a Kiwi usually living in Los Angeles navigating Americans, motherhood and bad traffic. She's currently on an extended trip back to New Zealand.
Currently the soundtrack to my life is grim. R.E.M's 'It's the End of the World as we Know it' plays on loop, although I'm not sure how fine I feel and I wish I knew more lyrics.
Melanie C breathes, "It's just the beginning. It's not the end." She was always the least popular Spice Girl.
Green Day thumps, "Wake me up, when September ends." Because September is a long way away and surely this damn pandemic will be over by then?
Los Angeles is in lockdown. New Zealand has officially been in lockdown for two weeks today. Australia has been on the fence about lockdown, giving the likes of hairdressers some scope to keep working but to reduced appointment times. So at least Aussie blokes will be up to date with their short back and sides because everyone knows bugger all happens in the first 30 minutes of a woman's haircut.
We have to get on with this lockdown and do the best we can to break the chain.
My 11-year-old niece is in heaven. Covid-19 is her time to shine and convince two parents who work fulltime that home schooling should be her way forward. My sister told me she has been training for self-isolation her entire life. A people person - provided she can choose the people and walk away mid-conversation when she has had enough. My Dad? A farmer to the core, he was ahead of his time, self-isolating since 1965.
What advice can I offer in the face of all this time at home? Do two things for yourself daily.
Exercise, anything to get your blood pumping and the endorphins flowing. And something relaxing and mindful, like meditation, music, writing, knitting or embroidery: Grab a colouring book and note how soothing that can be even for a few minutes; instead of a cup of coffee which will spike your adrenalin, your insulin and leave you more of a wreck (especially if kids are involved), pour a cup of tea, sit down while it brews and savour it.
Usually my biggest whinge as a mum is a lack of time. Without the daily commute, school run and after-school activities, you may hopefully have a little extra. Download Duolingo or Babbel and learn some new phrases.
This gift of extra time may backfire because, while Californians can still order take out, New Zealanders are mandated to cook at home. This would cause conniptions in LA - a friend rang in a right state requesting that I move in because I am her only friend who knows what to do with a bag of lentils. For some, the anguish of little Layla crying over having to eat Mummy's cooking is real.
We are practising gratitude. We each think of something which made us grateful that day and we write it down. I did this after my daughter was born and instead of dwelling on exhaustion, huge boobs and a general malaise about not knowing what I was doing, it reframed my thinking.
Cherish time with older children because there are few opportunities for time with them without the distractions of their partners. Game nights. Cards. Backgammon. Workouts. Get to know your children as adults.
I hate to admit it, but Mel C is right. Things won't be the same again for anyone living through this pandemic. But I'm reloading my soundtrack for this chapter with, "Yes it's true, I'm happy to be stuck with you." Thanks Huey Lewis.
The question is, at the end of this will I be able to say to my husband, "Cause I can see, that you're happy to be stuck with me"?