2020 has been a year. Amirite? Yeah I am. Dealing with COVID-19 has forced me to scrutinize almost every aspect of my life. I’ve paused and pondered about how to safely and effectively manage every aspect of our lives, our home, and our livelihoods. Some decisions were made after thinking very carefully, and other decisions were made immediately based on raw gut instinct. Throughout it all, there has been a lot of discovery. I learned about what works for me, my husband and our kiddos and our life. Today, I want to share my Covid Survival Kit and experiences with y’all.

Let’s back up for a hot second to when this became real. We have all had our fateful moments that will be forever etched into our memories. Many of us remember where we were when we heard about Princess Diana, September 11th, and Sandy Hook. We can now add the Global Pandemic to that list. My “Uh-Oh” moment happened on March 11th, 2020 at exactly 4:03pm.

My “Uh-Oh” Moment

Some of you know that in addition to my blog, Connecticut in Style, I own a floral design studio, Fresh Flower Bar. On March 11th, 2020 at 4:03pm, my records show that I completed a sale for a customer who regularly buys flowers for his wife. We’ll call him Pat. As I was handing him the flower arrangement I asked him what he thought about the news of The Pandemic. What he said next absolutely terrified me.

Remember, this was March 11th, and we were just at the point where the news was reporting about other countries canceling events and implementing lockdowns (think Italy). March 11th was also the same day that the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 was officially a pandemic. But, this was happening in other countries and the threat to the U.S. seemed thousands of miles away. Or so I thought. This is what Pat said, and I will never forget how eerily calm and self-assured he was when he uttered these three words “Oh. We’re screwed.”

On reflection, my immediate fear wasn’t based on what he said. It was the tone of complete certainty in his voice that shook me to my very core. He went on to tell me that he works for one of the largest medical device companies in the world and he said “There are simply not enough ventilators.” He told me that his company’s CEO was in a state of sheer panic. Speaking from personal experience as someone who has worked in corporate America for many years, sheer panic isn’t a description you hear being used about the leader of a multi-billion company. Unless of course we are in really serious trouble. In a split second I had a sickening realization that this medical company knew how bad it was going to be prior to the general public. They knew that this virus aggressively attacked the lungs. Pat suggested that I stock up on food, gas and cash as he walked out the door.

What Happened Next

As a result of my conversation with Pat, I mentally prioritized what had to happen in the next 24 hours and then I quickly pivoted. I called my husband, Kerry, and told him to order a freezer so we could stock up on food, I also told him to fill up his truck with gas. I grabbed my handbag and keys and made a beeline for the supermarket and liquor store. And it isn’t any of your beeswax which one I went to first.

That evening, my thoughts turned to Fresh Flower Bar. My floristry business was expanding and gratefully, I already signed a lease agreement to relocate to my current location by the end of March. A quick text to my new landlord was all I needed to accelerate moving into my new space. On March 19th I was up and fully operational at my new floral studio located within Outdoor Design and Living. It remains one of the most critically important business decisions that I have ever made.

Over the next couple of weeks, Kerry and I talked a lot about ways to successfully navigate our family, his career, and my business through this health crisis. Most of the decisions we made, and some decisions were made for us. Above all, we didn’t panic. Kerry and I were 100% in agreement about our priorities and acted quickly on our decisions. Here’s what worked and still works best for us.

My Covid Survival Kit

My priorities were as follows and whenever possible I have included links to all the products.

  1. Personal Protection. No matter what extremes we had to go to, I vowed that no one in my immediate family was going to get COVID-19. Needless to say, I don’t want anyone to actually get the virus, but in times like these, my top priority was Kerry, Jackson, Catherine and me. We established strict safety protocols. I bought KN95 face masks, hand sanitizer, disinfectant aerosol (to clean the air) and spray cleaners (to clean surfaces) and room air purifiers. We have a daily mantra of “wash your hands” and “don’t touch your face.” My husband and I made the decision to keep our children home and they have both been “remote learners” in their school systems. When we are out in public we wear masks, social distance and use hand sanitizers the moment we get back in the car. When we get home, we all wash our hands with soap and water and use a hand sanitizer again.
    1. An important side note about our decision to keep our children home from school. First, I know that they are not getting an optimal education via remote learning. Second, I know that they miss being in school and all the advantages that an excellent school provides which also includes the many benefits of peer friendships and relationships with the teaching staff. Third, I know that they are bored and that staring at a computer screen for hours a day is monotonous. I get it. But, I also don’t know about the long term effects of Covid-19. NO ONE DOES. And it is this FACT, that has been the rudder for all our decisions. There have been some wonderful and unexpected benefits and advantages that my kiddos have had from being remote learners. A) They have both become extremely tech savvy. My eight year old would never be this proficient with using a computer and all its features and applications unless she was submersed in this manner. B) My children has become more creative and have been forced to think critically and act differently. C) Our household is efficient, we do not have to deal with the weekly and sometimes daily changes in school schedules and bus schedules. This equates into a higher degree of productivity from them and for me and Kerry. D) We don’t deal with any drama of school “open” and then “closed” and being at the beck and call of the superintendent’s decisions. Kerry and I are calling the shots and our house is calm and orderly. Yes, we have had blowups. We’re all human and we have never spent so much time together. It can be intense, which is why I included “Ways to minimize stress” below.
  2. How to boost our immune systems. Then I turned to things that would boost our immune system. Common sense things like a healthy diet, regular exercise, fresh air and natural sunlight are a given. We also became habitual in taking Elderberry syrup / gummies (more kid-friendly), a daily multivitamin, mega doses of Vitamin C and D, and exercising regularly. I purchased the Elderberry syrup from a local pharmacy and would recommend that you ask your healthcare provider about ways to boost your immune system based on your specific needs.
  3. Ways to minimize stress. Stress, which is practically impossible to avoid during a pandemic, may also lower your immune system. Pandemic Stress is a nasty bugger because it impacts everyone. You might have lost a loved one and are struggling with the fact that they died alone. You may have lost your job. Your high school aged child might have had their sports dreams crushed. Your college Freshman definitely didn’t have the first year experience that they imagined. If you are single and self-quarantining, you no doubt have had times were you felt very lonely. On the flip side, families like mine are spending an unprecedented amount of time together. As an adult and parent, my job was to identify as many “opportunities” that create stress and eradicate them for my children, my husband and me.
    1. Personal Space and Useful Equipment – We created personal “work” spaces for everyone. My husband set up his office in our basement, Jackson took over the dining table, Catherine is in the sunroom, and when I am not in my floral studio, I can be found in our living room. When we made the decision to keep our kiddos home, we knew we needed useful equipment for everyone to function smoothly. We purchased a Chromebook for Catherine, Jackson already had a laptop. Everyone got their own computer/smartphone chargers – an absolute MUST. We close doors when we can to minimize distractions and everybody is asked to wear a headset. Lastly, since there is a lot more computer/smartphone screen time, we have found that blue light blocking glasses are helpful.
    2. Entertainment and Hobbies – Making time to destress is vitally important. Work and school are challenging when done virtually. My family is drained at the end of the day after hours of monotonous on-line teaching and meetings. Props to all the educators who are trying to make their class interesting for “Zoomers.” We know it isn’t easy. Here are some of the things that we do for entertainment:
      1. Listen to music: I created a playlist and every morning on my way to work I BLASTED the music in my car. Hands down, this was the single most helpful thing I did to get my day started in a positive way. I also purchased a monthly subscription to Apple Music for my 16-year old so he has access to unlimited music.
      2. Play family games: One of the silver linings to the Global Pandemic has been the increase in family time. On warm and sunny days we play badminton, soccer, ride bikes, take walks and hikes. On cold and rainy days and at night we play all sorts of games like Backgammon, Scrabble, Monopoly, Clue, Charades, Pictionary.
      3. Read: As the weather has gotten cold, I am finally indulging in my fantasy of reading next to a roaring fire. I am taking a two week holiday from Fresh Flower Bar, and have a stack of books that have been waiting patiently for me. Here is a link to the top books of 2020.
      4. Exercise and sports: Kerry has found his running groove again. He used to run before we got married and over time, running got replaced with other activities. Jackson is taking baseball training a few times a week. Everyone in the facility is masked up at all times, and coaching is done from a distance. Catherine and I are taking horseback riding lessons. Again, we are all masked up and ride in large outdoor or indoor arenas.

I hope that this blog post has offered some insight and helpful tips! I will be blogging next about movies and TV Series to binge-watch. Until then, wear a mask, wash your hands and don’t touch your face.