I have not hugged my sons in days. Ever since the guidelines on how to protect ourselves from the Covid-19 virus and prevent its spread, I have been very careful about physical contact with them.
There is an enhanced community quarantine in effect, all schools are closed until mid-April, and my kids have been home for about a week now. Youâ€™d think that keeping them indoors is good enough to protect them from the virus that has already infected so many in the country, with almost 200 as Iâ€™m writing this. Well, for a worrier like me, that may not be the case.
Our company has already decided to adopt a work from home policy, but as much as I want to, I donâ€™t get to stay home all the time. Thereâ€™s groceries to buy, and a few loose ends that needed to be tied up at the office. I need to head out to get things done, both at work and for the household to run in the face of a lockdown.
With the spectre of the virus hanging over each contact I make with people outside, I donâ€™t want to risk making my boys sick. Every surface I touch, too, like the buttons on elevators and ATMs, the cash that I handle, or the doors of establishments now seem so iffy for me. While the US Centers for Disease Control says the main way for people to become infected is through person-to-person contact, there is no concrete finding on how long the virus can live on a hard surface. Then, God forbid someone around me coughs or sneezes when I am in a confined space such as the elevator.
Of course, my training is to be proactive in situations, so I try to practice the protocols that are in place to help with prevention. I have stayed indoors are much as I can, I wash my hands often, I try to keep those hands off my face. As a dad, though, I try to go the extra mile in trying to make it even more difficult for this virus to penetrate my home. Think of it as Supermanâ€™s Fortress of Solitude, if you will.
According to statistics from other countries, children are less likely to get severely ill from Covid-19. A study in February showed that kids aged 10 to 19 make up only 1% of infections, and those under 10 were at less than 1% Why this is so it still being looked into, but that does not leave room to be complacent. Also, health experts say that while they are not easily infected, they can be carriers to people around them, especially to the more vulnerable lolos and lolas in the family.
This is why I am, with some sense of catharsis on my end, putting up some of the things I practice and maybe you can pick up some suggestions from this slightly paranoid dad.
â€¢ I remind them to disinfect their phones, tablets, console controllers. Those guys are on their gadgets now from sunup to sundown, and as such, their most often touched surfaces are in need of a deep clean. According to gadget experts, the best way to disinfect your phone is to clean it with a disinfecting wipe that has at least 70% alcohol. “Things like Lysol wipes have a high disinfectant in them, they are going to break down the structure of the virus,” said Claire Reilly, Senior Editor at CNET in San Francisco. She adds that instead of using disinfectant spray directly on the cellphone, it is best to spray it on a cloth (paper towels are considered too abrasive) and then wipe the phone clean.
â€¢ I harp on hand washing. I know, kids are not the most hygienic of people, so I put it upon myself to keep reminding them to wash their hands. Itâ€™s automatic for me, every time they pass by where I am, I call out, â€œdid you wash your hands?â€ and for one of them â€“ I will not say who â€“ the question is also followed by â€“ â€œdid you take a bath today?â€
â€¢ I avoid physical contact with them. This is the hardest thing for me to do. I am a very affectionate parent, and I like to express my love for them through hugs, high fives, and the occasional tickle fight with my younger kid. With that long incubation period, though, I am not taking my chances.
â€¢ I look into food prep. I ensure that their meals are properly cooked, and if we do decide to get delivery, I handle the packages and not them. Thankfully, some Jollibee branches are still able to deliver, so we still get our Chickenjoy fix, carefully and safely-prepared,Â thanks to #87000.
â€¢ We disinfect the surfaces they touch the most. Light switches, door knobs, the ref door (especially the ref door because they are always looking into it for something to eat) â€“ is regularly wiped down with a germ killer.
â€¢ Keep them indoors. I know, this sucks for active little guys to be kept indoors, but thatâ€™s what I try to do. Our condo has a pool and play area, but we resist the temptation for now. The pool is off limits, anyway, according to the management. What I do is try to engage them with activities and resources online. My 8-year old is always immersed watching curated educational content on YouTube Kids.
Netflix and other streaming sites help pass time, and there are people like artist Robert Alejandro who conducts live drawing classes for kids on his Facebook account, as his part in helping us entertain and educate our children so they can be more productive â€“ and creative during this month-long confinement. Â I also hear crayola.com has printable coloring activities for kids. All youâ€™ll need now is a trusty HP printer and youâ€™re set for a fun session â€” together, may I suggest.
The upside on this time together, I guess, is that I am able to impress on them the importance of cleanliness, good hygiene and self-care habits: eating healthy, getting a full 8-hour/nightâ€™s sleep, keeping hydrated and taking their vitamins will boost their immune systems and, as I hope, make them less susceptible to the virus. An ounce of prevention, as they say.
Beyond all these things, I realize now is the best time to teach our kids about values like compassion, thoughtfulness, faith, hope and gratitude.ï¿¼
Like all parents, I am looking forward to the day that we all get out of this unscathed, so that I can hug my kids again.