Tomorrow marks the last day of a 14-day quarantine from my dad and a 16-day quarantine from my mom. Quarantining away from people who live on the same property is tough. There were days when I forgot and almost opened the adjoining door that leads into their kitchen. Sometimes, Mom forgot and almost got too close to me in the yard, but we managed to stay safe.
If you have or will find yourself in a similar position, these tips might help you keep a fair bit of distance, while still spending some time together. Some of these might still be useful if you live next door, ten blocks away or on the other side of the country.
1. Sync Your TVs
My mom and I watch movies together every Friday night. This has been our tradition for so long that I’ve forgotten when it started or how. When we realised we would need to quarantine, she was disappointed that we wouldn’t be able to do this for two weekends in a row. I suggested we sync the TVs.
We use an Amazon Fire Stick for streaming. So, we would sign into the same account, find the same movie, count to three, and then click play. We then stayed on the phone and could coordinate snack breaks and restroom breaks with ease. I’m sure there are even easier ways to sync your screens, such as casting, but this worked well for us.
2. Use the Yard
We have a Ring doorbell, so I know when Mom comes from work and when she goes outside to water her plants. If I was free when I got the notification, I would go outside. We would sit or stand about 10 feet from each other in the yard or in the driveway. This was enough for us to have a conversation while still putting a safe distance between us.
If you have outdoor furniture, you could also set them up outside. Unfortunately, it has been raining every day in Atlanta. Between the thunderstorms and the speed-growth of the grass, this was not convenient for us. If you have better weather and lower grass, this might work for you.
3. Wear Masks
We are a mask-mandatory family when we leave the house, but we did not wear them at home, even throughout quarantine. This is because we were outside the entire time and maintained a reasonable distance from each other. If you want to be closer to family members or need to occupy an enclosed space, masks are a good option.
It’s worth remembering that not all masks are created equal. Wear one that works well, such as a surgical mask. If you have a mask that features breathing valves, like mine does, be sure to open those valves and insert a proper filter. These masks filter air particles coming in, but do not adequately filter the air going out, which could make you contagious.
View this post on Instagram
Just a reminder that if you have a mask with breathing valves, like I do, you need to ensure your breathing valves have filters. Otherwise, you're neither protecting yourself nor others. If you look closely at mine, you can see I have filters in. Just an FYI. ✌🏽 . . . #pandemic #pandemiclife #wearamask #selfiesunday #dreadhead
4. Coordinate Schedules
Despite two separate living spaces on the property, it is still registered as a single-family home. Because of this, we share a mailbox, and my packages tend to be delivered to my parents’ front door. To work around this, I asked my parents to put my mail in the garage. I then coordinated my schedule to ensure I wasn’t in that space when they were.
During the past two weeks of quarantine, here are some of the many items that have passed between us:
- Printed paperwork
- Ginger tea
- Brand-new grill set
- Junk mail
5. Secure the Pets
Most pets love their humans — even cats. My cat is a semi-feral, and they tend to bond with only one person. Even so, Shadow does have a relationship with other members of the household. He takes pleasure in begging mom for treats and scaring the crap out of my dad while he’s sleeping at night.
Because we have an adjoining door, it’s easy for Shadow to roam both houses. However, that door is now shut. Shadow is also an indoor-only pet, which further reduces the likelihood of him coming into contact with corona-cooties and tracking it back into the house, whether that be from my parents or elsewhere.
6. Use the Phone
This goes without saying, but when all else fails, you can simply pick up the phone and text or call. During quarantine, I became ill for non-coronavirus reasons. Mom has checked in with me every day, and I generally call her in the afternoon. This coincides with the time I would usually show up in her house and wreak havoc before she kicks me out.
For people who prefer to see each other, Zoom is a popular option. However, my family has been using WhatsApp for years and prefer that. In fact, my mom, her sister, and my grandma do a three-way call at least once per day. This is around that time when I pop up to terrorise my mother and stir up trouble in her kitchen.
A lot has changed over the past six months, while we come to terms with our COVID-19 realities. Last year, scientists blamed technology for increasing anti-social behaviour in the general population. This year, doctors are praising technology for keeping us together while remaining apart.
Have you quarantined away from your family, since the start of the pandemic? What are some of the ways you kept in touch without touching?