After a week of self-isolation here in Italy, I thought it would be good to give some guidelines of what to expect to those who are in the UK, USA and Ireland who are just starting out on this journey of self-isolation. 

1. Be Wary of Click Bate Headlines

Journalism has gone to the dogs. Every media outlet is trying to come up with the next eye catching sensationalist headline. Last night I read a headline ; Italy hit by Earthquake as it battles with Coronavirus. 

There were prayers, OMGs, etc in the comments. On reading the article it states it was in the Tyrrhennian Sea and some people in Sicily felt a vibration. The picture showed a red rings in the centre of Italy. All contrived for clicks and reaction. Italy has literally thousands of earthquakes per year which go unnoticed (there were 2,384 of Mag. 2+ from March 2018 to March 2019. Source: Statista).

If a headline includes; ‘If’, ‘May’, ‘Could’, ‘Might’ it’s hearsay or opinion. What they are writing about hasn’t happened and may never happen. Read between the lines of the article and if they haven’t quoted official sources, don’t take the information on board and move on.

And read articles before you share them, otherwise you could be just adding to the hysteria.

2. Limit your media time. Use a reputable media outlet as your source of information, listen to it once or twice per day at the most and then get on with your day. Do not spend hours scrolling through social media reading scare mongering headlines – you just need to know three things. 1.Self isolate, 2. Wash your hands and 3. We’ll get through this.

3. Don’t stay in your PJs all day. It’s tempting I know, it’s okay for the first day or two but then try to establish a routine for yourself and your family to include some fresh air time and activity.

4. Don’t drink your monthly wine supply in the first three days.

5. Day three seems to be the worst for a lot of people I have spoken to. It seems to be the day reality hits, and we realise this is something serious that we have to deal with. Watch out for each other’s mental wellbeing. It gets better as the days go on – there’s actually a certain calmness or peace that comes after a week of isolation. (I’ll let you know what it’s like after two weeks next week, I may have changed my opinion!).

6. Be gentle with each other. Don’t sweat the small stuff, do your best to avoid arguments over minor things. And remember, if you have little people in the house this can all appear very scary, so be careful of your discussions and the news you listen to.

7. Stop stock piling food. Grocery shops and pharmacies stay open even during the most strict lockdowns. Italy’s shops remain fully stocked because people are acting reasonable and there has never been a shortage of toilet roll. Seriously what is the toilet roll stock buying all about?

8. Respect the quarantine. Don’t ‘cheat’ your self-isolation, by having friends over, dinner parties, play dates. Commit to do it, stay at home and only go out for the essentials once or twice per week and keep your distance from others. The quicker we deal with this like adults the quicker we will be out the other side of it. Familiarise yourself and family elsewhere of how to use Skype and Whats App and stay in touch.

9. Keep risky DIY jobs and rough or boisterous play with kids at a minimum – the last thing you need is to be going to the hospital for a cast to be fitted or something to be stitched when the staff are dealing with this.

10. There is a very high possibility that, at some point, you will think that you, or a member of your family has the virus. It’s the time of year for snuffles – and you’ll become super aware of every sneeze or cough. For me this fear usually grips me in the middle of the night after I have indulged in Number 4 and then broken Number 2 and read scary headlines just before bed. Several times I have semi woken up in the middle of the night, with a sudden urge to reach out and gently feel my husband’s forehead. But because I am half asleep and feeling somewhat panicked, my co-ordination is off and I end up whacking my hand on his face in the dark and then grope my way to his forehead. He’s very understanding, but I think he’s getting a bit tired of it now.

Both he and my son know that I can pounce at any time during the day with the palm of my hand smacked onto their forehead. To be honest, unless they had a raging fever, I wouldn’t know an ‘off’ temperature if I felt it. But whacking them on the forehead gives me a sense of being motherly. If you really do think you have it, be comforted to know that 80 percent of the people that do contract Corona need no medical assistance, you just stay at home and take paracetamol.

And last but not least, use this time for enjoying your family. Relax about the school work a little, do something fun each day, make this a happy memorable time for you and your family. It’s not often we get to spend so much quality time with the ones we love.