By Lindsey Turnbull
Cayman has been living under Shelter in Place regulations since 28th March to help stop the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, which has meant families have found themselves in the unique position of staying at home as much as possible, sometimes barely venturing out past their local environment since restrictions on movement were put in place.
Depending on your perspective, learning to cope with the incessant demands of young children, the unfathomable needs and moods of teenagers, the annoying nagging of middle-aged parents or the continued needs of the elderly has taken on a whole new dimension when those demands and needs are 24/7, with very little chance of a break. The necessity of us living, working, socialising and eating with our families non-stop has meant a steep learning curve for many, as we redefine roles and relationships, and hopefully come to a stage where we strengthen bonds and develop a better understanding of family members.
Sharron and Rob Eyers have two sons, Robert 14, and James, 12. Sharron said they didn't realise how many things they had to be thankful for until now.
“Our son came back early from boarding school due to Covid-19. Having us all together even under these difficult circumstances has been wonderful. Of course, there are things we miss but then there are many things we have gained,” she said.
Having to self-isolate for two weeks upon arrival of their son meant sending their helper home and re-evaluating family life.
“It was time for a chat with our boys about the new family circumstances and how we expected them to help around the house,” she explained. “We had some eye rolling from our nearly 15-year-old, but once he understood this was not up for negotiation, he accepted it. To make life easier for all of us we created a schedule, so they knew what they were doing each day.”
Time for family
Now the family has dinner together every night, which wasn't always possible before. They treat themselves to take-out once a week which Sharron said they really look forward to as they aren’t dining out now.
“It's also nice not having to do the dishes, as our dishwasher broke last week!” she confirmed.
Sharron said she has baked with her son, something she had not done in a long time and they both thoroughly enjoyed the experience. She also spends time walking their dog with her son, giving her precious time to chat.
In the absence of camping, over Easter the boys had a little BBQ in the garden and played campfire games.
“We have so much appreciation for our outdoor space since the lockdown and spend much more time outdoors than we did before,” Sharron confirmed. “My husband put the hammock up outside and we all take turns to lie in it and read, it's wonderful. I hadn't read a book in a very long time.”
The family also exercise every day, something that they didn’t do before, she added.
“This time in lockdown has definitely made us realise how important family is and how we sometimes rush thorough our life without really being present in the moment, especially in our children's lives,” she said.
James and Jeri Bovell have three sons, JD who is 17, Ryan who is about to turn 16 and 9-year-old Leo. The boys came back to Cayman from their respective schools in the UK to be with their family. James says although they have only been living together for a short while, it has already made quite an impact on the way they are living.
“I think the benefits of spending more time with your children will be appreciated after the lock down is over,” he said. “Currently, there are ups and downs as we face challenges and learn new skills and find ways to get along.”
From the practical standpoint of everyday living, James said that his boys were learning that everyone in the family had to contribute.
“We are fortunate enough to have help normally, however that is not possible right now. Our children have grown up with having helpers doing things for them, but now they have to contribute. It’s not fair that chores such as cooking and cleaning have to fall just on the spouse, so they are having to do their bit,” he said.
On the plus side, family meals have taken precedence over dining separately, he said.
“I see more interaction as a family. For example, I would imagine that many families are now sitting down to family meals, rather than dining in front of the TV,” he said.
Mum of two Charlene Barnes normally runs a busy hairdressing and beauty salon but is now at home with her daughters, 18-year old Jade and 15-year old Amber.
“I am so grateful that the girls are at home with me and not overseas,” Charlene said. “If it had been next year then Jade might have been away at university, so at the moment I am able to spend some real quality time with both of my girls.”
More ups than downs
While it has not necessarily been smooth sailing, (Charlene confirmed her knees were sore from all the cleaning she has had to do since being unable to have her helper work for her), the pluses of the situation were huge.
“We normally lead such busy lives with the girls’ schooling and extra-curricular activities and me working long hours, so it has been great to spend time with each other. None of us are having to get up early, we’re all getting lots of sleep and rest, we play games, we laugh a lot. I’m loving it really. If I could continue with an income while being at home, that would be ideal!” she said.
Charlene said that the lock down had taught them all to be more diligent when it comes to waste and hangs the laundry out to dry rather than use the tumble dryer. The dog is getting way more attention and walks than it is used to and the girls, while missing the physical contact with their friends, have mastered new ways to communicate.
“Zoom has been a brilliant way for them to catch up with friends, so they are not missing out,” she said. “They have also got involved in preparing meals. I hate to cook, so the girls having been helping out in the kitchen. I definitely have a new found admiration for my helper!”