Monday, March 16, 2020

Corona Virus in France -Day 1 - Work and School from home - starting the new routine

Our new normal started today.  well our new normal until things change again....

Yesterday we spent a quiet day at home.  After the restaurants and stores were permanently closed late Saturday evening, we began to take account for the fact that it is very important to stay in and stay away from others. So we had a quiet day - it was a nice sunny warm day.  A little calm as they say before the storm.  A time to think, a time to reflect. A time to prepare because that's what we do.

A time for all of us to read, relax and just do nothing.  Harder to do than it sounds.  We are not use to this - we go out, we socialize and we run errands.  Of course, the moment you are told you shouldn't go out is the moment you want to.

Having teenage girls makes it even harder.  They are use to being with their friends, meeting up together - my older girls are independent and come and go on their own.  It's been difficult to get them to truly understand why it's important to stay in, stay isolated, protect each other and others around them. It's a very hard concept for teenagers to truly understand.  I'm not going to go into all the information about the virus - there are plenty of sources for that.  I'm choosing to focus more on our experiences and thoughts as we adjust to this unprecendented crisis.

But overall they have been good - settling into this new routine, new reality.  We stay in our house, but can enjoy our garden.  The outside is fine as long as we are not around  others.

The girls took advantage of the nice day yesterday and spent some time outside.  That's the nice thing about our temperatures here in France - it's Spring and it's good to be outside.  But as much as we can have a nice warm day, it can cool down very quickly.

It's a time for family, a time to enjoy time together.  As my oldest is normally in Paris, it's the time for all three girls to spend some time as sisters.  Last night we all had a video chat with one of my best friends in the States.  As we all huddled around my phone as we video chatted, I realized this will be our new normal.  Phone calls, video calls and virtual communication.  We are truly lucky that our technology is so advanced that we can still stay connected.  I can only imagine that during World War II how isolated people felt as they took cover in their homes.  They couldn't check on loved ones, instantly - they had to wait weeks or months for news.  So we are lucky.

This morning began day 1 of Distance-learning/Home schooling for all my girls.  It's my youngest that I have to monitor the most.  We have put a routine in place - for her studies 9-noon.  Lunch and then 2-5.  Essentially we are following their same hours of  her school.  Her middle school has asked that they work with the general distance learning program which gives daily assignments in French, Math and then a rotation in History, and Science.  This is the general State curriculum and is made up of readings, video lessons and questions.  After that is finished, she looks on her school's agenda program to see what assignments her teachers have sent and she does those.  Today was only the beginning and it was a bit of a lighter day.

As of last night we heard rumblings through the media that President Macron will be speaking in the next couple of days.  We will probably be enduring more strict lockdown /confinement procedures.  This is not surprising as we were beginning to hunker down and limit our trips out of the house - many others were enjoying being out.  It's not so much that being outside is bad, it's being around others - potentially sharing germs with each other.  The general rule is one meter apart.  But this was not what the French were doing - they were lounging in the parks in groups, in large groups - walking along the key side - lots and lots of people.  This was happening in Paris and even in Bordeaux and I imagine in other cities too.

Photo credit - - 
Citizens in France do not seem to be understanding the seriousness and the recommendations from the government.  I'm guessing we will be having a more severe confinement in the coming days.  We will know more tonight at 8pm when President Macron speaks.

In any case, in final anticipation of a more strict confinement, we decided late this morning to pick up a few more things at the grocery store, just to have a bit more on hand.  We know from watching news about Italy and now Spain that stores will be open - there will not be a shortage.  Just the inconvenience of perhaps limited hours, and limited number of people entering into the stores.  1 meter, less than 50 people - those are the new conditions.  However today - they were still not being respected at many stores.

 This was one of our nearby stores today.  Not only was it jammed packed with people but lots of over buying.  Grocery carts filled and over filled.  The above picture is standing in the middle of the store and these are 2 lines for checking out!  The wait to check out for us was 1 hour and 15 minutes and it seemed to be getting longer.  But the time we were leaving, the management has people outside advising people the wait time, not to mention the low stock of many items.

As in the United States, toilet paper was out of stock, but also pasta, rice, many canned vegetables, flour, sugar and eggs...along with many other things.  All I can say is watching human behavior is interesting in it's own right.  I really didn't want to go out today, but actually it was interesting to see humanity in action.  We tried our best to stay as far from others as possible - the length of a shopping cart is a good guide line, but as the lines were winding down the aisles, it was impossible to not be near others who were searching for items in that aisle.  I heard that some stores started limiting the number of shoppers later in the afternoon, but honestly, I can't imagine there was too much left.

So after our 2 and a half hour shopping expedition, home we went, late lunch and then back to work.  My youngest had Math and some English to finish.

So here we are at the end of day 1, we made it through.  Still feeling a bit strange as we adjust and we wait anxiously for this evening's message from the President.  I have to admit as much as I am a calm person and optimistic, this whole situation is causing stress.  It's more the stress of the unknown than anything else but time will tell.

I hope everyone is doing okay - we will get through this again - it's a matter of time.  Hang in there.


  1. Hello. I live in San Francisco, CA and we ALL have to shelter in place. I must say that it is much better to read of the lives of real people than to listen to the media. Our government is so far removed from reality. They do not have a clue what daily life will be for the next 3 weeks or more. Please keep your life stories from France coming.

    1. Thank you Jennie - I appreciate your feedback and glad to hear that it's helpful. I'm choosing to write for a few reasons - one to document this extraordinary experience that we are all living, to help share what's going on here in France and finally hoping that it might help others to know they are not alone. We are all in this together. Hang in there - I do believe we will get through, it's just a matter of time and patience. China did it, so we can too.


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