Moms Experience COVID-19 Around the World

From Antarctica’s sea of ice, to Singapore’s monkey-strewn coconut trees,  mothers from each of Mother Earth’s seven continents, share their coronavirus stories. 

This phenomenal group of women were all asked the same questions (by me, a complete stranger):

  • How are you spending your days with your children?
  • What are some ways your community is demonstrating kindness, solidarity, and support?
  • Can you give an example of your community’s response to the pandemic that is unique to your country’s culture?
  • What challenges have you had in caring for your children/family?
  • What are some creative ways your family has been bringing joy into your home?
  • During this time, what has helped you get through the hard stuff?
  • Do you have any advice or words of encouragement for other moms across the world experiencing the same thing?

Their answers are as different as they are alike. I think you will come to love and admire them as much as I have.

ANTARCTICA

Moms of COVID-19, Antarctica

Kylie

In February, I headed to the Antarctic Peninsula as a part of a research project on humpback whales. For me, leaving my daughter to go to the field is always extremely difficult. This trip was meant to only be 20 days and when I left, the coronavirus was still really only in China. One week into our voyage and things had already started to change around the world for the worse. We all started to realize that maybe this thing was bigger than any of us had prepared for. Antarctica is one of the most isolated  parts of the world. It takes me around 5 days of solid travel to get home. Two-three days is spent just crossing the Drake passage back to Argentina where we can get off the ship.

The day we got off the ship, we received news that Argentina was planning to close their borders. A lot of flights were getting cancelled. I don’t think I have ever checked my flight status/monitored the news as often as I did in those 24-48 hours after getting off the ship! I was more anxious than I’ve ever been about anything. If that flight was cancelled, I would miss my flight out of Argentina, which as far as I understood, would greatly increase the chance that I would get stuck in Argentina and need to contact my embassy to ask for help to get home. 

Luckily, after an hour delay, the flight left and made it to Buenos Aires in time for my connection. I made it out of Argentina and back safely to Sweden. I have never been so relieved to touch down on home soil, and so happy to get a running cuddle from my daughter. I don’t even want to think about what could have happened. Thankfully, we are all together now, and can take the situation one day at a time as a team.

Go-To Kid Activities

Baking, puzzles, hikes in the forest, dog walks, bike rides, more TV than usual!

Sanity Savers

Time in the forest and hiking around the lakes helps to clear my head. Quiet time together as a family where the outside world doesn’t exist.

Advice to Fellow Moms

Try to stay calm. There’s a lot of misinformation out there about the situation, and spending all day reading it is not going to change anything or help you. It will only stress you out more and your kids will sense this. Stick to reading information only from the local health authorities (not the media).

SOUTH AMERICA

Yolanda Colombia Family

Yolanda | Colombia

I don’t drive, so I used to walk everywhere and talk to my neighbors, but I haven’t been able to do that. Colombia, a lively country used to having people out on the streets eating and talking has turned into a ghost town.

The Government has enforced  new regulations based on ID.  Each day is a new number, like Monday: 1, Tuesday: 2, Wednesday: 3, etc. Depending on the last number of your ID number, you’re allowed to go out. So if your ID ends in 2, you have to wait until Tuesday to leave your house. If you’re caught leaving on a day which is not your number, you’ll get a ticket. There are police on the buses monitoring if that day is your number day.

Much like other communities around the world, the people of Colombia are offering each other their support. The government pays normal people (like a tailor) to make masks. These masks are then donated to hospitals for doctors and nurses. And for children who rely on school lunches, the schools drop off their lunches at their homes.

The biggest problem I’ve faced is cleaning. My family is always home so things get dirty. I’ve also been bleaching everything like crazy, making sure things are spotless. I want to make sure my family stays healthy.

Go-To Kid Activities

We just watch movies. We spend a lot of time together anyway, so this doesn’t feel like a drastic difference.

Sanity Savers

Being with family brings me harmony, so I just try to enjoy the moments I spend with them. I think keeping my same routine has helped me stay sane.

Advice to Fellow Moms

Stay calm and remember you’re with your family. At least you’re isolated with the people you love. Take this time to enjoy their company. Under God’s blessing, we will get through this.

AFRICA

Sylvia kenya 1

Sylvia | Kenya

We are sheltering at home. Financially, incomes have decreased since most of the businesses have been shut down. Quarantine has proved difficult for me as I was not used to it before. I miss working at my job since all schools have been closed down and because we have to remain indoors. 

My personal savings has enabled me through this hard time, but I still face challenges in feeding the family since prices of commodities have gone higher. I manage to solve this problem by maintaining a tight budget and by reducing the times to have meals in a day. I also use the available food in the community: maize and beans.

There has been a positive impact in that health and hygienic practices are highly observed. Every home and market have been provided with health disinfectants and clean water to wash hands regularly. The community heads are walking door to door ensuring that every household is observing maximum hygiene. 

I have learned that my country, Kenya, likes her people through the services given to the people during this time of need.

Go-To Kid Activities

We are weaving masks. I am homeschooling with my kids, and watching some television programs like cartoons. My children enjoy all of these without knowing about the virus.

A Strong Community

Some able families are supporting needy families with food and other essential commodities. Elderly persons are weaving masks using locally available materials making them available to everybody for safety. Some community herbalists are extracting materials from plants  which they believe could cure the virus.

Advice to Fellow Moms

Observe the rules and regulations given by the ministry of health and have a heart to help each other during these hard times.

EUROPE

Raphaëlle France Family Photo

Raphaëlle | France

We both contracted and recovered from COVID-19. My husband at the very beginning (we did not understand at the time because the media pictured it as something you’d only get in China). I was sick at the beginning of self-isolation. We both quarantined completely for a week, as per the doctor’s recommendations.

My husband is off work and is losing around 15% of his income. As a mechanic, he obviously can’t work from home. I work during my daughter’s nap and in the mornings.

We have been staying in our apartment in the city, but are pretty lucky in terms of space. The most difficult part of it is the lack of variety in the day. We’ve been implementing a lot of new activities, including very simple ones such as doing chores together. She loves helping out!

My husband is Japanese but we’ve been in France for 10 years upon meeting when I was living there. In looking at the two culture’s responses to the crisis, the French value freedom as some abstract concept. For example, people are still going out to buy bread daily. Conversely, the Japanese people have no official lock-down but seem to have adapted faster by staying home and avoiding contacts.

As a community, the French people show their support by clapping at the windows at 8 p.m. every night.

Go-To Kid Activities

We have a flexible schedule by roughly an hour around meals, nap, and bedtime. We regiment TV or she’d watch it all the time. The rest of the day is pretty freestyle for free play and reading.

Sanity Savers

A lot of books, Facetime with friends and family, songs my daughter loves on YouTube, the slide we put in our living room just before it all started (best timing ever) – she gets to use it about 200 times day. All that energy must go somewhere!

Advice to Fellow Moms

No matter what you do, it’s enough.

Sasha | Greece

We are sheltering at home. We have been under a national lockdown – no leaving the house without permission, and only to go to work (if essential), to the grocery store, bank, pharmacy, or gas station. Leaving the house for exercise is permitted (again, with approval) but only in groups of up to two people. My husband works for the State Department, and is deemed essential and is still working from his office. There has currently been no financial or health/safety impact on my family. Although, my husband is potentially high risk so we are taking extra precautions to isolate ourselves. We’ve had to cancel a number of vacations/travel plans, but recognize that that is insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

Greeks are generally warm, friendly people. There has been little hoarding at grocery stores, and people have continued to be warm and friendly towards each other (though from a distance). The country acted quickly in containing the virus, and people generally seem to be following the rules and staying home.

I’m not used to spending SO much time with my kids! They’re also not used to spending SO much time with each other since they’re both usually in school. I’m trying to manage that by giving them some alone time. My husband isn’t home during the day, so it’s hard to dedicate time to each of them individually. They’re navigating new ways to get along with each other. There’s also so much more cooking, cleaning, snacking,and  laundry. I’m constantly cleaning up messes!

I’m fortunate that I don’t also work full time, so I can actually dedicate time to teaching my kids something, and it’s refreshing to actually see how much they already know!

Go-To Kid Activities

Gratitude wall, Zoom games with his Kindergarten class, animal talks from the Cincinnati Zoo, Cosmic Kids yoga, extra art projects, baking bread and cookies

Sanity Savers

Quiet/alone time every day, wine, daily showers, Easter candy, walking or running every day, ciscovering new parts of my neighborhood, binge watching brainless shows with my husband.

Advice to Fellow Moms

Don’t put so much pressure on yourself! I find myself succumbing to the need to teach my kids something during this time. (I have the time, we’re home, so they should learn something, right?) But for families with two working parents and multiple kids home from school, it’s a lot to manage, and the brunt of the work still seems to fall on moms. So if the way we need to get through this is extra movie nights, then I’m all for it!

Heather | Italy

Heather Italy

We are an American military family living outside Naples, Italy. We have been on lockdown since March 9. Our day-to-day life has been turned upside down and inside out. Schools, churches, museums, stores, malls and every tourist site is closed. We are not allowed to leave our house unless we have a medical emergency, work, or essential items are needed. In the event you do leave, paperwork is required. Only one person per household is allowed to travel within your commune. Several police blocks are in place and masks and gloves are required to enter the stores. We have access to our Navy Exchange on base, but have limited items we can buy at this time in following the Italian law. For example, clothes, undergarments, shoes, and toys are not allowed to be purchased at this time.  

Many days are hard, sad and depressing. I’ve run out of words explaining to my child why he can’t see his friends or if he will go back to school at all this year. My anxiety is the worst it’s ever been, and it’s hard to control panic attacks. But, my family is safe and healthy. In the last three weeks, I have only left the house once to get groceries. Staying at home for us means slowing down and finding gratitude. I am learning that I have more patience than I gave myself credit for. I’m learning to navigate meltdowns and hard questions. I’m finding strength to fight my own tears when a friend needs to release theirs. 

Go-To Kid Activities

Every few days we pick a country that we have visited, draw our favorite memory, and cook local food we ate while there. We also do yoga, dance parties, board games, puzzles, reading, movies, and  lunch on our balcony.

Sanity Savers

Checking on friends, allowing myself to cry and have timeouts, staying off social media!

Advice to Fellow Moms

Please stay home. Start taking strong measures now.  When the death rate soars, it will be too late to react.

ASIA

Jane Asia Family 1

Jane | Singapore

We are staying home as much as possible unless it is to go out to purchase groceries we can’t get online or to drop groceries off to my mother.

The biggest impact has been on cutting the children off from their wider family network and friends. A dear friend recently gave birth and we couldn’t visit. As Catholics, observing Holy Week at home was surreal and quite sombre. But on Easter Sunday, we happened upon monkeys from a nearby park clambering all over our coconut trees! It was quite magical.

Singapore had systems in place since the SARS epidemic in the early 2000s so authorities acted quickly and decisively.  They tested all suspect cases and isolated close contacts. They also have thorough contact tracing to track who have come in contact with positive cases. It became mandatory, since SARS, for students to have thermometers on their person every single school day, and practice school-wide temperature taking at least once a year. They also had an e-learning site available which students use periodically throughout the school year.

There are temperature checks for anyone entering buildings and they stepped up disinfection of all spaces. The initial spread was mitigated thanks to these efforts, which prevented community spread. This was back in late February, early March. However, as other countries’ cases ballooned, we knew it was only a matter of time when we would see another increase of cases.

Go-To Kid Activities

New goldfish, baking, collecting nature treasures on walks, yoga, dance aerobics, video-chatting family

Sanity Savers

Time in nature, the girls playing well together, coffee breaks, binge watching must-see shows with my husband, reconnecting with friends

Advice to Fellow Moms

Mums need self-care now more than ever. Force yourself to stop for a coffee or a chat with a friend. If possible, treat yourself and your husband to a date night when the kids are asleep. Exercise. Breathe in the fresh air.  Also, try to avoid reading COVID articles before bed!

Jenny | Malaysia

Jenny- Malaysia Asia

As a full-time traveling family that makes money through our travel blog, eatwanderexplore.com, COVID-19 has made our jobs a little more challenging. We don’t have a home anywhere, but we’re currently holed up in an apartment in Malaysia. Our plans earlier this year included going back to the US in summer to visit family and friends, but it looks like we’ll have to cancel. It’s been difficult watching the pandemic unfold in the US with our parents in the more at-risk age group and knowing it’s safer for us to keep our distance than to rush back to visit.

Go-To Kid Activities

My 13-month old has just started walking! I’d like to bring him out to a park once the stay at home order is done, but for now, he just toddles around our apartment. We usually don’t watch much TV because we like being outdoors more, but have been incorporating more CocoMelon YouTube and Disney Nature shows into our days.

Sanity Savers

I join an expat or moms group in almost every city/country we visit. During this COVID-19 time, they are the ones with info on which hospitals are best, which supermarkets are stocked, and where to get or offer help.

Advice to Fellow Moms

Remember to take care of yourself too! If you don’t have mom friends nearby, join a Facebook group online. It helps to hear what others are going through and know that you aren’t the only one feeling a certain way.

Georgina | Saudi Arabia

We live on a compound of British expats which currently has no confirmed cases of COVID-19.  We are social distancing/isolating in our villa. My husband is still at work. He said the office has been rearranged so they are not close to each other. We are lucky that our finances are minimally impacted as my husband is in the military so his employment and salary are secure. It is hard to be so far from family in times like this. My Grandma passed away last week and there is no chance of me getting back to the UK for a funeral or to comfort my family.

There is now a curfew in the city. We have to be within the confines of our villa and garden by 1500 each day until 0600 (originally 1900-0600). They have also  closed the shopping malls. Saudi nationals tend to congregate in the evenings at malls to socialise. They do not tend to do this in daytime hours anyway. There seems to be a lot more Saudi families in traditional tents in the desert than usual, I’m not sure if this is because they are making the most of school and private sector closures to have a mini vacation, or if they are escaping the city as a form of self isolation. They have also closed the two holy sites (Mecca and Medina) to prevent the spread. I think this is one of the only times in history.

The supermarkets here are still fully stocked with food and other provisions such as hand sanitizers and soap, which is comforting after seeing the panic buying in the UK. 

For community fun, we have a daily lockdown kitchen disco. Everyone on the compound opens their windows and doors, playing the same song at 1800 every day! The song changes each day! The children have a different art theme each week (so far rainbows and then hearts) to put in the windows. We then spot the art in windows on our bike rides and walks. There are also a lot of people helping each other out with shopping runs etc.

Go-To Kid Activities

Taking daily walks and bike rides, video calling family in the UK and Australia, trying three new recipes each week, occasionally watching David Attenborough’s ‘Our Planet,’ rotating toys

Sanity Savers

I sew. I make clothes for myself and for my children, so I have been doing a lot more of that lately! I have also tried to exercise more and do ten minutes of yoga/stretching each day. I am finding a lot of joy in using the extra home time to organise and rearrange, it feels like a new house!

Advice to Fellow Moms

You don’t have to homeschool perfectly. Turn on the TV without guilt when you’ve had enough. Doing the best you can do with the resources you have,  is enough! Go back to basics. Kids find fun in everything.

AUSTRALIA

Gillian Australia Family

Adelaide | Australia 

I am at home and I have kept my son home from school. I am doing what I can to take the pressure of the people who can not. My husband is an essential service, so still paid, but he is at home twice as much. 

Beaches are still open. You can still go for a walk or hike in the National Parks.  Common sense and social distancing is the norm, and people are generally doing more than is expected of them. Our state borders are restricted, and if you cross them there is a 14-day quarantine. We have cancelled a holiday to Thailand in September and Japan next January. 

Although I think this is a South Australian attitude more than the East Coast, we are more self- sufficient. If we cannot buy hand sanitizer, we are setting up wash stations outside some stores. We are buying groceries for our vulnerable (scared) neighbours, even though there doesn’t seem to be much community spread. We are trying to flatten the curve before it happens. We are actually listening to our Prime Minister (not an Australian Tradition).

Neighbours are talking to each other a bit more. The general conversation is: We’ve got this. We’ve been through worse. South Australia has a population of 1,750,000, but there have been very few deaths, and only a TOTAL of 435 people diagnosed with COVID-19. The numbers are going down drastically. We are testing A LOT. The feeling is of quiet relief and excitement. We are very very thankful that we live where we do.

Go-To Kid Activities

Building a new cubby, fire pits, biking and hiking, strolls on the beach, playing the piano, training the puppy

Sanity Savers

A positive attitude. I am phoning my friends a lot more and checking in. Talking to neighbours when they walk past. I am loving unschooling my son, and I look at this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have him so close.

Advice to Fellow Moms

Look after yourself. Look after your neighbours. Look after your family. We will get through this. Please self-isolate and please ask for help.

NORTH AMERICA

Jennifer- USA

Jennifer | Lake Tahoe, Calif.

I’m protecting my children. I’m protecting myself and my community. I’ve lost effectively two-thirds of my jobs and the third is minimal hours at this point. We’ve cancelled some travel and competitions. 

The biggest cancellation was getting an external limb salvage device. I had a bad injury and am trying to save my leg. I can’t go get it now and I don’t get to go get it (in Washington) until who knows how long. Meanwhile, I’m on crutches with tons of snow, two small kids. Since I can’t walk right now, I’ve had to be creative with everything. Groceries have been hard. Their dad has had possible exposures so he has had to stay away for our safety, leaving me with the kids alone 100%.

I’ve learned how social I am and how much my mental health relies on being physical and social. My children need it, too, and I’ve had to prioritize them getting creative socialization.

The community has come together in large efforts to create masks. Also, our homeless shelter has increased operations to help our most vulnerable population. I work there so I know how hard it is on the staff. Californians are, embracing being in nature safely and supporting local businesses by ordering take-out. Overall, the community has been “very vocal about how much we support our local heroes.

Go-To Kid Activities

Kid’s yoga, reading, playing in the snow, breaking the rules, movies, staying up late, sleeping in, random dance parties.

Sanity Savers

Fresh veggies, lots of sleep, coffee, video chatting, offering my clients video therapy

Advice to Fellow Moms

We’re all in this and we’ll all get through it. Stay present and calm.

Melody | Canada

We are at home. My husband owns an essential service business so he goes to work 5/6 days a week. No financial hit there, but business has been slowing. I homeschool so that hasn’t changed. Mostly I am lonely. I miss getting together with friends and all the play dates we used to have. My daughter will probably turn 4 during this quarantine and all the things she wanted to do are no longer options.

I have always wanted a week with nothing on the calendar so that I can stay home all week. Now I have that, and I’m not too sure I’m going to enjoy it long-term.I am quite proud of how Canada is handling everything and how calm people are when I go out to get the essentials. The police were lined up in front of the hospital with sirens blaring to show support to the doctors and nurses. People are very accepting of everything that is going on. If we’re doing our weekly shop people often ask (on FB groups) if anyone else needs anything.

Go-To Kid Activities

Getting outside daily, gardening, messaging friends

Sanity Savers

I’ve been getting out early to start the diffuser, journal and read my Bible before my kids get up. That has been a huge help!! I definitely feel it on the days I don’t. In the evenings I often read. I message friends if I’m feeling lonely. I also have an online book club I’m part of.

Advice to Fellow Moms

Take one day at a time. Don’t focus on the months ahead of social distancing. Focus only on today and getting through today. If you’re having a hard day and need to use screen time, that’s OK! It’s there for a reason.

Kelsey Pomeroy
Kelsey was born and raised in Branson, Mo. It was there, in the town that boasts the “World’s Largest Banjo” that she met her husband, Samuel. It was his first day at a new high school and she was the only person to say “Hi” to him that day, so he married her! A decade later and now they take up residence in Raymore, Mo, but tell out-of-state people they are from “Kansas City” because it is way easier. Kelsey taught high school English for 6 years, but now she stays home to hang out with her adorable toddler, Theodore. Her passions include traveling (34 countries and counting!), playing board games, writing murder mystery parties, reading, and talking to as many people as possible.

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