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Have you had to quarantine? Have your kids? If you haven’t had to deal with this yet, you probably will at some point. Here are some things you can think about now to make a quarantine more bearable.
My daughter just ended a ten-day quarantine. We got through it just fine, but there was some scrambling at the beginning. So, during the past ten days I’ve been thinking a lot about how we could have prepared better.
I’ve come up with five things that can help if you or a family member has to quarantine or isolate. Some may seem basic, but if you think about these things now, you can save yourself some trouble later. Plan for the worst, hope for the best.
A lot of these tips can apply to other sicknesses as well. When all of this is over, there will still be lots of other contagious diseases out there.
Please keep in mind, I’m not a doctor and have absolutely no training in public health, epidemiology, or anything else related to our current situation. Nothing I write should be taken as medical advice. I’m simply giving suggestions on how you and your family can be more comfortable if one or more of you gets sick. If you need medical advice, please get it from a reputable place, not a random person’s blog.
The most crucial decision (and the one that needs to be made the fastest) is where the sick person will be. Think about this ahead of time. Consider if the person needs to work, or go to Zoom school, or cook, or have access to a particular part of the house.
Give them their own space
If someone in your house gets sick, you want to make them as comfortable as possible, but you also want to protect the rest of the people in the house from getting sick. Ideally, this means that the sick person has their own space. Not only will they be able to rest better, but other people in the house will be less likely to get sick.
Think about where the sick person will be the most comfortable. If they have their own bedroom, that might be the best place. If they share a bedroom with someone who isn’t sick, maybe a finished basement or playroom would work (you can also consider moving the healthy person out).
You don’t want to disrupt the rest of the household too much, so a living room may not be the best place, but if the sick person can’t stay in their bedroom, and there’s no other room they can use, then the living room might be the only good option. Plus, it probably has a couch.
Clear out other people’s stuff
You don’t want to discover after the sick person is settled in that you need a bunch of papers from the desk, or some books, or socks, or whatever. Look around the room and try to grab anything you’ll need while the room is being used for quarantine.
Make up the couch
If they will be sleeping on a couch, instead of their own bed, make it up with sheets, a blanket, and a bed pillow. Not only will this be more comfortable for the sick person, but couches can be hard to clean! Lots of things might be happening on that couch that are messy, like sleeping (I can’t be the only one who drools in my sleep!) and eating. And, you know, being sick.
Let them sit up
If possible, give them access to a place where they can sit that’s not a bed. Staying in bed for days on end can get really uncomfortable, so moving a comfortable chair into the room, or even a desk and desk chair if they’re well enough, can really help. Some kind of desk or table can be used for a computer, a puzzle, doing schoolwork, and eating.
If they’re already sleeping on a couch, get them something to put their feet on, so that they can lean up against the back of the couch instead of the arm, which is usually short and not very supportive.
Check the lighting
If I had to spend a week in my bed, the first problem would be lighting. I don’t read in bed, so the only light in the room is the big one overhead.
If you’re going to be in bed for days at a time, you don’t want to strain your eyes! Make sure there’s some kind of reading light, and a place to put it.
Check the WiFi
A lot of houses have WiFi dead spots that get ignored, because you can just go to a different part of the house. But if you’re stuck for days on end in one place, you want to make sure you have access to a strong WiFi signal. This is especially important if you’ll need to do work or school while in quarantine.
We have a house that’s very difficult to get WiFi throughout (it’s very narrow, but tall, and the signal has trouble getting from floor to floor). We’ve put an Eero WiFi extender on each floor, and they work amazingly well. Not only will you get strong WiFi signals, but the app makes it very easy to see which devices are online, and you can pause the internet if you need to (at night, for example).
Check the airflow and temperature
Do the windows open? Is the room hot or cold enough? Have a fan or electric blanket handy.
If it’s going to be really hot and the room doesn’t have air conditioning, consider a portable AC unit. They’re definitely not as powerful as a window unit or central air, but if those aren’t an option, a portable unit will get the job done.
We have two, for rooms in our house where putting in a window unit isn’t an option. Make sure the one you get vents out of a window, so that you don’t have to empty a water tray (although if the room doesn’t have a window, then you won’t have that option, and the condensation tray will have to be emptied periodically).
Humidifiers can help a sick person breathe, especially in winter. This one even has a place to put essential oils. Just make sure the one you pick is quiet.
An air purifier is especially important when someone is sick. Make you get one with a HEPA filter.
Think about all the things a sick person might need. This is what we found handy:
- tissues, the softer the better (this might be the time to spring for the ones with lotion on them)
- garbage can lined with a plastic bag
- thermometer (this one is extremely accurate)
- a bucket or large zipper bags, for throwing up
- insulated water bottle (I bought my kids these self-cleaning ones for Christmas)
- rubbing alcohol and disinfecting wipes
When my daughter was in quarantine, pretty much the only thing I could do for her was bring her food. I told her it was a really good time to ask me to bake her anything she wanted. So she got macarons and fruit tarts, two things I wouldn’t normally make on a random weekday.
But I love to bake so I was happy I could do it. Whether you buy them or make them, treats for the sick person might cheer them up. Not just sweet things, but foods they love (if they aren’t too sick for them, of course).
We also got her whatever snacks she wanted, in individual bags. It’s not like she could just go to the kitchen whenever she was hungry, and while I was happy to bring her meals, I really didn’t want to go up three flights of stairs whenever she wanted some pretzels. So get that big 36-pack of chips they love, or Cheez-Its, or whatever.
For carrying her meals, I bought these trays. Before they arrived I was juggling different plates and bowls and cups and silverware, and I can’t believe I never dropped anything. These non-slip trays made it much easier. I really like that there are two, because whenever I brought one to her with food on it, I could carry down the other one with the dirty dishes from the last meal.
We also ended up buying a breakfast-in-bed tray. I can’t believe we didn’t have one. I chose this one because it has slots in the back for a tablet or phone, so you can watch something while you eat without having to prop it up.
If you think the tray will double as a laptop holder, make sure you get one that’s big enough to hold the laptop! This one looks perfect. It can fit a laptop, and also has slots for a tablet and a phone. Part of it can lift up to support a book or screen at a better angle, and it even has a drawer! And of course, you can eat on it. Just keep in mind that unlike the one I have, this one doesn’t have sides to keep things from sliding off, and it doesn’t have handles for easier carrying.
- jigsaw puzzles
- one-person games
- Mad Libs
- puzzle books for kids and adults
- coloring books for kids and adults
- colored pencils or crayons
- TV, computer, or tablet
- movies (DVDs or streaming)
- games you can play over Zoom
I really hope you don’t have to deal with a quarantine, it isn’t fun for anybody. But if you’re prepared, you can alleviate the boredom and make things a bit easier.
If you’re having trouble finding rapid antigen tests, I’ve got some good links in this post. And if you’d like to know which pandemic-related habits and products I’m keeping when all of this is over, I talk about four of them in this post.