Quarantine: a challenge for the whole family

By Ute Kaiser

14 days of vacation feels short for children. 14 days of quarantine, on the other hand, drags on like chewing gum. A family from Tübingen experienced this around Easter. The ten-year-old son tested positive for the corona virus in elementary school. The PCR test was also positive. After that, the usual life changed fundamentally for him, his three- and twelve-year-old brothers and his parents. tünews INTERNATIONAL talked to the 53-year-old father about this time.

A few hours after the PCR test result passed with phone calls: with the health department, with parents of classmates and friends also of the older son, with the employers of mother and father, with neighbours, with the family doctor and the paediatrician. The ten year old felt guilty. “He was really depressed.” Also because the twelve-year-old was mad at his younger brother and accused him of not being allowed to go to school because of him. The ten year old needed consolation.

It was a challenge for the parents to keep the boys busy in the suddenly cramped apartment according to the quarantine rules. They were used to meeting other children, playing with them, and doing sports outside. They weren’t allowed to do that anymore. Fortunately, there is a garden in front of the apartment. The boys also used it for cycling. Just a small replacement.

Initially, the parents needed a lot of energy to organize everyday things such as food shopping. Five people, including three boys, who can eat a lot, had to be fed. Thanks to delivery services, helpful neighbours and friends, it worked out. After the tension and organizational stress of the first few days came a slackening. “The atmosphere was a bit like on a weekend – only without an excursion,” as the family was not allowed to leave the property.

It was still too early for a PCR test of the other four family members. Not knowing whether parents or brothers would also be infected bothered them: “You listen inwardly all the time.” But nobody had symptoms. And the PCR test a few days later was negative for the parents and the other two boys. Nevertheless, they had to remain in quarantine.

The three-year-old was very sad because he missed the Easter surprise in kindergarten because of the quarantine. The grandparents saved Easter Sunday. The night before, they hid eggs and sweets in the garden. The children were happy and sad at the same time because they were not allowed to visit their grandparents.

 

Both parents worked in home office. The father found working quarantined at home without his own office exhausting: “One problem is being able to let go.” In addition, the children made just as many demands on their parents as the job. During the father’s video conferences, his wife sent the boys into the garden. Exactly at that time they would have liked to show him what they had built with Lego bricks – for example the liquefied gas tanker.

Homeschooling, doing handicrafts, playing, building pillow forts to keep the children occupied and to avoid arguments as much as possible: “You have to be active and creative.” But after the negative PCR tests came a low point. The family was only allowed to move within the apartment and the garden. It was hardly consoling that “the light could be seen at the end of the tunnel” because the end of the quarantine was approaching.

“Actually, we were fine, except for not leaving,” the father sums up the family’s experiences. “We had no economic worries, were well equipped with technology and did not fall ill.“ But after the “a bit adventurous episode” he had an ambivalent feeling when he was back at the bakery and the wine shop for the first time: on the one hand he felt joy about the regained freedom and on the other hand was a vague feeling of being exposed to danger.

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Mit Freunden treffen ist in Quarantäne nicht erlaubt. Foto: Martin Klaus.

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