Can’t Kondo Your Way Out of COVID, with Kids

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When the first lockdown was looming here in Melbourne, Australia, I played it safe and took my two young girls out of school a week before their school holidays (I did again this next term too). The day was 13 March, two days after we became Australian citizens in a ceremony where you didn’t get to shake the Mayor’s hand and we certainly didn’t stick around to share the buffet of Australian favourites like lamingtons and Vegemite; we didn’t even go near the tempting fresh fruit platter. I registered to vote and immediately grabbed for my hand sanitiser after using the communal pen. There were only 13 cases of COVID-19 reported that day in all of our state of Victoria, and I was taking no chances. Instead of funny faces thrown at all the cute babies, I was wondering why the parents were allowing them to run rampant with mini Australian flags dangling from their mouths.

That day was life-changing, my girls and I were now Australian citizens. The moment was a rush of many emotions, but it meant foremost, I was officially a life member of the greater community and country that I have lived in for over 5 years, where I raised my children, was diagnosed with, treated for, and where I overcame breast cancer, while running my online clothing business out of my home, and going through an international custody battle, and subsequent divorce. That’s got to be the longest run on sentence of my life. Australia has always been there for me. Amazing and free healthcare, low-cost child care, but most of all mateship. I’ve experienced nothing like it in my life, where friends, customers, friends in the virtual world rally for you when you need it most. I had this in my Aussie tribe through all things, past and present.

And, lockdown, for most of us. And now Lockdown number 2 here in Victoria (273 cases today). But we’ve personally already been doing the “hard yards” as they say here in ‘Straya. We’ve cut out unnecessary everything, except for a 15 minute car trip to hike for an hour in a National Park. Otherwise, grocery deliveries, takeaway delivered, we’ve made and canceled many plans and stayed here in our cave, with neighbourhood walks.

My internet lifeline shows me so many stories of getting organised and donations made to charities with closed doors. Here, I’ve placed delivery orders of furniture from IKEA to get organised, bought a new work printer (delivered) from Costco, and yet the only thing I am actually Kondo-ed about is making sure the next pet food delivery and litter trays, and regular Woolies orders happen. We just can’t run out of milk and bread, or canned diced tomatoes. Thankfully we subscribe to Who Gives a Crap toilet paper or we’d really be up Shit’s Creek (sp?! Haha). What does one do though in quarantine after Kondo-ing? I can tell you our house is not a reflection of the productive side of quarantine, except for my partner who manages to accomplish a gazillion things, while fixing everything, all.day.long.

I am still running my business, which has seen a COVID uptick, so all small business subsidies are going to marketing and growing the business, which means 60+ hours a week by my sole employee, >me<. And as we enter into the next school term, which today was announced as remote, I cringe a little. The last time was ok, but it was a lot of time away from my work to ensure my youngest was getting through her lessons. If that’s the worst to expect as we do this online thing again, well, we just have to do it. And the kids LOVE IT.

My oldest has survived lockdown with her own internet lifeline, her best friend and classmate. They Zoom through online school lessons, provide emotional and comic relief to each other, and make time pass. And isn’t that what we are all doing? Passing time, and doing our best to deal with each day. And let’s not omit Roblox, which has been emotional glue for my girls and their friends, even those that live a stone’s throw from our house.

The treasures from being together 24/7 are the opportunities to see the kids be creative, even taking their acting lessons online, original impromptu rap-offs in the kitchen a la Hamilton (we watched day 1 thank you Disney+, and I listen to the soundtrack now as I type), living room yoga, and guitar lessons when school is in session. My partner and I have brought work and responsibility into their lives. Consequences are instilled in things meant to be earned or lost. Time on Roblox, device time, TV time, all earned by household contributions. And arguments easily settled by talking through our feelings, and lots of hugs. I have a partner now who teaches my kids new things, comforts them, loves them. They go to both of us asking for chores to do, to earn their internet time. So we KONDO-ED the KIDS!

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They have routines, and rituals they go through knowing they are earning things, and we are all happier and calmer for it. And when inequities abound, as they do amongst siblings, we discuss calmly and caring. This has contributed to the general sense of well-being when they may be bored, listless, full of energy. And we go on walks around our neighbourhood or take a dip in the swim spa. This time in lockdown has not been for nought. These kids who would normally be doing many things are contributing, earning, learning, caring and thriving in lockdown. They have their lifelines, psychologist as needed, have fun and lots of love. And as Aussies do, we will band together and get through this new wave of COVID in our own Kondo fashion. There’s nowhere else I’d rather be to ride this wave.

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