Alison Curtis: Keep calm, wash your hands, and reassure your children

IT is impossible not to think about the coronavirus. It is on the news, in the papers, on Twitter, on Instagram, and is the topic of seemingly every conversation, writes Alison Curtis.

Alison Curtis: Keep calm, wash your hands, and reassure your children

I find there are two polarising camps of people. One, the larger group, can’t believe the ‘overreaction.’ They laugh at hand sanitisers and mass hysteria. They aren’t worried and say, ‘sure, if you get it, it only lasts a couple of days’.

The second, smaller group, is mainly made up of moms and anxious folks. They are very worried and it is keeping them up at night.

I am a worrier myself and I have health-related anxiety, as do two close friends of mine. I check in with them daily and they are battling with the overwhelming fear of doom that enters their body whenever they think of C19.

Since we were made aware of the first case in Ireland, I have had days where I am also on the brink of panicking. Luckily, one of my closest friends, in Canada, works very high up in public health and is specialising in dealing with the corona outbreak there.

She checks in with me a few times a week. She has the hard facts and is extremely reassuring.

I have taken my information from reputable sources, like the World Health Organisation website and the HSE website. This, combined with my friends’ reassurance, means I have stayed pretty calm.

However, I have made a few changes to our daily lives that make me feel a bit better. I was always a germaphobe, so having hand sanitiser on me was nothing new.

But I have packed one for my daughter, Joan, for school, and my for my hubby, for work. Each time we come home, I make Joan wash her hands throughly and I do, too. Each evening, I do a quick surface wipe in the house with a disinfectant spray, sinks, door knobs, and counter tops. (Which I was pretty much doing, anyway!)

The only things I have stocked up on are a few extra packages of paracetamol and some medicines for Joan. Other than that, I still have the regular amount of toilet paper in the house.

Alison Curtis: Keep calm, wash your hands, and reassure your children

It is very hard not to get upset by a new global pandemic. Media has a responsibility to report accurately and to reassure.

This applies to parents when communicating to our kids what the coronavirus is and how we work together as a family and a society to contain it and stay healthy. Kids hate washing their hands; it is always a battle.

I have to remind Joan how to do it properly, and if I have to continue with these reminders, so be it, as long as her hands get cleaned properly. She isn’t a nose-picker, which is good, but I do have to talk to her about not touching her mouth or face.

Good coughing etiquette is something she has already learned and, thankfully, coughing or sneezing into her elbow seems like second nature. Also, the school has always had a not-sharing policy on drinks and food in the class, so that has been drilled into them and will help prevent the spread of infection.

But, most importantly, along with all this advice, we have to reassure our kids that it will be okay and that they will be okay, too.

We have to make it less scary for children old enough to read the headlines and understand what is being said on the radio. Keep the conversation open and calm. Some kids feel better with facts and numbers; others don’t, but we know our kids best.

They will get tired of hearing us say this, but the message is: stay calm and wash your hands!

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