• nadinejenkins

Captain Nadine's Top Tips for Surviving Self-Isolation

Firstly, I’m not really a Captain but it was catchier than “Someone who has sailed a really long way but has no nautical qualifications whatsoever”. But regardless, in this last week or so I have become very aware that some of the challenges we are facing are less new to me than they might be to some of you. So. For those of you wondering how this whole self-isolation thing is going to go, rest assured. I’ve done it before and survived. And from my perspective there is definitely a bright side. I shall now bestow upon you some totally unsolicited but hopefully amusing useless advice:

First up, “Self-isolation is better than being ‘on passage’ because”:

  • We have WiFi. You have no idea how many re-runs of Marvel movies you have to watch on an 18 day passage when you have no Wifi. Iron Man's smug wit gets really irritating by about day 13.

  • You can get ‘off’ and go to the shops when you need to. They might not have what you want just now, but you will not starve.

  • You don’t have to get up on 4 hour rotations, 24 hours a day and sit on your front porch to make sure you don’t crash into a container ship. Do not take this benefit lightly. It’s really tiring!

  • It’s not wobbly. It can be hard to cook when your oven keeps making 45 degree swerves. Or when the waves are crashing overhead and making the deck leak onto the stove. Try stirring your pasta tonight while also holding an umbrella. Seriously try it. It’s harder than you think. I love my stable, dry oven. You should too. It’s the little things.

If you have children, I can imagine that you are rightly a little more anxious than others about how this is going to play out. Here is my advice:

  • Never underestimate the entertainment power of a cardboard box. My children spent a fun-filled and educational (ok, I’m stretching things with educational) day cutting up a cardboard box into moustache and hairdo shapes and sticking them onto themselves with revolting-flavoured but very sticky Malaysian sweets. It kept them amused for hours. Don’t judge me.

  • Leave them to get bored. You will be surprised how creative they can be when left to their own devices. Just hide the sticky Malaysian sweets first.

  • This is a great opportunity for them to actually learn stuff. School is ok, but situations like this may just be better. They will find something they are really interested in and learn the crap out of it if you let them. And make a website. Truly. I even have proof.

  • Let them bake and cook on their own. Unless you have a baby. Then I suggest that you should supervise them. Believe me, they will make mess, but in the long run it will pay off. I’m still waiting for the payoff. But I'm sure it’s going to pay off.

  • But seriously, I ‘boat-schooled’ my kids for 2 years. I’m a crap teacher. Their spelling is terrible but their understanding of the world is immense. And they have caught up in a very short space of time on any fact gaps. Don’t worry about them getting behind. They’ve got this.

  • Reading. Reading is good. All things can be solved with reading. Even teachers say so.

General advice:

  • You won’t get a day where you see a baby sperm whale cruise past with its Mum, or a pod of thousands of dolphins take flight all at once. Face this fact now and you will be less disappointed when you get to the end. But there will be beautiful sunrises and sunsets, the blossoms will emerge and birds will sing. Notice them, because they are really nice. And for those that need a picture of a dolphin, I can supply them on request. For a small fee.

  • Sing. Together if possible. You may, like me, be talentless, but you’d be surprised how good a bunch of people, a ukulele and a jolly good sing along can make you feel. Unless you go to church of course. Church clocked on to the feel good power of communal singing quite some time before I did.

  • Make an adventure of it. Have a roster for meals, a competition for who can make the most with the least, whatever rules tickle your fancy. A schedule for who gets to use the ‘good’ room for working in, a daily ‘make-me-laugh’ break, a ‘re-branding self-isolation’ competition. Whatever. This is what you make it.

  • Make a roster for time alone too. I like my family, but I also know now that I like them a lot more when they are gone 6-8 hours a day. Believe me. Build this one in early and stick to it.

For those of you who are ‘Millennials with Housemates’:

  • I’m middle-aged. House-mates were a long time ago. I got nothin’. But I’m sure there’s an App.

And to close, there will be a point in time at which you cannot wait to see shore and believe you will possibly never see shore again, but it will come. It will look different to how you imagined, you will have learned things about yourself and those around you that you never anticipated, and there will be others there who have also weathered the storm. In my experience the first thing they will do is embrace you with open arms, share their stories and a cold beverage. Look forward to that day.

Bon Voyage everyone.

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