Children's author Natalie Reeves-Billing talks about 'quaranteaming' - the concept of locking down with someone who wouldn't ordinarily live in your household.
When the world shut down, many people were caught between places. No one fully understood what we were about to go through, or indeed, how long it was going to last. In fact, we still don't.
The urgency of the national message ensured that most observed a strict separation from friends and family, while the powers that be sought answers and solutions. However, any resolution is still a long way off. Video calls and interactive apps and games have had their place and helped to lessen the loneliness many of us feel. They attempt to bridge the gap between connectivity and separation. Still, they can never fully replace the contact we yearn for, on a physiological level. It’s a primal human need. We seek each other out and feel alive in the company of other sentient beings.
And so, inevitably, the time comes when we look for a way around the life-limiting restrictions. Our emotional and mental wellbeing would seem to depend on it. The rules that were laid down to protect us begin to bend and crack, as people emerge in a daze from their homes and look at the bright new world outside. Parks fill up, and street parties begin, as we search for reasons to celebrate. These are the echoes of a world we miss so much, in all its bustle and fullness. But, this type of behaviour is the very thing that will keep us apart for much longer, maybe forever.
Some have taken a different approach. One that I was skeptical of at first, but am now firmly embracing. It is a concept cleverly called ‘Quaranteaming.’
Confused? Read on... When my family locked down seven weeks ago, it was total and complete. There was no socialising, no trips outside, no anything! We started isolating a week before most and even made the unpopular decision to pull our kids out of school early. It was met with criticism by some, But ultimately, in unique situations like this, everyone has tough decisions to make, and this was ours. More recently, loneliness began to take its toll on me and mine. The exhausting monotony. The cloud of uncertainty. My smile didn’t come as naturally, and I felt my reservoir depleting fast. And then, a couple of weeks ago, we spoke to a friend who was feeling exactly the same. Our conversation meandered, and we eventually touched upon this strange new concept and its merits.
Quaranteaming. The decision made between two groups of people who trust each other implicitly who, having observed strict lockdown rules, decide to move in together.
Disclaimer: quaranteaming is only viable if all parties have tested negative for COVID-19 and have been following social distancing and public health guidelines as set out by the experts. Today, I am proud to announce, we have joined that camp.
I can’t explain the joy I felt just seeing someone different walk through my front door. To embrace them, share a cup of tea and chat with a person who has a new story to tell. The relief. To be reminded of the world outside, where everyone I love and care for is safely hunkering down, just like me. Resilient and sensible. Waiting for the perfect moment to come together again. Today is a good day. I am walking into the week ahead with a newfound optimism. From now on, we will quaranteam together. We will observe every rule and regulation together, in the hope that one day soon, my doorbell will ring. I will no longer have to peek from upstairs windows or disinfect the door handles others have touched.
I will never forget this period, nor will I take for granted the importance of friends and family. Friendship and love are our biggest assets and our greatest achievement.