Sunday, 22 March 2020

5 things to do if your child is coming home from overseas

#1 is back home from the UK. Safe.

The figures of Covid-19 cases of returning Singaporeans, including overseas students are climbing as large numbers are returning home daily.

MOE and IHLs (Institutes of higher learning) made the decision to recall overseas students and for us parents, we are thankful that our government is doing all they can to bring them home quickly. The grandparents, grandaunts and elderly relatives are having sleepless nights worrying about them.

It seems like a wise decision to bring our families back as soon as possible because as the numbers escalate worldwide, the percentage of those exposed will keep multiplying.
Medical Clearance
In such an unprecedented, tumultuous time, while many things are beyond our control, we DO have a choice how we want to experience this chapter of our lives as history is being written.

Are we a people standing united? Gracious? Resilient? Or are we a complaining herd, only caring about our own needs and comfort?

We CAN make this BETTER for ourselves, our children, the people around us if we do these 5 things:

1. Be prepared for the unexpected

After stepping off the plane yesterday, all passengers on that SQ flight were subjected to a medical check. Besides having their temperature taken, they had to undergo a swab test where a long cotton bud looking stick was stuck up their nose to take a sample from their throat.

Yes, it was an uncomfortable procedure. But I'm relieved all passengers on her flight from London were tested for the virus.

With a full flight and only 1 doctor and an assisting nurse, it took almost 5 hours before she left the airport. The hubs was already at the airport waiting to pick her up, but she was the last in the queue as she was seated at the back of the plane.

There were adults complaining loudly at the inefficiency, of having to walk a long way to another medical station (perhaps the young people were venting via their phones) and I told #1 there was no point in getting frustrated but to make the most of the situation. She took out her laptop and worked on her assignments.

We can complain and get frustrated, or we can take it in our stride and deal with it in a calm and dignified manner.

Doctors, nurses and front line people have been working the hardest over the past months, and when directions come from the top, there will surely be logistics problems as systems are trying to cope with the fluidity of the changes.

Things are literally changing every moment as decisions have to be made as new information comes in.

Her friends who were not able to secure an SQ seat were put on a Swiss Air flight, and despite landing just hours after her, they did not get the swab test upon arrival.

We heard from students who had arrived today from London via SQ that the swab tests were not done on every single passenger, but on a random basis. 

Although the most prudent solution is to test EVERY SINGLE person returning from high risk countries, our resources are finite - test kits, labs, manpower, everything is stretched at the moment.

#1 was told that if she is tested positive, she will be called up within 4-6 hours.

It's been more than 24 hours so no news is GREAT NEWS!!
Confined to her room
2. Better be safe than sorry

#1 is on Stay-Home Notice, which is one notch down from Quarantine order as she has not been in direct contact with a confirmed case. This means that she can't leave the house for 14 days and should have limited contact with family members. However, with so many people in our household, and grandpa, we have decided to be extra cautious and to confine her in her own room which has an attached bathroom, even though her test result is negative.

We have heard that other students who were on SHN were moved to Quarantine status when a passenger on the same flight was tested positive.

Yes, it is more inconvenient for everyone, but in times like these, it is a small sacrifice to make and everyone has to step up to do their part to prevent community spread, which would be a devastating scenario with a spike in cases, inevitable deaths, streets emptying out, companies having to lay off employees and local businesses going bankrupt.

WE CANNOT LET OUR GUARD DOWN. If you are supposed to stay home, just stay home so that life can get on as normally as possible for the rest of the population.
Heathrow airport on 20 March
3. Now is the time to be SUPER KS

If there is one time our national DNA of being kiasu and kiasi should kick in, it is now. Knowing that young adults have a laissez-faire or bo chap attitude, I had to keep reminding #1 about personal hygiene.

I gave her 1 piece of advice.

PRETEND THAT EVERYONE AROUND YOU, AND EVERY SURFACE IS INFECTED.

Don't touch anything you don't need to, wash your hands constantly and before eating, tie up your hair so you don't need to brush it off your face. Put extra pieces of kitchen towel in your pockets and use them for doorknobs of toilets and high touch surfaces.

Go to the airport extra early, about 1-2 hours before the usual 2 hour guideline as you have no idea what the queue would be like to check in. At this point in time, YOU DO NOT WANT TO MISS YOUR FLIGHT.

#1 had an early morning flight and the airport was already crowded. It took her almost 2 hours to queue for check in, and it was time to walk straight through the packed airport to the departing gate.

4. Support your child and try to find the bright side

Kate was disappointed that she couldn't go to the airport to pick her sister up as big jie jie had to sit in the back seat by herself.

She brightened up and said, "I'm going to make the best welcome home card I've ever made in my life!"

She wrote:

"I have been looking forward to see you! And now I can finally see you again! But the sad thing is, you will have to stay home for 14 days! But look at the bright side! You still will be home."

It's not easy for the students returning, as they have had their plans thwarted, dreams dashed, new friendships separated and opportunities vanished, all in an instant.

Provide a listening ear, be empathetic, give them leeway with things we parents may find hard to put up with, like their sleeping patterns, not packing up their luggage, having assignments due yet not getting on with it. They need some time to get over their jetlag, to adjust and process everything that has happened. Some of them are still feeling angry at their studies being cut short and having the "worse internships or exchange experience" they could have, as compared to their peers. Some are disappointed that this opportunity they have saved so long for, planned so thoroughly for has suddenly been taken away and their future plans look uncertain.

5. Monitor your child's whereabouts

Our young adults have tasted full independence living abroad, and may not welcome their parents nosing around their lives. However, while the authorities are doing what they can by checking in on them via video call a few times a day, we should be vigilant as well. 

As parents, we need to do our part to ensure they do not leave the house, friends do not come over as no visitors are allowed, or worse, they should definitely not be out partying at night.

We are only as good as our weakest link.

Now is the time to be socially responsible. If everyone plays their part, we can get through this as best as possible.

Let's stand united in solidarity, looking out for one another, being gracious and patient, lending a hand to those who are in need, showing kindness, uplifting one another. In past eras, during tough times, communities banded together.

What are we writing on the blank pages of our history books?

We can get through this. Together.



About MummyWee


Michelle is an Occupational Therapist by day and mum of 6 by night. Besides the already very demanding job of managing 5 teenagers and one 6-turning-16 tween, she is also Founder of The Little Executive, a nurturing centre to develop children in their 4Qs to survive today's volatile world. She also makes time to volunteer with children and the elderly in her community.

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