I had been home in Johannesburg for just a few days, having spent the previous six months in Cape Town, when it was announced that the country would be going into lockdown for an initial period of 21 days.
The guidelines here in South Africa stipulate that we may go out to shop for essential items such as groceries and medicines (one member of a household at a time), and for doctors’ visits, otherwise, we are required to stay at home. Walking, jogging and even dog-walking outside the boundaries of our own homes is not permitted.
My plans for spending some lovely quality time with my boyfriend, and catching up with my daughter and grandson after not having seen them for months had to be put on hold.
Even though I felt extremely grateful that I do have a safe haven to go to during the lockdown period; the prospect of being alone in my flat for weeks on end, not being able to see my family and friends, or even to go out for a walk, seemed pretty daunting.
As I write this I have been at home for 24 days, the initial period having been extended by 14 days, so as things stand the very earliest we can expect our lockdown to be over is at the end of April.
It has certainly been a strange 24 days, the only interaction I have had with a real, live human being during this time has been a muffled greeting exchanged with a grocery delivery man, from behind my mask.
Because I know that I can’t predict or control what will happen in the next few weeks or months, I have been keeping to a daily routine to help minimise the stress of the uncertainty of these times.
I go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day (more or less), and prepare myself simple but nutritious meals. I also make sure I get properly dressed, including styling my hair and applying a little bit of makeup, before I start each day.
I have created a happy workspace on my balcony where I can make the most of the autumn sunshine that streams in during the mornings. I put the radio on in the background, and light a scented candle before I sit down at my computer.
My mornings are mostly taken up responding to emails and messages, and creating content for my social media channels.
I have also been hosting live Instagram chats to help stay connected with everyone; so far I have chatted with a life coach, a cosmetics chef, a makeup artist, a business coach, and a photographer.
Each day I make a point of touching base with some friends either with a text message, voice message or a good old-fashioned phone call.
I have even been to a few parties in the last couple of weeks! On Saturday evening I got dressed up for a 30th birthday party which was held on the Houseparty app.
During my quiet times, I concentrate on appreciating the beauty in the things around me; the sound of the birds in the trees outside, the warmth of the sun on my skin, the music playing softly on the radio. I am connecting with the memories held in the treasures in my home; three tiny carved elephants that belonged to my sweet great-grandfather, photographs of family members on holidays taken long before I was born, a handful of blue and white pottery pieces, soft to the touch from years under the sea, picked up on a beach in India.
Every evening my boyfriend and I catch up with a video call. We find ourselves talking about all the things that we want to do when this is over, and it is interesting to discover that it is the simple things that we miss the most. Top of our list is having breakfast together at our favourite local cafe, sitting outside in the sunshine and fresh air.
I can’t wait.