Shelter in Place – What I Learned the First Six Days

Stacey GustafsonOur first week under ‘shelter in place’ or stay-at-home stressed the importance of family and safety. I realized that at this time, all I could do to help others was to stay inside and not contribute to the spread of COVID-19.

With a Bachelor’s in math and statistics, the foreseeable future seemed grim. Based on the growth of COIVD-19, our isolation would last a minimum of eight weeks, unlikely to flatten the curve before May. The virus gained strength by 30% a day. It was a bunch of nonsense to believe we’d be moving around by Easter.

And I asked myself, “What can I learn during shelter in place?”

Day 2 – What It Means to Shut Down

March 17, 2020

The morning began with an explosion of test messages between my friends. We shared recipes to make beer bread since yeast was out at the stores.

Then we bartered for supplies. “Anyone have onions?” I asked and within the hour a paper bag appeared at my front door. I would try to repay her with a stick of butter.

And last week, our dog stopped eating his regular kibble; I caved to his complaints, and started feeding him chicken and rice. That he gobbled down. But now, with chicken in short supply, I regretted my choice. It’s either the dog or us and my husband got first dibs.

By afternoon, a friend heard I needed more chicken and another bag appeared on my front porch. Half for the dog, half for us. I worry the stores won’t have enough food to replenish their empty shelves since people are hoarding.

‘Shelter in place’ only worked if all participate

On a trip to the mailbox, I passed five middle school boys on bikes. What happened to the order to stay at home? Not everyone was taking this as serious as most my friends. ‘Shelter in place’ only worked if all participate. This will take longer than we imagined.

Stacey GustafsonAfter lunch, I tried to talk to my husband about the state of affairs. I can’t get COVID-19 off my mind. His phone rang again and he rushed off. I discovered my husband used the speakerphone from 7AM – 7PM. I must find a noise-cancelling headset. I went upstairs to make a JibJab.

I check-in on my adult kids, both worked from home. My daughter texted me, “I have only been inside for 12 hours and I think I’m going to loose my mind.” The quarantine will be hardest on the extroverts who get their energy from others.

Ways to Pass the Time

In the evening, I texted friends some more. We make light of the fact that we can’t buy milk and

will have to drink wine instead. I passed the time and made a funny meme on rationing toilet paper and posted on Facebook.

Around 6:30, my husband asked, “What’s for dinner?” After the meal, we binged watched This is Us. I have a feeling our days will be like Groundhog Day with Bill Murray.

What I learned?

I am a lucky woman to have friends who looked after me, noticed I needed something and helped without asking. Friendships will be important in the coming days and we promised to help each other with supplies, support and local news updates as much as possible.

Day 3 – Using Technology to Connect

March 18, 2020

My day started the same as the previous, frantic calls and text messages to friends and family. “How are you doing? Do you need any help? Have you seen the news?”

A friend sent me a link to a Free COVID-19 Certification Class. She noticed I devoured everything online related to COVID-19. Surprise, I got 100% on the Coronavirus test and waiting my certificate.

Around 4:00 PM, I participated in a virtual meeting with Toastmasters, a non-profit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership. Our club’s a close-knit group who enjoyed storytelling and camaraderie. After a few bumps with Zoom, we all connected and held a one-hour meeting.

What I learned?

We crave human interaction whether in person or virtually. It’s important for mental and physical health. Don’t forget to continue to make connection with your loved ones during the ‘shelter in place.’

Day 4 – Shit Happens

March 19, 2020

Today I meet Marty, carpet guy. I made the colossal mistake of converting our dog from dry to

Stacey Gustafson

moist food too fast. Accidents happen and Marty came to the rescue. Carpet cleaning was considered essential business and still opened.

At the door, I said to him, “We’re going to handle this like a drug deal. You leave the goods; I’ll pay the cash. We never see each other again. Got it?” He stayed six feet away and got to work.

When life serves you crap, you might need a little help to clean it up. 

What I learned?

Most people are good. Like Mr. Rogers said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” Today I found Marty.

Day 5 – Virtual Book Club

March 20, 2020

Since my last Zoom videoconference, I felt like an expert. Our book club decided to give it a try. We longed for contact and friendship during the isolation. After inquiring about each other’s health, we got down to the business of discussing our book, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance.

What I Learned?

Keeping a routine and socializing with friends is especially important when you are under quarantine. Be creative and find ways to connect.

Day 6 – Days are Monotonous

March 21, 2020

My husband ground our favorite Kona coffee and served me a steamy mug. After an Amazon delivery, he said, “I’ll get it,” then sprayed the package with Lysol, removed the items, used disinfectant wipes and washed his hand.

Side-by-side, the evening news shocked us as spring breakers frolicked on Florida beaches without a care in the world. All states must participate in order to fight a pandemic. This was going to take more time to get all states on board.

What I learned?

Pick a husband you could be in isolation with for over 552 hours. Choose a partner who thinks about you first and will protect you from germs. Patience and compassion are important qualities because when quarantined, you need someone who can handle your tears and frustrations. Select a spouse who makes your favorite coffee and remembers how you like it. I am a very lucky woman indeed.

Day 7 – Virtual Game Night

March 22, 2020

We craved contact with our family and my daughter scheduled Game Night for six players. Phones and computers are used as controllers by connecting to purchased through Amazon.

Five party games were included:

  • YOU DON’T KNOW JACK 2015 (1-4 players)
  • Fibbage XL (2-8 players)
  • Drawful (3-8 players)
  • Word Spud (2-8 players)
  • Lie Swatter (1-100 players)

Our favorite was Drawful. You used your smart phone and finger to draw pictures based on clues provided. Very little skill necessary.

What I learned?

Laughter connects and gets you through tough times. It helps keep things in perspective. When we laugh, endorphins are released and we feel good all over. Try to find the humor in a bad situation.

Check back in next week to discover “Things to Do During Shelter in Place.”


About staceygustafson


  1. Camille Thompson says

    Another great post. A little funny and a lot of useful info. Thanks for helping to keep me sane. 🙂

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