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COVID-19 Diaries: In Spain, Routine Keeps Adults and Children Sane

People are seen holding roses outside the Hospital Clinic on Saint George's Day (Sant Jordi), as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in Barcelona, Spain, April 23, 2020.
People are seen holding roses outside the Hospital Clinic on Saint George's Day (Sant Jordi), as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in Barcelona, Spain, April 23, 2020.

In Spain the confinement began on March 14.

Since then we have not been out on the street, except to buy food and throw away the garbage.

There are 45 apartments in the building where we live with our young son, 200 meters from the sea in the Poblenou neighborhood of Barcelona. It was built in 1970 and therefore there are many older people.

But it is also a neighborhood in transformation and has attracted many new families. In all of Barcelona, it is now the neighborhood with the most children.

In Spain, Routine Keeps Parents and Children Sane During Lockdown
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At least one resident of my building is in the hospital, and others believe they have gone through a COVID-19 infection at home. This means we should not use the elevator, so we use the stairs to climb to the sixth floor.

Before the epidemic, our 6-year-old son Victor used to go to the apartment of Manuel or Greta, his 6-year-old neighbors. Other times, they came here to play and sometimes the three of them played together.

Since the confinement began, the children are in their homes; they have not seen one another or been able to speak, except for once by video conference.

Finally, we are permitted to take the kids out to play on the streets for an hour a day. Maybe they will be able to see each other, but physical contact is not allowed. They will not be able to hug each other or play together.

There are also problems with working from home while trying to care for the children and see to their education. Digital tools help, but also open a divide between the children who have more access to the internet and those who do not.

Routine has become our most important tool. Routines give children security; repeating activities lets them know what comes next.

At home we try to keep an order. We have a daily routine that begins with dressing after breakfast; we will not go outside, but doing the same thing every day helps children feel safe.

After getting dressed, the writing and reading classes begin; drawing and playing come later. Before eating, our son must wash his hands and help set the table. After eating, he can watch television. Thanks to digital platforms, there are plenty of opportunities for educational cartoons.

In the afternoon it is time to continue playing. Creativity must be like patience -- inexhaustible. You need to invent activities that combine entertainment with physical exercise, including skating, fitness, crossfit, dance, soccer or tennis, all in our narrow hallway.

Before dinner we make video conferences with our relatives: Victor's grandparents and older brothers who are not at home, and whom we miss and would like to hug.

Then comes the time for a shower and dinner. A few days ago, Victor said that he no longer wanted me to tell him a story at night. He is growing up, I guess.

At 8 p.m., dinner time is approaching. This is a special time of day when everyone goes to the window to applaud the health workers. This creates an atmosphere of community as we see all our neighbors joining in to thank the people who are on the front line of fighting the pandemic.

Our appreciation goes out to the male and female doctors and nurses, and the nursing home staff. It also extends to the people who work in the stores or transportation, who must take the risk of daily contact with the public.

After this special moment, is the time for parents to watch the news; during the day we do not look at it to avoid overexposure.