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How will you cope with six months in coronavirus isolation?

How will you cope with six months in coronavirus isolation?

Did he really say six months?

It's only been a few weeks of COVID-19 social-distancing and self-isolation and already Australians are asking the question, "how long will it drag on for and how will we get through it".

As social isolation rules heighten by the day, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has warned all Australians to prepare for the possibility that they may need to "completely change the way they are going to live for the next six months at least".

Australians are looking down the barrel of months and months of home learning, wrangling kids, working from home, no income and the only social contact they have outside of their family is the staff at the local supermarket!

Jessica McKay lives on a farming property 30km out of Warren, in the Orana region of NSW, and is homeschooling her four children, ranging from year seven at high school to year one, due to COVID-19 guidelines.

While admitting she doesn't want to entertain the thought of this situation stretching on for six months, she is embracing structure and organisation to get her family through it.

"Every day there are always huge upheavals but then there's also nice moments I've found," Mrs McKay said.

"I think I'm being a better mum, to be honest, I have to sit with them. During the holidays I say 'go play'. Now, I need to give them more than 'go play' - it's just not enough.

"We're cooking together and coming up with things to do outside but we're really lucky, we've got all the space we could ever want."

Mrs McKay says she is making her children's learning her focus and is even doing a spot of lesson planning.

"I can't get anything done in the house because as soon as I go, they disperse.

"I have to plan, I have to be organised because if I'm not organised it all falls apart and they can tell or if it's too easy they can do it in two seconds."

"My old attitude of 'go play' doesn't wash anymore."

Mrs McKay is coming up with creative ways to teach from Lego challenges to the garden obstacle course - complete with 100 trampoline jumps and totem tennis.

"It's interesting and it's hard but it's been good in a way. It makes you really appreciate their teachers and just trying to be a better parent too, so you make the day good for all of us."

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Her approach is to make the time and take one day at a time.

"I really can't think of it being six months though, that's too depressing. I'm thinking until after the holidays and then we will just deal with it after that."

Mrs McKay said it's also the "little things" that will get them through - for example the understanding local IGA.

"I email my order and they pack it for me, I go in, pick it up and they are amazing. They are only selling two rolls of toilet paper per customer but they know my family is large so they give me more.

"If they didn't do that, it would mean more shopping basically and that's what we are trying to avoid, you just have to plan it all out."

HARDWORK: Nail technician Marci Walker worked hard to get her business up and running before having to close due to COVID-19 shutdowns.

HARDWORK: Nail technician Marci Walker worked hard to get her business up and running before having to close due to COVID-19 shutdowns.

While some are able to take a structured approach, a plan of attack is a little more difficult for others - particularly for those unable to work.

Small business owner Marci Walker is not only looking at an extended period at home but has also been forced to close her thriving nail technician business in Wynyard, Tasmania - Marci Rose Nails and Beauty.

Now with a question mark as to when she'll be back at work, Ms Walker is exploring the government packages that may be available to her to help her through the shutdown.

"MyGov at the moment, you just log on and you can make a claim but I haven't heard back yet and they did say it will take a while because of, I imagine, the number of claims and people calling in.

"So I'm pretty much just waiting on that at the moment. I'm still not really sure I'll be eligible for anything due to my partner still working - it's a bit of a tough one ... it's very unclear what you're actually entitled to - or if anything at all."

"So, hopefully, I'll hear back from them soon, then if not, it's hard to know what to do."

In the meantime, Ms Walker said she is trying to come up with some ideas on transforming her hands-on business to something she can do in isolation.

"There are not a lot of things I can do business-wise - a lot of people have things they can do working from home.

"I'm making up some kits for clients so they can remove their nails at home and just some things like that - just to try and do something. It's really hard for me because there is not a lot I can actually offer without working on clients myself."

"I'm constantly waiting for an idea to pop into my head in the meantime to try and still make some income."

She is taking the shut-down period one day at a time.

"We have a dog and we are trying to adopt once a day exercise just to get out of the house.

"I'm also a very big list person, so I've been trying to write down as many jobs as I can possibly get through that I can think of.

"Once I get to the end of the list, hopefully, I'll be ready to go back to number one again," she laughed.

BUSY LADY: Lois Johnson is used to being busy and active in her community.

BUSY LADY: Lois Johnson is used to being busy and active in her community.

And, then there are those who are going to use the time to throw themselves into their hobby, which is the case for Marnoo grandmother Lois Johnson.

"I'm going to quilt," Mrs Johnson said.

Marnoo is a small town of 122 people in Victoria's Wimmera region.

"Well, we live in a very small community anyway, so we've been self-isolating more or less for a long time in a small group," Mrs Johnson laughed.

"But you still go out and do the things you need to do and I've been going into Stawell for the quilting group on a Thursday and I do my shopping while I'm out and of course all that is finished up."

She will use Facebook and messenger to keep in touch with her elderly parents, family and friends and even share updates of her projects with her quilting friends.

Time is also currently taken up by Mrs Johnson's grandchildren and daughter who are self-isolating with them.

She and husband Lyle will continue to run their essential truck maintenance business through the shutdown.

"He's still working because he does work alone or nearly alone. We're still just discussing whether we keep our doors open or by appointment or what we need to do for the general community but it's important that we keep going too because we service farmers and they still need to put crops in and do what they need to do."

Mrs Johnson said she'll keep herself busy.

"I'm busy and because there are things that I do craft-wise, I quilt, I'll have no worries about being at home except, of course, I'll have to work occasionally.

"What it's going to look like down the track ... I hope we're not in isolation for such a long time.

"I think even the thought of it will make us feel mad. I think people need to wait and see what the reality of it is and not go on expectations and hearsay."

Locally not a lot happens on a regular basis but what does happen is planned. Small towns have been making their own fun for years.

"Small towns will probably come out of this not feeling as battered and bruised compared to some of the bigger places who are looking for that entertainment and looking for outside stimulation.

"We've been in social isolation for years - especially when we have no hotel anymore and no milk bar and that was harder to get along with than what we are dealing with now."

Most importantly to get through this period, she's following the guidelines.

"If people do follow the recommendations that they are given then we will get out of it so much quicker."

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This story How will you cope with six months in coronavirus isolation? first appeared on The Canberra Times.