How a Halifax family of 9 is coping during the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic is making life interesting for a Halifax family of nine.

Stephanie Potter and her husband, Tim, have seven children who range in age from two to 12.

Potter said her family has been practising social distancing because Tim has Type 1 diabetes and is immunocompromised.

"It would be devastating if COVID-19 made its way into our family and into our home," Potter told CBC's Mainstreet Thursday. "So we're being extra cautious right now."

As of Thursday, there were 73 confirmed cases of the virus in Nova Scotia.

Stephanie Potter

Potter has been working from home since March 13. 

She said she's not the family member whose schedule has been disrupted the most.

"It's our four year old who suddenly has a lot more playmates, but [also] a lot more competition for what shows we're going to watch, who's going to play with the toy he wants … and for attention as well," she said. 

"So there's been some working to try to make peace in a house with nine people."

Grocery shopping for 9 people

Potter has been trying to get groceries once a month, but when shopping for nine people it can look like she's hoarding.

"I do notice people look at us sideways, because they think that we're hoarding, when the reality is this is two, three weeks of food for us," she said.

Potter said she often buys about 27 loaves of bread every three weeks.

Stephanie Potter

But other than needing to search multiple stores for toilet paper, she hasn't been disappointed. 

"Most of the staples, things like peanut butter and bread, we've had no problems picking up. We just have to be very, very careful about when we go," she said. 

Potter has been picking up granola bars and Goldfish crackers for the kids to snack on while they're not in school.

Schools shut down for 2 weeks

Nova Scotia schools were ordered to close for two weeks following March Break, a decision that affects five of her children.

Potter said she's heard some discussion of classes moving online, but with seven children, she said the household doesn't have enough devices to make it work.

"I think we're in for the long haul with COVID-19," she said.

"So from my perspective for the elementary-aged kids, because they're grades 5 and under, I wouldn't mind if school was out for summer."

But she's hoping her child in Grade 7 can continue classes online.

Advice for other parents

Potter said bad weather has kept her children indoors, so they've been relying on books, movies and their imaginations to get through the pandemic.

"Trust in your kids ability to entertain themselves. I know there's a feeling that we need to be giving them all these worksheets and setting them up for school or managing their play in a really intentional way," she said.

"But in the same way that our life has lost a lot of its consistency and structure, what they need is home to be a safe place."

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