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A family with six children at home share self-isolation tips during coronavirus

PUBLISHED: 06:36 03 April 2020 | UPDATED: 08:28 03 April 2020

Gareth Hunt with his partner Ellie Godbold and five of their 13 children, Rheanna, Annemarie, Daisy, Lily and Poppy. Picture: Lauren De Boise.

Gareth Hunt with his partner Ellie Godbold and five of their 13 children, Rheanna, Annemarie, Daisy, Lily and Poppy. Picture: Lauren De Boise.

Archant

Gareth Hunt and his partner Ellie Godbold, from Bradwell, near Great Yarmouth, share 13 children between them and currently have six children living at home – as well as their daughter’s boyfriend - during the coronavirus lockdown.

Gareth Hunt, at the age 54, with his grandson who he is facetiming during the lockdown. Picture submitted.Gareth Hunt, at the age 54, with his grandson who he is facetiming during the lockdown. Picture submitted.

But the 58-year-old said self-isolation has brought them closer together and has shared his secrets and daily routine for coping in lockdown.

8am: My son Benny, 24, is a special needs assistant at East Coast College and a self-isolation day is like a normal working day as he can work from home over the phone, but he said he missed social interaction. He has set up an office in his bedroom. But it is a very surreal situation - it feels like a like a film - although we aren’t too stressed at the moment. Ellie and I also get up this time. We all tend to sort our own breakfasts out.

Gareth Hunt won Unsung Hero of the Year at the Stars of Norfolk and Waveney Awards 2019. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2019Gareth Hunt won Unsung Hero of the Year at the Stars of Norfolk and Waveney Awards 2019. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2019

10.30am - 11am: The girls, Annmarie, 19, Rheanna, 20, Daisy, 16, Lily, 14, and Poppy, 12, take advantage of the option to lie in, although they do go to bed the latest. They tend to have something light for breakfast and wait for lunch.

1pm: We all have lunch and sit around the table and chat. However, we all have different things. I had a toasted cheese sandwich, for example, while Ann-Marie had an avocado and salad and Poppy and Lily had mac and cheese. We also did a video call with the grandchildren after lunch. It was lovely as we all joined in.

Graham Hunt and his partner Ellie Godbold have shared tips for self-isolation. Picture: Lauren De Boise.Graham Hunt and his partner Ellie Godbold have shared tips for self-isolation. Picture: Lauren De Boise.

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2pm - 3.30pm: Lily and Poppy are both at school while Anne Marie and Daisy are both taking courses in media at East Coast College. They spend a bit of the afternoon studying. We leave them to it rather than sitting them down and forcing them to do it and it seems to be working fine.

4pm: We don’t see much of Benny as he is working, but he pops down for a cup of tea several times a day.

2pm – 5pm: As a prison officer at Norwich prison and community first responder, it’s business as usual for me but today I have a day off. I have spent most of the day in the garden. I put the trampoline away and trimmed the willow tree. During this time Ellie does some housework and has time to herself. Tomorrow will be different, however, as I am delivering food parcels for a homelessness charity across the Great Yarmouth area.

3.30pm -5.30pm: Rheanna is a hairdresser at Thomas H in Great Yarmouth and was studying beauty therapy in the evenings which has been put on hold due to Covid-19. Instead, she has been painting all the girls nails in the kitchen and doing their hair. I think, if anything, they have become closer and there haven’t been any squabbles at all.

5.30pm - 6.30pm: One of the girls will take one of our two dogs out for a walk for about half an hour to get some air and daily exercise in. I think the dogs are loving it but confused as to what is going on with all the attention and people in the house.

6.30pm: Ellie makes the dinner for everyone and tonight we are having spaghetti bolognese. We’re not finding food shopping too stressful at the moment. We are not panic-buying and just stick to what we would normally get.

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7.30pm: Most of the girls huddle in one bedroom and watch television. At the moment, they are watching Friday Night Dinner. Annmarie is very artistic and will normally spend this time designing things on her laptop. We don’t really see much of Rheanna, as her boyfriend Chance is with us, and they spend the evening together.

Benny is really into music, he studied it at university, and has set up a drum kit in the garage. He will either play drums or his guitar in the evening. All children will also video call their friends in the evening.

8pm: I don’t normally watch television because of my jobs as I can’t keep up with it. I’ll watch whatever is on or do preparation work as a community first responder. I think Ellie is watching Liar right now.

I make sure I speak to each of my children every day and ask them how they are coping physically and mentally when they see the news it must be a huge worry to them. I try to reassure them by telling them it will not last forever and put things in perspective. As they are just children they are not going to understand as well as I might do so I make an effort to simplify everything. But we are all in it together and, to help the situation, we try to be as normal as possible at home.

The family’s four top tips for surviving self-isolation

1. Have tolerance for everyone.

2. Allow people to have space and, also, give them space.

3. Understand everyone’s needs

4. Patience. It is a virtue.

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