This spring, all of our lives changed in a big way. Those of us who could, stayed home – doing our part to keep our communities safe. Nearly overnight, our living spaces became our “everything” spaces. We worked at home. Did schoolwork at home. Socialized, dined, played and exercised at home.
Here at BCAA, we all coped with pandemic life as best we could, serving Members and customers while keeping our own families as safe as possible. Read on for some of our stories. We’re guessing they sound a lot like yours!
Simon Luong, Team Lead of BCAA’s Cambie Village Service Location, gets some fresh air with his family during the shutdown.
Team Lead, BCAA Cambie Village Service Location
#StayHome crew: Wife and kids aged 5 and 3
Home base: Two-bedroom condo in Richmond
Wellness savers: Bike rides, walks, FaceTime play dates for the kids
Life lesson learned: Siblings are the best playmates
With two young children and another on the way, Simon Luong and his wife knew they were going to have a busy spring. Then along came the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The challenge right now is, there are no more breaks for us,” Simon said in April, when he was working part-time from home, and part-time in the BCAA Cambie Village Service Location (which closed to the public but stayed active for employees providing essential services to customers over the phone). His wife, a Grade 2 and 3 teacher, taught lessons from home on Zoom.
“During my lunch break, I’m making the kids lunch. On my 15-minute break I’m checking: OK, what are you guys doing – are you driving mom mad?” he said, laughing. Luckily, their daughters coped well. “They have a play friend in each other, so [staying home] doesn’t seem to be disrupting them,” he said. “Their spirits are pretty high.”
Another bright spot for him was helping BCAA Members and customers over the phone: “I’m amazed at how positive everyone is – generally people are very happy with us, so spirits are relatively high with my colleagues, too.”
BCAA Senior Member Experience Representative Darshan Andrews (right) and her daughter Maddie shared a bedroom/office space during the pandemic.
BCAA Senior Member Experience Representative, Road Assist
#StayHome crew: 19-year-old daughter
Home base: Two-bedroom condo in Maple Ridge
Wellness savers: Making ear protectors for local hospitals, gardening, social media
Life lesson learned: Co-workers are a social lifeline
When her daughter moved across the country to attend the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax last year, Darshan turned her condo’s second bedroom into an office. She had just gotten the all-clear from BCAA to work full-time from home when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
“I’m fortunate in that I already had everything ready to go,” she said.
Then the universities shut down, and her daughter, Maddie, flew home. From then on, the two had to time-share the office space. “She sleeps in the room and then gets up and moves to my room when I start at 5 a.m.,” said Darshan.
Darshan’s two other daughters, aged 12 and 15, stayed with their father and stepmother during the shutdown. To stay connected, they all did physically distanced driveway visits, FaceTime and Snapchat. But it was hard. “I’m a very social person, so it’s killing me not to be around all of the people I love,” said Darshan at the time.
Sewing ear savers for local healthcare workers, and connecting with family and friends through apps and social media, helped her stay positive.
“I’m finding I’m talking more with people I don’t usually get a chance to chat with,” she said. That included co-workers: “Within our teams, I think we’ve gotten closer through this. I think it has really encouraged teamwork, compassion and care.”
BCAA Senior Associate Marketing Manager Erin Tarampi (far right) and her family (front) lived and worked together with her sister’s family (back) during the COVID-19 pandemic.
BCAA Senior Associate Marketing Manager
#StayHome crew: Husband and kids aged 7 and 9, plus sister and kids aged 1 and 5
Home base: Detached house in Coquitlam
Wellness savers: Multi-family dinners, cousin playtime, quiet moments
Life lesson learned: It takes a village
With seven people under one roof during the shutdown, you’d think Erin Tarampi and her family would have been overcrowded. Instead, they felt lucky that her sister had moved into their basement suite last summer with her two little ones.
“It could easily have been my husband and I living together, working and driving each other crazy,” said Erin in April. “But having my sister, with whom we both get along wonderfully, changes the dynamic.”
The kids entertained each other, and there were three parents on hand to share in the child care. “We’re all managing by helping each other balance as best we can,” said Erin. She and her husband Ryan, a project manager, used an office in their attic, while her sister worked downstairs. Having so many people around could be overwhelming, so small mental-health moments were key: even just sitting alone in a bedroom with a salt lamp for a few minutes, doing a yoga video or Zooming with girlfriends.
Without fail, the household crew got together to bang pots and pans in honour of healthcare workers at 7 p.m., along with families across the province. It was a great distraction from worrying about an uncertain future, said Erin: “For now we’re trying to focus on being grateful for the situation we’re in.”
BCAA Surrey Service Location Advisor Doriana Pandyra takes the family for a walk during the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown.
Service Advisor, BCAA Surrey Service Location
#StayHome crew: Husband and kids aged 2 and 4
Home base: Townhouse in Langley
Wellness savers: Dancing, YouTube yoga videos, riding bikes
Life lesson learned: One day at a time
Fresh air was the Pandyra family’s saving grace during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“On days when we don’t get outside, everybody’s mood is sort of blah,” said Doriana. “If the kids get sucked into too much tablet or screen, it devolves into cranky chaos. And for my husband, working from home, [in the basement office] the challenge is turning it off. Sometimes he just gets sucked in and he’s down there forever.”
During the pandemic shutdown, Doriana worked part-time in BCAA’s Surrey Service Location (closed to the public but active for employees providing essential services to customers on the phone). Her husband Mike, a web developer, worked from home. On her office days, the kids went to “daycare” at their grandparents’ places. On her days off, she spent most of her time focused on keeping everyone quiet for dad’s meetings – or keeping them busy with activities like dancing, yoga, cycling and watching movies in a makeshift home theatre.
“It’s interesting because there are some days when it’s all hunky-dory, and then some you wake up and the scope of everything just comes to the forefront of your mind, and you think, oh, I’m missing out on this, and the kids are missing out on that,” she said. “So we’re taking it one day at a time.”
BCAA Production and Advertising Coordinator Tom Kramer (second from left) and his roommates built a backyard half-pipe during the shutdown.
BCAA Production and Advertising Coordinator
#StayHome crew: Three 20-ish roommates
Home base: Detached house in North Vancouver
Wellness savers: Playing music, cooking, woodworking, gardening, skateboarding
Life lesson learned: Active is a state of mind
What do four outdoorsy roommates do when they’re stuck at home for weeks? Build a half-pipe in the backyard and get skateboarding, of course.
But that’s not all. In between work days (two of them worked from home and two on job sites), Tom and his roommates set up a woodworking studio. They built benches, boxes and cutting boards. They planted a garden.
Social pursuits like parties and dating moved online during the pandemic, so it was a relief to have good friends so close, said Tom.
“I’m very lucky I get along with all my roommates,” he said. “There hasn’t been any drama.” There was music, however: “I picked up a banjo and also started playing guitar,” he said. The group even recorded a special Happy Birthday song for Tom’s 24-year-old brother, who got sick and recovered from COVID-19 (a remix of Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire”).
All of the roommates stayed diligently away from family members and other friends. So FaceTime and Skype were key. Tom even connected with extended family in South Africa. “I’ve had some video chats that I probably wouldn’t have before,” he said. “It’s been kind of cool to connect with family across the ocean.”
There’s no place like home!
We’re proud to offer BCAA Members up to 20% off our already-competitive home insurance rates.
BCAA Senior Insurance Advisor Nicole Walker (right) stayed home with her husband, Paul, and daughter.
BCAA Senior Insurance Advisor
#StayHome crew: Husband and 11-year-old daughter
Home base: Detached house in Victoria
Wellness savers: Listening to music, cycling, trampoline sessions, Wii Fit
Life lesson learned: Teachers are amazing
“It’s a kid’s dream come true, but a parent’s nightmare,” joked Nicole about the pandemic shutdown that had her working from home and home-schooling her 11-year-old daughter.
“I don’t mind getting out of bed, grabbing coffee and walking to my computer to start my day,” she said of her morning ritual. “But being home with my daughter, day in and day out, while trying to work is very challenging. And not having that routine of getting dressed up to go to the office and interact with co-workers – I definitely miss seeing the folks I work with.”
Home-schooling proved challenging, too. “My daughter needs to be doing two to three hours of school work each day and needs help,” she said. “Math was my worst subject in school. Thankfully, my husband is a math whiz.” Her husband, Paul, is also a Canada Post carrier, who was out on the pandemic frontlines, delivering mail daily.
It helped them to know the situation was, ultimately, temporary. “I just keep thinking to myself that I know this is going to end one day,” she said.