With Omicron spreading fast, Postpartum doula and Ima Circle community creator Benita Zive shares 5 tips on how to show up and show you care.

When I had Covid a few months back, being in isolation triggered memories of my three postpartum experiences: being on the back foot physically and emotionally, struggling to meet the needs of my family with diminished capacity, being alone and bedroom-bound for long stretches…

Our family rollercoaster-ed our way through both these experiences (postpartum and Covid) with support from friends, relatives - even relative strangers – literally holding us together.

Community support – particularly mothers supporting each other – is something very close to my heart. Schmaltzy as it sounds, there’s radical healing power in shared stories, knowing that someone else has been there and lived to tell the tale, and home-cooked lasagne.

Right now, Covid is causing chaos and our village and collective capacity is feeling diminished with so many families in iso, but for those of us who can and want to help, it’s an opportunity to reach out and do good.

  1. Just do it

People struggle to ask for help. Expect to have well-meaning offers to help met with trepidation because people are playing it coy and feigning modesty; don’t want to burden or inconvenience you, or want to avoid feeling beholden to return the favour. Do it anyway – even without asking.

If you reach out, be specific. Make it easy for them to say yes.

Tell them they’re doing you a favour in giving you an opportunity to do a mitzvah.

If they insist on doing something for you in return, tell them to pay it forward (literally, to a local charity, or to someone else you know who needs it).

  1. Shop ‘n drop

To minimize the ‘perceived inconvenience’ (see above) that isolating people may want to spare you, call them directly from the shops:

“I’m at Woolies / Dis-Chem / Checkers getting groceries / toiletries / dinner. What can I get for you and drop off on my way home?”.

A friend with small kids who recently came out of isolation is so desperate for an excuse to get out of the house she’ll happily brave Piazza da Luz or the V&A Waterfront at peak shopping hours because “cruising the supermarket aisles during peak holiday season is the new Mauritius”. I can so relate.

And yes, everyone’s on a budget, but extra groceries, toiletries, or prescription meds are manageable for most people.

When shopping for kids avoid plastic toy ‘landfill’ and opt for activity books, art and craft supplies, outdoor games, etc. (Mighty Small on Buitenkant Street has awesome locally-made items: https://www.mightysmall.co.za)

Text your estimated delivery time and arrange to leave your parcel on the doorstep to negate the need for small talk and potential Covid spread.

  1. Check-in

Regardless of how sick or not sick they are, people in isolation need rest.

Regular virtual check-ins (call, text or voice-note now and then) or a card or handwritten note delivered with your shop ‘n drop alleviates loneliness, but don’t push for deep meaningful conversations, or even a response. Keep your vibe sunny and upbeat and leave medical advice to the professionals (and CSO’s Covid monitoring program: https://www.csocape.org.za/).

  1. Join the meal-train

Nothing beats a home-cooked meal but store-bought or restaurant-made and delivered meals are just as good. (For nourishing homemade Kosher food deliveries speak to Barbara Saacks +27834482085 or Hadassah Friedman +27833461795).

Check dietary requirements first and offer to set up a meal-train (apps like takethemameal.com make it super-easy) to avoid doubling-up and ensure all meals are catered for. If you’re shopping or ordering in, support local small businesses wherever possible. They need it. 

  1. Make Shabbat special

Disconnecting for Shabs isn’t as magical as usual for isolating individuals. When you’re sick or taking care of sick people and keeping Shabbat, 25ish hours sans contact with the outside world seems like eternity.

Aside from basics like challah, Kiddush wine and food (salad, dips and deli-style stuff that can be eaten cold, and/or dishes that can be warmed easily on a hot-tray) consider creating an unexpected personalized ‘lucky packet’ containing things to read (a juicy page-turner, or print out spiritual or newsy articles from the internet), games to play (card games like Top Trumps are fun for the whole fam), cute T-shirts or pj’s to shloomph around in, flowers (or a sprig of lavender or rosemary) to pop in a bedside vase, and treats - lots of them - healthy and non.