Confined with eleven children

Stéphanie Philibert gave birth to fourteen children. The three older ones fly on their own, the other eleven are confined with it, under the same roof.
In this time of “everyone at home” to overcome the coronavirus pandemic, every corner of the bungalow is occupied. It is here in Princeville that four girls and seven boys aged 6 months to 18 years grow up with their two parents, not to mention the two dogs, the guinea pig and the hamster.

The next time I find myself cramped in my house where I live and telecommute with two members of my family, I will take a deep breath and appreciate the inner calm that emanates from it.

My last meeting with Stéphanie Philibert dates back to last September, eight days after the birth of Clara, her fourteenth.

I can admit it today, I came out somewhat dazed from this interview where the children clearly needed to let go of their energy overflow when they returned from school and daycare.

With her infant in her arms, Stéphanie continued the conversation as if nothing had happened. Immunized against this noise, the woman from La Tuque was visibly happy to be surrounded as well.

“It must not be obvious these days …”, I told myself this week before contacting her to hear from her mother in isolation, but certainly not isolated.

“It is going well despite everything. I expected worse. I really thought it would be hell, ”she said straight away.

It is almost noon. Stéphanie has been awake since 2 a.m. The 44-year-old woman does not suffer from insomnia. She has been up at this time since the COVID-19 crisis turned up her agenda for a highly organized girl. Before, its dial sounded around 3 or 3:30 a.m., max.

To preserve her bubble, her mental and physical health, Stéphanie begins her days in the middle of the night …

Until sunrise at 5 a.m. in the morning, 6-year-old Coralie, the mother has three hours to herself. Stéphanie takes the opportunity to take a look at social networks, get a head start on housework and … train.

“I have a small gym in my room, a weight machine with weights. My boyfriend snores, he can’t hear anything. ”

Newly laid off, Claude Nadeau does not exercise an essential trade. Until further notice, the energy efficiency advisor can no longer make home visits.

He will be entitled to emergency financial assistance, but, as Stéphanie points out, this amount is below his usual salary. Beneficiary of the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan, she receives 55% of her weekly income.

“We delayed our mortgage payments for three months. It will allow us to breathe a little. ”

Stéphanie is not affected by COVID-19, but is no less affected by its collateral effects. Calling herself anxious by nature, the woman quickly felt the anxiety rising in her.

“What worried me the most at the start was the food. Everyone was wasting everywhere to buy stock. ”

When Stéphanie went to the grocery store, she was told that she had to limit herself to two dozen eggs in her basket.

“What do you want me to do with this?” That’s what I go through in one morning … ”

Discouraged, the woman and her partner took over the management of a Costco. They came out with enough to feed their offspring and a bill of $ 1,400. It sounds like a big sum, but in the end, Stéphanie maintains that she is saving money and avoiding further waste. At least this has been positive.

The far-sighted mother planned the meals – lunches and dinners – for the next six weeks. She can thus limit herself to a weekly visit to the grocery store, to buy milk, fruits and vegetables.

“It frees me from enormous stress!”

Stéphanie and her brood follow the instructions to the letter, staying at home and forbidding anyone to visit them. No risk to take with COVID-19.

“If the disease comes back to us, it will not go well. Half of my children have asthma. ”

Even Oliviey (writing well with a y), her eldest 24-year-old son who no longer lives with them, had to recover his tax paperwork from the gallery.

“We sent a beak through the window. This is what I find most difficult … ”

Stephanie may have eleven children in her skirts, but she is not bored of her three oldest. She has a thought for Andréanne, 22, a “guardian angel” who works as a nurse in the emergency department of the CHUL, in Quebec.

Mom can’t help but be worried about her big one. “I talk to her every day. I know it will take weeks – months? – before I see her again. ”

Eight of her eleven children at home are of school age and on forced leave. Raphaël attends CEGEP, his seven younger brothers and sisters are divided into as many primary and secondary levels.

“I set up a schedule so that they don’t lose their academic notions. I have seven levels to manage, it’s not easy! ”

Stéphanie made a painting which she pinned on the kitchen wall. Everything has been planned to the nearest hour for each member of his brats: time to read, to do work, to have access to the computer, etc.

“Since the children are locked up together in the house, they have come closer, they play more together”, rejoices their mother who has planned on-the-go sessions with her little ones who cannot go to romp outside as often than usual.

“I put exercise videos. They really like it! ”

At 7:30 p.m., Stéphanie is in bed, sleeping deeply until 2 a.m. … This is her life, the one she chose and that she is adapting to the current crisis.

“Normally, I don’t stop for five minutes, but there, I don’t need to have lunch in the morning, I’m not going anywhere because we can’t go out, I don’t do all the housework since we have no visitors. ”

Stéphanie laughs softly, taking advantage of this period of confinement with her eleven children.

“We take the time to take the time. Together.”

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