Mom on day 64 of social distancing in Hong Kong says she's learned to 'embrace' the moment

Kathleen Pierce began staying home with her husband and two kids on Jan. 22.

For Kathleen Pierce, trips to the grocery store and the occasional walk to a neighboring town for a cup of coffee -- with masks on -- have been the only chances her family has had to get outside in the past 64 days.

Pierce, who has lived in Hong Kong for three years with her husband and two children, said she has been social distancing with her family since Jan. 22 as part of the broader effort to reduce the spread of novel coronavirus. She said she's learned to "embrace" and "appreciate" all the extra time at home with her family.

"Honestly, in the beginning, it was really overwhelming and it was difficult to make the adjustment. But then you start to embrace the boredom a little bit and everything slows down, and your expectations quiet down," Pierce, a businesswoman working for a U.S.-based company, told ABC News.

The novel coronavirus outbreak first began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. Hong Kong reported its first case of the virus on Jan. 23, according to the Associated Press.

As certain parts of China begin to relax strict lockdown measures, some aspects of normal life in Hong Kong also seem to be returning, albeit slowly. Pierce said her company has begun allowing employees to come into the office -- if they're comfortable with it -- on a per-team basis. Schools, she said, may reopen on April 20.

Although she said the social distancing has been "hard" and like a "roller coaster," she said that the collective action of people across Asia to do so early on was "helpful." Many of her friends and colleagues, she said, had experienced it before during the SARS epidemic.

"So they've lived through this before and they know how long a situation like this can last," Pierce said. "So everyone has been respectful of the requests for self-quarantine and, honestly, just keeping to themselves and keeping to their family."

Pierce said she's seeing a lot of people in the United States going through the same experiences she had when COVID-19 first began spreading throughout Asia.

There was an initial fear. There was panic buying; she said they had to wait 2 1/2 hours to buy toilet paper and that shelves were empty for weeks. And there was motivation, at least at first, to hunker down with each other and start new projects, complete a few puzzles or play more board games.

But as the time went by and her son and daughter became immersed in their own interests -- video games and the social media platform TikTok -- Pierce said she learned to embrace the moment.

"I think the things that surprised me the most … I thought that we would be doing activities together and that we would discover new things that the family loves to do," Pierce said. "In reality, what has been probably the nicer moments for me have been just when everybody's lazing about and chit-chatting and hanging out with no pressure or no expectation."

In an effort to keep her kids' stress levels low, Pierce said she and her husband chose not to place expectations on them, such as limits on screen time. "We've just tried to give them a little bit of space and room because this is stressful on them and we can't discount that," she said.

She's also limited the amount of news she consumes and said she only tells her kids the "baseline" of information that they need to "stay safe and get through the day."

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Pierce said that after they were asked to stay home, she didn't go anywhere but the grocery store for four weeks. She acknowledged how difficult it can be for people to stay home, and said she's been urging her mother in the U.S. to avoid going to work.

"It's tough for everybody to shut down their lives," she said.

On day 64 of social distancing, she and her family still haven't gone out to get their hair cut, they haven't run errands, like dry cleaning, and they have only sometimes ordered takeout from restaurants, she said.

"Life is barebones. Absolutely barebones," Pierce said.

Though social distancing has been hard, Pierce said "it's humbling to see the resiliency" of her friends and colleagues throughout Asia as well as those in the U.S. "I've been so blown away by how positive people have remained, how respectful people have remained and, honestly, [how] supportive of each other," she said.

Pierce offered advice and a message of hope for people in the U.S., many of whom have now been asked by state and local officials to stay at home if not given stricter shelter-in-place orders.

"Take it seriously. It's uncomfortable. It's miserable. It's not fun to have life interrupted, but it's necessary," she said. "I think what I've learned is a lot of patience over the last, what, 10 weeks. Just to sort of embrace this moment and embrace this change. And it, too, will pass."