4 months of Covid-19: Learning to parent through a pandemic
In March 2020 when the lockdown was announced, everyone was a bit worried but they welcomed the time at home. Kids were excited to be away from school, have their parents at home and get the attention they have always wanted. But over the following 4 months, that excitement in parents and kids somewhat diminished. When the lockdown was extended, it felt like there would be no respite in the immediate future. Although these times have been tough, I believe that we as a family have evolved and further strengthened our bond during these times. I have been deploying the 3 key tools – patience, empathy and innovation in the lockdown, to make it work for my family.
My role as a parent has taken on another dimension. I have taken a more proactive role. I wanted to make sure that my kids know that they can communicate with me regarding anything that’s been bothering them. I realised that instead of expecting my kids to step up, I had to be patient enough to be able to walk a mile in their shoes to understand what they are going through. Therefore, I decided to let my guard down and go online to upgrade myself to understand their world.
Initially during the lockdown, my young one acted out in ways he usually didn’t. For example, waking up late, refusing to take a bath, eating his lunch late in the afternoon and complaining about being not being able to meet his friends. But as his parents we responded by being more patient towards him and letting him have his way at times. After talking to some of his friends’ parents we were able to arrange for some video calls for the kids to have a virtual party. My husband and I, try to adjust with our kids rather than them adjusting to us.
Managing work, household chores and looking after the kids proved to be a bit overwhelming during the initial days of lockdown for us as a couple. But gradually we have found ways to distribute the task of keeping the kids engaged between us very effectively. I get them to do regular exercises in the morning and their father takes out time to play games such as 1000-piece jigsaw and watch movies with them.
The humanitarian aspects have taken a front seat in my life right now. At this point, I don’t feel that I need to focus only on my career and accomplishments. Last week, I was pleasantly surprised, when I was a bit worried that my son’s school has not started with their online classes yet. But my son said that it’s okay to wait since everyone might not have the facility to attend online classes yet and are possibly trying to figure out a solution for the same. We as parents need to be more empathetic to our kids and the society as a whole. We have continued to giving salaries to people who provide domestic help, helped them to understand the basics of online transactions and offered water to online delivery persons. Kids learn such qualities from parents and being empathetic should be an important learning for any kid. During this lockdown I have also had clarity of going back to the basics as far as my role as a parent is concerned. My husband and I have been doing our best to keep our kids safe, calm and occupied, provide them with a healthy diet and talk, talk, talk to them. I, along with most of the other fellow parents, have seen the kids reciprocate in kind, whether they are 8 or 18 years old.
It was up to me as a parent to change my way of doing things so that my children can benefit from things around them to the maximum. I have now started supplementing their learning at home with fun worksheets and activities that will reinforce what they are learning at school and I will be able to assess where they stand. So, if it’s English, I will ask my young one to read a book and write a book review to assess how much he has understood while also checking his vocabulary skills. If it’s Math that he seems to be struggling with, I get him to help with the grocery bill. A little multiplication with decimals can get those grey brain cells burning. Nowadays, a lot of OTT platforms have come up with really engaging shows about flora and fauna. My son really likes these documentaries and learns a lot from these. Other than this, I often encourage my husband to strike up conversations about interesting topics. Last weekend, I remember the three of us were really invigorated with a debate contrasting Akbar and Humayun. We dug deep, questioned more and my child came up to me and said, “Wow, history can be really FUN!” Through all the resources at my disposal, I want to make them ready for the time when school re-opens.
So, I was wondering will the lockdown change how we are as parents for good? Will the old ways of parenting return — less quality time, less conversation, less instances of the family having meals together? As a parent, my constant efforts to connect and communicate with my kids have really paid off. Thus, I would like to maintain the communication between my kids and me. All this time together has also made me realise that I have developed greater trust in my children’s ability to manage challenging situations. I also realised that my kids don’t need that many things. Rather sometimes, all they need is a bit of patience and guidance on how things can be done.
Although the pandemic has been challenging for my husband and myself, it has also helped us evolve as parents, understand our children better and be prepared as a family to tackle every uncertainty that comes our way. Kyuki agaar taiyaari sahi ho, toh jeet paaki hai! – In association with ICICI Prudential Life.
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