Pandemic parenting Life & Style

Lockdown parenting: It’s time to slow down

Find engaging activities to do together   | Photo Credit: Deepak Sethi

“Mama, let us chat about trains.”

On a normal day, this would have been a perfect way to spend a few quiet moments bonding with my 10-year-old. But it is 7 am, when I am in the bathroom trying to start another day of curfew with some me-time.

With the nation-wide lockdown firmly in place, families are struggling with having their children at home all day. Happily, for many, school exams are cancelled and the pressure to study has been taken away for now. Yet summer looms.

The minute lockdown orders were issued, parents panicked. What would our kids do all day, especially if they could not go out to play? No playdates, no summer camp, no office to escape to. All that time stuck at home — that is something to worry about, in addition to spying on elderly parents determined to go out to chat with the neighbours.

Ignore those forwards

Parenting in the time of coronavirus has taken on a whole new meaning with 24x7 access to social media and well-meaning, equally panicky friends. We have all received a dozen or more WhatsApp messages listing colourful DIY timetables, websites and apps that will not only keep your child busy but will also energise his/her brain on holiday. For parents already struggling to keep children busy, are these forwards helping or causing them more pressure?

Business analyst Sayantika Adak Ghosh ignores the WhatsApp messages, when it comes to her six-year-old son. “I have a more instinctive approach,” she says. “Some things are non-negotiable: food, schedule, discipline, behaviour. I let him figure out the rest.”

But Ramya Coushik, a software marketer, natural farmer and parent to two boys, 14 and 11, says they do not have a structure in place “as my boys and I believe that a rigid format would be a killjoy during summer vacations. Not everything gets done every day — they decide the schedule and get to each of the activities a couple of times a week based on their preference. We fit in TV and gaming [a rarity in our household] around the mandatory activities.”

Online lessons

Children in IB and some other schools still have assignments, e-lessons and homework to do. “I am making sure my daughter completes projects even though they may no longer be required to be submitted,” says Mumbai-based Pearl D’Silva, parent to a 10-year-old. She, however, does not feel the need to keep up with what her daughter’s classmates are up to. “We do homework but also practise maths, French, essay writing, painting and guitar.”

Celebrities are not exempt from the curfew studying either. On her Twitter feed, Twinkle Khanna echoes parents everywhere when she says, “Three hours into day one of virtual learning with my first grader and I want to stab my eye with a fork.”

Office-going parents who are now working from home have to be creative in getting things done. “I work for a telecom MNC,” says Sindhu Murthy. During routine meetings and calls, she makes her eight-year-old son sit beside her because he finds them interesting. “I do not mind the WhatsApp forwards. If it looks interesting, I do not think it is a nuisance. Doing these things with my child is more of an escape from this dystopian reality. I would choose making a paper cup ninja over looking through Covid-19 statistics any day.”

A child gardening

A child gardening   | Photo Credit: triloks

What’s your style?

In the first few days as countries worldwide began locking down their cities, social media had a lot of fun with memes on homeschooling and working-from-home. Homeschooling parents are having the last laugh, though. Their experience with having children at home all day (and the responsibility of educating them) is holding them in good stead now.

“Scheduling is fluid in our home, because we do not see learning as happening only from textbooks,” says Ijeoma Akomolafe. She and her husband Bayo, both professors, are homeschooling their children aged 6 and 2. “If my older one feels like playing shop all day, then we do so, and she learns to work with math, spelling, English by writing up receipts for the customers.”

For schooling parents, Akomolafe recommends you see this as a ‘gap year’, “a year you allow your kids to ask the most outrageous questions, let them play with mud — a year you learn to listen to them and to your own inner child. Find ways to integrate learning in everyday activities and allow the kids to plan and schedule their learning.”

She also reminds us that, “We are only as healthy as the sickest among us. The times are urgent. Slow down.”

This stressful time will also help us explore what kind of parent we are becoming. Helicopter parents might crash. Try being a hovercraft instead, or a gentler parent gliding over all the bumps in your day. You are still hovering, but there is a lot less noise and potential for hair-tearing scenes.

As for us, we are trying PE with Joe, learning how to be a sous chef and struggling not to finish our stash of tea-time snacks. The discussions about trains, planes and robots can wait until I am out of the bathroom. Which might take a while — these new handwashing guidelines are a sanity-saver.

Moms speak

Lockdown parenting: It’s time to slow down

Komal Narang, @myhappinesz

Earlier, my three-year-old was an outdoor kid and never had screen time. Now that I allow him to watch YouTube (mainly our family vlogs), he is taking some time to adjust to the change. Apart from his sleeping and eating schedule, which remain the same, we take each day as it comes. We’ve even started our own book club! It is restricted to six picture books or so a day. We used to read page after page, but now that we have the time, we have slowed down. We take time to look at the illustrations, I ask him what he sees... It is a more mindful way of reading.

Lockdown parenting: It’s time to slow down

Harpreet Suri, @momwearsprada

As a mother of two, a boy and a girl, I have been allowing them to use this time to explore as they please. While Arhann (9) has school work (they have started online classes now), Aayat (3) is enjoying time in our garden. Earlier, I used to stop her from playing in the mud and getting dirty. But I have realised that this is a golden period that they might never get again. So there are hardly any rules about what they should do through the day.

Lockdown parenting: It’s time to slow down

Ishani Vellodi Reddy, @ishanivellodiwellness

I have been very aggressive about planning each day, to make sure that I am spending quality time with Vishnu. I structure our schedules in such a way that when I'm busy with work, he has an independent activity. Then there are the things we do together for fun, like cooking or having a dance party — the kind of silly games we grown-ups never have time for otherwise. We have also taken the opportunity to teach him social responsibility, by telling him that we are staying home for the good of the country, and not just our loved ones.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | May 17, 2021 10:38:04 AM |

Next Story