The novel Coronavirus has the entire world in its grip. Even as I am writing this, more and more people are getting infected or succumbing to the Covid-19 virus. The only way to break the chain is by minimising human contact and maintaining social distancing. Countries across the world are shutting down-school, colleges, and workplaces are closed. Everyone is being asked to stay at home. If you want to save your life, and your loved ones and even of a stranger, you most certainly should pay heed to this rule, and not flout it.
But being stuck at home has its own set of challenges. In 2020, families aren’t used to spending 24/7 within the confines of the four walls. Keeping the kids entertained while being cooped up at home, with no outside access, and on top of that, you have to juggle household chores, as well as do work from home, isn’t easy. The onus mainly falls on a woman’s shoulder.
During holiday seasons or weekends, you have multiple ways to spend your time, but now with restrictions, the frustration and helplessness multiply. Psychologists are predicting that the lockdown can have an extreme impact on the mental and emotional health of individuals and families. Our aim should be to emerge unscathed and stronger from this, rather than succumbing and us or even worse our children be mentally traumatized. So that in the future, we can reflect on this period with a smile, albeit bittersweet, since the fear will always be lurking.
Moms especially can feel overwhelmed and can feel parental burnout. Psychologists Mira Mikolajczak told AFP, “You will no doubt want to throw your children out of the window at some point. That’s normal.” As parents, we love our children to death, but as humans, we need some alone time to reboot, but that is next to impossible in the present condition.
So, we will provide you certain tips to make the best of the situation and to keep your kids entertained.
Take a step back
Remember, the kids are at their wit’s end, since they can’t step outside, or meet friends at school, so they might just get onto your nerves unintentionally, and so are you. So, when you feel things getting stressful, just take a time out. Lock yourself in the bathroom and do some breathing exercises, it will help you relax. You can ask your partner to watch over them for an hour, while you spend some me-time.
Lead by example
Kids emulate adults, especially their parents. With easy access to technology, most kids are hooked to their personal devices whether mobile phones, ipads or computers. You should limit your own usage of social media and being on the gadget so that they listen when you ask them to keep their own devices away. Minimizing screen time exposure is important.
Arrange for some movie time
Keeping kids entertained isn’t easy. You can allow them some screen time, as a reward for their good behaviour. There are a number of children’s movies like Frozen, Toy Story, Narnia or the Harry Potter series. You can create a theatre ambiance, by getting some popcorn and dimming the lights. You can watch their eyes light up. Netflix has some good shows on the offing too.
Burn out the pent up energy
Kids are a ball of energy, and without its proper release, can make them extremely fidgety, and interrupt with your work. Doctors are asking people to stay fit during this time. You can ask your kids to join you for some freehand exercise like squats, pushups, and if you have little open space, get them to skip. There are a number of YouTube tutorials that can aid you. A family that gets fit together stays together! If you have more than one kid, have a little exercising competition between while you finish off some work.
Get cooking together
Treating kids like adults always help to control them. Involve your kids in cooking. It will give you an extra pair of helping hands, as well as keep them involved. If it is an older kid- a teenager- you can even allow them to prepare breakfast or a dinner dish (under supervision, especially with knife and fire). For the younger ones, asking them to plan the menu, and be your assistant chef. It will keep them occupied, and also finish their food faster at mealtime. Both of you can learn to bake together.
Have a game
Get the board games out, and have some fun time as a family together. It is a fun way to spend time together. Some friendly competition and cheating will lead to loads of laughter and is a great way to spend a couple of hours. Monopoly, Ludo, Uno, puzzles, the list is endless.
Just because schools are off, doesn’t mean kids can play hooky. The lockdown is supposed to continue for some time now. Most schools are sending online work assignments or video tutorials. Allocate a few hours when your kid has to sit down with his/her lessons. You can also catch up on some work during this time. Apart from the school work, get them enrolled in online tutorials like Scholastics Learn at Home, Khan Academy, Byjus or any other site that you feel is relevant. Make a timetable and stick to it.
Involved in household chores
Ask your kids to help you with chores that are age-appropriate. Involve them in doing the laundry and folding the clothes, cleaning and organizing their cupboard or room, cleaning out the fridge, stacking the washed utensils, or helping you sort through a pile of old stuff that needs to be discarded or put into the pile for donations. You can have an incentive or make it a paid job.
Kids need constant mental stimulation, and with your hectic work schedule, it might get difficult. Get them involved in some DIY projects or at-home science projects. They can have a journal documenting their lockdown experience, or build a fort with bedsheets and pillows. The glee on their face once they complete the assignment would be priceless. It would also keep them occupied for hours at an end.
Regale them with stories
Kids love stories. Tell them some of your own childhood anecdotes or the stories that you probably heard from your own grandparents- like tales from the epics or any other fable. This is an excellent way to impart some valuable life lessons while idling away lazy afternoons.
Get involved in a hobby together
Have you forgotten the childhood hobby, maybe now is a good time to revive them. ask your kid to join you-whether reading a book, or writing poetry or just singing. Get them some children’s classics and fiction. You can now learn a host of different things on YouTube tutorials like new languages or art form. It would be a good way to bond with your child after the lockdown is over, and things get back to normal.
Give an off day
Get an off day, where they can be the boss of the household, and they can just do whatever they want. It would make them toe the line for the rest of the week.
Spend time with grandparents
If your kids have grandparents staying at home, then there is nothing like it. Encourage them to spend time with them, as that is the best feeling. If they stay away, then have regular video calls to stay connected.
Dealing with teenagers
One of the most difficult things that parents face is dealing with teenagers, and teenagers in social isolation can be that extra level of stress. Keep in mind, that you can’t treat them like kids. Instead of telling and ordering them, have a discussion with them, and ask for their opinions, and try to incorporate them. Teenagers can get angsty cut off from friends and their social life, and may just be stuck to their phones. Instead of shouting(which is of no avail, and would make them rebel more), try and get them involved in tasks.
As parents, you should try and work in shifts, so that your children don’t feel isolated and ignored. You should make kids understand the importance of your work, and that they can’t disturb you during calls and a certain period of time. Mark out an area that can function as your “office area”, which is off-limits to them.
As a mother, you would probably be extremely anxious about the well being of your family and extended families, and especially about your children’s future. Parental anxiety can make you think of worst-case scenarios and further add to your stress, which isn’t really good. Get some alone time, and ease up on the constant news bulletin. Eve Rodsky, an author, has beautifully summed up a mother’s role, : “We treat women’s time as infinite, like sand. And we treat men’s time as finite, like a diamond.” Make a team with your husband, and you will be invincible.
Talk to the kids about the current situation that we are facing. Keep them informed, especially the older ones, and make them understand the significance of the lockdown. Speak to them in terms and language that they understand, and try not to overwhelm them with the doomsday prophecy. Keep it informative and positive.