It’s been over 10 months our kids have been at home. Parents all over commonly express how this phase has particularly been hard. It’s been tough to manage with no play dates, no summer camp, no park time or external activities or play areas. I also initially struggled with this. However, on a day when my husband and I both were irritable, we saw our son’s resilience shining through.
We should acknowledge that our kids are going through much worse than us. In our 30’s we are craving social companionship, dying to meeting our friends and family. Imagine what kids (with limited ways to express themselves) are feeling then? When we were children, could we imagine not meeting our friends for months, not interacting with our classmates and being with our parents 24/7? We can afford to cut our children some slack.
My son’s school online classes keep him occupied for a part of the day. He spends some time on homework from school. We encourage him to play new games (board games and our own variations of traditional ones), pick up life skills (household chores, fireless cooking etc.) and relax with fun movies or books. Here are some tips that I picked up along the way –
Don’t overdo the activities – I recall the bombardment of DIY activities, worksheets when the lockdown began. I myself noted a few of them to keep him productively engaged. While some is good make sure not to overdo it. Some free time enhances children’s Meals, online classes etc. are non-negotiable but in addition to these try to fit in fun activities that your kid enjoys like board games, video games etc.
Listen to your children – Listening is even more crucial now when they have no one else to talk to. Allow your kids to ask the most outrageous questions and patiently listen to what they have to say. Look for non-verbal cues of communication. Let them explain what’s going on, paying extra attention to their tone and choice of words. If needed repeat what they say so that they know you have been paying attention. They need this to reassure them we are always there.
Slow down –We now we have the luxury to slow down and soak it all in. The bedtime stories can be a little longer. We can admire the illustrations in picture books and look for things we missed earlier. We can re-watch some of the favorite movies and pause and discuss what’s actually going on. For a change, we are in no rush to complete assignments and can practically implement what we have learnt.
Let them plan the day –Let the child decide what he or she wants to do when but structure such that it syncs with your schedule. When you have to work they can do independent activities. During your down time, you can do activities together. Screen time may go up but make sure it is age appropriate viewing and spread out through the day. Try to introduce some basic physical activities like jumping on the trampoline, dancing or simple PE to keep them physically active.
The idea is to use this time to engage in effective parenting that promote a closer bond with children. Think about what you want your children to remember if they are faced with a crisis like this in their lifetime.
Parenting will always be a mixed bag. While there’s certainly a lot of joy involved, it does get overwhelming at times. Not every day is the same. It’s important not to be too hard on yourself if one day you don’t feel like doing anything at all. Everyone needs a break occasionally. While baby commercials and social media posts paint a rosy picture, the less than camera-ready moments are different and often the more fulfilling.
Share in comments below how you have managed with your kids in these challenging times.
This blog post is part of the blog challenge ‘Blogaberry Dazzle’ hosted by Cindy D’Silva and Noor Anand Chawla, and happily SPONSORED BY RRE Studios and SHOWCASE Events.