Maybe I am old, or just old fashioned, or simply not smart enough. We are being asked to stay home, to spend time with our families and near and dear ones. It is enforced QT, to use modern-day parlance. And so I ask the question – what’s wrong with that? Yet, browsing through social media and listening to people grumble and moan about forced ‘isolation’, ‘social distancing’ makes you wonder…Yes, I understand that man is a social being and that we got to where we are in this world because of that social nature.
But then, aren’t we also the ones that have of late been complaining about ‘being too busy’, ‘not having enough time’, ‘burning out’, ‘missing out on family’…blah blah blah… (well, I know some of us have at least).
So, what’s wrong with all this social distancing and the need to stay home for a few days? Yes, of course, we are living in interesting times (which, also by the way have been brought about by the Homo Sapiens’ social needs and desires), combating a novel virus and are most definitely in a once in a lifetime type of a situation. And yes, unfortunately, this puts a bit of a pause on all of our social engagements, plans and exotic holidays for a little while. But then I guess such a virus does warrant a once in a lifetime type of a response then, right?
How do you deal with it all as a parent then? What are the thoughts running through your minds? How do you react and interact with your kids at such times?
If people, especially parents I know, are complaining about staying indoors, the first two questions that come to my mind are:
(a) if you are not taking scientific advice seriously, are you not worried about the safety of your kids?
And probably, more importantly, (b) are you not just happy to be home with your kids?
Yes, as a working parent, being home poses logistical challenges in terms of managing schedules, being able to work remotely and get work done effectively (who remembers the very popular internet video of the BBC reporter being interrupted by his kids as he was doing an interview?! At the back of their minds, most working parents are also thinking about the financial implications of this crisis and what it means over the long-run for their jobs, bills, etc. But then that’s all part of life, isn’t it? Some of us have lived through the depths of the financial crisis and emerged at the other end to tell the tales of financial distress, cash-strapped businesses and austerity. And just as we lived through that crisis over a decade ago, this too shall pass, is my view. What emerges at the other end and how we get there, only time will tell. But until then, we have to make the most of what we have.
As a parent, I believe this crisis offers you a unique opportunity to connect with your kids like never before; it gives you a chance to teach them about this world – why things are the way they are, to help build their character and most importantly be there for them at a time when it is most confusing, stressful and demanding for even the best of us.
So, here is how we have dealt with COVID-19 in our home so far:
- To start off, we have been home for over a week (and plan to remain so for the next 2-3 at least), ever since the news reports in the UK and around the world started emphasising the threat and seriousness of this novel virus and how quickly and easily it can spread.
- We have been following the NHS’ advice on washing our hands regularly, and doing so while singing Happy Birthday (so, you will hear different renditions of Happy Birthday in our household at all hours of the day – it’s like a party every day!)
- We have talked to Kian, often and regularly, trying to explain what this virus is about and why it is so serious.
- On the positive side, we have spent quality time with both our kids, trying to make their days engaging, fun and productive.
- We have tried to establish routines and make plans at the start of each day.
- There are bouts of learning (letters, phonics, numbers, etc.), lots of reading.
- There are fun and games and some physical activity too – indoor cricket, yoga and a bit of biking.
- Social media playdates and chats with friends, classmates and of course grandparents that are dispersed around the world (thank heavens for FaceTime and Whatsapp); and
- Of course, a little bit of screen time – It doesn’t have to be all serious and strict no?
In the end, as parents, we’ve taken the stance that we will make this time together full of fun, love, learning…and of course a strong sense of hygiene. We will use it to educate our kids and make them resilient because, in time, they will look back and tell their kids and grandkids about how there was this time when they were ‘forced to stay home’ and their parents had to invent all kinds of whacky ideas to keep them entertained. Most of all, we have learnt to listen to each other, to revert to old fashioned story-telling, to enjoy and appreciate each other and maximise this time we have together because we all know that time and tide (and maybe viruses too) wait for no man.