Estimated read time : 7 minutes
Parenting is not an easy task even in normal times. But, nowadays with parents and kids staying home the whole day long, it is even more difficult. It seems like a never-ending vacation which no one asked for! At first, children might have been thrilled to stay at home with Papa and Mama always around them. But now, after being cooped up in the house for days and months, they are tired of having ‘nothing to do.’ Covid 19 has snatched away from our daily home and school schedules, and it is a stressful time for all concerned.
Parents are the worst hit during the pandemic as they are left to take care of their children without much external support. The boredom of working from home, cooking all the meals and caring for the elderly weighs them down and the little ones are quick to pick up their parent’s anxieties. Parents should, therefore, try to relax by taking a few long breaths and doing yoga and meditation to de-stress for their own benefit and that of their children. The positive vibes will communicate to the child who may be struggling with a lot of pent-up energy and very little avenues to spend them.
Covid-19 has sifted out the social interaction from our lives. Gone are their visits to their grandparents, the bicycle rides and sports activities. They feel bad about not going to school, miss their enjoyable craft sessions and are trying to come to terms with the new scenario. Reassure them by saying that they can stay in touch with everyone through video calls. It is up to us parents to keep our kids grounded, in the midst of the gigantic waves of unstructured time on their hands, while stressing the importance of family, friends and fitness. Set boundaries in a gentle manner. Try saying “Mom has to work right now. But when her work is finished, she will play with you.” You could maybe set a timer which will go off when work is done. Then you can ask the child what he or she wants to do with you. Teach them the art of self-reliance and keeping busy on their own. Responsibility with care, love and understanding will help the child get used to the new normal.
Habit is a comforting factor and assures us that life is moving on as it should. As far as possible, work out a schedule made up of a variety of activities which can be easily followed. Let playtime, mealtimes and bedtime happen at fixed times like before. This will build some sort of structure in their lives.
Try to give children a sense of what life will be like now. Yes, our worlds have turned topsy turvy. However, we can prioritize our time and distribute it between different activities for them whether it is online classes, chats with cousins and friends of the same age, helping with household chores and playtime. Chalk in regular handwriting routines for older kids. Shuffle the time-table to keep it fresh and interesting.
Balance ‘together time’ and ‘alone time.’ You don’t have to solve the boredom for your kids. Try to get your child to play on their own, whether with toy trains or dolls or art and craft activities. This way, you will be able to extract tiny pockets of peace throughout your day. It’s hard for a child to remain quiet all day long, but she can do so for half an hour while you are on an important call. Make sure to do a toy rotation daily. Pick and choose only a few toys to be put into a colourful box every day. This way, children will feel they have new things to play with daily, and boredom will not creep in. Be creative. Tell her to pretend to be different animals, insects and birds – she can jump like a kangaroo, dance like a peacock or flit like a butterfly.
A lot of things which we took for granted in the pre-Covid world are not possible now. But, there are many things we can still do. Spot running and skipping rope can be enjoyed by parents and children alike. Dance to music or have a sing -aloud session. Work on jigsaw puzzles and play board games like Carrom and Ludo. Parents can read and engage in role-playing with their children. Everyone can add one line to complete a story starting ‘Once upon a time.’ An interesting activity is to draw shapes of houses and trees and line them with stickers. Allow children to paint using real flowers, leaves and cut up vegetables. Engage them in making cards for grandparents and making shapes out of play dough. You can select a few movies which you enjoyed as a child and you can watch with your little ones e.g. “Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music” etc.
At times, the whole family can sit out in the verandah or terrace sharing jokes and stories. Encourage the child to explore the wonder of the plant kingdom, revelling in the shape, fragrance and texture of flowers as she or he waters them.
Small children may act out their fears and worries through improper behaviour. It is normal for them to get irritable and cranky after being cooped up for so long. Redirect through creative play. Give them extra hugs and lots of love. Use positive words when you talk to your child. Say “Please put away your toys,” not “See the mess you have made. Clear it up at once!” Notice and praise whenever she does something well. This will reassure her that you love her.
Covid 19 won’t last forever. We just have to get through one day at a time. Reassure children by saying that scientists are working very hard to find a vaccine for the pandemic, and soon things will be better. Let’s make the forced stay at home a fun time for the family, and create wonderful memories which everyone will always remember!