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Home (not) alone

Including subjects in everyday routine, making activity charts, taking care of pets — parents have come up with interesing ways to keep their children engaged during lockdown

Published: 01st April 2020 05:58 AM  |   Last Updated: 01st April 2020 05:58 AM   |  A+A-

Dr Shwetha Rahul with her daughter Prakriti

Express News Service

CHENNAI: For our widely varied populace, the virusi n f l u e n c e d quarantine has come with a lot of concerns — stocking up on sustenance, managing work from home, keeping up the medicine schedule, finding new means of entertainment, doing everything to keep the common cold or fever at bay — routines we have never had to get accustomed to till at least half a century ago. But, there is no denying that families with children have additional concerns to address. Sure, with being locked in for nearly a month with only a handful of options for entertainment, things might get bleak. But perhaps, there is a silver lining to this social distancing.

Creative pursuits

Experts in the field of education and parental guidance do think so. Now might be the time to let go of the enormous importance we place on academics and proving it with numbers, and take the chance to focus on more essential matters of life, they advise. “Parents do not have to worry about their ward’s academic education. Once schools are open, teachers will bring students up to speed. Now, the focus can be on creative learning and building a solid relationship. A sour relationship between children and parents is one of the main reasons for mental stress during this lockdown,” says Arundhati Swamy, family counselor at ParentCircle.

Active involvement

Getting children engaged in everyday household activities — be it helping in the kitchen or taking up cleaning jobs or handling the pet — is the key. This allows for organic interaction with the children, suggests Vidya Shankar, chief mentor at Cascade Family Learning Services at Besant Nagar. Parents seem to have picked up many of these cues quite naturally. Kanchana Krithivasan, a working mom to a seven-year-old girl, has made a detailed activity schedule — complete with time for play, prayer, kitchen assist and even some solitude.

Kanchana with her daughter Avantika

An activity chart keeps track of their days. An example of ingenuity, Rasika Ramesh, mother of three, has managed to get her kids to play ten different games with just a bat and a ball. “We have found new ways to use watercolours. We are consciously trying to reuse things,” she says. Who would not want an entertaining schedule that doubles as a lesson on ‘reuse, reduce and recycle’? Srivatsav N, a resident of Nanganallur, says that his daughter has been of great help with their nine-month-old son. “This has helped the siblings bond. She has become more careful while handling the baby and is more comfortable with him too,” he reports.

Pawsitive vibes

Pet parents are getting their children’s help to keep their four-legged kids comfortable at times like this when food is sparse and walks are not advisable. Jennifer Jacob — with four senior rescue dogs who require round the clock attention — gets her six-year-old daughter Dia’s help to care for them. “She refills their water bowls every day, and accompanies them to the backyard and stays with them till they finish their activities.

Contrary to popular belief, it’s easier to go through this lockdown with pets at home. Kids and pets are natural buddies. Also, with Dia being constantly occupied with our pets, she hardly watches videos on the laptop,” says Jennifer, founder of Chennai Adoption Drive, a non-profit organisation that is involved in rescue and rehabilitation of animals. While each family is unique and so are their needs, not all the helpful suggestions on offer might work the same for everyone. Yet, experts have you covered with a few basic hints. Pick what suits your needs and stay healthy this lockdown.

A new routine
● Try cooking one dish at a time from scratch. Right from cutting vegetables to setting up the table for a meal.
● Tidy up the house with the help of your children/child, including their rooms.
● Listen to music, sing or dance together for a fixed time every day.
● Talk about stories from the past, recount his/her childhood days.
● Attempt to create something new as a family. It can be anything from making a scrapbook, baking a cake or sewing a dress.



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