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Parenting pangs during a pandemic

With the coronavirus teaching us new lessons in carpe diem, parents are reassessing what it means to be present to their children, engaging them in life-skills & building mental health

Published: 04th August 2020 05:50 AM  |   Last Updated: 04th August 2020 05:50 AM   |  A+A-

ILLUSTRATION: TAPAS RANJAN

By Express News Service

Dr Manoj Khatri, ophthalmologist
Like medicine, parenting is also an everevolving science. As parents, we have to understand the needs of the children, the situation at hand, and aim to achieve the best possible results from the available resources. This pandemic has taught us the importance of spending quality time together, mental well-being and avenues to engage kids in social, emotional and physical activities. It’s going to be a tech-driven era, and both kids and parents will need to adapt to the new normal, like online classes, not only for studies but for physical activities (such as Great Goals) and extracurricular activities as well. My goal for parenting in this new normal is to balance the four crucial aspects of a child’s growth: education, physical activities, mental framework, and a balanced diet.

Krithi, model
I always believed that my daughter Aksha should have experience-based learning, and that’s why I shifted to Auroville, to give her that along with the Montessori learning system. During this quarantine, my parents and I have made games where she has to create things with materials lying around the house. She also attends an activity session online, for an hour every day.

They make her do different kinds of daily experiments to build experiences, with everyday items. The other day, they taught her how to set curd, and the next day, they taught her how to make raita with it. This gives a child a wholesome idea about learning. I believe that education is not just about History, languages or Economics. It’s about the everyday experiences we have and the experiments we do with our own mind and hand that gives us that creativity. We have tried to create a regimen for her. In the mornings, we play board games like Snakes and Ladders while she is eating breakfast.

Then we play games like stacking pillows or crafting castles, anything that boosts creativity. Apart from that, Aksha cycles or skates every day. I even play badminton with her. When I do yoga, I encourage her to do it with me. We learn different dance styles too. I try to teach by example. There is no age to learning something, so I learn new things with her, too. I have always struggled with meditation in my life, but I wanted to instil the practice in my daughter. I would like it to be a part of her lifestyle and not something that she has to consciously take the effort to do.

Bavya Keerthivasan, story editor and proof-listener
Earlier, I used to teach my children to set goals, talk to them about the importance of values and discipline, providing them with the knowledge to learn and develop. But during the pandemic, my parenting has adapted itself to the new normal, trying to integrate new goals and changes. For instance, earlier, the thought of enrolling children in online classes sounded exciting. But now, looking at how being indoors and the frequent usage of gadgets can affect the child, I have decided to not enrol them in any co-curricular online class, as much as possible. I have also ensured that as a family, we spend time together practising fun exercises. This way, it restores both mental and physical health, and also makes the children find happiness in smaller things. The ultimate goal is to let children be children — that will fill both the heart and home with joy.

Sindhu Priyadharsini Sankar, freelance content writer
Before the lockdown, I was focussed on improving the academic skills of my children, with some theatre classes thrown in between. But now, I’ve realised that teaching them life-skills matters the most. My daughter (8) and my son (3) now participate in cooking and other household chores. We are spending a lot more time together, tending to plants, penning stories, and inventing recipes. Fortunately, we had some art stationery stocked up at home, so there’s a lot of craft activities, upcycling, and painting that we now do at home. Going forward, my parenting goal would be to teach my children to embrace gratitude, learn to look out for people, and be more empathetic.

Ajay Srinivasan, senior IT consultant
The one thing that stands out to me as a parent is that despite the raging unrest outside the house in the larger world, my son is happier and more at peace during this lockdown. We were so used to our pre-corona lifestyle that beyond a point we started believing that going out to parks, taking him out for his occasional treats, continuously stocking up new toys to keep him occupied at home and away from the screen and so on, are integral parts of parenting, and are required to keep our son happy. But being at home without any of these for the past four months and still seeing him happier than before has proved that children and their needs are much simpler than we give them credit for.

He spends endless hours flying paper rockets with his grandfather, and pretending to be a shopkeeper with his grandmother. Since there are no new toys, he has been innovating a thousand new ways to play with his same old toys. Family meals together and everyday terrace time with everyone lights him up more than any new toy or a treat ever has. No one at home is running behind the clock anymore and neither are we rushing him for anything. From being a clingy toddler who craved for the little time while we were at home, after office, to now being content just seeing us at home, he has come a long way in dealing with this new normal. I believe this is shaping him up to be a happy and secure young boy. Parenting is all about enabling your kid to accept what the reality has to offer, prepare them for the ever-changing world, and take life as it comes.

Abhirami LG, homemaker
Parenting during the pandemic has been challenging but rewarding at the same time. Our three-year-old now gets to spend quality time with us, and she’s become more resilient and content too playing by herself. Earlier, my idea of parenting involved introducing her to new experiences every day apart from our daily routines and it felt very goal-oriented. Now, I see her take delight in the simple things and it has definitely been an eye-opener for us. This slower-paced life and simplicity is what really matters. We will continue to let things be this way long after the vaccine arrives too.

Aravind Krithivasan, entrepreneur
As a parent to a nine-year-old, I have challenged myself, both physically and mentally, by playing adventure games on the Xbox and old-world board games, as well. What started as something to while away time have now become cherished evening activities. Being around my son, more than before, has made me acutely attuned to his interests. He is very passionate about birds and animals, and I enjoy watching Nat Geo videos and Our Planet with him. There is a lot that children teach us. They invent imaginary games to entertain themselves instead of brooding about being locked down. My son teaches me optimism. He has chalked out detailed travel itineraries for when the pandemic is over. I’m glad that we took the opportunity to travel before this (pandemic) because we’ve made fond memories that we can cherish. More than anything, the lockdown has taught me about being completely mindful and present while doing anything instead of being distracted by a billion gadgets and apps.

Chakri Lokapriya, MD of an asset management company
Little-big-things is my parenting focus in a postpandemic world. With both my kids locked down for months, no sports, no friends to hangout, no school to go to, variety is key to break the monotony. After they get up every day I insist they shower, dress-up, be energised for online classes, ride bicycles every evening for fitness, and relax by taking piano lessons online. We order-in a pizza on Friday evenings to make up for the lack of going out. We also watch shows/movies on Netflix together. After the lockdown, kids will need to rediscover the zest of being social, going out with care, confidence, and make a healthy lifestyle a vital part of living.

Gayatri Abraham, mental health professional
Parenting goals are important to me, keeping in mind that there are no hard and fast rules here. During the lockdown, I had to adapt and break down the goals in a realistic manner. For example, guiding my older daughter to choose a university that is doable for us, and supporting my younger daughter to transition to online classes (a challenge in itself) in a classroom, which is now devoid of any physical social connect with her classmates. For the new normal, I will prioritise emotional well-being and mental health as priorities for my children. Having them learn new skills and techniques to take care of themselves and building resilience is critical in the new reality.

Vandana, homemaker
This lockdown was nothing short of a three-month crash course on parenting. Theory plus practicals. More of the latter, obviously. Earlier, my parenting was focussed on making the child more capable physically and mentally, but now there is a small shift towards personal hygiene and pursuing a healthy lifestyle, too. I think I will teach both my children a lot of habits that involve cleanliness — ones that will keep him healthy and help develop good immunity. My parenting goal for the new normal world is to put health first!

Mridulika Menon Madiraju, entrepreneur
The lockdown allowed me to learn and grow with my daughter as she discovered her new passion. Both of us learnt to bake and try out new delicacies. I got digitally savvy with social media apps to edit, share, and promote her baking venture. We shared our knowledge with each other and that in a way developed the companionship between us. I want to help her in achieving a fine balance between her online classes, baking, and spending time with friends. She has to have a holistic life, not just an academic- oriented one.

Kirti Wassan, entrepreneur
My time’ is something we should never take for granted. That’s my most important lesson in the lockdown. It was possible through kids who easily adapted, even faster than adults — be it having their birthdays cancelled and summer vacations called off to online schooling. The online school at first seemed like a big challenge to me, having the kids study with no actual monitoring from the teachers. I had to physically do that. As the lockdown continues, one tries to adapt to the new normal and find some balance. I feel waking up earlier than I did before is helping. And also getting a routine set for the whole day. Meditation has become a part of my daily schedule. I am trying to focus equally on myself and the kids so that I do both the jobs efficiently.

Inputs by Naaz Ghani, Roshne Balasubramanian and Vaishali Vijaykumar

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