Parenting through a pandemic.
A string of words we never thought we would use together.
A string of words we never imagined would become a way of life.
Ever since the authorities announced the coronavirus lockdown in March this year, life as we knew came to a sudden stop. Anxiety, uncertainty, fear and exhaustion loomed large. And to top it all, the relentless demands of parenthood.
Raise your hand if keeping a sense of calm has been your biggest parenting challenge the past few months. We hear you!
Three whole months of isolation and now we are finally seeing some ray of light as the rules get relaxed in a phased manner. However the need of the hour is to stay cautious and observe guidelines as we navigate through this new reality.
This enforced slowdown has made us realize that resilience begins with letting go of the “perfection” in parenting. Here is looking at some of the most important parenting lessons that we take with us for the future.
Self-care is NOT selfish
“With both children constantly at home and zero social life, this lockdown has been very demanding. But no matter how hectic my day is, I am motivated to push myself through it cause I know I have my me-time waiting for me. I look forward to those thirty minutes everyday where I am not doing anything, just sipping on my coffee slowly, reflecting on the day or listening to some soothing music. It’s a routine that I have gifted myself and it has helped me stay optimistic.”
Benazir Asharf, Stay-at-home Mom, Dubai
Being stuck indoors all the time can get unnerving, for you and the family. Even in the midst of all the uncertainty, if you managed to carve out me-time to do what you love, you have taken the first and the most important step in caring for you and your family. If you still have not, grab the opportunity.
Take some time off everyday and dive into your preferred hobby or workout.
Whatever you do, let go of the feeling that focusing on yourself is a waste of time. During this lockdown, more than ever, your child needs a relaxed parent to help him/her make sense of the new normal. If an extra hour of screen time is what it takes for you to take up a new yoga challenge or enjoy your coffee with cake, then we are rooting for you. So make sure to replenish that cup before you get ready to pour!
A blank calendar is not a bad calendar
“This lockdown showed us that it is important to have days where we are doing ‘nothing’, days free of classes, assignments, set timelines and most importantly expectations. On those days we revel in the freedom of doing what our hearts desire”
Akanksha Menezes, Entrepreneur and Mom, Dubai
When the authorities announced the lockdown, by day two many of us were armed with calendars and post-it notes ready to chart out an exclusive itinerary for the kids! Of course, the intention was only to keep them children engaged in the absence of school, ballet, karate and everything else! But by day ten, exhaustion became inevitable, not to mention whiny and confused children.
The goal of this lockdown is not to emerge as the most productive parent! It is about creating a routine that works best for you and your family. White spaces in your calendar may actually be great opportunities to unwind and connect with each other.
Even though the restrictions are slowly easing day by day, the new normal is here to stay. Lowering our own expectations is probably the best way to wait out this storm.
Let your child lead
“This lockdown has led to e-learning becoming an integral part of a child’s routine. It is a real pain on some days! Several hours of e-learning was leaving my son and me drained and exhausted. Then I decided to let him lead the way. Now I only focus on the main topics and let him take a break. He studies the others at his own pace. I know things will get better once they get back to school. Until then I am trying to give him his space. The best part of all this is that he has learned to do a lot of household chores independently. He chose to learn them and I am so happy to see him progress. Those are important skills too!”
Bilna Sandeep, Blogger and Instagram Coach, Dubai
Kids are more resilient than we imagine them to be.
Now that they are spending a lot of time indoors, it is a great opportunity to explore their hidden talents. Keep their interests in mind when you plan activities. Mix it up and ask them to choose. Studies have shown that allowing children to lead boosts self-esteem, and helps them in creativity and imagination. Also it sends a message that their opinion matters.
Learning is not always all about worksheets. If your son is fond of planets and space perhaps watching a documentary/cartoon or reading a book together about the subject will count as learning too.
Even simple things like baking your child’s favorite cookies or giving the garden table a makeover is a great way of teaching them skills while keeping it fun and novel. If it helps to take some items off your plate, we’d say it is a win-win!
Social media distancing is healthy
There is no doubt that social media has a huge impact on our lives. But if we allow it to become our only source of validation, then anxiety and stress also become constants. Unintentionally we end up comparing ourselves with other and begin to feel inadequate. Knowing when to detach is extremely important during times like these. With time I have become mindful and follow only those accounts that have a positive impact on my mood.”
– Srividya Satyamurthy, Economics Teacher, Dubai
With social distancing becoming the new norm, there is no denying that our devices have become our closest companions. A digital detox is only a distant dream.
Spend a few minutes on social media and you have information coming at your from all directions. There is abundant free advice on how to be a creative parent, how to manage your child’s tantrums, how to manage siblings during lockdown and more. Instagram may have addressed (almost!) every parenting dilemma during this quarantine.
Well its all good to turn to online communities and influencers for ideas, they do not get to decide how to parent your child. We are all in different seasons of parenthood and going through varied circumstances during this global crisis. What may have worked for one family may never work for yours. Just because your favourite influencer chooses to do art and craft with her child every afternoon and you do not, it does NOT make you a bad parent.
If the excessive digital chatter is playing havoc with your thoughts, then it’s probably a good idea to disconnect and focus on other priorities. Clearly, this lockdown has shown us that social media distancing is just as important as social distancing.
Parenting through a pandemic
A string of words that need not spell anxiety, if we all decide to step back a little, breathe and relax.