learning from the lockdown hissah ec abu dhabi

The New Norm

Stay Home, Stay Safe. This is the new norm. It has been 27 days since I have been working from home.  It has been 45 days since the kids have stopped going to school. I open Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp – I am bombarded with articles on “how to keep your kids engaged in this lockdown”, free worksheets, Instagram live sessions for kid’s PE classes and Yoga, recipes for Playdough, online storytelling links, forums with pages of discussions on parenting during the time of Corona– resources upon resources for our children who have been deprived of school, friends, playdates, and their usual routines during this global pandemic. Then, of course, there is the online homeschooling routines that are taking place, which can be a blessing or a nightmare, depending on the day and the mood of my kids. This show is being run by the kids, for the kids – with the main showrunners being the tired, worn out, sleep deprived, listless parents who try to maintain that smile throughout the day.

The fact that seems to have been forgotten, or otherwise put on the back burner, is that parents have also faced loss – loss of our routine, going to work, our social life, our freedom, our colleagues, our extended family. We also have needs that go beyond our kids. We also need down time, a mental break, some entertainment, doing something for ourselves – all of which is seemingly impossible during this time of social isolation and lockdown. The toll that it is taking is that our mental and physical health then suffers as we start viewing this time as a burden and a hardship, rather than a golden opportunity to slow down and relish this time at home.

There is hope though, it doesn’t have to be this way. All it takes is a little bit of change of perspective and cutting yourself a little slack and this time in quarantine can actually be a fruitful and fulfilling experience!

Rhythm is Key

It is a known fact that some form of predictability and rhythm is an important element in a child’s life. They thrive better when they have some semblance of what to expect of the day. A light schedule for the day will help make things more productive for you, as well as help your children be more relaxed and happy throughout the day. It is important to note not to overschedule with pressure mounting to complete the tasks of the day amidst tantrums and mood swings. A simple open-ended schedule that includes things periods of unscheduled time usually does the trick. Also, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all way to schedule your days. Some children find security in following a school-like timetable, others thrive on a more child-led, free-flowing approach, but all children need some predictability in their lives.

Make yourself a Priority

One thing is for certain, wearing yourself out through physical and mental exertion will do nobody any good. Your kids, and your entire families functioning and well-being, is reliant on you. Ignoring or setting aside your needs as secondary is not the solution and will only lead to burn out. That too, very quickly. We all need some time to unplug, step away, and have some time to ourselves – even if it means taking a shower in peace! Get support from your partner, make sure your communication channels with each other are clear and open, and help each other balance out the day in which both partners have the time to peacefully engage in something of their choosing – quiet reading, a hot bath, a video chat with friends, catching up on your favourite TV serial. It can be anything, but it should be for YOU.

Use this Time to Bond

This generation has never seen a time in which the entire family was at home – and only home – with no social engagements, places to go, business trips, school, office etc. for such an extended period of time. It has never happened, and hopefully never does in such circumstances again. Instead of focusing on the pandemic and the overwhelming amount of news and information we are bombarded with on a daily basis, shift your focus on what really matters – your relationships and connections with your family. Utilize your time in getting to “know” each other. In our busy lifestyles, we don’t usually get that time to notice, observe, communicate, or share things like likes, dislikes, aspirations, goals, dreams with each other. Fathers tend to miss these chances even more so this is a golden opportunity to work on building and strengthening our connections with one another, so much so that they stay intact once this is all over and we go back into our regular work/school routines.

 Go with the Flow

Cut yourself some slack and allow yourself to go with the flow of things. There is a great amount of pressure on parents to make sure their kids are safe, healthy, well-fed, engaged, doing something productive, keeping up with schoolwork, having fun, and much more on a daily basis! All this while juggling working from home for their own jobs, or taking care of 10 other responsibilities! This pressure can easily lead to burnout if you are not careful.

If an activity you planned isn’t working, let it go. If your kids are throwing tantrums and you feel like you are at your wits end, use the screen time to give yourself a break. If one day your kids wake up and want to do nothing but play all day, let them! Think of these days as a break, a pause, a halt from the regular grind and allow yourself the luxury of just letting things BE rather than constantly on the run DOING things. Embrace the flow and relish this time.

If you allow yourself to think positively and with a different perspective – you will realize this time is a blessing and that spending that quality time with your kids with your undivided attention is NOT a burden! You will get that chance to get into their heads, see the world with their eyes, and feel the beauty of life without the pressures, judgements, and stresses. Learn from the resilience of children, the way they find joy in simple things. Stay home, stay safe and stay healthy!