Parenting like a pro during COVID-19

Even the best plans can go for a toss. That’s how the year has been so far. The children’s exams were supposed to end and we were to finally get a well-deserved short break away from home. I had it all planned out. It was going to be just perfect.

Schools in India declared a holiday just before the exams were to begin. From then on, it’s been a whirlwind with everything from the Janata Curfew, the lockdown and more. Somewhere in between, we even assumed that we had won the battle against Corona. Little did we know then that the war was still on.

What began as a fun holiday has turned into a nightmare for many. With nationwide school closures, parents are suddenly at a loss as to how to occupy them and maintain their own rationality.

To make things worse, schools have decided to continue with online classes over zoom, WhatsApp and other social media. Parents are forced to share their laptops and smartphones with little children, lest they miss out on school work. To top it all, online portals and educational platforms have opened up their sites for free to engage with these children who are sitting at home idling away [according to everyone].

When this race to educate, work and manage the home began, like any parent I too set out to do my very best. From waking up early, completing my own work, staying up late so that I can give my phone and laptop to the children when they have classes and tests, I tried to multitask like never before.

I succeeded for a while…a week to be precise.

One thing is clear. In this race to move away from isolation, what we have actually done is over socialize using technology. We have increased the children’s addiction to technology. From UNICEF to WHO, we have tips from everyone on how to deal with children during this time.

Was I doing something wrong? Was I the only one unable to manage the stress meted out by the schools? I thought that getting a little bored was good for my kids. Wasn’t it supposed to improve their creativity?

In fact, my children did not stress me out. After the first week of lockdown, we had learnt to adjust with each other and we even set a routine of sorts. Then the bomb dropped from the school about how regular classes would resume and they even sent us a timetable for the same. That’s when the Mahabharata began. With 2 children, I was made a part of some 16 WhatsApp groups. These groups were used for live classes where some 40 members would send voice messages and texts. My chats were active like never before. Being a working mom, I was unable to give my children my phone all the time. The pressure was too high. I had to do something quickly to maintain my sanity.

I remembered something my mother had told me years ago: Listen to everyone and do what suits you. And that is what I decided to do.

Teaching the children was not the issue. In fact, my daily routine has a few hours set aside especially for the children. The problem only arose when I had to manage these regular classes that the school insisted on taking [with attendance].

Speak up

Sometimes, the need of the hour is: speaking up. We cannot expect people to understand the problems that we are facing unless we open up. I started this with the people around me. I spoke to my husband and the other adults in the family and then my friends. They all agreed that it was stressful. Their support was the first step I took towards sanity.

Take it up

Just talking about it, though it made me feel a little better, did not help me in any way as the stress was still prevalent with all these WhatsApp classes. That’s when I spoke to the authorities of the school and explained my situation being a working mother who needed her phone during working hours. We couldn’t immediately reach an agreement and it took me a while to convince them. Finally, I was able to get permission to teach my children and make them listen to the voice messages at my convenience when they are unable to attend those live classes. It worked.

So that’s how I am parenting like a pro: Doing what suits me.

Let go

As parents, we tend to overthink and try to do everything when it comes to schools. Sometimes, when we are unable to control the situation, especially when it’s a time like the present, you need to let go. JUST LET IT GO.

Of course, there will be judgements and there are many. We need to look past those who judge us as they have nothing better to do with their own lives and hence there is an extra interest in ours.

So what if I may not be able to sit with the children all day? My children are seeing their mother work hard and this is something they didn’t get to see when they were at school. They see me work late into the nights just so that I can help them with their schoolwork. When I get the time, I bake and cook what they ask for…and sometimes I even say ‘no’. It will teach them that they will not always get what they want in life.

Being a mother, I believe that children learn more from what you ‘are’ than what you ‘teach’. I may not be perfect, but I am ‘me’ and very real. So be ‘you’.

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