It has been over a hundred days of solitude for us as we continue our battle against the deadly virus, COVID-19 as we know it. As it has become quite the norm for office-goers these days, I was stuck inside yet another virtual meeting this morning as my 7-year-old daughter approached me. I knew what she came for, an idea which will keep her busy for a while. I gave her a pack of playing cards and quickly taught her how to make a house of cards and she obliged as I went back to my virtual world. Little did I know how badly my idea was going to backfire on me. Every time the attempted house of cards would crumble, she will grab my attention asking for help putting my virtual presence at risk.
Then it struck me! The house of cards very much resembled the life of every child around us who are having to stay put inside the homely boundaries. The innocent minds are at severe pain having to face restraints from so many things they are fond of. Their world is also crumbling into pieces as all of a sudden they cannot go to school or for a day out, they cannot meet their friends, the weekends have dissolved, and then they have over-stressed grown-ups to deal with at home.
This pandemic has taught me one parenting lesson; I need to keep finding new activities for my girl which will keep her busy for a while. For a while because nothing can keep children busy for too long, they tend to get bored quite easily. Though under a bit challenging circumstances, this is a much cherished opportunity to spend some time close to our children which came without asking. Remember in normal times, how often we craved for spending time with our children as we had to leave for office too early in the morning and return home late, as there would be barely any energy left to spend some time with children. Now might be a good time.
These days, whenever I take my daughter to the roof, which these days is her only scope of time under the sun, I let her water the plants, feed the cats which live under the plants, and the crows too. Let them engage in creative tasks which they have passion for. Whenever my daughter comes up to me with her drawing book asking for what to draw, I can see the helplessness in her eyes. I keep suggesting one item after other to draw until she gets tired and looks for something different to do. One thing I strictly avoid is to keep her busy with electronic gadgets; I rarely let her play mobile games or watch too much television. Sometimes I would just start doing fun workouts with her which entertains her as well as ensures some indoors physical exercises to skip obesity. One fine morning I asked her to reorganize all her story books, seventy-nine in total, and list them down. Another evening I asked her to write about her feelings during this period. She took the entire evening to write it down, but her writing gave me a good insight of what she has been going through which helped me further to understand her mind.
This is an opportunity to practice some life skills with the children so that they can learn firsthand. Help them grow with empathetic human beings. While we tend to help them out of this pandemic, we might be helping ourselves as well. As stressful as it might seem to deal with restless children during this pandemic, if we see from the opposite angle, spending some quality time with children every day can actually be a great stress reliever.
The writer works with Save the Children as Manager - Urban Resilience.