Struggling to balance work-from-home and parenting duties? Difficult as it might sound, there are several ways to keep children entertained and happy even in lockdown mode
If the schools are closed for too long, parents are going to find a vaccine before the scientists!” This heartfelt message on a friend’s social media timeline is a humourous indicator of how difficult life has been recently for parents of young children. Schools and tuitions are suspended. Access to playgrounds denied. Parents are working from home. Everyone is trying to adapt to the new realities. But the combination of hyperactivity and restlessness in children combined with the constant struggle of parents to balance work, parenting and domestic chores is resulting in utter chaos in most households.
The most trying part of the entire arrangement, however, is to keep children busy, entertained and yet in line. Difficult as it might sound, there are several practical ways, all inside the four walls of your home, that can help in this time of self-quarantine.
Get their hands dirty
It is easy to plonk them in front of the television, but try finding creative ways to engage children for solid blocks of time. Ditch the toys. Bake or cook with your child instead. “It is ‘learn at home’ for children,” says Delhi-based entrepreneur Rakesh Sheth, who has a schoolgoing daughter. “Take on the role of their teacher for an hour a day for the next couple of weeks. Bond over baking,” says Sheth, who believes there is no better way to bond with children than baking a cake together. Tell them about the process, the science behind it, different kinds of flavours. Tell them about nutrition. Treat this as a science class. Also, try to include chores like folding laundry, laying the table for a meal, even gardening in the children’s daily routine.
Another idea is to create a play zone in a corner of the house and engage as a family over board games like Scrabble. “The intent is to keep kids occupied and organised with interesting activities… reading, essay writing, gazing at stars in the night, etc,” says Delhi-based entrepreneur Nikky Gupta, who is the mother of two children, aged three and 10.
Since playgrounds and parks are not accessible, opt for online workouts or activities like cardio kickboxing to burn their adrenaline—you can check out www.myfitroomstudio.com or look at YouTube videos of Eagle Martial Arts for cardio kickboxing.
Mumbai-based life coach Mickey Mehta says relaxing music and yoga asanas help too. “Try spot jogging, dry swimming, jumping jacks or games to build immunity and listening skills,” he says, adding, “You can also prepare a new dish together or make them clean vegetables and learn the importance of healthy eating.”
You can introduce your kids to upcycling and composting as well to make them understand climate change and global warming. Make use of discarded stuff in the house to create a utility item with them.
Use internet wisely
Teenagers socialise through their phones, so make the device their accessory to learning. Most ed-tech companies have made access to their online content free during the lockdown. Bengaluru-based Byju’s, for example, has made all the content on its learning app free till the end of April. “Those with year-end exams can use video lessons to revise crucial concepts or younger grade students can learn new concepts for the coming year,” says Divya Gokulnath, co-founder and director, Byju’s.
There are other sources of learning too. The International Children’s Digital Library, for instance, is offering free access to around 13.2 million e-books. Online publisher Juggernaut, too, has allowed users free access to its app to read its catalogue of bestsellers and curated mobile reads.
Technology has also made it possible to become a virtual traveller. Children can watch a cricket match in New Zealand or visit the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy from Touristtube.com. They can also take a virtual tour of famous history museums online. Those who love art can view thousands of paintings, sculptures, installations and new works in interactive spaces on www.museivaticani.va.
Working at home
The toughest challenge for parents is to figure out a workspace at home, as most homes don’t come with the provision of one. One thing to do is to identify a corner where you can sit in the right posture and concentrate. This space can double up as an activity area too. “Make your dining space, for instance, a collaborative space with kids. Use baskets or trays, holders to stack and organise documents and stationery to quickly shift between dining and work modes,” suggests Mumbai-based interior designer Arbaysis Ashley.
Confining yourself, however, even in the cosy comfort of your home, can be mentally taxing and extremely depressing at times. So how do you keep positive? “Stick to your regular office hours,” advises Bengaluru-based Savitha Kuttan, co-founder and CEO, Omnicuris, a social media enterprise. “Go to bed at a reasonable hour, so that you get enough sleep,” she adds.
Babina NM, joint chief medical officer at Bengaluru-based Jindal Naturecure Institute, says it’s best to avoid working in bed. “It can be quite demotivating,” she says, adding, “Also ensure that your workspace is clean and empty with just the essentials to avoid distractions.”
Working from home might sound like a great opportunity, but balancing different tasks and responsibilities amid a host of distractions isn’t easy at all. The best thing to do is to take things slow and stick to a regime.