We are back again with interviewing wonderful parent bloggers who make the parenting world a better place by sharing their amazing stories and experiences on this platform. With almost all schools closed and some workplaces too due to the coronavirus pandemic, many of us have found ourselves dealing with a new, and often very stressful, family situation. As well as having to work from home and run the household, you’re likely trying to keep your kids on track with their virtual school work.
In this week’s interview, we bring to you the story of Pandemic Parenting. Meet Hansa K. Kajaria, she is a mother of two kids and lives with her husband in Mumbai. She holds a PGDBA – Finance qualification and has worked as a Financial Analyst in the insurance sector for 7 years after which she embraced motherhood. She blogs and writes under the name of ‘Mummatalks’ in her free time and is a voracious reader.
Q. What do you think are some of the most significant difficulties faced by families as a result of the pandemic?
The most difficult part was the work from home and online schooling. It was tough for parents especially working parents to cope with both at the same time. Also, keeping the kids indoors with no outdoor activities was detrimental to their physical development and their overall growth. To explain kids why they are made to stay indoors was tough, to begin with, and you really had to convince them and explain why they are being stopped from going out.
Q. How did you and your family members cope with the stress of quarantine and social distancing?
It was very tough. My husband’s work falls under the “Essential Service” so he was working throughout the lockdown. We had assigned a separate room for him to use in the 1 st month and very less to no contact with kids. Kids use to run to greet him at the door and I had to block their way and not allow them to touch him. Extra care about his diet and vitamins was taken to build his immunity.
Also, I was left alone with 2 kids which had affected me mentally after a month. I had no one to help me throughout the lockdown as my husband was at work and with the mounting work and online school of two kids, it was getting stressful for me. I had to literally ask my husband to take a week off and stay with me.
Q.How frequently do you assist your child with their schoolwork and how does your child react to it?
Since I have two kids, and both are in different grade, one is in pre-primary and the other in Primary, it is tough to sit with both every day during school hours as my younger one needs me to be with him throughout his class and so did my elder one when it was new. I use to run from one room to another to be present for both of them.
For study time, I divide their timings. When my daughter sits to study, my son has a break and when it’s his time to study, my daughter gets a break. Again, it’s not possible to spare time every day, so we make it 1 or 2 days of weekdays and Saturday is the main day when we spend longer time studying. The other thing that I do for my daughter is, sit with her during her class especially Maths, and since they were on mute, I use to explain to her along with the teacher to make sure she has got the concept right. This way I didn’t have to sit every day separately after school to teach her Maths.
Q. What does your child enjoy the most/least about online classes? What are your opinions on this new digital learning era?
When the online classes started, both my kids didn’t enjoy it. My elder one use to get annoyed and angry with the idea. She disliked it. I had to literally convince her to sit for her classes. But as time passed, she got used to it. She learned how to use the laptop, log in, and sign in for her classes. She started jelling with her teachers and new subject like Marathi excited her. Even my younger one attended as per his mood. Sometimes he would refuse to sit and no amount of convincing and at times even scolding, would make him sit for the class, and even if he did, he would not answer or talk. But he loves his activities and writing time. But for him, it’s all about his mood which even the teacher understood as they are small kids.
Online schooling has changed the face of education especially in India where it was not much welcomed before. People are now more open to it and accepting it and kids also have got used to the idea. I had mixed feelings. I liked the fact that since kids were at home and learning in front of me, I knew what they are able to understand and what not, and I would stress on that when we use to sit and study. This was not possible when they use to go to school as we would get their update only during PTM time which happens once in a quarter. But yes, them being at home all time and me being busy with their school from morning to the afternoon was stressful too for me as I had numerous other things to do which I couldn’t till their school was on.
Also, for the kids, the personal contact and interaction with their fellow classmates and teachers were missing. They couldn’t make friends and all they knew is their name.
Q. How are you keeping your kids busy and making sure they stick to their healthy routine?
The blessing in disguise for me was that I have 2 kids who are 3 years apart. So, they had a wonderful company of one another to play. Post-school and lunch, they get free-play time, so I can catch up with my work. In the evening, we use to sit and paint and do art and craft often as that’s what my kids enjoy the most. I have lots of art and craft and painting stuff already at home and that made it easy for us and once my stock started depleting, I use to order more and more new things for them. From creating new things in craft to pour painting and stone painting, mosaic art, we did it all.
As for health and food, I use to make sure that all their meals are loaded with the goodness of vegetables and fruits. A variety of soups are a part of their diet. Milk is a must once a day. I make it fun by making different variants like hot chocolate, rose milk and sometimes fruit shakes. Another way I found was to get them in the kitchen and help me with it, so making their milkshakes, or sandwiches excited them, and they relished it gleefully. For the physical part, I use to make them run around the house in the evenings and we even dance for 15 to 20 minutes in the evening with music playing on Alexa.
Q. What activities do you carry out with your family members and kids at home? What do you do to help your family stay healthy?
As a family, it’s our ritual to sit together post-dinner and either play games or watch TV together. Mostly on weekdays, it’s more of play and weekends is a day for movies. Uno, Brainvita, Color color game, and other board games, we play it all. This is the only time my kids get to spend with their father, so we don’t skip it at any cost. Reading a book while tucking them to bed is another must ritual. As for the health, again a full meal notorious diet is maintained. In this lockdown, even my husband’s food use to go from home as otherwise because of his meetings all over and busy schedule, he would not take tiffin. But since client meets and business luncheons were not happening anymore, home food took over.
Q. What has been the best/worst part for you during this pandemic?
Being alone in lockdown with 2 kids and house chores had left me distressed and disturbed. With too much to do and no help as my husband was at work, I was getting overly stressed.
Then my husband told me that I need not do all chores each and every day. So, I started prioritizing. Things that needed urgent attention were done first and other things shifted to the next day. Even studies were moved to once or twice a week and we caught with all on Saturdays. On Sundays, my husband becomes a hands-on dad and manages the kids and gives me my needed time off, and even helps around with the housework.
Writing and reading are my two go-to’s when I want to relax, so I do that a lot to keep my mind working and relaxed.
Q. How does your child feel about what is happening around him/her? Do you think their understanding of what is happening is having an impact on how they feel?
During the 1st wave, I had to explain to them why they are not allowed to go out or touch dad when he comes home from work. They use to stand on the balcony looking at the park asking when can they go there. I was disheartened to see that but thankfully they understood the situation and didn’t create much of a fuss. When things relaxed a bit, they started going to parks and play with friends and I would give them extra time to play outdoors as they missed it for nearly 8 to 9 months. Barley had they started enjoying that the 2 nd wave hit in. Again, they were forced to be indoors and this time my elder one use to say “Mumma, I can see some of my friends down and I want to go too, but you are not allowing me” and cry at times. She missed her time with friends and swimming too. But she understood and accepted it after 3 or 4 days and doesn’t demand it anymore. As for my son, he refuses to step out of the main door saying “Mumma said there is a big virus outside so I cannot go out”.
Q. Has parenting been a difficult or easy experience for you during these trying times? What does your regular routine look like?
Luckily, not much difficult for me as both my kids were great company to one another. They would play together the whole day and at night we had our family time. We saw a lot of movies with kids, though mostly animated, we still had a great time together. Now we do a Saturday night party at home where we make pizzas and pasta at home, eat ice-cream’s and stay up till late. The tough part was to get my kids accustomed to online school and make them sit through the class and be attentive which again become a lot easier in the 2nd half of the year.
As for the daily routine, the school takes away our morning and they get free by lunchtime. Post lunch, free play time to relax their mind followed by some activity and dance to keep them engaged and off the TV. In Jan, Feb they use to go down to play in the park but that stopped again. Now they spend time playing a lot and creating new things. My daughter likes to write notes and make plans and schedules for all. My son is busy with his cars. Once their father is home, it’s back to family time, laughter, games, and stories.
Q. What advice would you like to share with all the moms/dads out there?
Pandemic has been equally tough for kids as it has been for adults. They have been deprived of playing under the sun and in the open air. There is no physical exertion that’s necessary for them. Not being in school and with friends. All these will have an effect on their mental well-being. They will have breakdown moments, tantrums, and throw fuss but you need to be calm and composed and have to accept it as it’s their only way to vent out. Lockdown has given you an opportunity to be with your kids at home, so try to spend more
time with them, play with them, and make some awesome memories.
Lockdown has given you an opportunity to be with your kids at home, so try to spend more time with them, play with them and make some awesome memories.
Hope you liked reading the interview and Hansa’s views on Pandemic Parenting as much as we loved interviewing her.
We wish her the very best in blogging. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram and read her blog ‘Mummatalks’
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