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InterviewsPandemic Parenting

Interview With Prachi Gunthey

How do you find time to take care of yourself as a parent when you’re trying to work full time during a pandemic? How can you hunt for a job when your kids are home for virtual learning? With so much to do every day, is it possible to not feel as though you’re coming up short? To not feel guilty about everything that is or isn’t happening? A lot of questions spins around parenting in a pandemic. We won’t be able to answer all of them but we can share your experience and journey as a parent during these tough times.

This week, we interviewed Pragun. A blogger and a podcaster by the name “Panchtatwa Girl” you can read and hear more of her work at Pragun Tatwa. Sun-sea-sky watcher, nature lover gal, chilly-cherry soul, eco-mom who finds creativity and art everywhere and writes on sustainable living, mommy life, travel, food, personal stories, and much more. She is a proud Indian soul who lives sophisticated nomadic life and loves to learn and explore nature. Have written for well-known platforms like Women’s Web, Momspresso, BlogAdda, Blogchatter, Skill Infinity, Story Mirror, Write Tribe to name a few.

Parenting in a Pandemic

Read her experience and journey.

Q. What do you think are some of the most significant difficulties faced by families as a result of the pandemic?

We all suffered due to the lockdown and pandemic at the global level. Those living in small houses faced difficulties of space as schools, colleges, offices all came online under one single roof. It’s not a routine to see all family together under one roof 24*7. Those living away from families suffered because of requirements of food and health to be taken care of. Those who lost their jobs and daily working environment were facing financial difficulty.

Children faced a different difficulty to see schools and classes within the screen. The whole day just within the house and nowhere to go. It even bought behavioral changes in kids. Keeping them occupied and engaged in different activities was a new challenge. Maintaining physical health also is a new challenge as we can’t go out for walks or gyms or health clubs. Staying inside the house and feeling hungry the whole day became a new challenge for mothers. Household chores and managing a routine needed special attention.

Another difficulty was mental health which affected every individual, some realized it some didn’t even understand it. It was not easy to adjust to this change, which we now call the new normal.

Q. How did you and your family members cope with the stress of quarantine and social distancing?

It was not easy in the beginning but being a mother it was my duty to ensure everyone’s safety and health. Social distancing is not as easy, as we being social animals are all used to going out and meeting people. It was very difficult to keep yourself distanced from not meeting people, hugging your friends, or even shaking hands. The constant reminder of health and fitness was ticking in mind and that only told us to maintain the required distance.

I experienced it when a family member returned home after unlock resumed and it was not easy setting an entire room separately for staying in quarantine. Kids were amused at how will one stay in a room locked in for two entire weeks. It was odd to see a family member locked in a room, where we were sending food and necessary items inside but there was no touching or any contact. Able to see your neighbors but not visiting them is not what we were prepared for.

No physical contact and social distancing sure added to anxiety levels and further stress in people. It is not what we are used to, it’s not a normal practice for us. I had to calm my kids and keep explaining to them why this is happening. It was not easy at all. Accepting this new normal of not meeting people or not going out was not easy to handle. As a mother, I had to play a dual role in explaining why coronavirus needs us to stay insides and how it spreads. We had to sometimes laugh it out and sometimes take it with a pinch of salt and realize that it’s globally and we are not alone.

Q.How frequently do you assist your child with their schoolwork and how does your child react to it?

I have two boys, the elder one being a teenager is independent and I don’t have to assist him. But we had to both learn about zoom classes, google meets, and sending PDFs to teachers, it was all a new learning experience.

With my younger one, I had to put in time and effort. In the lockdown, schools came down to screens which no one was used to. It was a new experience and kids were not aware of it, they had to adjust to this new pattern. I had to assist my kid in explaining how the online class works, how one follows the video, and then do homework in the worksheet. I had to earlier assist almost daily, but now that it’s been a year, kids are much used to it.

My kiddo earlier certainly needed my assistance every time but now he himself says, I will do it on my own. He is now happy attending and checking the work daily from WhatsApp and opening Zoom classes as per his scheduled times.

Q. What does your child enjoy the most/least about online classes? What are your opinions on this new digital learning era?

Online classes are not what regular classes use to be, but kids have slowly accepted it as normal and are trying to adjust to the schools on screen. The most liked thing about classes is that they don’t have to wear the uniform, or even sit at the table and desk. One saves on time spent in school bus transit. The least liked thing is kids are not able to meet peers and missing on the real fun which physical schools give. Missing out on meeting friends and teachers, running around in school ground, the playing time, and all the chit-chat fun. All this certainly adds up to in their overall development which was majorly missed. Clearing doubts is a bit difficult in online classes.

New digital learning is how technology has changed the way we live.

New digital learning is how technology has changed the way we live. Education has changed dramatically with e-learning. It’s flexible and easily accessible but not sure better than traditional classroom experience or not. It’s a good alternative to traditional education in the present scenario as one sure needs to maintain social distancing and stay inside the home.

Q. How are you keeping your kids busy and making sure they stick to their healthy routine?

With kid’s whole day at home, it’s not easy to keep them occupied. Being a mother I need to be creative and tricky to keep them engaged in different activities. After school and study time is over I do give them little screen time but it’s fixed. I found the lockdown as a good opportunity to teach them household chores and let them understand the importance of helping. Involving them in easy-to-do home chores is the best way to keep them busy and occupied. Finding a new art and craft activity, storytelling session, and reading a new topic and then discussing on it are few activities I try to keep kids engaged.

Since kids are home the whole day, hunger pangs are popping every now and then. It sometimes gets difficult to ensure healthy foods and beverages but I try my best to add all nutritional supplements to the best of my knowledge in their snacks, milk, finger foods, and meals too. Turmeric, ginger, garlic are added more to meals as they are good antioxidants. Giving more fibrous things and also more water intake.

In all this regular physical activity also has taken a back seat as kids are not able to step out, so have to ensure they get a bit of it from simple exercises like Surya Namaskar or skipping rope within the house. These are the growing years for children and we need to see they maintain a healthy weight, build strong muscles and bones.

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?

I try my best to get all family and especially kids involved in daily household chores. Lockdown came as a good opportunity when kids were home and it helped me teach them life skills and easy chores at home.

I make them do many small activities at home that even teach them and keep them busy too. These house activities not only keep them engaged but also helps in learning life skills. My kids help me in laying table before meals, they even help me in preparing meals by washing veggies, peeling them. Sometimes they even help me in baking as it’s a fun activity for them too. Breaking eggs, getting peas from pea pod, putting clothes in the washing machine, cleaning utensils, cutlery, and tableware, dusting the house, and organizing things in place. Making the bed, organizing the Almirah and cupboards. All these are simple learning activities. Along with teaching this, we enjoyed playtime together. Board games or dumb charades, playing cards as well as flashcards, even carom and chess, all were a regular affair in the lockdown. I even enjoyed some animated and kid’s movies with my kids which help me bond with them by understanding their taste. Listening to kid’s favorite songs and dancing to their tunes helped me get along with them and bond a little better.

For the family’s health, I ensure adding all the essential nutrients in daily meals. I give them turmeric milk and almonds in the morning. Daily daal or lentils are a must along with seasonal veggies in which I do add ginger, garlic as they are good antioxidants. Giving more fibrous things and also more water intake. At least one or two servings of fruits late morning or early evenings are also a daily ritual. I prefer making veggie idli’s, vegetable uttapam, vegetable paratha, pav bhaji as these things include loads of veggies and also taste yum. I also had fun days when we made pizza at home and even ice creams too.

Q. What has been the best/worst part for you during this pandemic?

The best part for me was I was able to see my creative side deeply, as I got ample time as no schools were there in the initial days and no tiffin runs in the morning. I got a bit of time for my reading and writing and explored my passion for poetry and writing. Getting to see my kids in front of my eyes was yet another best part of the lockdown. Enjoying the whole day eating, reading, cooking, and watching together was a great way to bond and spend time with each other.

The worst was when I had to take care of my two kids as well as in-laws all alone. I couldn’t risk any of them and had to ensure daily requirements for everyone. To ensure a daily supply of milk, vegetables, and grocery. To take care that they stay in the best of their health and ensure no one feels missing out was the biggest challenge for me.

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?

Children grew anxious yet enjoyed being at home. Earlier they were happy to be at home. No school, no bells, no uniform but slowly they realized how important are schools and how important it is to attend schools. My kids are now bored and sometimes even irritated, locked in the house the whole day. Life has suddenly locked in a capsule called home.

Yes, their understanding sure has a deep impact on their feelings. As staying a whole day at home is not what childhood is all about. Their playtime, their peer time, their fun days are all lost.

Q. Has parenting been a difficult or easy experience for you during these trying times? What does your regular routine look like?

I will say it was a mixed experience. Having kids in front of my eyes 24 hours is something I had never expected or imagined. I enjoyed every moment of kids being around me. It was difficult as I felt they missed out on the regular classroom and school life. Meeting with peers and fun activities at school helps a lot in children’s growth years. Schools play an important role in the socialization and the nurturing of young minds.

I will say it was a mixed experience. Having kids in front of my eyes 24 hours is something I had never expected or imagined.

It was easy as I had no tiffin tensions and they had no tiffin tantrums either. We cooked together we cleaned together, we baked together and we even played and studied together. Kids neither complained nor got irritated, they sailed this time very nicely and we simply overlooked what was going on in their minds.

Q. What advice would you like to share with all the moms/dads out there?

Pandemic has brought new challenges for families across the globe, and the mental and emotional hit was felt by kids too which we didn’t realize. Children are living a never-before life, with online schools, no events or playtime, no meeting with friends or family, it’s not what childhood is all about. They need to feel loved and need more support right now. Everything is uncertain as yet they are calmly cooperating and adjusting daily with a new update.

My advice as a mother would be to spend as much time as you can with your kids when you have got the chance. Learn together, grow together, read together, play together, eat together and sleep together. Kids are suffering the most, they are missing out on their childhood, their growing years, the normal schools and playgrounds, and playtime visits, so stay near them, stick to them. Give as much time as you can. Watch TV with them, enjoy their shows and music. Play with them and read with them too.

Stay calm, and don’t show your anxiety or stress to your kids, you need to monitor your emotions first to help kids handle their emotions. Understand your child’s emotions and feelings, talk to them and help them express and say. Children are already missing out on physical space, let them have ample mental space.

Hope you liked reading the interview and Pragun’s journey during these tough times. Do like, share, and leave your comments in the section below. 

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