Fastest Growing Parenting Community in India

Pandemic ParentingParenting

Interview With Tulika Singh

At Parentous, we are interviewing parent bloggers and sharing their experiences on Pandemic Parenting. We understand that Parenting has always been tough, but online school and college, working from home, and all the financial uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 have made it even tougher. Let’s help each other by sharing tips and insights.

This week we interviewed, Tulika Singh. She fell in love with the written word a long long time ago. That came in pretty handy at her job as a journalist with leading Indian dailies until her twins came along and she exchanged night shifts at the desk to those of a very different kind. She now enjoys juggling multiple roles as book editor, blogger, writer, and reviewer. Her current assignments include editing a full-length novel while dealing with twin teenage angst. You can follow her parenting journey at Obsessive Mom or find her sharing her book love at Beat About The Book.

Pandemic Parenting with Tulika Singh

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

Even as I sit to write about the difficulties faced by families such as mine, I am aware, more than ever, of our privilege. Each day I am grateful that we are well and have had to face no real troubles like thousands of others. The Virus shut down schools and offices. However, the most significant change in our lives was the loss of a hundred small freedoms that we took for granted. For my husband and me, it meant no morning or evening walks, for the children it was a loss of playtime or the casual walk down to the neighbourhood grocer for a bag of chips or a stick of ice cream. With no school and no friends, they were left with surplus energy.

As growing teens with a heightened need for privacy, they were constantly under each other’s feet. Our home, suddenly, seemed too small for all of us. Managing without house help was a struggle for me and it took time to assign chores and to get everyone to help out. Also, there was constant anxiety to contend with. I’d hear the children cough in their sleep and I’d get up to feel their foreheads checking for temperature.

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

After the initial settling-in period we got through the first wave pretty smoothly. We had movie nights – we re-watched the Harry Potter series. Then the Mahabharat started and we learned to look forward to it. We’d have long discussions on the right and wrong of each character. That made our evenings fun. The children learned to cook and bake independently. They took up a few workshops – Chess and Art. We were all trying out new things and that helped us cope.

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

My children are old enough to manage much of their schoolwork independently. And am I glad! All I need to be now is a calendar and an alarm-clock rolled into one, reminding them when it’s time to stop playing/chatting and to get down to their books.

Tulika Singh with her children

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

I’ll begin with a good bit. There’s a kind of comfort in online learning that’s for certain. There’s no morning rush for one as also more freedom for the children to move about or to grab something to eat between classes. That has made for reduced school anxiety. The worst thing, I’d say, is that they are constantly at the mercy of the WiFi. Add to that power cuts and it makes for disruptive school days, missed classes, and late assignments.

I’m all for digital learning however our current course content isn’t designed for it.

Teachers have been forced to convert classroom sessions into online ones and that doesn’t work well, especially for younger children where teacher-child communication is crucial.

Teachers have been forced to convert classroom sessions into online ones and that doesn’t work well, especially for younger children where teacher-child communication is crucial.

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

I mentioned that mornings were relaxed thanks to online classes. However, I ensured the children didn’t do away with their morning routine. I made sure they completed their morning chores before they sat down for class. The beds had to be made, breakfast wrapped up, plates washed and kept away, and (preferably) the bath done too.

I made sure there were no late nights on school days and that mealtimes didn’t go haywire. Maintaining a healthy eating schedule hasn’t been difficult for me since I’ve always had a borderline obsession with food and nutrition.

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?

There are two aspects to health — nutrition and exercise. Like I said, nutrition has been a focus area for me ever since I turned a mom. That said, I’m not one for newfangled drinks or supplements. The traditional Indian platter is the perfect balanced meal – dal, roti/rice, sabzi, and salad. So I stuck with that. Breakfast is more often than not, bread, eggs, and milk and we’re sorted. Of course, we all have our occasional indulgences and that’s fine too.

Exercise has been a bit of a challenge but my son took to walking at home. He’s been doing this (rather weird) jump walk, which is more like pacing considering the restricted space on our balcony. And we all laughed at him till we found he was clocking 6-8 K steps daily. My daughter and I go for late-night walks/jogs when the complex compound is deserted.

Since my sister and parents got hit by the virus recently, a new appreciation for the need for lung health has sunk in and I’m trying to get a breathing exercise routine in place.

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

The Pandemic has forced us to live together in close proximity and that is both the best and the worst part. With the children in their teens, as the time for them to fly the nest gets closer, I am grateful for every moment I get to spend with them.

The Pandemic has forced us to live together in close proximity and that is both the best and the worst part. With the children in their teens, as the time for them to fly the nest gets closer, I am grateful for every moment I get to spend with them.

Another not-so-good bit is that all social contact is virtual and although the children seem to have adapted to it pretty well I worry that they’re losing the need as well as the capacity for actual physical social interactions.

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?

Curiously enough, the horror of the situation doesn’t seem to have sunk in its entirety. That said, it is a fact that when it comes to children what’s apparent isn’t the whole truth. For instance, each time my husband and I step out for groceries, my daughter panics. The Pandemic has definitely led to increased anxiety.

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

Parenting is never easy, and parenting teens even more so. However, I would like to focus on the positives and say that it hasn’t been as difficult as I imagined it would be. Had anyone told me I’d survive, shut in the house for over a year with the children, I wouldn’t have believed it. But here we are, none the worse for it. With no household help my routine has been crowded but then I could involve the children in more house chores so that turned out well. Though I have to admit it’s been an uphill task.

My reading and writing have taken a beating but I will still say that prioritizing our mental and physical well-being has to take priority and I’m grateful for the space we’re in.

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

Make the children aware of their privilege. I cannot stress this enough. Tell them of migrants walking thousands of miles without food and water, of the girl who cycled all the way home to Bihar, of children sitting on rooftops to catch the signal to attend classes. Get them to practice gratitude.

Be patient, keep the hope, find cheer despite times being tough.

Hope you liked reading the interview and Tulika’s views on Pandemic Parenting as much as we loved interviewing her. Do like, share and comment.

Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for parenting content and tips.

You can follow Tulika on Twitter and Instagram as well.