The world is an uncertain place right now. News channels are full of gloom and doom. At this time, it is more important than ever to help kids make sense of the world around them. They hear snippets of the news or adult conversation and connect the dots on what are scary topics. Internalizing negative thoughts may lead to undue panic in these growing minds.
How then can we step in to steer them towards a more productive thought process? My mantra has always been, ‘Be aware, not fearful’ which I learned from my parents and the way they handled every situation.
My family started self-quarantine on Friday, March 13 and at the time of writing this piece, are 5 weeks in. Week 1 was spring break so the kids had a 24/7 party in my living room with movies, shows, snacks, toys, what have you. Week 2 was when reality hit. Balancing work and homeschool felt next to impossible. I was done for the day by 3pm daily and quickly realized this was not sustainable.
Online schooling began in week 3 – a structured curriculum with deliverables felt easier to navigate. I liked the predictability and the fact that I could do the bare minimum on schooling and still feel like I was taking care of everything important. On the other hand, I felt bombarded by the zillion resources for kids activities that required them to be in front of screens. That was where I applied the brakes!
The idea that kids would use screens as babysitters and educational resources on top of activity time was much too much. I wanted to focus on spending time with them playing board games, taking walks, throwing around a frisbee, practicing archery, and playing tag. And staying positive and light.
Speaking of, what is resilience? It is your capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. We are living in a changed world, where we are staying safe at home, playdates/parties happen over video chat and ‘going out’ is fast becoming a foreign concept. No early rising for school or work, no rushed days, no strict bedtimes. Schedules have loosened (not abandoned).
In the midst of all these changes, it is important for our kids to feel secure and know we will all be fine; we are fine. Guiding our kids through life’s challenges while expressing our love is what they need now, and it’s how we build resilience and strength in them that will last.
Safe, not stuck: Talk to your kids about the world and happenings in an age-appropriate manner. Emphasize we are staying safe at home and keeping others safe by not leaving the house.
Help, not hinder: Grow compassion in their minds. Explain how the elderly are at high-risk. Find ways to help out in your community whether it’s through making masks or thank you cards for frontline workers.
Physical distancing is not family distancing: Teach them the importance of family time. Revisit old memories. Set up video calls with family in other cities or countries.
Time is a gift: Remember, time is a resource. Utilize this gift well and spend much needed one-on-one time with your kids. If you have more than one child, take a walk with each child on different days and hear them talk their heart out – give them undivided attention and you will discover a whole new side to them.
Keep your optimism alive. Make plans for the future. Let the kids choose their next travel destination and ask them to research the culture, food, currency and specialties. Decades later, when your kids look back on this time – the pandemic 2020, they will remember the epic fun, the squeals of excitement, the peals of laughter, the never-ending game nights, the joys of staying home – not the misery of feeling stuck at home.
Born and raised in India, Aditi is now an honorary Texan after spending over a decade in Dallas and Austin. She is married to her high-school sweetheart and has two magical kids – her son (2009) is her calm, sweet sunshine, while her daughter (2014) is her exciting, gorgeous storm! Working in Marketing and PR, she enjoys being steeped in creativity all day long. Crafting is her passion and she is the proud owner of a Cricut. In her leisure time, Aditi loves organizing, reading, writing and soul-searching!
In the routine of complex living, we fail to realize the void due to connecting less than usual with our loved ones, and even voicing our feelings not as much as expected to? Amidst the day to day chaos, aspirations of all kinds, things to do, and the things that don’t reach the much-desired finishing line we are all continually juggling. But in the progression, we are drifting away from likely feelings that separate us from androids.
“When life goes down, don’t worry. Sometimes you have to go down to learn the things that are down.” ― Ernest Agyemang Yeboah
Do we ever get enough space to see our privileges compared to many others, or think about all that we do and what even possibly makes us seem gifted to multi-task? COVID-19 and the consequent lockdowns all over the globe have compelled us to pause open-endedly and look within. It has made us realize that there will never be any greater reward for running away from relationships than actually staying closer to them.
Shortage of time has been a constant complaint and now that we somewhat have it on hand, yet we appear unhappy. This phase has left many of us numb and muddled about the misplaced feeling. Not just confused but this crisis has made us all emotional too. Won’t you approve?
The activities and the duties haven’t gone down and the fatigue is getting the better of us. Schools and offices are closed, the basic services and amenities that were earlier enjoyed righteously are now luxuries beyond the scope. We can’t stop weeping over this temporary slowdown because it’s exhausting in every thinkable aspect. This is a slump in the face of a pandemic that is beyond anyone’s control. But if this slowdown hasn’t made you fall in the introspective line then nothing ever will.
Reframing is a superpower!
It’s important to understand that not everybody is heroic or privileged enough to skin the not-so-pleasant emotions under the layer of a new found love for an activity, long lost interests, or even chattering with a like-minded group of friends. Courtesy social media and exceptional communication technology, I am seeing a lot of people loosen up and express more care-freely about their sentiments. They are talking a lot more openly about their unsettling moods, fears, and even insecurities due to the current situation and thereafter.
With the trapped-in-our-bubble kind of a situation, I am beginning to comprehend and express feelings that I didn’t earlier. The aloofness we all face today due to the restrictions over normal living is upsetting but I am beginning to appreciate the tête-à-tête with my unattended emotions. It is bringing me closer to the people that matter and should always. It is giving me a clear view of my strengths and allowing me a window to work on my not so strong aspects.
Moments that connect us with our precious days from the past…
Yesterday, I ran after my 4-year-old as she attempted to ride a bike without training wheels. In the pursuit of training her to ride successfully, I must have yelled at her uncontrollably. I thought she didn’t want to follow my instructions, whereas, I was trying to save her from falling. I felt she isn’t going to learn and I must have contemplated giving up on her more than she.
Amidst all the emotional and physical stress that I endured, I also shed tears of regrets for not hugging my father and thanking him. He must have run after me the same way but never yelled. Not just for the bike learning but every single thing I know or do today. If at all I fell, he used to say “I let you fall because I knew this is the only way you will avoid falling in the first place in the future and give your best in whatever you do”. His ways have taught me to be vigilant and perseverant. Giving up can never be an option and I never thanked him enough for instilling this in me.
It’s almost like an invisible & immortal book of parental proverbs
I have seen the new generation including my own get easily nervous over unsought guidance. If not all, most of us at some point in life have ridiculed those pearls of wisdom that came to us at no cost but then life is vicious. It works in a way that you come to the same pass where our elders once claimed to have stood. I call this “The Wheel of Life”.
This will sound familiar as my parents said this to me, not just once but perhaps repeatedly in my childhood and thankfully it continues to date. The immortal warnings “One day you will realize this when you have children of your own!“, “We didn’t do this to you and this isn’t right the way you are doing!”, “I was once where you are today but I listened to my parents and you aren’t.” If these words don’t sound familiar, then a smirk would equate just fine. The smirk that spoke as loud as words and meant equivalent to “You were exactly like this but we handled you with love and hugs.”
A note of thank you for bearing all tantrums
On many occasions, my father seemed indifferent from outside and his ways of dealing with us were inconvenient, so I would every so often grumble myself to sleep. My mother who knew me well, used to encourage me to speak more openly about my feelings as she said the more you communicate, the better nurtured your relations will be. This advice from her has helped me across all the relations I deal with today. I asked her once how she or her age people handled issues like generation gaps, the difference of opinions, day to day worries, or even ego clashes? And if they also had similar anxieties due to the slit?
Her answer touches my heart to date. She said, “Be glad for the gap for that is where experiences come in handy. Think of it that there is someone more practiced to guide you when you need assistance. Be grateful for everybody is different, this exclusivity in each individual makes life thrilling and worth living.” In the current time, we need counseling and professional therapists to help us deal with our complex emotions but in earlier days, it was strong communication and affection for each other that healed and sealed the gaps if any. She taught me acceptance of who I am and that I am enough in every way. I never thanked her enough for making me see pride in being unique.
What joy did my mother derive from her repeatedly asking “How is the food and did you like it?” or “I won’t sleep until you come and have your meal”. I hear the answer now every time as I feed my children and with every morsel of food that goes down, I feel satiated. I realize the peace and incomparable joy in sleeping with well-fed children in your arms. I get it today and I regret not responding to her questions in a manner she truly deserved.
The fear of getting stranded with unspoken feelings tucked in my heart!
The schools are closed and we have officially become in-charge of the studies for our little ones and it’s the hardest job on earth I reckon. To educate your little ones and with an entertaining methodology, it is just a skill that is too hard to acquire, and for those who have this skill, we call them ‘Teachers’. It takes immense courage to handle the mistakes but not lose patience. The sight words, tips for simple Mathematics, and reading storybooks – nothing gets easy but then a thought dawned on me. I wasn’t born with these basics stuffed in my baby brains. I reached where I am today because someone handled me with love and motivating hugs. Someone helped me learn at my own pace and never pushed me into any race.
There is no end to the moments that make me stagger upon the memories from my growing up and years spent with my parents. Every time I think of my parents, their beliefs, and their unconditional love for me, my heart is filled with gratitude and also fear.
There are surging emotions in me due to the unspoken emotions for my parents but for many people it can be similar or deeper sentiments due to guilt, regrets, anger, or even love towards someone that must have been important at some point. A close friend, a partner, a sibling, or even a fellow worker. The feelings hidden for an untold number of reasons but now when they are reappearing in your mind, it is time to deal with them and bring closure for acceptance and peace.
This pandemic has already claimed so many innocent lives and the mark of salvage isn’t in clear sight yet. We are all stuck in our locations and many are far away from their loved ones. In the last 7 weeks, I have inexpressibly mourned the departure of so many people I knew and some I didn’t. Life is uncertain and everybody has to leave one day, agreed! But not when you don’t even get a chance to say the goodbyes or express your unequivocal love for them.
Nothing is permanent but memories are!
I am grateful for the fact that my parents are around and although distant but I can pick up the phone and make them feel important which they deserve to know. What you hear from them days after days, year after years is precious and someday you won’t hear it at all. That day, you will be lonelier than the lockdown phase is today. This social distancing is here to tell us that even if you have to be socially distant, don’t be spiritually distant. This figurative chapter in our lives is signaling to acknowledge all kinds of feelings and provide a much-needed restart to our fatiguing souls that aren’t made to carry the unwanted weight of emotions.
Acknowledge your feelings! If you haven’t acknowledged the efforts of your elders for guiding you and for bringing you this far, or any other relationship that suffered due to deficit of time, then it’s time you do that with the symphony of these words…“I Love You and I wish to see you soon after the lockdown ends.”
Leena Asnani is an Indian but considers herself a global citizen.She has lived in the Middle East, India, and the United States. She is a mother of two girls and is currently based in Chicago, Illinois with her small family. With an MBA degree in Sales and Marketing and a rich corporate span of 12 plus years, her heart always remained in traveling, exploring the beautiful globe and still does. You can enjoy her curated content on Instagram @milesupheart.