If the commitment Pre Covid19 was a 100 percent, Covid19 Times and beyond (whenever we can ever get back to the ways it used to be), have ensured that parents have become the frontline warriors in their homes. The homes, no longer represent the family environment that once as – they are now environments that transform into work spaces, schools and recreation centers (‘restaurants’ look-alike) not to mention fitness and counselling stations. Social circles are now a part of this environment and ‘connecting’ with people face to face is also restricted to homes currently, and perhaps life for a few years till we find the vaccine. For till then it will mean survival and protecting against a virus that has the potential to destroy our world.
With the changing physical landscape of homes, the role of the parent changes as well from being the primary provider to now an Edu partner, health official, WFH professional, counsellor, organizer, cleaner, chef, friend, playmate, entertainer, trainer and confidante. The day with its 24 hours means parents have to remain active and alert and while they juggle their responsibilities with work and household chores, the lack of outsourcing options creates a demand on their time as never before, and therefore the role is heightened. As compared to pre- Covid time now it doubles capacity and I dare say in the next 18 months as well as we normalize and get used to life in unpredictable times.
So, what does this change really entail? For starters imagine that you as the Captain of Team Mission C! As a leader, your primary responsibility is to ensure that your family members – your team are all playing their part to ‘survive’.
For starters, as parents, we will need to recognize the importance of time management, scheduling and communication. TCS, as I popularly call it will enable parents to (using the principle of getting their oxygen masks fitted first – fitness, sleep, food and personal time) organize themselves and their families in a manner that maintains peace and well-being.
Creating weekly flexible routines (time-tables) for every member, assigning roles and responsibilities so that everyone’s contribution will keep this engine at home chugging along as without help and support, it will frequently break down. And the repair may just be more painful and hence prevention is better than cure in these cases and surely, in these times.
Flexibility is the key and while creating a time-table for what happens when, and a task-sheet for who takes what responsibility one has to respect that we are working with human beings, their feelings and emotions and therefore unlike parts of the machine, they will need understanding, some space to manoeuvre, change, and time to settle in. This ‘personal’ flexibility keeps the ‘team’ (your family) emotionally comfortable and that is a great starting point. Conversations with every individual at their pace will help in getting their buy-in for the reason this is been initiated.
Learning to say no, and accepting that everything cannot be addressed is also a big shift from yesterday as there was a larger team you can empanel to manage the tasks. With limited resources, you must, therefore, learn to prioritize and make decisions on a ‘need’ basis.
Empowering and also ‘walking away’ from tantrums, disputes, outbursts would be a useful tool, allowing the team to also resolve without your intervention – disagreements between siblings, disagreements between grandparents and children/ spouses and children, etc. Let them also learn to ‘deal’ and ‘cope’, acknowledge their mistakes and find a way out of the situation. Becoming the person who always does it and ‘sets it right’ also cripples their independence, so resist this temptation at all times. Intervene when it is life-threatening. This will help you remain energetic when you need to play, conduct fitness regimes and negotiate with them about bedtime routines and meal choices.
Make the world more inclusive with them leading some decisions like what they would like to eat, or how much screen time, or when they would like to get their fitness routines in or when they would like to read. By making them part of the decision, and not making it for them, allowing discussions and communication but also a buy-in that makes sticking to a routine easier.
Share, share and share everything with your children as they are exposed. When you share the good and the bad and explain it in a simple manner, not built with anxiety, children learn to embrace the world with its grey areas and then your expectation of yourself as the superhero will no longer become the burden it is now, where you are supposed to have all the answers and can do it all.
Personal time and you’re well being must be respected and appreciated. Therefore, ensure that they understand that this is ‘mommie’ or ‘daddie’ time, just like they had limited access when you were on chores outside the home in case you are a homemaker or for work if u are a working spouse. Children need to understand that parents also have routines and therefore, these times are when they find solutions or occupy themselves independently. As a coach, you will give them choices, options and walk them through times that you need to work on your personal targets. This is critical as this creates respect and empathy.
So from an instructional, directional role parents will experience a shift in their mindset, and ditching some age-old traditions for the more evolved role that of inclusive and empowering conversations, becoming mentor and guides who understand behaviour patterns and work with that, the role of the parent undergoes a transformation as well. At all times maintaining patience (well meditation and yoga is great for this), discipline and balance in ourselves will set the right examples for children. The role model that we want to demonstrate.
Allow yourself moments when you can ‘cheat’ and bend rules to keep the households ‘happy’, ‘alive’ and ‘moving’ …. using humour works immensely and remember it is therapeutic, a great stress buster, and in many cases without awkward discussions, laughter and jokes seamlessly help you exit some tough situations and generally restore the mood! Embrace Covid19 parenting as a Captain, and reorganize your thoughts, and approaches to work for your team. Remember, the grass will always be greener on the other side so better not to constantly look at social media and track what other families are doing. You are not them, and you have a unique proposition ahead of you. Make the most of it.
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