Childcare in the home during COVID-19: Ways to embrace the new normal

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Nothing has ever been so troublesome, scary and ‘contagious’ in recent years, like the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic known globally as COVID-19. The impacts that the virus is causing in people’s lives and livelihoods are much discussed around the world, ever since the havocs of this deadly virus went viral. However, the measures that can be done to overshadow the high profile virus is yet to be discussed in some sectors, especially the matter regarding those homes that are raising children. Amidst this chaotic situation when people are re-evaluating the worth of life, what about the little angels who neither know about life nor its worth and not up-to-the-age to fight of their own?

The pandemic is seemingly tolling the kids just like their parents and relatives but truth be told, their needs are comparatively smaller yet priceless. Playing with mud in a wide, green, muddy field; sliding down the slide, having a chitchat with people around them, running around with no purpose and boundaries under the open sky - these are some of the things and aspects they need in their tiny routine to keep in sound physical and mental health. These basic needs sound fantastic, when it is time calls for a vacation during the normal time - but now, these sound utterly unsafe when every sort of public gathering is banned for obvious reason.

Modern problems require modern solutions. So if the children feel the absence of all the above-mentioned needs and activities in their lives, there are ways through which they can get occupied and be simulated inside the house. Though they seem hard to adjust with these below-mentioned activities inside their home quarantining period, some of these options can be tried out during these hard times when parents are now getting the opportunity to spend more times than before and look after them more than they could do in the usual past.

Clay, more! (But artificial):

Most of the people representing the elderly generation in Bangladesh often reminisce about playing with clays, during their childhood back in the days where technologies were not so enhanced unlike in 2020. Nothing could defeat those innocent moments of joy when miniature castles or animals were built after hours of playing ‘Bob the builder’ with the natural clays - or the soothing memories of playing with liquid clay in the mud while being soaked under heavy rainfall. Time flies, and unfortunately, those days are unimaginable in current circumstances. Along with the rising number of housings in the country, clay is gradually losing its vivid presence from the childhood of this generation. As an interesting alternative, parents now can give their kids artificial clay and slime-sets. With artificial clay and slimes, kids can showcase their talents in making varieties of stuff namely vegetables, dolls, and many more of miniatures.

More access to the sky above the buildings:

Children in the age of technological enhancement are not lucky enough to see the open sky in Dhaka whenever they want, as buildings are now increasing day by day. And also, going out for a walk in a park is not the safest or smartest thing during these crazy contagious times. In order to introduce a better version of the sky and wide-angle view of the flying birds, parents can take their children to the rooftop of their building justly so that children can get relieved of the suffocation in their rooms. This may include setting a swing through using a harness (if the option and adequate space is available that can protect the children from any accidental incidents) to let them have swung; setting rings to make them some protected workout; admiring the beauty of leaves and flowers if a rooftop garden is available, flying colorful kites or even enough space to blow bubbles from bubble-water. Of course, parents should observe and understand the safety measure first, by keeping factors in mind such as checking the availability of the guardrails in the rooftop and ensuring adequate social distancing.

Draw and decorate out loud:

Children are the best innocent creatures, and their talents are not means to be caged. For years, children have been putting their imagination on walls at their home, which is not a better option now because of the risks of the virus. Their artistic notions can now be guided to produce a good drawing on papers and sketchbooks with colors of their choices. Parents can assist them in this activity and also can get a vibe of revisiting their childhood. Decorating has also been a favorite task of kids always, so they can redecorate their rooms, balconies or rooftops by some decoration out of their own imagination. They also can have own-hand made decorative out of paper like paper-locks, wall-hanging, wall-matt etc.

If one’s wondering how they can manage stationeries for their children during these tough times when stores are closed in many places - the good thing is that some prominent online stationery and gift shops like ‘Back to Childhood’ are delivering the products inside the city.

“We have been a household name to our customers and admirers for years now, with our varieties range of products. We suspended our activities even before the lockdown began, for the health and hygiene of our beloved customers. As we have been receiving a huge amount of order requests for drawing equipment from the parents, as their children are willing to draw more in this home-staying period without the stress and anxieties of regular schooling hassles - we resumed our shop and delivering orders all over the city through maintaining proper safety measures. Also, we are showcasing and admiring the adorable artworks presented by the parents of those loving children in our Facebook group, increasing and spreading the positivity among other parents and children and all the other group members”, Nusrat Jahan Mim, owner of the popular online stationery shop ‘Back to Childhood’ spoke to this writer.

Lessons to act:

Children are very good at acting out roles, naturally - for example, the behaviors of animals or their favorite puppets and characters from cartoons, comics or tv series. So, parents can also assist them in doing so, by making it even more charming with building mini-stage or some props or some costumes to give it a sharp-edge, well-equipped look. Kids also can enjoy being a puppeteer and in this case, all of their dolls can turn into puppets. Even their fingers can be puppets too just by drawing eyes and mouths on top of it. Who needs a Netflix before the entertaining, freshly baked, homemade shows of the mini-Emmians/Oscarians?

Methods to make homeschooling fun:

From common people to all the celebrities around the world are being busy with their kids with the term ‘homeschooling’. The word ‘study’ makes the children scared and irritated in normal days; and now on top of the irritation caused by locked down, it can get burdensome if presented traditionally. Parents have a bigger role to play through showing creative approach during this time, which can wipe out the trauma completely. Parents just need to act out as students while kids can play out as a teacher. Parents can set a whiteboard to give kids a more realistic effect in their roles. All these little but effective activities can make kids more confident than ever in their study. Reading aloud storybooks is another way of interacting educationally with kids. This is way more fun, and at the same time educational as well.

Fighting malnutrition, with style:

All the above activities will be in vain if a child is in malnutrition, so the parents need to respond to their kids' nutritional needs by providing them fruits that are loaded with Vitamin C. The Vitamin C is highly recommended during this pandemic by doctors, who are suggesting this Vitamin to block the chances of the coronavirus as it has similarities with flues. In this summer season, one cup of sliced mango can give 60.1 mg Vitamin C, accompanied by its cousin Vitamin A - which makes the immune system stronger and healthier. Other fruits include lemon, pineapple, oranges are rich sources of Vitamin C. Foods cooked for daily consumption needs proper washing and boiling before serving into the dish is another health measure a parent can count upon.

Above all and everything - it is pretty normal that kids are struggling to cope with the ongoing pandemic as this is a new thing. To normalize the situation, parents need to be more positive and supportive of their kids. Parents have to make them understand that this bad time will pass on. One day will come when people will no longer be afraid of hugging each other, shaking hands and not maintaining social distance. It is just a matter of time which has a light at the end. It is like a cloud with a silver lining, as this pandemic enabled them to be together for a long time and redefining the meaning of life. May that come sooner than the beautiful imaginations of children, all over the world.

The writer is a mother of two, and a recent graduate of English language and literature from East West University, Dhaka.

  • Children
  • Covid-19
  • Coronavirus

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