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We asked parents for their best ideas to keep kids busy, active, having fun and learning even when stuck at home.
For many, the stress of keeping you and your children healthy has been amped up with the worry of keeping your kids active, entertained, and educated while working from home.
The widespread closures of school have sent a ripple effect into parent communities as many shuffle to find ways to ably transition kids into at-home life. It’s one thing to entertain them all day on the weekends. It’s another when you have seven days a week to fill for who know how long.
“It’s a unique situation we have never faced before,” said Rajesh Ramkumar, a Sports Entrepreneur and CEO of Smahser Sports Academy from Chennai.
“No one was prepared to face such situation. But when all the chips are falling down, we try to do whatever is possible, wherever is possible."
For Rajesh, finding the right care for his daughter, Maya Ram, has been a challenge.
Unique way: Creating space and credit system
“As a parent, first and foremost it’s very difficult with a kid. Whether it’s a school day or summer vacation – the kids are always used to meeting other kids and playing with them; they go to sports academy to practice as the infrastructure has developed so much compare to when we were kids.”
Exercise for kids may be especially important if everyone ends up at home.
To make the lockdown more realistic and sportiness, the first thing what Rajesh did was he removed all the furniture from his living room, took out all the wall hanging and converted them into a sporting space.
All furniture moved to one corner; making space for sports stations
And the second thing – instead of limiting the screen time for particular period, Rajesh introduced something called as a credit system to his daughter, which amplifies creating a real-life situation in the house and focusing on those.
He said, “limiting the screen time for 10 minutes to 30 minutes is not going to work now, because they are not meeting anyone. They are at home all day. Over some time, they will get frustrated and irritated and in return, they will irritate us.”
“So, what we did differently here was we introduced something credit system to her. This is basically about few activities like when she does some school work, studies, or lending a helping hand in the household, she gets points which is monopoly money,” adding, "And with that money, she can buy herself a dessert, screen time and online gaming time.”
Children should feel they are helping and contributing to the family situation, he added. It’s also important on a pretty much regular basis to create such an environment in the house.”
“That’s why we decided to let her choose how much she wants to engage herself in activities. It made her use the time wisely. We don’t have to run behind and keep asking her. When she wakes up in the morning, she decides how much she has to earn today and what all are the things she needs to do today to earn the screen time or dessert,” says Rajesh.
“She has been doing this for the last 40 days which yielded some pretty good results. The most important thing is she understands housework. It teaches them the importance of life skills. What we realized was only when we deny something, the kids get agitated and irritated. We say this is how you earn it. This is like a real-life situation we created.”
Other parents in are also in similar situations.
Dabbling and digging deep
Sharmila Rajan, a journalist is up at 4 a.m. to get as much work done as she can before her 10-month-old and 4-year-old are awake.
“For me, it used to be that going into work was a respite from parenting — and parenting a respite from work. Now, working from home without child care often makes me feel like I’m not doing either well — failing as both a journalsit and a parent.”
And, for what it’s worth, I am very aware of the guidelines on limiting screen time for children my kids’ age. But despite that knowledge, both of my children are watching cartoons at this very moment, so that I can finish this story.”
Sarathkumar, a college cricket coach from Chennai, has 6-year-old and 4-and-a-half-year-old daughters, and "keeping them entertained has already been a struggle while I try to do my work from home," he says.
"A few things that have helped are doing one craft a day (trying to spread them out), one board/card game a day, one shift of working in workbooks. If they have an awesome day with little whining or fighting, my wife and I allow them to have a sleepover in our room in sleeping bags on the floor that night. It’s been months, so I expect this to shift the longer we are at home, but so far it has been working."