Perspectives of a stay-at-home dad: On wife’s work-at-home weekend and child’s engagement, in the backdrop of COVID-19

I have always dreaded this situation, ‘when my wife has to work from home on a weekend and I will exhaust all my options of engaging our child.’

And now with the uncertainty owing to COVID-19 situation, this has come to a reality.

Unlike other working weekends of my wife, where I had engaged Ivan in numerous options like swimming, art lessons at NAFA, scooter rides, playing games at Timezone, and sometimes even aimless strolling – enjoying nature and weather…today was very different. Besides, Ivan was showing common flu symptoms and had to stay at home the entire week, and still some bouts of residual cough and runny nose.

In the backdrop of a recent declaration by WHO of COVID-19 to be a global pandemic, we had to take a very crucial decision in the interest of everyone’s well-being.

Finally, the verdict with common consensus was that “all of us are staying inside home, and my wife will be working from home.”

Now, it is very easy to become distressed for me in such a scenario, and which I did become today, because I started imagining continuous disturbances from our son in my wife’s work. Though I was quite vulnerable today, my wife flipped her Strength Switch ON (guess, that is what we call a teamwork).

She brought a box of play-doh from Ivan’s playroom and kept them on her working desk, and was suggesting, guiding, and instructing Ivan of some cool ideas in between her assignments . After a couple of minutes, it became an auto-pilot project, where he was self-driven and continued engagement for quite a long time, resulting into creations viz. a new species of deep blue animal, a bonfire inspired from his favourite Paw Patrol cartoon, a worm specimen that was later preserved in a test tube, and the like.

Encouraged with this, I thought how can I further engage him, so I started talking to him about our time, the space, distance of planets from earth, and slowly our discussion went into doing calculations to reach distant heavenly bodies, which though not made much sense to him but surprisingly he was very interested to see me writing and in turn started copying them onto his notebook (attached few photos as a collage). This exercise took a while, and by the time we were done, it was supper time already.

I was amazed at watching all this and was forced to think that how we can sometimes not see and think of simple ideas to do while at home, maybe due to a self-created panic. As a positive psychology practitioner, I was naturally driven to think about the entire episode in retrospection, and gradually everything started to make sense. Below is my evaluation, and as I am writing this, our son has proceeded for tonight’s slumber:

  1. The current situation is a test of everyone’s resilience and mindfulness and we all need practice to overcome it from the different settings we all are in. It will equip us well to be able to handle things in a calmer way, although there is a lot of chaos in mind and in the world; it is hopefully still doable
  2. A child is naturally curious and as parents we can easily stoke engagement by talking them gently and lovingly about things which they start to show even slightest of interest in – children have a super social brain and can find any excuse to stay connected
  3. If we make it a practice to naturally fall-back to our Strengths and make use of our knowledge and skills in few quick moments, especially in our everyday parenting – it will help our child’s brain in multitude ways, owing to its rapid development
  4. It is not always possible to be able to work-out solutions to problems instantly on our own, and we need help from another human (in my case, today, my wife’s Strengths of Teamwork, Prudence, Judgement, Creativity, Persistence, Mindfulness, Love, Social Intelligence) – confirming again that we have a need to be social and evolving together

We hope that in these tough times of pandemic, may we all connect with ourselves, our loved ones, and practise usage of Strengths and Mindfulness, to find answers to questions that otherwise get overlooked owing to the fast-paced urban life.

May All Be Well!

With Gratitude

Shajita

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