And suddenly, just out of the blue and with no help whatsoever, we were confined to our home and here we are carrying on holding our children or maybe just being tolerated by them. I am writing to share a positive experience.
I am Omar’s mother (9 years old), Farah’s (7 years old) and Rafiq’s (3 years old) and in a very pragmatic way and due to the imposed restrictions, we seat as a family, opened up the Excel sheet and workout a schedule, tasks, activities and free time. Something that started as an intention to bring some discipline and as a way to control damage, it ended up being the best tool to manage emotions and safety. And so, we continued, here we are with the 10th version of 2020, but in fact our Excel sheet is as old as Omar’s age and the Covid-19 only accelerated the frequency of the review.
Those of you who know me, know that I face life in an optimistic way, the obstacles are to be overcome because nothing is impossible, life itself is a constant opportunity for improvement and all the stress and tiredness accumulated is healed with the heart! But the secret of my success has always been based on a good double entry table!
On this table one can find daily routines, support system to the processes, responsibilities, performance evaluation and prizes. And this is not from today, nor from COVID, it has always been this way.
Children usually tend to react and behave according to the adults around them, so when parents are concerned, anxious and tense, children will reflect insecurity, alarmism and agitation. On the other hand, if parents maintain a confident and calm attitude, their children will quickly pick it up and easily adjust to the new environment and context, and accept challenges with ease promoting an overall wellbeing.
I have acquired this knowledge based on experience but also through readings and parenting trainings, when faced with unfamiliar situations, here at home we stop, reflect and fill in the excel table.
By this I mean, writing down a set of actions to face the challenge. Currently pertaining to COVID-19, but in the past have done the same when planning another child, when moving houses, schools and even countries.
We usually follow these steps:
- Lots of family conversations about the topic, the new context and the new challenge;
- Explaining what it is about, demonstrating the need to adopt new behaviours, new routines, making a poster or even a treasure hunt to creatively understand the situation and establish new rules;
- For the next few days or weeks, being on an alert mode and paying attention to any red flags, perceiving difficulties and monitoring children’s and parents’ behaviour;
- On suspicion of incompatibility or inadequacy of the rule or activity, or simply because change is required, be flexible to adjust, amend or just give up on it;
- Always keep a connection to the previous context, and this applies to places, acquired practices, objects and of course to family and friends;
- And finally, try to keep your balance, balance the online and the offline, work and leisure, school and play, candies and vegetables!
But I also have to confess to you that no matter how hard I try to be perfect like Excel, sometimes my formula doesn't work, and then I have to evaluate what is essential for me and, at the end, that is the well-being, self-confidence and joy of my loved ones, and be in peace that I’ve tried to the best of my ability.
We understand that it is only via commitment, dedication and effort that I can carry and ease this journey of my children’s through the world. In fact, we are proud seeing them growing curious, flexible, safe, agile and happy and it assures us that even in difficult times, when our best seemed to be below the qualifying minimum, in the end everything was fine and it worked out for the best. Our children are chameleons and we will always be their champions!
Today, 4 months later, when looking back I see that Omar finished 4th grade with honor, and he masters the Roblox, the iMoviee and the Power Point.
Today, 4 months later, Farah is reading and writing and she has accomplished these by attending online classes; she is able to recite the Du’a, the Tasbih and the Jaherat.
Today, 4 months later, Rafiq has grown out of diapers and bottles and he is as eloquent, mischievous and smart as you would expect if he had to stand out for that, in a room with 17 boys and 3 girls!
Today 4 months later, it was with our help, with trial and error, with more than 10 versions of Excel that I tell you: they are fine and so are we!
Throughout this COVID-19 time we are only becoming stronger in unity and companionship, we know each other much better than before and we accept with ease each other’s individuality. We continue to be willing to learn and teach, we have improved our ability to share and respect, we feel that together we are able to face this and all the other new challenges.
Will it be from our recipe, will it be from Excel? Our family is a positive case, like “n”!
Article written by Nalina Kara
Mother of 3, Chief Executive of UMM – Metalmechanics Industry, with a degree in Management (UCP)