I’ve just switched on the TV to hear the president confirm my worst nightmare – the lockdown will be extended. The first thought that runs through my mind is simply I don’t have enough wine to get through this. The second thought is: how am I going to get through this?
Don’t get me wrong. Spending time at home not just with the kids, but with my husband too has been a great family bonding exercise, but it’s also been a stark reminder of just how tough parenting can be and perhaps, I’m ashamed to admit it, just how little we are in fact parenting in our busy lives.
Yes, we take our kids on bike rides, read stories at night, look after their needs and love them beyond measure, but we are also rushing through most of that distracted by our phones, work calls and general adulting in a world that has become increasingly pressured. This lockdown has forced us to not only stay home but stay present.
During this quarantine, I have noticed that my parenting style is changing – for the most part for the better. I’m far more playful with the kids, revisiting my own childhood with countless games of hopscotch, hide-and-seek and K-I-N-G spells king – apparently, this generation of digital whizz kids can appreciate old-school fun too.
In fact, the last few weeks have been all about exploring our imaginations, something we don’t do enough of. When I am working to a deadline or prepping for a client presentation, I’m quick to put the kids on the couch for a Peppa Pig marathon. Now that I’m housebound all day with no work to do, the thought of listening to that damn pig on repeat is unbearable.
Instead, we get creative – it helps being married to someone whose job involves coming up with children’s party ideas, I’ll admit. One of the genius activities my hubby came up with was decanting shaving cream into a tub, adding food colouring and using paintbrushes to create artwork on the sliding doors. As a neat freak with a mild case of OCD, I resisted the idea at first but when presented with the choice of another episode of Peppa Pig or this, it was an easy decision.
“During this quarantine period I have noticed that my parenting style is changing – for the most part for the better.”
Plus, seeing the amount of fun the kids had – and how easy it actually was to tidy up – I quickly let go of my initial reservations. This game and many of the others our children have delighted in playing are proof that the simple things in life are not only more enjoyable but so much more valuable than any toy, piece of tech or video game – all of which come with a much higher price tag than a can of shaving cream.
Painting the windows, drawing pictures in chalk on the driveway, and collecting flowers from the garden to use for a DIY art project are what memories are made of. More importantly, they allow everyone to interact – with each other and with their own imaginations.
Maybe COVID-19 is here to teach us not only how to be better and more engaged parents, but how to rediscover and appreciate an experience of childhood that we enjoyed, and which perhaps our children are missing out on.
Jessica is a writer and editor from Cape Town – and a mom of two young kids. When she’s not working or running after her two little ones, she writes about the mess and the magic of motherhood, sharing her parenting journey, one faux pas at a time. Follow her on Instagram @realhometruths.