In this new season of circuit breaker (CB) and full home-based learning (HBL), many adjustments have to be made by parents. As much as we hope that these adjustments are temporary, we’ve got to be prepared for the long run.
So what’s the new normal for a stay-at-home mum (SAHM) like me during COVID-19? Here are some things I have been trying to do differently to help myself cope with this storm of uncertainty and isolation.
Adjusting to a New Normal as a SAHM during COVID-19
1. Exploring Different Avenues
Being a SAHM with three young kids, I still prefer to work part-time at home as a way to keep my mind engaged and connected to my previous career which was in education research. Unfortunately, these jobs are scarce now. This got me thinking of ways to stay relevant while I continue my job search. What if I offered my services as a form of attachment or internship? How do I continue to hone my craft without stagnating? Where else can I contribute? Exploring different avenues keeps me sane and focused.
2. Finding meaning in HBL
With HBL, parents have to step up their game in monitoring their children’s progress. No more taking the back seat. Amidst these pressures, I find more meaning in taking little snippets of time to discover and understand how they think especially how they arrive at a certain answer or why they think a particular way, instead of rushing them to complete their daily tasks. Hopefully when HBL ends, I’m able to support my child’s learning better at home with less scolding and tears.
3. Learning to Hate Cooking Less
I never liked spending time in the kitchen. Now with the children home all the time, I’m forced to cook more meals. I resolve to attempt new and simple recipes involving the kids so that cooking won’t be such a chore. Compensation? More days off from cooking.
4. Maintaining Essential Supplies
Usually, I’ll do grocery shopping on a weekend somewhere nearby. Now to minimise contact with crowds, I have shifted it to mid-week to a less crowded mall. That requires slightly more travelling time but at least it offers some peace of mind.
5. Management of Household Chores
Usually, we engage a part-time helper to clean our place weekly. At the start of CB, we decided to do the chores on our own. When involving young kids in cleaning, I realised it’s first important to lower my expectations, secondly, teach them the right way to clean, thirdly, do chores together but still allow them to have fun. The downside is that us parents end up doing more work. The upside? Besides learning a life-skill, my kids get to expend their energy and they go to bed earlier.
6. Reuse and Recycle
I consider myself pretty good at de-cluttering but with HBL, I tend to hoard junk a bit more like empty toilet roll, tissue box and even raffia string just in case my preschooler needs them for any activity. With some creativity, this junk can be used to keep my kids entertained for a long time. Note to self: Throw all these away once HBL ends.
7. Connection and Connectivity
Now it takes extra effort to remain connected with family and friends who are away from us. Most of our communication has shifted to video-conferencing software and messaging platforms and this relies heavily on our Wi-Fi connection. In the beginning, I was excited to be ‘zooming’ with friends but, as days go by, I began to miss real face-to-face interactions. Soon I might be zoom-fatigued. But for now, I shall count my blessings for reliable connectivity so that I can connect with the ones I love.
To sum it all up: Adjusting to the new normal is to live beyond my limits of exhaustion and patience without losing my sense of purpose. We’re in this together. Hang in there!