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What to do when parents test positive?

Parenting is a full-time job. As new parents, raising a child can be challenging at times. During normal times, both the set of parents (in the case of a couple) or single parents, lean over support systems like house helps, friends, families, babysitters, or even day-care. Even a few hours of school gives them enough time to take rest and prepare for the second or half the day with their children. Weekends are spent at the park, playdates, malls, movies. These help with the monumental; and sometimes the mind-numbing task of caring for young children.

But we are not living in normal times. With the Covid-19 invasion in early 2020, social distancing, isolation, closure of schools, parks, malls and even visits to friends and family has become the necessary public health tactic to slow up the fast and potentially deadly spread of the virus.

This has stripped us of our caregiver network and parents have been left to take care of their children on their own-enclosed in a four-walls.

Amidst all this, imagine what may happen if one or both the parents fall sick due to corona? Who will take care of the kids?

The very thought of facing the spectre of this grave illness is scary.

As we know that hospitals are almost full and patients are advised to home quarantine if they are not critical. And this is making the parents more worried as they fear the consequences their children may have to face if they test positive.

Possible challenges parents are facing when they are tested positive and self-isolated in one room

  •  Nuclear families with no outside help face the problem of managing everything on their own. If one gets sick, the entire workload is on another spouse. In the case of single parents, it’s really difficult too.
  • Keeping young kids away as they don’t realise the consequences of this grave situation
  • Kids can be potential carriers, so parents don’t want to take the risk of sending them to someone else’s place,  as what if others also catch the virus.
  • And even if someone agrees to babysit the child, some children are refused to go with others. They only want their parents
  • Babysitters or nannies from outside cannot be arranged, we don’t want them to risk their lives as well.
  • Small children don’t like wearing masks or following all hygiene protocols at home
  • Cooking and feeding is a big task
  • Children signs of anxiety

However, we can still manage a few ways out on how to deal with children during these difficult times. Or at least try.

  • Preparing well in advance: With the cases rising, we need to prepare well in advance that “Anyone can get infected now”. So better to keep the children informed without sounding alarmist. We can talk to them about the possibility of what may happen, reassure them, and also explain the process step by step. Advanced preparedness always works. When they know what to expect, curiosity and fear lessens.
  • Be updated with all the medical and hygiene protocol: This doesn’t mean hoarding or keeping aside medicines (as we all know about the scarcity situation of important medicines and oxygen). This means knowing which doctor to connect, where to get the tests done from, what protocols to be followed at home. If children listen, an outsider may be a known medical practitioner or even a school teacher.
  • Communication and constant reassurance: Even under the same roof, parents have physically distanced themselves from their children but the communication should not stop, Video calls, or chatting through the small gap (6 feet distance), playing online games, or loud storytelling sessions- anything fun or creative. Just make sure that “We are here, it’s a matter of only a few days”.
  • Seeking Help: This is the time to give and receive help because most of us have either gone through or will go through it. So ask families and friends to talk to their children, seek help for food or even finance. Just don’t hesitate.
  • Pause and Slow down: This is once in a lifetime situation and needs utmost care both physically and mentally. Good peace of mind and rest of body. If you find yourself getting the urge to finish one last work assignment or do one more load of laundry … don’t. Just relax for the time being.
  • Self-love: We parents often prioritise our children’s needs over our needs and desires. This is beautiful but not at the cost of anyone’s health and sanity. This is the time to focus on personal health because that’s the only way to recover quickly. We have to make sure we take care of ourselves because if we don’t, we wont be able to take care of the people we are responsible for.
  • Let the children take a break– If both the parents are ill, we can skip online classes for our little children for a while and inform the school in advance. We can skip that project or homework. Anything that need parent’s involvement can take backstage. Children are equally stressed; they need their parents to hug them. We can’t expect them to study or attend piano class as if everything is normal
  • Appreciate the child: We know this is not the right time to teach life skills to our children, however this is the time which has taught these little learners to be independent: by default. Some children independently went to the loo to attend nature’s call knowing that mom dad isn’t around. APPRECIATE THEM. Promise them a reward after quarantine gets over.

Staying in isolation can often disrupt your peace of mind. Research has claimed that many people experience bouts of anxiety and stress in lockdown or while they’re recovering from COVID-19. In such a case, it is important to be kind to ourselves. Avoid stressing about your family, kids and work. Instead, focus on healing and recovering faster.

It’s now a public service to make sure that we stay healthy and are able to take care of their and other’s health.