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COVID-19 Lockdown, a Great Opportunity to Put to Use your Parenting Skills

World Health Organization (WHO) made its first declaration of the outbreak of coronavirus as a pandemic when the number of confirmed cases with COVID-19 were 165,000 globally since it emerged in China in December 2019. What was initially seen as a largely China-centric problem is now a global crisis beyond the obvious public health crisis, and is ultimately having a major impact on the global economy. 

As the world grapples with the coronavirus, public health has been at the forefront of concern, largely focusing on preventive and containment measures as well as equipping and preparing the global health care systems’ capacity to confront the pandemic. However, the negative impact of the virus on the global economy is increasing every day. The restrictions we are seeing on the movement of people, goods and services, and containment measures have created a lot of uncertainty on the global economy.

The disease has spread quickly and what started in Wuhan China became a global problem calling for a global response. We know that it will eventually retreat, but we don’t know how fast this will happen. We also know that this shock is somewhat unusual. Our particular concern is about the pandemic’s impacts on vulnerable communities and families already grappling with basic needs.

On the 24th March 2020, His Excellency the President of the Republic of Uganda, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, ordered the closure of schools and suspended all social, political, religious and cultural gatherings in an effort to contain the spread of COVID 19. A few days later, in another State of the Nation Address, the President, who emphasized his priority to protect the lives of Ugandans, ordered close of public and private transport and thus declaring a total lockdown of the Country for fourteen (14) days. Most of the offices have had to embrace the work from home policy in order to cope with the Governments protocol. Students and pupils have been at home and this has since created a lot of anxiety among the parents.

That said, every dark cloud has a silver lining, and for Parents, this lockdown provides an opportunity for you to reconnect and get more involved in your child’s well being. Below is a list of things you could consider as you parent your children during this lockdown period;

  • Family Values: This is a perfect time to set values for your family. And if you have them, then this is the time to evaluate your family against them and to see how best you can practice these values
  • Family Timetable: Sit with your children and create a time table for yourselves, one that every member of the family is comfortable with. This will ensure that you all have a routine to follow but most importantly it will give the children a sense of security. It is important to note that this time table should be in relation to your family values. Remember to be flexible, if you realize that your family time table needs some adjusting, do it
  • Participating in Household Chores; After you have set a general timetable, encourage the children to set personal timetables, these should include; house chores they will be doing at home, personal study time, cooking, handiwork or skills development, cleaning, etc… This might require you to avail them with some textbooks, reading material and other materials needed for their projects. They can also include devotion time, there is no better time for your child to connect with the lord.   
  •  Quality Time; As a Parent, ensure that you have quality time with each of your children, please make it intentional. Start out with twenty to thirty minutes for each child, and if you have nothing to say to each other sit in silence, enjoy each other’s company till those minutes are over. It might not start out as fun for everyone but as the days go by, your children will appreciate and look forward to this time alone with you. During this time you could address sensitive topics related to sexuality and reproductive health. Also, look out for any odd behaviour in your children, especially children coming from boarding schools.
  • Electronic Gadgets; Gadgets are a big part of our lives these days, especially phones and television, but try to restrict television time to at least four hours a day. The same applies to telephones. Use the rest of the time to bond as a family. Play board games, do excise together and if you have a compound sit outside and play together. These activities should be able to help open up channels of communication with your children. And as we move to more cyber activities for our children, endeavour to put measures in place to prevent your children from getting exposed to wrong internet sites as they study
  • Family Meetings; Hold weekly family meetings, this a great way to get feedback from your children, know what it is they think about what is happening around the house. Know their concerns and fears and in return reassure them. These meetings are also a perfect time to talk about the special days that are occurring during the lockdown for example; Birthdays, Anniversaries, we celebrated Easter and Earth Day recently and many more.
  • Money Talk; If you have a family business or intend to start one then this is also the best time to talk about money and business. Sit together with your children and discuss the future of your business, tell them what has been happening, and how your income might be affected by the corona pandemic. While you are at it discuss budgeting for both the business and the family needs. Discuss how they can help out more in the business and if they have any ideas to better the family business.  
  • Leadership at home; The Bible tells us to bring up a child in the way they should go so when they grow up they will not depart from it. And the best way to do this is to lead by example. Wake up early, be active, polite, and respectful to both the young and the old, speak to your spouse respectfully, and listen to your children. Allow children to take leadership roles and practise decision making in their day to day lives.. Plainly put, be what you want your children to become.
  • Health and Nutrition; Mind about your family, especially children’s. nutrition. Ensure that your meals are healthy and balanced. Eating right doesn’t mean eating expensively. If you haven’t thought about a backyard garden, this is the best time to have one and let the children participate in setting it up. Emphasize cleanliness at all times. But also ensure that all this fits into your lockdown budget and that it can be sustained.
  • Child protection: Lastly, make sure that all the people are around your children are treating them the way they ought to. Be on the lookout for any signs of abuse in your children and in case of any, reach out to them or call for help. (Child helpline 116.)

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What do you think?

Written by Nyesigomwe Lydia

The writer is the Executive Director Parenting Uganda (Building Purpose-Driven Families), Uganda Country Director Holt International Children's Services and a Member of Kampala Central Lions Club

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Sons of the gods #8

Muwunya!