On Friday, April 3, the Singapore government introduced new ‘circuit breaker’ measures in order to slow the community spread of Covid-19. The resounding message: from April 7 to May 4, stay at home and go out only for essential services. That is to say, a family living under the same roof will be spending 24 / 7 together.
For many, family activities have been lost in our overscheduled lives. School, work and extracurricular activities can make it difficult to find time for family bonding. Here are some ways we could fully utilise this circuit breaker to build a stronger relationship with our children.
Eating meals together is an excellent time for family members to interact, strengthen ties and forge better relationships. This could start out as a plan for a weekly menu, followed by a grocery list. Encourage children to be involved, such as getting them to help with food preparation or setting the table. During mealtime, parents could also take the opportunity to be role models, such as putting mobile devices away, or providing positive reinforcement of good table manners. Thereafter, work as a family to clean up. Family meals are important and should be considered a part of our daily requirements as much as possible.
Exercising / After Dinner Walks
If you have already made time to have dinner with your children, why not spend another half an hour or so going on a walk with them after dinner? In our tropical weather, this is the coolest and most pleasant time of the day. Talk about the changes you see in the neighbourhood and what your children observe around them as you go on these walks. Walking while you talk may actually make it easier for children to bring up difficult topics or problems they face during the day because they have something else to focus on when they bring these subjects up. For those families who are more adventurous, going cycling together can also help to clear cluttered minds preoccupied with work commitments or schoolwork.
Understanding each other’s commitment
For most of us working parents, working from home gives us the opportunity to share our work commitments with our children. Whatever work role you are in, share with your children your industry background, workload and work processes, or even your key performance indicators (KPI) at work. This gives them the opportunity to be exposed to working life. Other topics can also be discussed, such as your children’s future aspirations, or how to design a realistic process in order to achieve personal goals in their lives.
As parents on the other hand, we can also try to understand more about what our children are going through in school. Apart from their schoolwork commitments, we should find out if they are facing any challenges in relationships with their peers and/or teachers, as well as the hobbies that they have. Take this opportunity to understand their current situation. Avoid the blame game, but rather find potential solutions on how to overcome their challenges, collectively as a family.
Sharing Family Stories
Find time to share stories about your family’s history. Dig out your old photo albums and look through them with your children. This could be a good exercise to let your children have a peek of what their parents, or even grandparents’ lives were in the past. Share the hardship the family has gone through, the pride of winning an award, the joy of welcoming the children to the family when they were just newborns.
There is no doubt that the circuit breaker has disrupted our daily routines. Nevertheless, it could also be a perfect opportunity to catch up with what we have lost in each of our overscheduled lives. It is our choice, as parents, whether to spend our energy on complaints, or instead focus on strengthening family communication, cohesiveness, and commitment.
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