The real challenge begins now as lockdown ends
On March 11, WHO officially declared the COVID-19 outbreak a Pandemic due to its global spread and severity. As an effort to safeguard the lives of people what ensued was a nationwide lockdown.
While me and my partner were still grappling with the enormity of Pandemic, for my kids the news of lock-down simply meant school closure, shutting down of all recreational centers, zero play dates and no playtime in evenings. They were just going to be locked down at home.
What had begun as a lock-down soon turned into a stay-cation for kids — uninterrupted TV time binging on chips, popcorns and ice cream, baking cakes day after day, heading to the fridge or the kitchen cabinets every now and then for a snack.
Amidst all this, the only comforting factor was kids were home and Safe.
With easing up the lockdown restrictions, came a bigger challenge to keep kids safe as they look forward to step out to play with their friends and therefore putting themselves at risk of being inflicted by COVID-19. At this point, we can follow 2 approaches for their safety:
- Keep kids indoor and not allow them to play with others
- Allow kids to enjoy playtime by following safety measures
The 1st approach did not stand a chance given the patience levels of kids were now plummeting from being indoors for over a month. Which left us with no choice but to let kids have fun outdoor with friends while following the hygiene protocol for safety of self and others. Plus, build their immunity by making prudent switches in their eating habits and routine.
Kids have an uncanny sense of taking to things when they are completely apprised of the situation. Once they know the Why, they take ownership of their actions and act responsibly. That’s step 1- Making kids aware of how contagious the Pandemic is, its severity and measures to follow for self care. Providing the background makes the job easy for parents and kids too to follow instructions to a T.
Sticking with hand wash routine
One of the basic measures to protect oneself from the infection, as per CDC guidelines, is washing hands with soap and water after being in public area. From day 1 (since the news of the Pandemic), kids have taken the 20 second hand washing ritual quite diligently, making sure to wash hands as soon as they are back home from play or upon interaction with anyone other than family.
Initially, it did require repeated reminders to wash hands but has now become a routine habit.
Don a mask
Given that COVID-19 is a respiratory infection and transmitted through droplets from either nose or mouth, mask has become an essential weapon to stay guarded from the Pandemic.
For my kids, the idea of wearing a mask is an exciting one and have taken to wearing them quite sportingly. Market is flooded with bright and colorful masks for kids in cartoon prints making it fascinating for kids to wear one.
However, the problem is not solved if only one child wears mask. It requires all those playing together to be equally responsible and don masks. It will require every parent to work cohesively with other parents to ensure safety for everyone.
The Pandemic has made it clear that tomorrow is not going to be better than today unless you take care of yourself this moment. For the mother in me, it has meant taking health of my kids a notch higher.
Our modern lifestyle has made us look for comfortable choices and picking up processed, readily eatable junk food off the shelves from super market is just an extension of our comfortable lifestyle.
Junk food has found its way rather easily in modern day kitchen. Bright and fascinating packaging, attractive TV commercials, long shelf life and readiness in consumption has influenced not just kids but adult food choices too. Ready cup noodles, chips, popcorns, cereals, flavored yogurts, or any other packaged food has become a favorite with the kids.
Junk food earned its name as Junk because it offers absolutely nil nutritional value. Due to inadequate consumption of required vitamins and minerals, kids feel in-satiated, leading to over eating of zero nutritional food. Plus, junk foods robs the body of its innate energy thereby compromising body’s natural immunity which now works at a sub-optimal level.
To prepare kids and therefore their immune system for a long battle, junk food doesn’t stand even a decimal percent chance of being secured in my kitchen cabinets. I duly scanned the kitchen cabinets and fridge and replaced junk with healthy replacements to support kids snacking habits.
The usual snack preferences like chips, Maggi, popcorn now got replaced with whole fruits, cucumber or carrot sticks, foxtail nuts, and other nuts & seeds. I now keep nuts like almonds, walnuts, raisins and cashew nuts in easy reach of kids for them to nibble on in between meals. Roasted foxtail nuts are rather a hit with the kids.
Cheesy Pasta, another of kids favorite, otherwise low on nutrition, is now being served with veggies therefore increasing nutritional intake and reducing the amount of plain pasta consumed. Plain cheese Pizza also has been remodeled and now topped with cottage cheese and veggies.
Don’t be so Sugar coated
Kids enjoy chocolates, candies, sugary cereals, cookies, packaged juices, sodas, flavored Yogurt which all unfortunately are loaded with sugar. Refined sugar is one of the principal causes for inflammation and adversely impacts the effectiveness with which immune system works.
In my continuous efforts to provide kids with healthy options and appetizing their sweet tooth too, flavored yogurt got replaced with home made yogurt, whole fruits, raisins; packaged juices got replaced with freshly squeezed fruit juices, fresh lime water. Baking at home ensured the quality of ingredients and the quantity of sugar going in the cake.
Though its difficult to cut back completely on sugar, its about consuming it in moderation. Eating more of the goodness and less of the sugar.
Get some Sun
This has been one the simplest yet most effective addition in kids routine. Now I’ve rather been particular about them spending 5 minutes in the morning sun which in pre-Covid times kids would miss due to morning rush to school. Sun is the most natural and abundantly available source of energy that works at cellular level nourishing and nurturing each body cell and therefore heightening body’s immunity.
Laugh a Lot
Laughter is an antidote to any kind of stress and sends happy hormones to the brain. At this time we may or may not be able to understand the kind of stress kids might be going through, but we can definitely provide a dose of laughter that would naturally de-stress them and go a step further in building their immunity.
Our Netflix subscription got most utilized this time as we binge watched some really humorous movies with the kids. Kids have had the most rollicking time watching funny shows and movies, bursting in laughter.
It may not be so easy to change habits all at a time. It’s about taking small steps each day and finishing big. To sum it all up, while we cannot control the Pandemic trajectory, but can definitely influence the everyday choices that kids make. These habits will go a long way giving them a strong foundation for a healthy future.
Thank you for reading. I am a mother of 3 girls aged 11 and 7, the younger ones twins, committed towards the well-being of my children.
Looking After Our Children In The Year Of Pandemic was originally published in ILLUMINATION on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
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