While children have not been affected by the virus so far, during the pandemic, UNICEF reports that the lockdown is having a significant impact on their well-being. There have been stories of children who have difficulty concentrating, are bored, irritable, restless, nervous, and feel lonely.
The pandemic has impacted children’s mental health as they miss their school and friends. Amidst these unsettling times, parents have to make extra efforts to engage with their children more than ever.
Priyanka Sonavane, 31, and Sandesh Sonavane, 34, parents of two daughters, Shubhechha and Sadhichha, aged 7 and 2, left no stone unturned to support their children during the lockdown.
Sandesh is an engineer by profession and works for a firm, while Priyanka is a homemaker. Before the pandemic, the Sonavanes used to lead a hectic life. Their day used to begin at 5 a.m. as Sandesh would leave for work at 7 a.m.
Priyanka was responsible for preparing breakfast and meals for Sandesh’s tiffin. She would then get her first-grade daughter, Shubhechha, ready for school. However, shortly after the total lockdown, Sandesh began working from home, and Shubhechha’s school was also closed.
Initially, the children were happy to be at home with their parents. But after a few months in the lockdown, Shubhechha started missing her school and playmates and became restless.
The Sonavanes handled the situation discreetly. Their intervention was timely; they talked with her and engaged her in activities and games.
They would ask Shubhechha to read a story aloud and, at times, they played hide and seek with her.
Their younger daughter, Sadhichha, also started enjoying the games.
“Even then, Shubhechha would become jittery at times, but we didn’t lose our temper. We would speak to her, listen to her concerns, and never raise our voices or reprimand her. Leave alone hitting, we never use harsh words because children imbibe fast,” said Priyanka.
Sandesh worked for 8 hours a day, but he managed to help with some chores around the house. He got vegetables and groceries from the market and spent time with the children. His wife had assumed the responsibilities of cooking, cleaning, and minding their daughters.
The Sonavanes took both the children for walks within the premises of the building.
Sharing the experience of being a father, Sandesh expressed how he was scared to hold Shubhechha when she was born. “I held Shubhechha in my arms only when she was 4 months old. But when Sadhichha was born, I was better prepared and actively involved in taking care of my pregnant wife. Now I am engaged in looking after my children actively. I am with my family 24/7 and it gives me great pleasure,” he said.
Sandesh and Priyanka were also at the forefront of helping the housing society in which they lived regarding Corona virus outreach. They followed the Corona virus protocol and campaigned for mask usage as well as the use of sanitizer in the society.
The anxiety and worries of parents are easily absorbed by children as they are very sensitive to changes in the environment. This may result in pessimistic thoughts leading to depression, emotions and loneliness.
The pandemic news aired by the electronic media also increases anxiety and despair. It’s important to recognize the symptoms early on for timely intervention.
The Sonavanes sensed the pain of their children and intervened in time. They also took care of their children’s well-being and mental health in times of pandemic and widespread despair.
Written by Sujata Shirke and Alka Gadgil, Charkha Features