‘Being a Single Parent during lockdown…’

It was March 25th, 2020, country wide lockdown was imposed, it meant staying at home and saving yourself and your family! The spread of virus had just begun, the statistics was the talk of the town, rising number of cases being reported by news channels was affirmative to stay at home. Schools, colleges, educational institutes were closed bringing up a new challenge of continuity of education in pandemic situation. There was strict surveillance of police to monitor lockdown implementation hence no relaxations were even tabled, it seemed as though a riot has shut the streets, the roads were deserted, the markets closed, malls locked, company offices closed with no physical movement outside your house.

The story is about Anita – a single mom and her struggles to adapt to new working conditions and fend for her child. During such times when the entire world was trying to adjust to the new reality, Anita not only adjusted but thrived in the new normal.

Anita is a working single mom, a teacher and a writer by profession and mom to Adira her 8 years old daughter. Anita had walked out of a difficult relationship just a year ago, after ten years of marriage with an IT consultant. Adira was a child with special needs and hence needed more attention from the mother. Anita had just started feeling settled with her reality and managing all necessities for both within her income and alas comes the lockdown disturbing her equilibrium by demolishing her support systems and set lifestyle.

Now Anita had to manage all home chores, managing Adira and work from home adjusting to newly set expectations of virtual teaching. For Anita managing this new normal was not at all easy as her daughter Adira was a hyperactive child and she needed monitoring while even in the house.

Anita was not discouraged with the new reality, she faced it head on and excelled her own expectations! What did Anita do? What was her driving force? How did she manage? What strategies of work -life balance she devise? How did she manage her daughter Adira? …. So many questions popped up while I was hearing her story. I had tears in my eyes while Anita shared her story…. I could only respect her more towards the end of our conversation.

Anita shared that she operated on the principles of Effective Self-Management to address her challenges. For Anita, this was a new morning and she faced it with a smile on her face and with an attitude of a winner.

  1. PLANNING & TIME MANAGEMENT –

For Anita, the most important thing she had to do was to plan her day in advance:

Meals – Anita planned meals for her daughter and herself in advance, she operated upon principle of ‘basics’ while readying meals. Her breakfast platter consisted of eggs and bread or chilas or cornflakes/muesli whereas, her lunch was roti-sabzi and salad and her dinner was as per wishes of her daughter! She felt making simple plans worked for her as she didn’t have to think daily what to cook! She had also prepared some dry snacks for her daughter which she used to plan on week-ends.

Daughter’s Schedule –  Anita, says that the first thing she did post lock down was an interaction with her employer to allow her time table to be managed in such a way that she can be available for Adira during her classroom sessions. Her employer allowed her this schedule for three days in a week, for other two days she requested Adira’s school for special one hour slot with the teacher in the evening to understand where all Adira needed to catch up. Anita could smartly manage her daughter by keeping her engaged in a separate room while she was taking classes, here Adira was safe and had all required stuff and freedom to explore. Anita took care of checking on Adira after every 30 mins.

School Work – One of the important area that Anita had to work on was taking virtual classes, this required her to ace the virtual teaching techniques, adapt to digital presentations, research and prepare lesson plans for the week, a wifi connectivity and creating a work from home office space for her to conduct her online classes. It was impressive to learn from Anita how she managed this situation.. Anita shared that she was always an ace planner, she quickly adapted to use to technology and also invested in getting a good wifi connection as earlier she was easily managing from phone hotspot. These quick actions helped her save time in making her classes interesting to get maximum student attention and what really mattered. Her smart approach was to distribute her available time in more impactful areas rather than getting bogged down with the pressure of have an ace plan or taking initiatives other than academic areas.

  • STRESS MANAGEMENT

Anita knew that taking stress only creates panic and impacts health and she cannot afford to fall sick! Anita says her father’s army upbringing helps her to be disciplined and manage stress from being created. She says normally stress is created when we are not able to fulfil our responsibilities, or we feel lack of something, or when we feel loss of control etc. Thus, Anita says do not let STRESS step into your lives instead foresee and manage your schedules well, keep tab on your time wasters and inculcate healthy habits of exercise, sleeping and resting and do not over-indulge into anything unless it’s a requirement.

Anita is a live example of how one can manage stress by:

  1. Being Proactive
  2. Being Disciplined
  3. Inculcating Healthy Habits
  4. Avoiding overindulgence
  • RESOURCE MANAGEMENT

One of the important lessons Anita learnt was managing available resources effectively, Anita got to task immediately when the lock down was announced and started reviewing her available resources …be it kitchen, be it remains, be it waste.. Anita listed what was available for her especially for two purposes viz. a good class room experience from home for her students and keeping her daughter engaged while she is taking her own classes. Anita created wonders by using available resources for her students from simple crafts to using simple home tools for teaching relevant themes.

  • SELF MOTIVATION

Anita says, self-motivation is an intrinsic trait and each individual has different motivators, it is important to understand your motivators and take actions in that direction. For Anita, her motivator was spending time with Adira and participate in her growth. Anita was able to manage schedules, negotiate and pulled out time to keep a watch on Adira inspite of her busy schedule. Anita says, a smile on Adira’s face and her good behavior inspite of her condition was a motivator for her.

One can understand and take lessons from Anita’s story that to stay motivated one has to be in touch of self and depend more on own abilities.

Thus, this story of Anita inspires us to believe in self, believe in our purpose, accept our reality through effective planning, resource and time management and practice effective stress management by adopting our own unique strategies with a POSITIVE APPROACH to LIFE.

MEETA JOHARI
MEETA JOHARI