The Covid-19 Coronavirus lockdown has forced families indoors. Schools and daycare centres are closed, and nannies can no longer come in to mind children.
In some cases, one or both parents continue to work remotely, and taking care of the children while keeping a level of sanity is a daily task.
I continue to work remotely and have moved in with my mother and stepfather for extra support. While I work, they take care of little Sebastian. I am extremely privileged to be in this position to have someone take care of my child while I work, and yet it remains a challenge to maintain concentration with a baby in the house.
Although women are more often than not the ones to stay at home with the children, the lockdown has now put fathers in a position they haven’t experienced before.
I asked Craig Wilkinson, AKA The Dad Coach, who is on the panel of experts for PURITY’s new Journey Journal App™, purityapp.co.za, to share some tips for dads during this time.
Q: Hi Craig. What are some of the stories you’ve been hearing from dads in terms of how they’re dealing with the lockdown period?
A: Many and varied. Some are really struggling with it. Some dads are finding ways to introduce fun into the enforced confinement, some are finding it a blessing in disguise as they are getting to spend so much more time with their kids than before, but definitely most are finding the need to introduce structure, routine and discipline.
Q: What are dad’s responsibilities during this time?
A: To be a voice of calm and reassurance. To set the tone by your voice and actions. Don’t get irritable and short with your kids or spouse. As someone once wrote “every man is the architect of his own home”. In addition to introducing structure, routine and boundaries, create some fun. See this as an opportunity to really connect deeply with them – don’t waste this precious time together.
Q: What are some of the activities you would recommend fathers do with their children during this time?
A: Read stories to the kids, play age appropriate games with them such as board games, cards, or old-fashioned charades. Definitely get a regular exercise routine going for the whole family (there are many home exercise options, just do a Google search), make time for them to share how they are feeling and doing, eat meals together – not in front of the screen.
Q: What would you as a father recommend dads tell their kids to stay calm and happy during lockdown?
A: Reassure them that everything is going to be ok, that you are there for them, help them to see this as a fun challenge and get them involved in finding ways of making it fun, pray with them every day.
Q: What are some big no-nos to do right now?
A: Withdraw emotionally from your family, get into a mindset of fear and anxiety, as this will rub off on everyone. Don’t shout at your kids or spouse, start drinking to escape or watch too much media about the virus, maintain a balance.
Q: How can men deal with lockdown without taking it out on their spouse?
A: Be very self-aware – this is a stressful time and your emotions will be up and down. Do something productive every day – whether it’s cleaning out your email inbox, sorting family pictures, painting a room, cleaning the garage, writing a poem – it doesn’t matter, just do things that give you a sense of accomplishment. Men need this and it makes us far more likely to be pleasant to be around. Be kind and gracious to yourself and to your spouse – cut yourself and her some slack. Be disciplined in your thinking – it’s easy to focus on the things we cannot control, like the economy, but rather focus on what you can control – your thoughts, attitude, actions, behaviour. Share your feelings with her and ask her to do the same – don’t bottle things up. It’s easy to do so without even being aware of it. Set up a time to connect – just the two of you.
Q: The home is usually considered the domain of women, and thus their responsibilities during this time – to keep the home – continue and even increase. Do you think men have a particular responsibility during this lockdown period?
A: Setting boundaries and creating structure for the kids is crucial. Also forming a united front with your spouse in setting and sticking to household rules. Help with all the household chores and get the kids involved and taking responsibility too.
Download the PURITY Journey Journal App™, purityapp.co.za for more useful advice from PURITY’s panel of experts as well as access to medical help and psychological support during this difficult time.