The mommy diary for quarantine days

Updated: Mar 22, 2020, 09:10 IST | Nasrin Modak Siddiqi | Mumbai

The kids were supposed to be at school for another two weeks. Summer has come early, but minus the options. It's the toughest time to be a mother. I'm surviving, and I'm telling you how

The writer and her daughter Faria supervise as son Ashaz squeezes lime to make lemonade. Cooking with the kids can help them kill a few hours. Pic/ Pradeep Dhivar
The writer and her daughter Faria supervise as son Ashaz squeezes lime to make lemonade. Cooking with the kids can help them kill a few hours. Pic/ Pradeep Dhivar

Three weeks ago, I received the first meme around the corononavirus. Delhi moms were going berserk with social distancing. I brushed it off, thinking the meme factory always exaggerates. Last Saturday, the feeling sunk in. I now knew exactly what the forward was making fun of: this by no means is a vacation. With the malls, movies and outdoor play areas shut, the only thing that seems to be open in the world right now is my kitchen. Being an (almost) no-screen mom, I need to brace up to long, hot days of summer without losing my cool. This isn't going to be easy, but it isn't going to be that hard either.

There are plenty of things that being a work-from-home mom has taught me, but nothing has prepared me to keep my four and six-year-olds occupied for 14 hours straight.

Like some of the smart moms out there, I have rustled up a few jugaads to keep mine occupied, and entertained.

urning their study table into a craft station with paints, paper and stickers.
Turning their study table into a craft station with paints, paper and stickers. 

When life gives you lemons… Make lemonade. It takes a mighty lot of time to make a big batch for a hot summer. The kids follow me into the kitchen to chop, peel, knead, roll (Thank you, Maria Montessori). Of course, there will be a bigger mess than usual, but those tiny hands clean up well too. Don't forget to reward them with television time or chocolates, after. So what if the rotis aren't round or the potatoes aren't chopped the same size. It will lead to a good meal nonetheless. Throw in some afternoon baking activities. Make a fresh batch of gooey brownies. There are tons of super-easy recipes on the Internet (but not those one-minute microwave ones—we want to kill more time here, remember?).

Water fun Extend their bath time. Fill the bucket and tubs with warm water, throw in some bath toys, slip them into their swim suits and let them think they are in a swimming pool. An added activity here is to tell them to give their old, soft toys a good scrub so that they look as good as new and smell like baby soap.

Faria’s tent at their Kurla home is made from a folding clothes rack
Faria's tent at their Kurla home is made from a folding clothes rack

Paint the town red, blue, green. I've realised that they can spend hours with colours, paint brushes and drawing sheets. Make them change into old T-shirts and let the imagination flow. Let them paint the T-shirts too. Warning: This can get messy, so keep them away from upholstery. Convert their study table into a craft station. You could accidentally (wink, wink) mix up the supplies and then ask them to segregate the googlie eyes, stickers, according to colour, size or shape.

Go for movies. At home. You've got to make it fun by drawing the curtains, handing them a large bowl of popcorn and letting them get lost in the stories. As a pre-activity, I ask them to make tickets for the whole family with show names and timings included. And you…please take a break and watch the film with them.

Ashaz makes an action figures set up for role play
Ashaz makes an action figures set up for role play

Make tents. Kids love them. Mine is made from a cloth drying hanger and blanket, but you can even make one under the dining table or with rods tied into a tripod. Make sure to add fairy lights for drama.

Play their role. Bring out (almost) all their toys. Allow them to spread them across one room and ask them to make large toy sets with dolls and action figurines. Let different worlds entwine. This can take hours, while you finish your office work or chores. Keep the OCD in you (if any) aside and let them role play. Know that this is better than any screen time.

Tell me a story. Reading books to them is best, but if you don't have the time, make them listen to podcasts of children's stories.

P.S. Wash, and make them wash the hands before and after every activity/task.

There's more

  1. There are tons of safe science experiments on the Internet that they can do. Just make sure they are done under your supervision.
  2. Sticker books and puzzles can keep older kids occupied. It's a good idea to introduce them to scrapbooking.
  3. Make them video call their grandparents to show them all their art and play work. It's an easy 30 minutes taken care of.
  4. Make them write letters.
  5. Play dumb charades. It's old school but fun.

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