Excitement is in the air as the government and schools go into overdrive to celebrate Children’s Day today, which is dedicated to young Indians. Away from the revelry and festivities in connection with the Day, MetroPlus asks parents how they manage to bond on a day-to-day basis with this tech-savvy, media-hungry group who are miles smarter than their predecessors. As overworked parents try to multi-task and play multiple roles, sometimes at the same time, where and how they spend time with their little ones or worldly-wise teenagers becomes a challenge.
From story-telling, reading and sports to travel, food and gardening, parents find many ways to connect with their children.
Eliza Punnoose, who works in IT for a credit card company, and has two girls, Sophia, four, and nine-month-old Teresa, says: “The time that you spend with your kids need not be activities only for them. Even if you go grocery shopping or to the beauty parlour, it can be an adventure for them. In some societies like in the United States, kids sleeping with their parents is frowned upon, but my husband, Mathew, and I find that is a great way to get to know our children. Doing what kids like, knowing their world also makes a difference. It could even be as simple as listening to music and dancing along with them. The smile that it brings on both your child and you is priceless.”
Agreeing that there is no need to find an ‘activity’ to spend time with your children, Usha Krishna says she and her husband, Krishna Ramachandran, enjoy reading and playing board games with their daughters, Netra (11) and Nayantara (seven). “We have something called a story cube that we picked up from the United Kingdoma. It consists of eight cubes that are rolled and depending on what comes up, we have to make a sentence and the next person has to connect it to the previous person's sentence to make a story. Krishna is fond of gardening and Netra joins in while Nayantara enjoys helping me in the kitchen. She is quite an organiser while Netra is into sports,” explains Usha, who teaches at the Goethe Zentrum, while Krishna works in Alliance Cornhill.
However, corporate lawyer Devi Nair, who largely works from home to be there for her three-year-old son, Aum, says that she makes the extra effort to do a ‘bonding exercise’ every week without fail. “It’s building sandcastles! My son knows that Friday means sandcastle time. We go to our local park or sometimes the beach, just the two of us, leaving my husband, Rajesh, home. The idea is to always make bigger, better castles. It started one day and now it’s a routine we hate to skip,” she says.
For Regy Abraham and Sophy Cruz, their four children, Alphy (9), Anna (8), Michael (6) and Peter (one-and-half), are their world.
“Once we come back from office, instead of making them sit in front of the television we let them play. And we do join them as well,” says Sophy, who works with Ernst & Young in Technopark.
On weekends, they take the kids to their maternal grandparents’ place. “Before Peter was born, we used to take the other three for trips as well and have travelled to places such as Singapore and Bangkok,” Sophy adds. As for Regy, who works with the IT distribution firm, AGTE, the children are the biggest de-stressing factor in his life.
Deepa Mary Varghese and her husband, Jiji Varghese, were living the ‘Gulf’ dream of most Malayalis. They were both well employed in Dubai. However, when they realised that chasing the dream was causing them to cut down on time spent with their children, they decided to return home.
“I felt guilty that my daughters, Hannah (16) and Suzanne (12) had to go to a baby sitter after school. They would be itching to tell me their day’s tales but I was often too tired to hear them by the time I got home. My daughters recently narrated an incident that happened while we were in Dubai. I asked them why they didn’t tell me that story then. They said it was because I wasn’t home at that time but that they had shared it with the baby sitter. That reaffirmed that our decision of returning to the city to be able to spend time with them was right,” says Deepa, an IT professional who works from home. Deepa says she and Jiji share their day’s news with their children. The family goes dining together during the weekends and on short trips.
Vinod Vasudevan and his wife, Suchitra Radha, both working in Technopark, also bond with their children Viswajith Nair (15) and Lakshmi Nair (9) during ‘eating out' expeditions to try different cuisines. “On vacations, we travel abroad and that is a wonderful time when we get all the time to be with the children and introduce them to different cultures and cuisines,” says Suchitra.
Some parents (yes, father and mother), especially with babies, take a break to be with their young ones. That is what Sheena Kishore and her husband (both techies) did after the birth of their son, Rithin. “I took seven months off and my husband took the next three and that did help. With both of us having to work, we had to leave him in day care. We do feel guilty about it and try to make up for it with bonding time.
“I think it’s essential to restrict media time. Kids nowadays are so addicted to media and e-gadgets. We try to enjoy the little things together – reading, painting with him, building Lego, watering plants and even being silly together. He is now four and we try to empower him and make him involved in decisions; ask his opinion on both the big and small things. We show him the options and ask him to choose and the reasoning behind it. It’s very interesting to hear his thoughts!”