Raising kids in a pandemic: A father’s experience
Never before have so many men got to spend so much time with their children and exercise their parental responsibilities. Paul Mulemi, a dad of two, shares how life has been since Covid-19 hit the country
In the wake of the Covid-19, parenting has taken a totally new shift, with parents having to make some adjustments to ensure their children remain comfortable and at ease during this period.
The uncertainty that has engulfed many parents during this period has been overwhelming. Many family routines have been disrupted.
Parents with school-going children are faced with a new balancing act that consists of work, childcare, and educational instruction and oversight— and in the worst scenario, all of these at the same time.
Others have completely lost their jobs or had their working schedules adjusted to few working hours.
But never before have so many fathers got to spend so much time with their children and exercise their parental responsibilities.
While just decades ago the common view of paternity was of a father far from daily child-caring, whose role for children relied mostly on the financial support, today involvement from the very start is looming large in the personal aspirations of fathers.
“The coronavirus pandemic caught everyone by surprise. No one was prepared for it.
As a family, we were all nervous and confused just like many others. It was a new thing, with a lot of uncertainty and a bit of panic shopping here and there,” Paul Mulemi, a married father of two says.
“As a family, we opted to stay indoors and work from home. It was quite unusual and a challenging experience, especially during the first two months.
We took to some new ways of life such as online shopping and exercising from our balcony just to try and keep fit,” he explains.
The businessman has a nine-year-old boy called Wesley and a two-and-a-half-year-old girl called Sarina.
He says by virtue of having a young family; it is difficult to make the children understand the magnitude of the pandemic.
So, together with his wife, they tried as much as possible and in a child friendly way to talk and teach them some of the measures they needed to incorporate in their daily lifestyle so as to remain safe, especially their older son Wesley.
“As a parent, you want to do everything to protect your children. When it comes to observing the guidelines that have been put in place by the government to prevent the spread of coronavirus, my children are cautious.
They know that every time they go out of the house, they must have a mask on.
They avoid hugs and shaking of hands thanks to various TV adverts that have been sensitising the public on the same.
Wesley practices what his teachers teach them at school via Zoom classes on the importance of sanitising and keeping safe,” says Mulemi.
Bonding all the time
He offers: “The only positive aspect of the Covid-19 period is that it has helped me bond with my children and family at large at 100 per cent.
We spend a lot of time together, do home schooling, play and I even get to teach them some basic hygiene routines that they need to observe.
Spending time with them has also helped me to learn much about them, and the different characters they portray.
My children are extroverts and it’s been fun spending time with them.”
On a typical day during this period, Wesley spends time studying and doing his school work via online classes on Zoom.
In the evening after a brief session of some small workouts, he then relaxes and plays some games with his sister or watches TV.
His sister Sarina on the other hand is trying to learn how to read and write, play with her toys and also watches cartoons on the TV.
“Our son misses school and playing around with his friends, but we continue to assure him that soon life will return to normalcy,” says Mulemi.
For now, Mulemi is still working from home at least 60 per cent of his time. “I can’t say that as per now we are 100 per cent productive since the pandemic has interfered with many people’s businesses.
Times are difficult, but we are trying to do the little we can to meet our needs until things stabilise,” he adds.
Even in the midst of the pandemic, Mulemi terms his wife, Faith Andeyo as his greatest support system as they raise their children together.
“We let the children explore different things,” he says.
For Mulemi, the pandemic has created opportunities for men to spend more time with their children and get to share their feelings about fatherhood.
“I have learnt a lot about children, their behaviours, likes and dislikes and challenges they may face in every milestone they achieve.
It is a wake-up call for every dad to love his children and try to give them the best life he can afford,” he says in conclusion.