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Summer holidays herald a dilemma for working parents; how do you keep your kids occupied? Let’s find out!
By Melanie Lobo
Children look forward to their long break from school, but for working parents, this can be a difficult time. Here are some tips from working mothers in India who have figured out ways to keep their kids occupied and spend time with them as well.
The art of balancing responsibilities
Rosita Saini works in a leading bank and finds that the key to looking after her child during the holidays is by sharing the responsibility with her husband. “You need to balance things if you are a working mother,” she adds.
Her daughter, Mridula, is 5 ½ years old and while Rosita stays in a joint family, she says that it is still difficult to ensure that someone can keep an eye on her daughter always. However, Rosita is only expected to report to work at 12:00 p.m. daily. So she plans Mridula’s day in such a way that she can spend time with her in the morning and then her husband does the same when he returns home in the evening. Juggling parenting can be tricky but it is a good way to look after your child.
Rosita is also fortunate that she has a job that allows her to work from home at times, and this is a boon during the summer holidays. In her personal experience, she says that most organizations are now flexible and open to this and do allow mothers to change their shifts or leave early at times. This of course depends on the type of work you do and if your boss is willing to let you do this. Evaluate and see if this option works for you.
Summer camps; the time-tested fallback option for working mothers in India
Enrolling your child in a summer camp is favoured by many working parents. This works for Farah Vadoliwala who is employed with a multinational company. Her daughter, Khushnavi is 4 ½ years old. Farah says that she has already starting checking out the various summer camps in her city so that she can choose the best one for Khushnavi. Her husband travels most of the year on work, but takes a break during their daughter’s summer holidays. He is therefore free to look after Khushnavi when she is back from summer camp and spend time with her till Farah comes home. Farah feels that now, “There is so much that you can do with your child to keep her occupied. There are so many options available to working mums these days that it makes life so much easier”.
…when you have more than one child, you have to work out their activities in such a way that both are occupied at the same time.
Planning never fails
Shilpa Joshi, who is a Project Manager with Tech Mahindra, has two children, Gayatri who is 6 and Yash who is 2. She too stays in a joint family but again says, “Keeping the kids engaged throughout the day is a BIG issue”. Her solution is to plan out the day for them. She also feels that when you have more than one child, you have to work out their activities in such a way that both are occupied at the same time. Despite the age difference between the two, she ensures that both play together and in this way, get a chance to bond together as well. Shilpa also sends Gayatri to a summer camp and Yash is at home either drawing, or playing with his toys. Additionally both she and her husband plan their leave around this time, so that they can take a trip with the kids and spend quality time together.
Take the kids along
Rucha Macfarland, who works in the events and media industry also has two children. She and her husband have no option but to take the children to their place of work and keep them occupied there – they are allowed to watch television but are also made to play with their toys, read books and so on. This year, she plans to enrol them in an activity camp close to her place of work or her husband’s office. Both she and her husband go in later to work during the children’s summer holidays so that they have the mornings together. Many organizations have crèches now and if you are fortunate enough to work in one, you could leave your child in the crèche while you are at work.
Get creative with your kids!
Shuchita Singh Basu, an HR professional has a different take on how to manage children during their holidays. Summer holidays in the Basu household is about, “Catching up time with the family and letting Ishaan be himself – a kid”. One way of doing this is that they make it a point to learn a new language each year – as a family. This involves planning as the three sit together and do this. She opines that her son, Ishaan, who is 9 years old, has enough “Pressure during school days. Enrolling him in a summer camp has never been an option for me. He does enough work in school”. This is primarily because she feels that these camps do not really help the child and sometimes even put more of a burden and pressure on the child.
It is never too late to start developing such hobbies in your children. It will benefit them greatly in the long run.
Both Shuchita and her husband ensure that they plan their days in such a way that Ishaan gets to spend time with either his mother or his father. Physical activity is high on their priority list and so Ishaan either goes cycling with one parent in the morning or swimming with the other in the evening. Both parents have also made an effort to develop hobbies and interests that keep him busy throughout the day. Ishaan is encouraged to have play dates and have friends over. “There is no time for all this during school days”, states Shuchita. Ishaan is also a member of a library which has a book club that organizes various activities for the kids. It is never too late to start developing such hobbies in your children. It will benefit them greatly in the long run.
Spending time with grandparents
Spending time with the grandparents is another option and all the mothers mentioned above do ensure that this happens as well.
While ‘what to do during the summer holidays’ is something of a challenge, it gets better with a little planning and organization and before you know it, you are set!
*Photo credit: ShaolinWorldwide
Melanie Lobo is a freelance writer. She grew up in cities across India but now
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