When it comes to keeping the household together during a pandemic, moms such as Chesca Garcia-Kramer are taking on even more tasks into finding new ways to support and keep their kids safe.
For this ABS-CBN Lifestyle Mod Mom, sometimes the simplest things can go a long way. She and Doug, say, are getting her kids Kendra, Scarlett, and Gavin involved with the community, teaching them life skills such as planting and doing household chores, and at the same time, lecturing them with values that they can later on use as they grow older.
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How did you explain COVID-19 to your kids?
First, we got technical, scientific, 'cause they were getting scared. They’re getting scared to go out, getting scared to touch people, getting scared to be near anybody. And so, we told them, “You know, you can’t live your life in fear, but you can take extra precaution.” “But Mama why is it like this? What’s happening to the world? Why are these things happening?” I said, “You know, we don’t know why these things are happening. Life is really uncertain, but you know we always have to prepare ourselves. Sometimes there are things that we cannot control. And for those that we cannot control, we let go and let God. You pray about it.” What else can we do? But to hope in the Lord and pray that all these things come to pass.
Doug and I, we always watch the news, we talk about everything that’s going on around the world. Before we go to sleep, we pray as a family. So, everything that’s happening, we pray about and we pray out loud so that the children can also express. So that we can hear everybody’s prayer.
We always explain to them with no sugar-coating, we explain to them properly. So, it’s really telling our children and making them secure by telling them that “We’re all in the same storm but not exactly all in the same boat, but you’re all facing the same storm.”
How do you manage your kids' emotions?
Kasi the first week, it was like surreal pa sa kanila, eh—what was going on. Now that it’s been an extended lock down, that’s when they start asking, “Is this how it’s gonna be? How about my classmates who were going to regular school, are they gonna be homeschooled also because of the virus?” Now the real questions are coming in. We always tell them again diba? “There are things that we can control, but there are things that we cannot control. So, what do we do with the things that we cannot control?” Kami, our faith is very important. So, we always go back to our faith.
What values have you imparted to your kids during this crisis?
I think it has always been important for my family teaching family values. I guess you don’t have to wait for a calamity to teach family values. It should be a mainstay in your family, teaching your children and being involved in their lives and securing them.
When I think of values, I think that values are more than teaching them through words, values are caught through actions. So, with that said, I actually made a list because I wanted to really look into the kind of values that I tried impart to my children.
First, you have to ask yourself what are you teaching your children? What do you really want to get across them? When I think of that, because I said that I’m an intentional parent, I’m very proactive, I make sure that character building is we start character building at home. The values that I tried to teach to them is that for them to be compassionate. That compassion is seen also through our actions as parents. When you show empathy to the people around us because with compassion, you have to have empathy first. And then of course, the strength of our family types that Mama and Papa are always there, Mama and Papa are one in everything.
And then convictions. I always talk to them about their convictions, so I tell them “What are the things that you stand for? What are the things that are your non-negotiables?” Even if you’re young you have to have your non-negotiables. Those are the things that no matter what happens, you will not bend the rules because that’s what you stand for. And the things that you stand for now, will be will build your integrity later on. And I never underestimate my children’s ability to understand these things because as what I said, character building begins at home.
And then with compassion comes kindness. So, your children also must see that you’re involved also with your community, that you help, and then you involve them also with helping, you also discuss to them the importance of why you need to be involved as a citizen, what you can do as a citizen even if you’re a young kid, you all have a voice. And I think when you teach them those things, you also empower them.
For me also, very important is obedience. S,o obedience in your in your faith in the Lord, obedience towards your parents. And I always tell them, “You know kids, it’s easy to show obedience.” Because I said, “When you see your parents looking at you, it’s easy for you to straighten up your back, and then after that show that you’re listening. But I said obedience is actually tested when you are alone or when you are with your friends and your parents are not looking at you. There you will test if whatever you learned at home, you really understood it.” “You have to be responsible for yourself, you have to be responsible for your actions, the things that you say. Only when you’re responsible over your actions, then you can be obedient in following.”
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What have you learned from your family lately?
I have learned that going back to the basics is important. I have learned to teach my children to be creative during uncertainty. In other words I have given them situations wherein, “You know you fend for yourself. How do you fend for yourself?” Well, I've been busy teaching them how to grow their own food, grow their own crops, be responsible in planting.
It’s important to me that I teach them life skills. One of the life skills that I try to teach them is planting your own food, planting your own vegetables, teaching them how to care for for it, by being responsible in watering it, tilling the soil, putting fertilizer. Those are just small things, but you know what? It teaches them about life. Not all not all things come easy.
What advice can you give parents on helping their children cope?
Be honest with what's going on. Explain to them thoroughly, secure them by also giving hope to them that in time, things will get better. And then be responsible… they also have a part even if they're just little kids. One, is for them to be a responsible in washing their hands and then be responsible in helping around the house.
Getting their minds busy also, para they don’t have to dwell and think of it so much that it effects them. So get them involved in cleaning the house, washing the dishes, or whatever it is para maging productive parin yung day nila kahit na they’re at home.
And then, it is a good time to really come together as a family and pray. And teach them about be faithful to the Lord even during times wherein things are uncomfortable.
If I summarize everything, I’ve been making my children do chores. I always tell them, “Don't allow your mind to be idle. There's a lot of things that you can do at home, that you can help, volunteer in helping, learn something new. If you're not interested in drawing, maybe there's a special skill that you want to learn or enhance your talent when it comes to that. Or maybe something that you've been putting off that you can do.
And then helping our frontliners—writing letters to them, children are writing them letters, helping us pack the PPEs, writing on the balikbayan boxes. And we also put the face shields together.
These things are productive things and tell them that, you know, “I may be young but I can do something also to help—whether it be just being at home or doing chores and helping my parents and having our kasambahays or helping make our frontliners and preparing food them.”
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Photos from @chekakramer
Banner image by Kang Garcia