When 2020 started, we never guessed we will be living like this today. We were all so hopeful at the start of the new decade. I know I was. I said that this will be my fresh start, my best year ever, my year where I will look back and say, ‘Hey, that was the year that all amazing things happened to my life.” However, the year began with bad news after bad news, many sad things happening in different countries and BOOM, Covid 19 happened….
So many things has changed in all parts of the world. We are all affected by this virus. Everyones’ lives was shaken by the pandemic like scenes from a movie. (Try watching the movie Contagion by Stephen Soderbergh. It is very similar to what is happening to us right now.) And we are all dealing with it.
This is basically the #thenewnormal now.
STUCK AT HOME, SAFE AT HOME
We are all
advised mandated to stay at home as much as possible and only leave the house when necessary. Most people I know are asked to work at home and sadly, some people were released from their work because economy has been affected by this pandemic severely. Most businesses took a hard hit and they are closing some or all their branches.
Since I am in the healthcare industry, I still go to work 5x a week which I am grateful for. Though the daily fear of bringing home the virus after being exposed to suspected and positive Covid 19 patients at work can persistently looms and driving constant anxiety.
I noted a rise in online businesses from my friends basing from my Facebook feed. I love to see that my friends’ businesses online seem to be doing well. My hubby and I, too, joined in the online business train and tried our luck to create a plan B for our income, just in case anything happens because you can never know in this very uncertain times.
There were several lockdowns here in Oman and the lockdown was just lifted last 8 August. All shops in malls were previously closed except for grocery stores, pharmacies & optical shops. They started opening to the public a month back though, the movement & parking lots are still very much controlled. Plus all kids are prohibited to enter malls and grocery shops. Barbershop, salon, gyms & other centres were closed but just this week they announced that they will finally open. Our homes is our refuge to the crazy world out there.
Whenever we decide to go out, we are ready with our facemasks and would bring a couple of extra ones in our glove compartment in the car. Masks has been part of our outdoor outfit and we must never forget to use one in public or else we will pay 100 OMR (13,200 php or 338 sgd).
Yes, staying at home sometimes would give us cabin fever and nagging boredom. Being at home can cause some people to overthink, get anxious, get easily annoyed at the people they see daily everyday, and depressed which can affect the peoples’ mental health. Being coped inside the house has its negative effects along with its positive one (Hint: Time Affluence). So taking care of our mental health in these times is very crucial.
Kid, too, are sadly affected by these new normal. No more playgrounds. No more hanging out in the their favorite food shop or visiting toy store. No social interaction with their peers. They are robbed from having the carefree life of running outdoors like normal kids. We are fortunate that our kids seem to be innovative enough to create games on their own, entertain themselves without relying too much on television or gadgets and doesn’t seem to mind staying at home at all. Yes, but sometimes it would involved using our living room sofa as their own jungle gym. #momofboys
Riding in Cars with Boys
We usually do our grocery weekly. We often look forward to to this weekly outing pre-pandemic because a trip to the grocery store because it is the next thing to a mall in our area. The real malls are mostly found in Muscat, 2 hours away from our place. But now with this Covid infection, kids are prohibited to enter shops. So we decided to try out the Click & Collect system of Lulu, the hypermarket in our area. I would select and order grocery items online and J would drive to the store to collect them for faster grocery time. Occasionally, we would tag along with him even if the kids and I are just sitting inside the car, waiting for Daddy to be done. We are just glad to be outside of the house.
When finally lockdown was lifted, we were able to drive to Muscat. We had such a blast in our little road trip and our time in Muscat even though we spent most of the time inside the car. We started to learn the art of eating take-out foods inside the car without dropping any morsels. While J is doing grocery inside the shopping center, I would resort to playing with my phone filters because the kids doesn’t not want to be disturbed from playing their kiddie meal toys & they are bored with Mommy’s “Let’s Look At What I Saw Outside The Car” Game. J and I would take turns in going inside the mall to check out other things that we need. It is funny how much we enjoyed the day, the kids especially, despite the weird circumstances. I guess we got to appreciate things more when it is less accessible and not readily available. The kids are looking forward for the possible next month city again, hopefully (fingers crossed). We went home feeling joyful and grateful for the simple things we get to do.
Online Schooling is a _ _ _ _
We enrolled our kids last February to an Indian School here because it is the only non-Arabic school available. We were excited for Naj and Howell to have new friends. This will also be Howell’s official first year going to school (His 2 months summer classes in Philippines last year didn’t count). However, again Covid happened so the kids are stuck at home to learn their lessons.
Before school started, we have prep Naj to do writing exercises and computation exercises morning and evening before his play time. He seem to be enjoying it. It became his daily study habit. When the online classes came, we stopped our daily study schedule and followed the school schedule.
Online school can be challenging, for the students, the teachers and the parents, considering learning in an atypical learning space. I was particularly struggling in this because now I realised I don’t think being a teaching elementary kids would ever be one of my alternative career if I am not a doctor. I have so much respect for teachers now more than ever to be able to make kids comprehend lessons, answer their never-ending queries, deal with their short attention span and able to be patient with their delaying tactics & silliness. And they have a classroom full of those while we only have 2 at home. I see also teachers trying their best to cope and learn how to teach through technology and it is not easy, I can totally see it.
My husband and I decided to divide and conquer. He teaches Howell while I teach Naj. Howell lessons are done via Whatsapp group. Teacher would send audio messages, photos and Youtube videos to the class. In a day, we would get 100+ messages from Howell’s teacher in our Whatsapp. Now lessons gotten longer with writing and colouring exercises. They would also have hands-on activities which we have to video. Howell enjoys watching the new videos and occasionally Zeke would even join in. But it take almost the whole morning reaching up to late lunch time with all the writing exercises. Howell can get really tired. Mid-lessons, he would be itching to go out and play or do silly antics to delay his activity.
Naj gets his lessons in Google Classroom (I never realized there is a Google Classroom) and occasional announcements in the Whatsapp group of his class. He love the Math lessons as long as his teacher doesn’t give super long class work, which happens sometimes. Due to some miscommunication (in our part, I guess) and technical glitches, the first few months of school, we were only receiving class activities for Math and Environment & Science. We totally missed out his class activity for English and Hindi. We didn’t know he has to take Hindi class! We opted for him to take the optional Arabic and the teacher gave them one or two activities every other month. We panicked when he totally missed out several months of assignments and lessons. We got even more stressed when he is supposed to send a video of him reciting a Hindi poem, followed by audio record of him reciting some Hindi words as well as writing exercises. I have to use Google Translate, Youtube and help from Indian colleagues (who speak another Indian dialect Malayalam with limited knowledge in speaking Hindi) to transcribe the poem. Naj recited the poem while I record him then sent to the teacher. His teacher said, Very good performance! with a thumb up sign, haha.
Now, Naj’s classes are starting to be conducted in Google Meet these days with their teacher. Classes can get chaotic and loud especially with everyone talking at the same time. But so far, now classes are less noisy because everyone knows where to find the mute button. It is funny because we have to sit beside our child during the Google Meet class to guide them in using the computer and if teacher would ask questions, you would hear parent’s answering. We are like additional new students of the teacher, haha. After Google Meet, there are assignments to do still. And soon, midterm exams are coming so we are preparing for it too.
Online school is tough. It can take the whole morning doing the lessons and we have to be there to supervise our wards. It can be hard for J if I have work in the mornings because he has to do Howell’s lessons and help Naj’s in toggling the computer for his lessons. We don’t know if this online classes will ongoing until the end of the year but these parents (I mean my hubby and I) needs school vacations badly, haha.
The world is very different nowadays but we are adjusting. Some things got a little complicated. Some things were simplified. It looks like masks for all are here to be an official part of our daily outfit. We will just have to manage the bouts of maskne (acne due to mask wearing) that pops up from time to time. We are used to having long tresses now and some are even learning to cut their own hair using the trusty Youtube videos. J and I used to cut our own hair but we decided to let grow long now (Hello Rapunzel! ). You would probably see my 4 boys soon sporting a man-bun. We learned to enjoy time out home and look forward to our occasional monthly roadtrips. I have seen friends using their time at home well by creating gourmet cuisines, growing a garden (or forest, haha) and toning their abs. I’ve seen some friends starting vlogs and business websites. I see the focus now is more on health, wellness, relationships and faith and away from materialism, flamboyance, superficialities and accolades. Yes sadly, there are still lots of anger, negativities and conflicting opinions especially over the internet, which is why I have lessen my social media consumption to only Instagram at this point. So will this new normal be the forever norm? Frankly, we all don’t know but for now, all we need to do is adjust, adapt and survive. Giving you all virtual hugs and kisses wherever you are in the world.