The pandemic is a good opportunity for us to reconnect with our parents as adults
After spending 11 years in Mumbai on her own, Kiran Sharma thought quarantining with her parents in Ranchi for a few weeks during the pandemic would be a good idea. “The first month was great. I slept in, ate my mom’s yummy food and patted myself for all the money I had saved,” says the 34-year-old lawyer. “Then mom began to scold me for wearing the same pyjama for consecutive days and dad started nagging me about food habits. By the end of the second month, I was longing for my normal life.”
Like Sharma, many Indians in their 20s and 30s moved back in with their parents when the pandemic began. At the time, it was a choice between living alone without any human contact or heading home to all its comforts. It was a nobrainer. But a spike in Covid cases, offices extending WFH and financial insecurity caused by lay-offs and hiring freezes have forced many of them to stay on for longer.
And now, cohabitation with parents have to be navigated anew leading to significant adjustment and lifestyle changes. “Many find this a welcome change as they get to spend quality time with their parents, but there are challenges. Since both children and parents were used to independent lives, living together in pandemic conditions can cause clashes,” says Dr Austin Fernandes, psychiatrist and de-addiction specialist at Dr L H Hiranandani Hospital,
Here’s how you can adapt better.
Cohabitation during this time requires profound accommodation — for parents who have adjusted to life at home without children and young adults who are used to complete independence. There’s also constant anxiety about potential exposure to the virus and dealing with loss of social contact, routines and plans. There is anxiety too, about finances, health and just the future in general.
“Good communication is key. You could also chat about your happier memories, use a lot of humour and give each other compliments to stay in a positive frame of mind,” says Dr Fernandes.
Respect the routine
Sometimes, household chores and other activities tend to encroach on work hours too. One way to tackle this is by setting up a new routine and sticking to it. Be clear with your parents about your working hours and what you cannot do during that time. “Parents and children also need to discuss new house rules, unlike when parents made the rules and expected children to follow,” says Dr Fernandes.
Establish the difference between communal and personal space. If you have your own bedroom, request your parents to knock before entering to give you privacy. Help them recognise that you have moved home as an adult. This means no more scolding for what you wear or eat. But do not push your limits either by blasting music into the wee hours or having loud
“Parents will treat you like an adult if you behave like one. You need to now consider each other as roommates and be ready to make adjustments that work best for both sides,” says Dr Fernandes. For example, if there is only one private room at home, discuss timings for each to use the room to talk to friends, have work meetings or indulge in some ‘me time’.
Do your bit
It is easy to sink back into childhood patterns, and let your parents take care of everything. But you are equal housemates now. This means taking on your share of the chores. It could be handling all of the cleaning and maintenance of the rooms and bathrooms, cooking for the family or making grocery runs.
For Andheri-based communications consultant Samaira Ray, moving back to Kolkata meant having to give up non-vegetarian food and not blasting Nucleya,
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