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Dad on Quarantine: 5 sincere stories about responsible parenthood

How quarantine has changed family life when nearly everyone stays home together yet working and studying at the same time? Five daddies shared their experience with finding work-family balance, changes in the family, and overcoming all the difficulties together. 

Kaimo Kuusk, The Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Estonia to Ukraine

Working from the home office is a totally new experience for me, at least in full time mode. So it is not simply a home office but also an open office, with which I am not that familiar either… So I can call it an Open Home Office experience.

While I need to concentrate on my work, at the same time I get to solve some urgent, very important problems of my 3 year old daughter, or react if the 6 months old is not satisfied with something, while my wife assists the other kids at the same time. I had to get used to Peppa the Pig sounds on the background, or virtual kindergarden morning lessons. My teenage girls are occupied with e-learning: their International school had been prepared and practiced very well. They are very smart and independent.

Somehow the current set up reminds me of the weekends at home, although I still need to do my work. And the family should also accept that dad has to spend some time behind the laptop, which is extremely difficult to explain to the smallest ones. This is when my wife and older daughters come to the rescue in those moments.

I now also take part in preparing the lunch, daily. A month ago girls were at school and kindergarden, so they would eat there. I liked to cook on weekends, but now it is a daily job. Yesterday I learned how to make lasagne, Jaime Oliver style. I think it worked out even better, because my daughters competed to see who would get the last piece.

What has this period taught me?

- It is a luxury time to spend with my family. To realise how quickly the smallest girls are growing and how grown the older daughters are already.

- It is necessary to organise the time even better and prioritize the tasks. Some things can be done as efficiently from home than from official office.

- It is important to involve the kids as much as possible into the daily tasks, because they like it and you will free up some time for yourself. For example – let them participate in the process of cooking lunch with you. Let them learn how to cut carrots, for example. Do something together with your family.

I feel that I am  somehow out of my comfort zone, while being at the same time in it. At home. We all are these days. Anyhow, I like to think that new situations will let us develop ourselves. And as my good colleague likes to say – we are widening our comfort zones.

And do not read only those doomsnews these days. Take in also something light. I can recommend Jonas Jonasson and his hillarious  „The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared“. This is a good example of how to find fun side also from the perspective of the hardest times.

Oleh Skrypka, a Ukrainian musician, a public figure, an actor, a singer, a composer, a songwriter, the leader of the Vopli Vidoplyasova band and the founder of the "Kraina Mrii" festival.

While we are all at home, there is definitely more time for creativity. There used to be many trips, rehearsals, and meetings. While now I've got time to write songs. I've also started on digital literacy, I master Internet space - Zoom, Instagram, Facebook. I began to read more books, but surprisingly, to watch fewer movies. It's great to spend some time on my own, to read a good book, especially at bedtime. 

In the family, creativity goes through the roof. Kids stay home, too, and they submerge into their respective creative activities. My son Ustym writes songs. He works with computer programs, writes both text and music, and arranges songs. My wife made a video on the phone, we`ve edited it and now it is collecting likes. 

My elder daughter Olesya writes short cautionary tales about animals. She makes illustrations, provides her voice, plays a sound track on the piano, and makes a video. Thus arises a real film, she's got her own YouTube channel, Olesya Tales, with six films on. And I play the role of a censor when she's ready to show it to me.

We also more often arrange family gatherings in the evenings and play games. Our favorites are the Farm (we love playing it with the girls), and the other is Uno. I see that it is easier for children to realize what is happening in the world. They want to go to school, they want to communicate and go somewhere, however they are not as concerned as we adults are, and we need to learn from them. As the modern wisemen say, one has to keep calm about tomorrow. 

We are also engaged in distance learning. Of course, when children are in the classroom, they are fully involved, but now they should be driven to their tablets and smartphones, because they want to kick a football around, or to run a little. What a paradox - kids should be strong-armed into using their tablets. 

What has changed for me? I attend more to my mom who lives nearby. I've started going out in the yard even more: I like to have tea on the terrace, I may sit with a book or do some work about the yard. For instance, I shoot videos for various projects, and my children help me technically with that. They try hand in the new role of camera operators. They shoot videos with me, get involved in my work, and it's also new to them.

Oleksandr Ostapa, blogger, communications specialist

Quarantine is not the same as holidays. This phrase has already become viral, and a true meme. However, for a dad of a young child, it is rather about the holidays. In fact, as is often the case (and now I'm extremely happy this is changing), dad spends more time with the child only on holidays or annual leave. However now, during the quarantine, the ties are even closer, since we spend a lot of time at home together.

I've come up with a tip for you: try and spend one day as a mom, just to have a taste of it. From morning till night, do everything the mom does. No matter what age your kid is, you will find that it is quite a hard job. 

Now, speaking of the quarantine. This is the time for you to watch your baby grow: the way she thinks, changes, gets to know the world.  I cannot be pretty sure about all kids, for I'm the father of a 3-month-old daughter, but that's just what my situation looks like. Besides that, being my father's son I know that a dad who spends more time with his child is an additional (sometimes even driving) motivation giving a feeling of security and love. I've learned it as a son and I see it as a father. 

Walk with your child, play with your child, learn with your child. It turns out that both of you may find it thrilling. 

Oleksandr Elkin, Adviser to the Minister at Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, Head of Board at EdCamp Ukraine

I would like to share the story about my wife Alina and me spending this quarantine together with our two daughters - Emma is 4 years old, and Elia is nearly four months old. 

My eldest daughter helps me work remotely with our EdCamp Ukraine team and we have invented a new morning tradition: as we are preparing for our first daily meeting, we get a special task. Well, for instance, to draw an inspirational word, or a symbol that reflects the future of our organization, or to wear some elements of a pirate's costume, and so on. Emma and I always work out this concept in advance - the way I will present myself to the team the next day.

The second thing, which is an incredible discovery for me, is a book by a Swedish psychologist and writer Karl-Johan Forssen Erlin about the rabbit who really wants to fall sleep. I highly recommend this book because it helps to fall asleep - we even made a record by falling asleep after a couple of first pages:)

Well, the third thing I do, most often with my younger daughter, - is taking her to zoom-meetings and calls, which has quite an uplifting effect on the colleagues we talk to, especially those from overseas. Thus I can relieve my wife a little bit because now we have reached crunch time as we are working on the national anticrisis online EdCamp “High-Five to Education”.

Gennadiy Osypenko, Product Designer

Behind me, there are flashes of light and beaming of a LED sword, noise from the light saber swings, 320 bpm Amen Break game as an intro to Powerpuff Girls, jumps, armchair rattle, songs and cries "DAD!!! I'm dancing a da-a-ance!" I laugh half-hysterically and recall asking the guys in the office to discuss coffee percolation more quietly because it was so disturbing. 

Of all the quarantine-related tips, I liked this one the most: "Convert your guest room into an office". Unfortunately, guest rooms are not a custom with us, there are actually not many of them, so the games take place all over the apartment. And the office is there, too. A friend of mine told me: "the dad leaves for work at 10 am and comes back at 6 pm", and the mom has all the rest and the weekends. "As a result, we hardly see each other," he joked. It's not our case. We are all together. 

We've made a bargain with our daughter that when one of us works, we should not be disturbed. And, generally, she does not disturb us, yet just until the moment she makes a cool playdough hedgehog, draws a particularly funny blot, constructs a LEGO super-spacecraft, comes up with a new dance step or folds and glues a paper fish. That is, we can reckon for 5-10 minutes of uninterrupted working time. Therefore, we try and take turns being that very "one of parents". Our little human finds herself now in a very strange state like zero gravity because all of her social contacts are cut off, so she needs to check if there are still people she can rely on. That's the reason for endless cries "Daddy!" or "Mommy!" To allow me for some time my wife says, for example, "Don't bother dad, he's busy now, tell me everything." Then in my turn, I draw the fire of the child's creativity and enthusiasm upon myself. I wonder what it would be if we didn't work with my wife as a team. 

This might sound scary. I dramatize it a bit. When the daughter is kept busy by Zoom-calls from kindergarten, we can either work or drink tea or just sit and stare fixed at some point. These 40-50 minutes are no small feat. I thank the kindergarten for its efforts to launch and sustain distance learning. 

My daughter loves it when I have video conferences with my colleagues. She is eager to be caught on camera and shout "Hello!" to everyone. Of course, everyone waves back and welcomes a new member on the team. Well, so far. 

Many people may find it difficult to spend so much time with all their family members, yet we have often been together before. We used to cook together, watch cartoons or National Geographic shows. So, I cannot say that this has changed a lot. The only thing is that now we spend time together nearly 24/7, which is exhausting.

When I was asked to write for #татовкарантині (dad on quarantine), I immediately warned that it would be either an untrue or not a very motivating story. Quarantine is a hard time for everyone. It is important to take care of each other and ourselves, and thus to survive. May good health be with us.