For the past three weeks, Shailaja Menon and her husband Prem Kumar Menon have been spending a lot more time together, doing “all those mundane routines” like having a cup of coffee together in the mornings.
Now that Prem, who has been working abroad for five years, is back home, the couple is making use of the movement control order period to spend family time with their younger son, Krishan.
Their elder son Vyshnav, who has just returned home from Australia where he is studying, is currently undergoing the mandatory 14-day quarantine and will be home soon.
A favourite Menon family activity is cooking.
“Cooking is a very enjoyable activity as we gather in the kitchen, share conversation, laughter and fun. Krishan and I often watch YouTube videos together, discuss recipes and try to cook something different, ” said Shailaja, adding that Krishan likes watching cooking channels on TV.
Prem has always been very hands-on at home and even before the MCO, he would do his share of groceries shopping and cooking.
“Prem was cooking even when he was in college in Aberdeen (Scotland). When we got married, I didn’t know much about cooking so when we first moved out on our own, it was Prem who cooked regularly till I slowly picked it up. He has always done groceries too and is very comfortable helping around the house, ” Shailaja explained.
The roles that family members play within a household, especially when it come to chores, are very important.
“Household chores should be shared between husband and wife, especially if there is no domestic help. It is too much for one person to handle alone and it will, in the long term, build resentment into the relationship in obvious or subtle ways.
“Also, it should be natural to support someone you care about. When the work is halved, the load becomes so much lighter to bear and family harmony is maintained, ” said Shailaja.
The MCO, therefore, is a good time for boys and girls to get accustomed to basic household chores.
“I believe it is important for boys and girls alike to be comfortable with doing household chores as it breeds a sense of confidence and independence. When they leave the nest, they are going to face several challenges of being on their own, but not knowing how to cook and feed themselves or not knowing how to load the washing machine need not be one of them.”
The hardest part of being confined to the house, says Shailaja, 47, who is an author and yoga instructor from Bandar Puteri Puchong, Selangor, is staying indoors.
“I am someone who is out of the house all the time, either for my own yoga classes at the studio, at the gym, hiking or just walking outdoors. So not being able to even walk outside the house is the biggest change.
“Krishan loves to play basketball with his friends or just by himself in the court in front of our house, and it’s been very difficult for him as well, ” she shared.
So, to make up for the loss of outdoor activity, the mother and son have started making Youtube videos on yoga and general fitness.
“Making YouTube videos on yoga was on my New Year resolution list for 2019, and then again in 2020! But somehow I never felt I was quite ready and always postponed it, ” said the author of a book on yoga entitled Yoga Shakti, published in India.
“When India was heading towards its lockdown, my publishers asked me to send them some videos (on yoga poses) to circulate via their social media channels.”
The timing couldn’t have been better. Together with Krishan, 13, she started producing more videos.
“I have a kids yoga class at my studio. To keep the children’s enthusiasm going during this period, I also decided to do a video they could follow in their homes. And how much more fun and relatable if it is done by a kid himself.
“Krish has been practising yoga regularly from the age of five and has great interest in it. So it just came together. If nothing else, it gives him a taste of speaking to an audience, teaching and refining his understanding of the practice through this process, ” said Shailaja, who has also been conducting yoga classes with her students via Zoom.
“Sharing my passion for yoga and fitness with him has been wonderful.
“We spend a lot of time together practising, discussing sequences and laughing at each others’ goof-ups in front of the camera!” said Shailaja, who also plans to make videos on breathing exercises and meditation soon.
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