Open Distance Learning fosters intimacy with loved ones - Featuring Babcock University
13/01/2021 | Olajide Sharon
This International Day of Families—observed every year on the May 15 — will be very different indeed. Unlike past years, the onset of the global pandemic and the resultant lockdown, has given families across India and the world a new lease of familial bonding that was otherwise hard to come by. For the first time in a long time, many parents and kids—and even grandparents—are all under the same roof, round-the-clock. And this enforced togetherness can deepen relationships for years to come. According to Brad Wilcox, a professor of sociology and director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, people and families when faced with a global crisis, and especially one of this scale, tend to respond by orienting themselves in a less self-centred way and in a more family-centric way .
In the ‘Make Space for Life’ survey conducted by Godrej Interio, it was found that 56.7% of the respondents rated their work-life balance as terrible. But, the lockdown has slowly changed that, with more and more people making use of the time to improve their relationships with not just immediate family, but also re-establishing bonds with other relatives. Whether is it huddling together on the couch to binge watch their favourite shows or gathering around the dining table for all three meals, families have definitely seemed to benefit from all the extra time.
An analysis by The Economist conducted in 11 countries found that the average mother spent 104 minutes a day with their children while fathers spent an average of 59 minutes. The survey had pointed to 34% of respondents feeling guilty at not having enough time to dedicate to their children, citing their successful careers as a reason. However, staying-in at home has helped them refocus and indulge in a number of activities along with their children. Many parents are nurturing hobbies, getting kids to chip in towards household chores and even exercising together. While some parents are limiting screen time, others are making use of the digital world to keep their children engaged while they continue to work from home. The lockdown is also helping in breaking down the gender roles; the roles have now been reversed in households - men are now venturing to the kitchen to make meals for their kids.
With the pandemic leading to most couples now working from home, many couples are using this period to break down walls, forge stronger relationships and communicate with one another. Clearly, this has served as a boon for couple time since the survey had highlighted how 29% of the surveyors were unable to dedicate enough time to their partners. Social media pages are filled with memes of couples enduring this lockdown together. Some couples are even choosing to document how each one has taken up certain roles to keep the home in order during this downtime. And as their homes now function as office spaces as well, couples are charting out routines to follow, making the best use of home space and furniture which can double up for both official and personal use. They are also making a list of chores and dividing the responsibilities and duties between each other—all of which has enriched the essence of family time.
Family for many extends to more than just blood relatives. Friends have taken on the all-important role of family for the large percentage of people who live away from home. A study of more than 270,000 people in nearly 100 countries, found that while both family and friend relationships were associated with better health and happiness overall, as people grew older the link remained only for people who reported strong friendships. All around us, newspapers and articles suggest that one way to cope with isolation is by reaching out to friends for long chats, and people are now utilising this new found time to reconnect with long lost friends.
This was something which they could not do earlier as 21% of the participants spoke about their inability to make time for friends. They cited long work hours and stress, as factors that made a dent in keeping up and maintaining friendships. However, with many digital mediums available to keep in touch, a large number of people are reconnecting and building friendships.
According to a research by Gartner by 2030, the demand for remote work will increase by 30% due to Generation-Z fully entering the workforce. The research also adds that 64% of today’s professionals say they could work anywhere. The COVID-19 situation has further stressed the need for remote work. According to industry estimates more than one million IT employees are expected to continue with a remote work structure even after the coronavirus-inflicted lockdown situation returns to normalcy.
With more home structures in the immediate future, the current trend of familial bonding will only witness an upswing. People are going to make space for family and willingly spend happy times together in order to strengthen their bonds every day.
While people wait for this pandemic to die down, the world that they may step out to will definitely be different. The positive effect, however, will be families continuing to bond and strengthen one another post COVID-19.