Dubai: COVID-19 has pretty much held the world in ransom and the UAE has not been exempt from it. But somewhere in the middle of all this, people have looked to find happiness and positivity to keep their faith and sanity going. One of the most positive outcomes of world-wide lock-downs and “work from home” policies has been family bonding and dads in particular are happy with the extra quality time they have been able to spend with their children.
Dads in the UAE said they are grateful for the extra time they have had to get to know their children better and have some quality time together.
British father, Jamie Atherton, 43, who works as a chief executive officer for a performance digital company in Dubai said he and his four children have been spending quality time together these last months. “I hold a key position and I have sporting aspirations, but my children will always come first,” said Atherton, a single father who is enjoying every bit of extra time with his children, Myla (11), Archie (9), Ella (6), Arlo (4).
This creative dad and his children went all out to launch a You Tube channel of their own called “We’re the Trons”. The channel carries videos of him and his children and their quality bonding time during the pandemic. “I even took up a course on how to edit videos and post them on You Tube channel. Our videos are themed around the concept of how a single dad is coping with his children during Covid.We also started our own Instagram page of just us family. My children mean a lot to me. They are my number one priority,” said the loving dad.
Besides all this, Atherton noted that thanks to the extra time he had in hand to spend with his children, he has been able to look into their studies. “I found my son was struggling in a few classes. With just me sitting next to him and helping him solve the problems, has made such a huge difference to him.”
The father and children have also done some fun-filled activities together. “I did bounce with my children, went to the cinema, adventure park. We have been out quite a bit together. Of course we do maintain the social distancing norms laid down by the government.”
Atherton said: “I have always been a hands on dad. But the pandemic has shown me that I can do more. I am now able to balance my work and family.”
For Scottish father Michael Bacon, 36, it is the same. An Economics professor for a British school in Dubai, Bacon said he has been doing a lot of fun activities with his children. “We have been swimming a lot. We bike together. Am so grateful for this extra quality time with the family,” said Bacon who lives in Dubai with his wife Kate, and daughters Evie (6) and Lyla (4).
For Indian father Praveen Rawat, something that may seem simple like having lunch with his wife and children, is actually very special to him. “Owing to the city-wide movement restrictions, I am finally eating lunch at home with my family,” said Rawat, 43, who works as a chief financial officer for a multinational company. He said he is working from home (WFH) every alternate week. “When I am WFH, I get to see my daughters [aged 13 and six] go to school. In the afternoons, I personally go to receive them from the school bus drop off point. My children are so happy to see me receive them rather than the house-maid. It makes a big difference to family bonding.”
Rawat added that during normal work weeks, he doesn’t see his children as they are asleep by the time he gets back home from work. “But during the WFH week, we have dinner together. I get to put my little one to bed, have a conversation or read a story to her. In the evenings, after finishing WFH, I get to play sports with my elder daughter. It’s absolutely nice.”
He also said he helps his older child with her studies and homework. “She knows am around for her,” said Rawat, hailing from New Delhi.
Another Indian expat, Pradeep B. Ravikeerthy, said the “side effect” of his WFH, which is five days a week, has meant more family time at home. The 43-year-old, who works as a sales manager at a Dubai firm, said he was given the option to WFH, which he embraced. Ravikeerthy, who is from the southern Indian city of Bangalore (Bengaluru), has a son aged 13 and a seven-year-old daughter. His mother also lives with him.
“The side effect of WFH has been that the family is spending more time together. We’re all helping each other out at home. Initially we used to support the kids for their distance learning but they’re mostly on their own now. We have breakfast together and we get to catch up during the day during our breaks, which happens a couple of times a day. In the evening, we go out within our community. The kids play while we go for a walk. We all come back and have dinner together and maybe watch something on TV. WFH has added a couple of hours to my family time and the kids are very happy to have us around all the time,” he said.
A study in June by the Harvard Graduate School of Education revealed 70 per cent of dads felt closer to their children more now than ever before. Richard Weissbourd, of the Making Caring Common Project at Harvard said in the survey which came out just after Father’s Day this year, “I think we’re all better parents when we know our kids better.”