I like to think of myself as a forward-thinking, modern Kenyan woman. When I first heard about the government’s directive to observe social distancing, I ensured that my DSTV, Netflix, Kenya Power electricity units were all stocked up. I even had a Covid-19 chat with my two daughters who are in PP2 and Grade 3. Well, in all honesty, I found several YouTube videos that explained to children what Covid-19 is but it’s my bundles so I deserve the credit for leading the session.
On Monday, 16th March 2020, I had a plan. I was going to be the most organized woman, the kind you watch on the food channels preparing healthy meals for their children or the DIY moms who have great tips for homeschool their kids. ‘I was made for a time such as this’, I whispered to myself.
Well, it’s day  and I have a different perspective now. Reality has humbled me and I mostly blame it on the fact that I do not have a home with a west wing that I can convert into my home office tower and an east wing where the rest of my family can reside, with a garden for my children to explore. Allow me to dream; they say that you should put it out there and let the universe respond :-).
So here are my lessons from the past 10 days
Do not shame the tissue hoarders
When I first saw videos of Kenyans (and I believe I saw a video online of some Americans too) flocking the supermarkets to buy tissue paper, I was shocked. ‘Did I miss a memo? Have the tissue companies been forcefully shut in Kenya? Have we been using tissue paper the wrong way in my household?’, I asked myself? So yes, I was among those who shamed the tissue hoarders but I am taking it back and here’s why; ‘they (my children) are secretly eating the tissue. Well, not quite but I am trying to make sense of how fast we seem to be using the tissue paper in my household. So as a preventative measure to try and use less tissue, I have directives of my own for all those who live with me.
- You can only use so many tissue ‘boxes’ in a day….the children must count them and I demonstrated how.
- To also try to slow down the metabolism, we are only going to have as many snack and meal breaks as they ordinarily have in school. No more random snack breaks.
So if you run into me at the shop, I will be buying lots of tissue, proudly, so do not shame me for joining the tissue hoarding movement.
Make love, not war
It is easy to find yourself disagreeing a lot more than usual with your family members if you are cooped up with them like I am. My simple remedy is, play a game of hide and seek. The other day, my kids hid as I caught my breath for a couple of minutes as I was meant to be the one seeking. I finally went to seek them but the few minutes alone were priceless and I plan to incorporate a game of hide and seek each time I need some alone time.
Stick to normal, as much as possible
I have always envied offices where you can sit on a colourful couch or a beanbag to help stimulate your creative juices. I, therefore, thought that the working out of my house was going to be as easy as it gets and I would be my most productive self. Well, after a couple of days trying to get a new routine, I have decided to keep as much as I can as close as possible to my normal routine. I wake up, have my breakfast and get ready as I normally would when going to the office. I admire all those who can have a productive day in their pajamas as my brain seems programmed to relate pajamas with slowing down. I am doing the same for my children. They start their days as early as they would on a normal school day and get ready for the day. We also observe bedtime schedules as we would on a normal school night and this is helping ensure that we have as much a normal and productive day as we would before Covid-19.
I do not have a superhero cape, and I am ok with that
Look, I appreciate all the resources going around on how to keep the children engaged. I applaud all those able to stick to the schedules shared by schools but I am unable to work from home and still support my children with their school work so here’s what I am doing instead. I am teaching my children how to practice free choice :-). Our days are filled with exploration and lots of PE. It’s fantastic. Once in a while, they get a book and practice their reading and when exhausted, we turn on kids learning channel and are good for the day. The kids will be fine if they can’t create a version of Apollo II in the next two months. Kids across the world are in the same boat and we are all going to turn out just fine.
I can’t do everything, and I am fine with that as I need to ensure I keep my sanity too :-).
My special sauce, gratitude
I now appreciate being stuck in traffic and trying to figure out the next driver’s life. I miss being able to catch up with a teammate on our drive home and grabbing something from the local shop without worrying about how safe the sanitizer they just sprayed on my hands is.
I am a lot more grateful for fistbumps, hugs and the hustle and bustle from my normal days. To also stop my children from demanding unicorns, I have found that a simple gratitude exercise at the end of the day, just before bedtime, has allowed the family to reflect about some of the beauty still left amidst the chaos caused by the pandemic and also pray for the millions across the world who have lost loved ones and a fighting Covid-19 in the frontline to save a person’s life.
Do your part, make sure you observe guidelines given by health experts to stay safe.
Written by Wagikuyu Miring’u (Marketing Lead, East Africa at Nova Pioneer)