Being intentional about parenting during the COVID19 lockdown

The closure of schools came with various servings. While some parents lamented about the prolonged stay of children at home. On the other hand, other parents made use of the time to nurture their children for better.

Bridget Kigongo Nambirige

Parenting during lockdown is a peculiar task but the first step should be to keep the children’s minds occupied so they do not feel overwhelmed. I have done this by bringing back the traditional house duty roaster with each child having a few duties; one in the morning and another in the afternoon.

I also need the children to have something they feel is worthwhile for them during the lockdown. As such, I have employed them in my herbal workshop where I make hair and body oils using local raw materials (I am working from home). They are paid so they are accumulating money. They can also earn extra from washing the car, which I would have otherwise paid for at the washing bay.

We also ensure we exercise; working out as a family is fun so every morning we jog around our compound and do simple exercises or take a walk around the neighbourhood. In between these, they watch TV and take naps when they want.

We have also adopted healthier eating habits to enable our bodies fight off infections just in case we are exposed again (the nine of us contracted COVID19 earlier). Additionally, ginger lemon mint tea has become our best friend.

We also continually counsel each other because everyone needs to know that it is going to be fine. Families should counsel each other and pray together otherwise people will go insane for it is a scary time.

Eng Brave Byaruhanga

Parenting has not been easy because the children feel confined being indoors yet we do not want them to catch COVID19. They also want to talk to their friends all the time and Whatsapp became a necessity. At first, we held back the phones but with online classes, we had to give in and on some occasions, they chat with their friends during class time. The technology growth has spiked among the children posing a big challenge.

Nonetheless, we have set rules and regulations to mimic school so the children can still revise and do assignments to avoid getting rusty. However, all this calls for close supervision.

To remedy the distress they feel, we are teaching them soft skills. For example, one is doing earrings, bracelets and necklaces, and they have started making cakes, and daddies.

Talent exploration also helps, for example, one loves art so our role in all this, save teaching them where possible is providing them with the materials. We are also doing home gardening where they are growing spices and vegetables and having a better understanding of the need of activities such as irrigation.

We have also scheduled them for prayer sessions, which is helping them with public speaking and learning the word.

In our free time and after meals, we talk freely with them sharing stories, some of which are helping them to avoid certain things when they learn of the consequences.

In all this, one has to be extremely patient without which, parents can get very upset turning the house into a disaster. We have also come to understand to listen to our children more for they also bring up ideas worth paying attention to.

Rosebella Nsita Kibaya

Intentional parenting during lockdown is not for the faint of heart because it is real hard work to maintain a routine with the young ones, especially because one can easily loose track.

Learning from the first 21 days of Lockdown of 2020, this time, we had a plan inasmuch as some days are different but we purpose to be consistent. My husband is also excellent with routine manager thus helps remind us to stick to our plan.

Since we do not have a house manager, the girls came up with a duty roster and timetable with activities for all the days of the week. Compulsory topics such as devotion time, exercise, on line classes, house chores and skilling (art, reading, dance, and knitting) appear on more often.

Then, as a family, we agreed on the activities to do together such as devotion, Sunday service and meals. One of our traditions is dates such as, family night, movie nights, girl- talk and dad daughters date and we try to have these even when we do not go places any more. We also agreed on activity time; waking up 7am latest, TV time 2pm – 4pm (if you have no online class), outdoors playing time 4- 7pm, devotional time 9pm and bed time 9: 30pm.

The challenges that arise are network issues that have tested our patience as parents and drained the girls, especially the younger one who often cries for missing a class. We also need to monitor the gadgets to avoid cyber abuse, which is an extra job on top of my so many responsibilities. 

I have also heard the word ‘bored’ countless times because they miss their friends and we provide airtime so they can communicate as often as possible. My extrovert daughter says she is tired of only taking to us so they visit jajja often who fortunately lives in Kampala. We also talk about possible boredom solutions together.

On a brighter side, we have many wins; our bond as a family is stronger, and we have the most meaningful conversations with the girls. This time has also greatly improved our relationship with God as the children lead devotion from praise to sermon preparation, teaching and praying and I am grateful.  The girls are also more responsible and self-driven for we often wake up to breakfast in bed by the children which is very heart warming. The girls have learnt several new skills such as bead making, hair care, baking, writing, cooking researching, and dance and drama (they give us with dance productions sometimes).

As a family, we pray this season gets to pass soon but until then, we shall make the most of it; pray, love on each other, keep home and keep safe.

Parenting in lockdown

On June 18, 2022, the President instituted a lockdown, which also saw schools close and children to return home. That changed very many things for several parents and some share their experience:

Nalongo Proscovia Akale Eyangu

Parenting during lock down has been a blessing for me as a mother because I love children, their company as well as teaching and mentoring them. As such, I am enjoying keeping both my children (three) and those in the neighbourhood active so they do not mingle with wrong company.

As a family, we awake at 5am and join in a prayer meeting on zoom or Goggle meet up to 6am, then walk for about 7-11kms as our routine workout though some days, we do home workouts.

After breakfast, each does their day’s house chores before the twins (P7 vacists) go for their part time teaching job (two hours a day, five days a week) while their younger brother does schoolwork. It is amazing to see the older ones learn to earn a living and practice the financial principles we have taught them.

They are also learning knitting and door mat making, have learned how to interact on zoom and goggle meet, attending church online and catching up with their friends on social media. It is a new and exciting thing for them.

In the afternoon, they rest, ride bicycles, and just be themselves as children. Then at 4pm, they watch TV, which helps us minimise screen time.

We also do bible study in the estate in the evening – on Thursday for teenagers and Saturday for the younger ones for two hours where they memorise scriptures and a prize awaits those who diligently do their assignments. For those that fail to attend, a video awaits them and assignments via Whatsapp so no child within reach is left out. Owing to frequent interactions, I have won parents’ trust because they know I mean well.

Although her contract ended in January, the Human Resource Administrator is thankful because this time has enabled her intentionally guide the children into becoming responsible people as she encourages them to read their bibles. Additionally, they do things together; washing the cars, cleaning the house, cook meals in turns, wash clothes and also read books to increase on their intellectual capital besides the others  (Spiritual, Physical, Financial and relational Capitals). I have also had an opportunity to monitor and supervise their wellbeing on a whole.

David Sempala

Creating an environment similar to what school gave our children is not easy but upon lockdown declaration, we decided to prepare them for the new world. This meant developing our own home curriculum composed of a 360-degree skill set elements that we want our children to develop. The new routine largely focuses on building key foundation knowledge provided by schools via zoom and textbooks but also behavioural and human cantered skills such as empathy, communication, action oriented learning, and financial literacy.

We have two sets of children – teens that can easily learn routine activities and those below 10 years who desire constant change. Every day, we help them feel organised by ensuring they have completed home and school engagement tasks they need to do for the day as well as prepare them for the next day.  Therefore, we have established a routine of making a to-do list at the end of the day to help them start the next day with a sense of accomplishment. The schedule also helps everyone to tackle anxiety while the children feel at ease, safer and more relaxed. That means waking up at 7.00am, doing and supporting on all domestic tasks, and then learning activities and fun things to do.

While we agreed that technology is part of our home as parents we constantly focus on emphasising what to use it for- to connect to schools via zoom and explore their preferred skills. Our first-born is more engaged in learning programming languages, the second born spends more time drawing house plans; a skill she leant in lockdown, while the younger folks engage in coding. Additionally, at home we engage together on key aspects of financial literacy, communication, and relationship building.

We also often engage the children in action-oriented activities to ensure their hands get dirty. For example, we travel to our country home where we engage in gardening, tree planting, cooking but sometimes take the boys to our construction sites to do hands-on work.

We equally let them have fun activities over video call with their peers to give them time to socialise not forgetting exercising together such as running.

The main triumph is that lockdown has given us time to bond with our children and a chance to promote human and soft skills across their life. As a father, it has afforded me an opportunity to teach them simple elements such finance and investing, collaboration as well as family and our cultural values.

The biggest challenge is uncertainty as the children often ask when they will return to school because they miss interacting with their peers. The home is a small unit that cannot fully supply what humanity desires, friends, new environments and new challenges are a perquisite.

Medication not to give your baby

Any parent will tell you that a sick child is worse than if they, themselves were sick. The pain that comes with seeing them become dull, throw up and whatever the ailment bring is nerve wrecking. It is this pain and desire to see them get back to normal that causes many to scavenge through the medicine rack or running to the nearest drug store to pick a pain killer or two. Dr Boniface Ssegujja Otto, a paediatrician, says while several medications are often prescribed for common childhood illnesses, these may cause an undesirable or, sometimes, fatalities. However, owing to easy access and poorly controlled over-the-counter prescription drugs, parents need to be cautious.

Cold and cough medicine
Children below two years should not be treated with over-the-counter cough and cold medicine. Only a paediatrician should prescribe this for your child. “These medicines are likely to cause increased heart rate, respiratory depression and convulsions. All these can lead to loss of life,” Dr Ssegujja says.

Aspirin
This age old medicine may be found in almost every household however, Dr Godfrey Bbosa, from the department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics at the College of Health Science, says using it with children is not advisable. That is because there is a strong link between aspirin and a potentially fatal neurological disorder; Reye’s syndrome, more so in children under the age of 18 years. Dr Bbosa says aspirin could cause the child’s liver and brain to swell. This is common among children who have suffered from a viral infection such as flu. “The child will start feeling extremely tired, have nausea and if medical intervention is not sought quickly, they could go into a coma.”

Ibuprofen
Pain killers such as Ibuprofen are one of the badly used medications because everyone wants to rid themselves of pain. However, Dr Ssegujja says babies below six months should never be given this medicine. That is because of the increased risk of reduced blood flow to the kidneys that may lead to kidney problems in future.

Anti-vomiting/nausea medicine 
Like earlier said, when your child is vomitting, you want to da all it take to stop it. However, while nausea and vomiting are common among children, it is usually for a short period of time thus not necessary to give them anti-vomiting meds. Dr Ssegujja also says, there are many potential side effects that may leave the child with long term neurological disability.
 
Nasal drops 
Despite that mucal discharge, Dr Agnes Anyait, a general practitioner wans parents against nosal drops as these aggravate matters by drying out the nasal passages. A parent is better off using a snot sucker to rid the child of the discomfort cased by a congested nose.

Chewable medicine
Inasmuch as they are sweet, among babies, they are deadly as they can choke the toddle. Dr Anyait says choking is common among children below three years. Even among the older ones, you are better off crushing the medicine and mixing it with water before giving it to them.

Ensure you are not endangering your child through medication

Expired medicine
It may seem unheard of and something no parent can imagine doing but it happens, more so in home where they have a habit of keeping emergency medication. In a frantic moment, Dr Anyait says, anything is possible. Therefore, before using any medication, it is important to check for its expiry date. Better still, make it a habit to check through your medicine cabinet every fortnight to rid it of expired medicines. That said, Dr Ssegujja says all babies below three months old should not be given medication without consulting a doctor.

Caution 
Dr Anyait also advises lactating mothers not to take strong medication because while every mother is cautious about their child, some of these medication will negatively affect the baby. 
“For example, if a mother has been diagnosed with a disease that requires treatment, such as cancer, they need to work with their doctor and the child’s paediatrician to find a better way of feeding the child,” she concludes.

That said, there is also need to store this medicine well so that it is out of the reach of children.

Choosing an education system for your child

There are several education systems around us, more than we can imagine so we are spoilt for choice. However, not every system will work for you. In this post, we desire to share with you some of the criteria you ought to look at as you pick the school as well as education system to enrol your child.

Mirian Ndyanabo, the head of secondary at British School of Kampala urges parents to read widely about the curriculum and school they desire because there are several examining bodies around the world. These include but are not limited to UNEB, West African curriculum, South African, Cambridge, Oxford. “Therefore, what you are looking for determines what you get. It therefore goes without saying that having clear needs and targets is paramount,” she says.

Geraldine Njuki, a mother says it was about a school that would enable her child ‘grow’ and achieve more social skills.

Francis Okweda, the proprietor of Everest Gauge adds that in this journey, a parent must become a researcher to identify what will benefit their child. “Finding the various resources is important to have a proper plan of how the classes will go. That said, seeing that you are not an educationist, getting in touch with a specialist so you make the right pick is a cherry on the cake,” he says.

On the other hand, some parents are not ready to take their children back to the mainstream school. These want to adopt home-schooling. However, Ndyanabo says that before you make this decision, you need to appreciate that while home-schooling is part of the international curriculum fibre, the same is not so for the Uganda national curriculum. That is because attending school is mandatory for one to get examined.

Nonetheless, Okweda says not every guardian or parent can carry out a home-schooling session because it requires a lot of commitment and children must possess several skills such as being independent and implementing self-study while parents must have the ability to do simple tasks such as making a timetable and supervising the child.

Ndyanabo adds that if a parent cannot help a child when they are attending structured school, how will they take the reins at home? Additionally, if the caretaker cannot ensure the child does chores, how will they ensure they study, even when the child is playing tricks? “That means getting their attention to steer through a class which calls for progression will be difficult because home-schooling requires structure and calls for one to be present, committed and intentional,” she shares.

For parents that are sold out to the home schooling journey, depending on the curriculum, get training to enable you have a better grip on the runnings of the system.

Whether your choice is going for the national curriculum or the international setting, ensuring that your choice is well thought out is important so that there are no regrets.

A Father’s Words

“Sarah, you are destined to be a wild woman full of faith and power. For even now you are a rope-jumping, leaping, laughing gust of wind. You are delightful, my daughter, through and through.” It’s like those words literary jumped from the page I was reading. I am trying to finish up some books before […]

A Father’s Words

His orange shoes….

You make my heart swell with joy

Parenting is an amazing journey; one that has a spectrum of emotions. Oh yes, your emotions will get stretched from one extreme to the next. I do not know of a time when that does not happen save when the bunnies are asleep. It is that part of life that continually teaches me to look at the bright side things of life and regardless of the occurrences, to offer love in its many forms.

Can you imagine someone biting your nose and despite the pain you calm down to tell them it hurts? Ohhh, the many times he has done it and laughed thereafter are innumerable yet while on the first day I smacked his bottoms, I have learned to teach him to do better.

So, today, the shoe rack was tilted in search of his favourite pair while leaving the rest to cascade to the floor. Previously, that infuriated me, not that I am happy to clean up today but something changed. I chose to look for something fun, like taking a shot at his skewed way of wearing the oversized shoes. Yes, I got back to the shoes later, but not before we’d all had some laughter as he tried to carry the shoes despite the pint sized feet.

See, life gets hard one too many times but these amazing persons are teaching me to take a minute and think through things rather than rush through my emotions. That has helped me cut back on the bad days and reduce the tension at the end of the day.

To the orange shoes that brighten your day, we love you sweets.

The absentee father paradox….

Ivan Otim

Every man has a boy in him; however, a well raised man knows how to control and tame this boy. Unfortunately, with several men abandoning their responsibility, there are many grown males who are boys indeed.

“Today, there are so many boys in men’s bodies, who have not been raised to tame the boy within. As such, they live a cowardly life and as evidence, every social injustice in the world rotates around this problem. Additionally, if a dad is caring, patient and concerned, then children will believe God has similar characteristics and the opposite holds true when a father is harsh, judgmental or absent. A boy who longs for his absent father has a hard time seeing God as capable of filling that role; – a father’s nature provides a window through which one can experience the heart of God,” Ivan Otim, the founder of Dad Base, shares.

Read more about his journey and efforts to correct the error on http://bit.ly/3mt1g0a

A little of both worlds

While the world mourned at the catastrophic ebb of events when the COVID19 pandemic hit, I celebrated as it afforded me more time with my newborn child. Extended leave was such a welcome idea because the thought of abandoning a three-months-old baby for work was sacrilegious. My life then settled into a routine of working and nursing in that even when the veil was lifted, I remained in the shadows. However, that came at the chagrin of my supervisor, who after a while complained about seeing work but never the deliverer. See, I had become accustomed to working at home that delivery was never a problem; more like breathing. That said, I could only keep up my charade for so long because soon, the assignments were getting less which struck a hole in my purse. With teeth sunk deep in my flesh, I promised my supervisor that I would be in office at least a month after close to a year of not setting foot there. The sail was great for the first three weeks only to be curtailed by another lockdown.

However, the meal served this time was not one I enjoyed because I had tasted the freedom that came with working devoid of the cries, shrills and demands of children. I had embraced the new norm and being pushed back into yesterday was harrowing, synonymous to being entangled in a web I had previously escaped.

It meant waking up early or sleeping late to make up for lost time during the day. That ate on my nerves but also slowed me down yet I had to keep up with the beat. Inspite of the fact that I needed to churn out articles on a daily basis, my thought process was snail paced and my body ached to rest. The completion of every article should have brought joy but the celebration was always short lived because I needed to move to the next. Before long, the zeal to work was only driven by the monetary benefit at the end of every month. Was it worth it, may be. See, I got validation in having something to do but my heart was empty because as the little one grows, the responsibility increases and my work is greatly disrupted.

Is parenting getting harder? Can we juggle between parenting and working? You tell me