Three ways to supervise your school going child

Our children spend the major part of their day in school under the supervision and guidance of educators. The general assumption we tend to make, is that they are being taught – but how, by whom and what are they being taught- is a question that few can answer honestly.

Being a teaching mom has some advantages and warrants my opinion on a personal and professional level. This is what I try to do on a daily basis with my children because of what I learned over the years. I have seen a vast array of parents from the overly involved to the least concerned. This is by no means an indictment on any parent, because we all have valid reasons for doing what we are doing or not!

The three things I do with my children on a daily basis.
1. Ask about their schoolday.
This is generally an opportunity to encourage communication and get valuable information. It gives them a chance to be heard. Classrooms can get very noisy and busy, and teachers don’t always have the time to give individual attention to each child. The possibility of playing by truant also gets dealt before rearing its head. You get insight into your child’s perception of what constitutes as the ‘best day of school’ other than the ‘last day of school’.

2. Unpack their school bags
Remove everything from their bags. Eliminate the element of surprise by being one step ahead. The purpose is to be vigilant about 3 things – unauthorised items; unreported homework assignments/official notifications and/or anything that raises the red flag. This is the surest method for being on the ball in terms of whether your kid is getting up to mischief or even  playing parents and teachers,up against each other.

3. Assist with homework.
This is a task often left to the child/tutor/aftercare teachers. Parental supervision or just regular checks keeps you  in the loop with regards to possible problem areas – difficulty with a subject; a strained relationship between the teacher and your child; a learning barrier; and any other challenge you pick up from your child’s understanding of the subject. Write letters to the teacher regarding your concerns and establish a parent-teacher relationship.

These three things could be the ones saving parents from unwanted trouble involving their children and their school time. It can all be done in 30+ minutes thrice a week –  but save you a lot of time in losing working hours to attend one-on-one meetings with teachers to discuss issues involving your child.

No parent is perfect, but a little effort can go a long way!



Stolen Identity

The purpose of identity is generally so one knows and is reminded of where you’re coming from. The identity of an individual is then linked to a group and so forth. I have had my identity stolen a number of times.
How exactly have I lost my identity?

* My status has changed from single-and-too-busy ->single-and-looking->bride-to-be->MARRIED-> married-with-children-> wish-I-didn’t-get-married-> separated.
* My body transformed as much! I started out with a ‘bod to die for’->preggy bod 1-> preggy bod 2-> preggy bod 3-> I get jiggy with it, with minimum movement!
* My finances did not escape the melt down at all. My salary has always been enough with loads to spare, it migrated to -> debt orders-> bond repayments -> formula, nappies, toys, daycare & school fees->frugal -> and lately most frugal!
* Social life reduced to parent body meetings! Club scene (do they still have those!)-> party zone-> baptism preparation classes-> cyber chatting-> when last did I have coffee I didn’t brew!
* Dare I forget that I have had multiple operations in the same area for the purpose of procreation!
* My right to selfishness has been revoked entirely, with no hope of ever being restored!
* In the interim I have learned to perform despite being on the brink of  ‘total breakdown’- level unless fueled by coffee powered sanity!

That is the total transformation of a woman who, otherwise had a bright future in fabulosity!

Right now I am the woman in the car, because that’s where I am blogging from!

Abstract parenting

Abstract parenting is my personal recovery program, after a hectic week of homework; extra lessons, getting to school and work on time; and life in general.
The whole concept may seem strange, thus my best attempt at explaining the concept is found in Wikipedia; ‘I parent only in the abstract’- meaning I am unconnected from concrete reality.
Which reality? The fact that I choose to turn my back on routine. Saturday is my day for sleeping in and just vegetate, blog, catch up on emails, etc. 
The standard weekend procedure for my children is:
* Wash yourself
* Fix your breakfast
* Make your bed
* Do your chore – dishes/bathroom/sweeping
* Free play/ television
It doesn’t happen that way, ever! I have for the past year spent much time reminding, nagging, threatening and applying some form of punishment to get them doing at least one thing! It drove me insane and made my weekends miserable, until I decided to change my approach; with much difficulty. I have disengaged myself from all that should be done, and decided to focus on my recuperation from the fatigue of solo parenting . 
The result :
* They wash when they please
* Breakfast happens around brunch
* Beds are made the moment I start moving about
* Chores are left to the very last moment
* Free play & television takes precedence over all else
What am I hoping to achieve through this method?
* Retain my sanity
* Avoid jail time for the rest of my natural life
* Regain whatever graces I lost in the course of the week
* Let them realise that I do play some useful role in their lives
* Get some needed rest and sleep.
There are times when a glimmer of success shines through the cloud of unlimited mischief. The commander, my 12 year old, would send a foot soldier to spy on me. Or, ask if I am awake or need anything. Then, I feel somewhat accomplished but obviously that happens about as often as snow in Johannesburg. 
Original concepts seldom have research to back up its practicality or functionality, but I am willing to go out – on a wobbly limb – and say it works ( for me, at least!). I have some alone time and limited monitoring woes for at least 18 hours of every weekend. 
How well it will work in the long run, is yet to be discovered. In the mean time, we will do whatever it takes to keep mom sane, almost happy and out of prison!

I lost my heart, mind, sleep and ten other things

Parenting, like marriage, is one of the areas that many fantasize about and have unrealistic expectations of. I want to tender my confession as being one of those who expected to sail through both but realized that it is involves less of self, and more of others.

Clearly my expectations were not met, and shock is definitely not the adjective I’d use to describe my feelings when I realized this. The inspiration for this post came from a generally insignificant incident in the family bathroom. Yes! We have a single bathroom for my three kids and I, insanity IS the word! And, mine is highly at stake…

Nonetheless, I managed to drag myself off to the communal bathroom to brush my teeth and hopefully wake up thereafter, and found the cap of the toothpaste gone and the paste hardened and impenetrable! Now, this would have been written off, as one of ‘the joys of motherhood’ if it wasn’t something I have had to do on a daily basis for the past 5 years. It only dawned on me then, that the toothpaste might never have a lid again after being opened! My frugal alter ego must accept that the budget must always allow funds for more toothpaste!

This caused me to calculate most of the losses I am gonna have to ACCEPT and ACKNOWLEDGE about being a mother, this excludes the loss of my heart, mind and sleep!

My lost privileges:

  • Drinking and finishing my cup of coffee, without forgetting about it because I have to stop a fight; forgot where I left it or ran to wipe a face!
  • Eating and enjoying a meal without having to get up and help with one or the other.
  • Wearing make-up without having to explain, WHY!
  • Reading a book which no one has scribbled in!
  • Receiving guests without having to whirl through the house to remove toys, books,etc.
  • Having a conversation on the phone without SOMEONE asking whom I am talking to.
  • Take a long leisurely bath with no interruption.
  • My pre-baby figure
  • Finding out who pinched the gum from my bag!
  • Television remote control!

I might as well add that this list is but a drop in the bucket, it is infinitely endless, but without my musketeers my life would be dull and empty!

Disclaimer: Any grammatical or other errors are due to loss of sound mind and sleep!

The woman in the mirror

I always review my progress, as a parent, on a quarterly basis and I must say I sucked the past four months. Don’t get me wrong, I am NOT about to belittle myself, it is my assessment of what went wrong!

I am proud of being a single mom of three, pulling a full time teaching position, entrepreneur, parent representative of a school governing body and aunt,those are the relationships and areas that require the most from me and lately there just hasn’t been enough of me to go around. My forty-something year old self just needs an additional 12 hours added to my day in order to be a better version of my fabulous real self!

I love my kids dearly and am fiercely protective of them, but my overtired self has really made it painfully impossible to express that. So how bad has been, you might wonder.

As bad as:

  • Snapping at my already children
  • Bad mouthing their dad for not pitching to pick them up
  • Threatening to have the dogs impounded
  • Screaming and shouting 24/7
  • Slacking on preparing good nutritious meals

The worst is that I really just want to forget about being late for work again and drop happy kids off at school, and drive off to my mornings only job and be there waiting when school dismisses. My desire to be more available for my children is destroying the results of what I am already doing! Now, that is ‘mommy bashing’ par excellence!

How do I convince myself that whatever I am doing right now is my best, without comparing myself to any other mother- single, married, co-parenting, SAHM or all other forms of mothering?

I shall acknowledge that :

  • I am doing the job of two parents
  • I step up to the plate when required
  • I am a woman and mother of substance
  • Without my efforts my children’s world would be poorer 
  • I am doing my best, albeit imperfectly

I long to pledge to myself that I will no longer aspire to be a perfect mother, because she is the figment of my and many others’ imagination. She does not exist and demonizing of self, is not going to improve my performance as much as loving myself and acknowledging my works-as good- can potentially do.

I will from now on, aspire to:

  • Hug instead of snap!
  • Laugh rather than frown!
  • Sing instead of shout!
  • Pray before complaining!
  • Dance in the eye of the storm!

The woman in my mirror deserves love, my support, my compassion, and to be acknowledged by me as a QUEEN!

Versatile puff pastry

Frozen puff pastry has really become one of my favourite stock pile items. I seldom buy less than 10 at a time. It is versatile and easy to use, and you can fill it with almost anything.

As a lunch box filler it is more than amazing. My kids almost always come home with reports about comments made byb their friends about their eatables.

My favourite fillings are:
* Viennas wrapped in pastry
* Cheese and fried bacon
* Canned pie apples sprinkled with cinnamon sugar
* Custard filling
* Canned tuna and mayo
* Egg and mayo
* Chicken and mayo

The trick lies in your presentation, to avoid monotony and predictability I add one or more unusual items. Adding pickled cucumber to the tuna/ chicken mayo mix or red/ green peppers or adding finely grated carrot/ butternut. It adds color and is ultimately healthy. My favourite however must be apple added to any of the mayo mixes.

The best advise I can give a busy mom, is stock up on frozen puff pastry and let your imagination go! Your kids are bound to enjoy the unusual flavours and appreciate the effort.

  • Happily everafter

    I often wonder what I will do the day my children have all flown from the nest. I am planning on sticking to the nest exit age, of eighteen; and might give them a few months  grace!

    That might be the most important stage of my life, and requires detailed planning. My track record for productive use of ‘me time’ has been severely tainted by my inability to do something fun when not with my children.

    The five things I absolutely have to do:
    * Eat ice cream at Nelwa’s Gelato in Tanzania

    Image from @nelwasgelato via twitter

    * Experience a sunset in Kenya

    Image courtesy of via FreeDigitalPhotos

    * Touch the right hand of the Christ the Redeemer statue in Brazil

    Image courtesy of via FreeDigitalPhotos

    * Conquer the world one-cupcake-at-a-time with my Cupcakenism brand.

    More than just a cupcake lover!

    *Write a book dedicated to my children to let them know how much I love them!

    Triple fold blessings

    Everyday is not sunny but that doesn’t mean one has to stop dreaming. So whilst my son is dreaming about becoming a Formula One driver, I fantasize about eating ice cream; uninterrupted!

    It is totally worth it to raise my trio, but it will be even greater to look back on a life, lived and loved! I may not hold their or my future in my hands, but the One who holds us reminds me constantly of  ‘… plans to bring about the future you hope for.'(Jeremiah 29:11).

    Share your plans for living a life a happily ever after raising your kids.

    Are you a problem solving parent?

    There is a world of difference between a person who has a big problem and a person who makes a problem big.– John Maxwell
    Our perception of what constitutes as a problem, is more often than never, exaggerated. A constant headache is soon escalated to a brain tumor, based on nothing other than our own diagnosis. How many other times haven’t we allowed small issues to become life issues. Yet, we can all bear witness to times when we genuinely felt like crying about something that happened, but can now retell in laughter!
    Such are the woes of people and slightly more demanding for parents, who have to think on behalf of our children! That often distinguishes us from the rest of the human species…
    The world calls it your gut feeling, I call it my spirit being. The  voice or prompting which lets you know whether something or someone has good intentions towards you or your loved ones.
    How do you deal with it?
    Grab your phone to call or text  someone?
    Start panicking and create a scene?
    Allow your mind to conjure up the worst case scenario?
    We might think all of the above applies when you’re a parent, but there are better ways to deal with challenges.
    This has been my sure fire way of coping with almost eight years of single parenting and being far from family. I also have my ‘crazy cycle’ moments on occasion, however  this is what I know works for everything; from nightmares to a broken down car.
    Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos
    Dealing with challenges beyond your control:
    * Pray, an honest powerful prayer from your fear or pain.
    * Acknowledge your limitations, but stay open to the limitless power of God.
    * Unpack the problem in order to determine its merit.
    * Think it through before sharing it with anyone.
    * Let it go and trust that the correct guidance or help will come
    * Pray intentionally for patience and wisdom
    * Realise that experiencing difficulty is not a reflection on you as a person, but rather a right of passage to growth.
    * Remember: Nothing lasts forever!
    Going through these motions of problem solving often creates opportunities for godly wisdom to fill an anxious heart and mind.
    Share how you deal with inevitable life challenges.

    Motherhood: Three months at a time

    The past 3 months has been a grace project par excellence!

    I had to painfully adjust to having three children in the public school system whilst holding up a full-time teaching position, baking, blogging, bargain -hunting,making nutritious lunch packs, running a household and looking fabulously unfazed by it all.

    In reality :
    * I slept after midnight most nights
    * I felt like quitting my job
    * Had at least one crisis per week
    * Misplaced my car keys more often than I found them
    * Managed to be on time for work as regular as a leap year!
    * Cried like a baby!
    * Finished my overburdened kids homework in my best childlike handwriting
    * Remembered to wash the school uniform after falling asleep, on more than one occasion
    * Used my oil heater as a dryer
    * Woke up twice a night to prepare dough for homemade lunch
    * Rushed from work because the kids forgot their house keys in my car
    * Had car drama
    * Considered managing my life with anti-depressants.

    It is nearly end of March and all I can say is, the countless prayers; lamented and whispered saw me through this crazy time.

    God is good, especially when it seems that our load is greater than our blessings.

    Tips for easier parenting

    A busy mom needs to come up with unorthodox ways of coping on a daily basis.

    What might be a complete no-no to some, is your rescue remedy. Taking a shortcut to getting things done has become my coping mechanism. At times I want to take the high road, but if the shortcut still gets me to the same destination- why bother at all!

    Three children of school going age, is no walk in the park! However, I am going to sprint through these demanding and stressful years.

    1. I let my kids sleep in sleeping bags!
    * Saves time making beds
    * Bedtime is fun time!
    2. They bath the night before.
    * Mornings they brush their teeth and wipe their faces.
    3. I let them wash their own underwear and socks.
    * Sharing responsibility and being accountable for their clothing.
    4. Preparing simple meals- noodles; frying eggs,etc.
    * It helps when I get held somewhere or too busy to prepare lunch.

    Image courtesy of

    5. Using the city bus instead of special transport.
    * They walk instead of using the bus.
    6. The municipal library offers free membership and have regular programs to educate and entertain children.
    * A huge saving on the cost of books and children’s shows.

    Our visit to the library

    Nothing too radical, but totally workable for our situation!

    Moms and dads share your ideas for getting it done, in your own unconventional way. I’m ready to try any if them to improve caring for my angels.