What story do you want to write this summer. Is it one of having such great laugh and wonderful memories. The social media is already filled with summer dread. While it is ok to have a ‘dig’ at this, we also can choose to have a great summer.

“Whilst our challenges as a diaspora community may be greater than many other mommas, we can do something about it”.

The discussion on the parenting webinar this evening was about being solution focussed. As mothers, we acknowledged that lack of extended family support, cost of living, work commitment, residence status and lack of planning can cause a lot of stress during the 6 weeks summer break.

It was agreed that summer holiday is about resting and enjoying the children. The enjoying bit can be tricky when we are stepping on each other’s toes. Careful planning becomes the bedrock to our intentional loving, graceful-packed and impactful summer break. Keeping things in perspective is also key. Waking up and reminding ourselves and each other of what we are trying to achieve is important.

“Summer 2018 is going to be an awesome !!!”

Does that sounds like an epic goal? Why don’t you go ahead and have something like this, something that reflects your family unit, values and beliefs. You can get the children to be involved and breakdown the goals into daily, weekly activities of keeping EPICSOME. Hang your goals somewhere where you all can see and remind each other.

Here is a skeletal draft that I have just done to give you some ideas on how you can structure your week plans:

For me and the teens, being considerate of each other is key.  This translate to being mindful of what we are doing as a family and if someone needs/ wants to be somewhere or doing something different, to communicate effectively and timely.

When I complete my summer schedule, chore allocation is a priority so we know who is cooking the much needed lunch dinner, loading the washing machine etc. We have to remain functional without too much nagging. I function better with some structure and it helps me with accountability as well.

Summer holidays are about recharging, renewal and resting. Depending on the age groups of your children, again being deliberate about networking and meeting other moms is good as well. Well planned play dates, can easily give you a well-earned break, time to yourself.

Being on a budget is fundamental. Workout, have an idea of how much you are spending during this long school break. Involving the children in this financial planning can help to ease expectations as they know how much is in the holiday pot. Picnics are easy, affordable yet to memorable. Again depending on the age groups, picnic can be in the garden, at a National Trust home is even greater. The manor houses and immaculate gardens add that awesome feel of summer.

On a large-scale we talked about organisations, communities, charity organisations that are already doing a lot of work with the youth and young people. Organisations such as Africa Youth Arise, they do a lot of amazing workshops and retreats for 11-25yr olds. The lighthouse summer daily camp is very popular and for mothers of faith, it is a great resource to have hand.

How about asking our local churches to plan activities for the children during the summer break. Yes it does require lots of planning, DBS etc but how much are our children worth? We agreed that we need to invest in our children’s lives.

We hope you have a great summer. We hope you realise that you have in you the power, ability and resources to make it great, however you chose it.

Would love to hear your summer story planning. Thanks for stopping by x


The saga continues

So far summer has been bliss. The planning has taken the pressure of me in amazing ways. Prayer and lots of it has gone into this planning. The idea is to have an enjoyable and memorable summer. For us as parents, the reality of our children growing too fast and time sipping through our fingers has become such poignant truth.

We are keen to make the memories of today meaningful both now and for generations to come. That takes time and being intentional. Intentional of our family time, activities we do or don't do together and how we spend time with other people. Being away from each is great, as the distance makes the heart grow fonder.

An incident that happened during the half term taught me to be more organise when it comes to the children's time and their friends.

What exactly happened was that I was sitting on the train, on my way to work when at exactly 8am, a text message came inviting my daughter for a shopping trip with a friend the following day. Of course, it was school half term and I had forgotten to fill this one day of the half term week with activities and appointments. The predicament was that I had said no to a couple of invitations before, to this particular dear friend. It was a matter of timing and other family commitments.

I was well spent financially, and I would have needed to organise the pick up, drop off etc. Not what I expected on that day. My daughter thinks the world of this particular dear friend. Yes, they have recently started high school together and they 'clicked'.

I had filled the 5 out of 7days in a week with things to do. We had friends over for bank holiday Monday. Both adults and children, enjoyed the company, conversations and cuisine. We then visited another dear friend, 50miles each way and had a truly magical time on that Tuesday. Forget the food bill befitting the 21st century 2 teen instagram postings. Come Wednesday, both children had play dates and a sleepover whilst I ran around chauffeuring them. I also busied myself with lastminute preparations for the new job the following day some miles away from home. Hubby was off  the next day and took our cherubs for bowling and eat out. Girl done good, I told myself.

Until that morning and this text message, I had been absorbed in my own little world. I had done what most mothers do for their children. Since primary school days, I know how critical play dates are. My thinking was that at her  age my daughter can now sort her play dates. Since this was never mentioned at the agreed 'three days before' I assumed we were all fair and square.

At this stage, I decided not to feel bad about it. I was on my second day in a new job, away from home. I was trying my best to make sense of my new world. My plate was full. In actual fact,  in my mind I had planned for a mother- daughter time at my mother church on the morrow. Great opportunity to see my wonderful mother Bishop/ mentor/ teacher and inteccessor and of course my delightful cousin sister and her two beautiful girls. My daughter does not think attending church events is really spending quality time with me. I totally get it.

Personally, I feel it's a good opportunity to catch up with each other as well as other fellow like minded and inspiring sisters. A woman needs to be surrounded by like minded women, to inspire and challenge, so I tell her. We have managed to make the arrangement work with a lot of persuasion and bargaining. We alternate the dates, She comes with me to my events and next time we do something that she loves, usually fancy eat outs.

Anyway, back to the text message. At 5:35 pm, I was back on the train on my way home. It dawned on me that I had not responded to the message. I had made this poor woman and her daughter wait 😟. Thats a no no. It does not help with the repertoire malarkey. Why does a mother have to go through all this?! You can imagine my emotional turmoil. At this stage I emotionally spent, having spent a solid 8hours trying to prove why I got the job and my worthiness. And now this. How do I say no to this invite and this late? I hate explaining myself in text messages for that matter. Is it not enough that I am trying to be a positive role model to my children,  organised,  working hard, making a difference and being balanced? I hate coming short. 

I felt terrible for ruining my daughter's social life. How was she going to cope with no friends at school? What about missing out on all those instagram/ snapchat stories about the shopping weekend that she wasn't part of? Could this be emotional abuse or neglect? Who knows. At this point, life sucks. Don't mention how I was going to break it down to her when I got home! It's an emotional roller coaster.

Somehow, there is a part in me that feels our daughter is fragile and vulnerable as a young woman. It's not a question of gender but the flaws in her personality. She thinks well of everyone, very trusting at the same time incredibly opiniated. Furthermore, some of big brother's experiences have left us slightly wary of these social outings. We allow him because he is 17years old and soon to go and find his space in the adult world in no time. The boy needs to practice being responsible and accountable so we tell ourselves.

I remember vividly another culture shock incident that happened when our daughter was in primary school aged 5years. I had agreed to a play date only to cancel it on the day a few hours before because of other family commitments.  In my own head, I didn't think it was a problem. However,  this wasn't the case with her friend who went on to have a full melt down. The whole thing was a mess to say the least. You can imagine how unhappy the mother was. Luckily, I explained my oversight and she was willing to fill me in on my cultural gap. Never again, have I done that!

This culture around play dates can be very complex and intimidating. It is critical that I send the right message to my children without disrespecting their friends as well as the friends' parents. My children are also learning about managing social dynamics. O what a cobweb we weave!

As mothers, we have to be kind to ourselves. There is no such thing called perfect parenting but good parenting.  I have learnt that saying no is a good thing for them as well. So in the end it was finalised that there was not going to be a shopping trip. 

I owe her friend a date, thankfully that's all sorted. Here is to us off to write our own story in the sand.


Lessons I have personally learnt:

– Your children need friends, it's a basic human need. It's important to know who they befriend. Birds of the same feather flock together and that is so true. As they grow older it's good to guide them to make that fundamental decision themselves. 

High school play dates and dynamics can be a tsunami. We are trying to work it all out and it's a journey we have to go through with our youngest. What makes it all complex is the little connection we have with their friends and their families. When they were in primary school, we knew the parents from the playground and we arranged the play dates as mothers.

Now we are having to rely on what our children tell us about their friends. Yes, some of them you meet them with their parents at the parents evening etc. There is not enough time nor conducive atmosphere to sass each other out and work through the layers, masks and airs that we carry as parents on such occasions.

The lack of time, to be involved in school activities, PTA, bingo and quiz nights doesn't help. How do we create that time as first generation migrant families? How do we prioritise our children without neglecting our parents and even ourselves?

– Living in a diverse and multi-cultural society, it can present a lot of challenges. As a mom, follow your gut instinct. A good friend and their family will respect your family values and beliefs.

-Be organised and proactive about dates, sleepovers etc. For me the idea of our daughter being invited all the time is what I struggle with. My idea of summer break/ school holiday/ half term is for us as a family to catch up. Up until now, I assumed that was absolutely fine. So I'm taking the initiative to invite.

– It also transpires that play dates are mostly for childcare purposes. Sad as it may sound, it's the truth.

-Activities do not have to cost an arm and a leg. Best things in life are still free ; libraries, museums, picnics, church activities and a walk in the woods. National Trust membership is a great bargain for history and culture activities.

– Holiday breaks are not a luxury but a necessity. With good planning,they shouldn't cost a fortune. 

Comminicate, communicate and comunicate. 

-Be compassionate; Understand and emphathise with your children. It's hard trying to fit in. Teenagers especially, due to their brain development struggle with identity, worse off if there is culture clash. Be in their world, invite their friends over and get to know them.

– Encourage them to take up sports, arts or other extra curriculum activities. This is an investment that pays for itself.

– Choose your battles carefully. The adage ' better to win the war than battle' cannot be emphasised.

Happy holidays x

Hope makes a way ❤


Musings of a transnational mama:

Two weeks of summer holidays already gone, time flies indeed. Summer holidays are fun.

For many parents it’s a lovely break from the school run and early mornings. They can be a blessing summer holidays. A time to reflect and renew together as a family. A time to mellow on the memories of yesteryear. For some families summer is the transitioning from either early years to primary or even primary to high school. What an emotional roller coaster! We have been there and done that a few times. 
Thankfully, we are on hold for now. Next year will be a totally different story. Big brother will be completely done with school, did I say that? Yes, and heaven knows how I am going to cope.

Until then, I am focussing on now, the present. At the beginning of summer our two completed the comprehensive list of things to do for summer. This includes play dates with whom, when and where.

I have since learnt that school holidays, teenagers and their friends can be a conundrum. Actually, the lack of planning from a parents’ point can be very detrimental. This is an area that has been challenging for me since our two have transitioned into adolescence and being in high school.

With big brother, it wasn’t much of an issue as the group of ‘lads’ he hung out with seemed pretty ok. Big brother went to a local well resourced and sought after selective high school. Being a social butterfly that he is, he befriended 5boys, fondly known as ‘the lads’. Me and hubby had the privilege of meeting these pedigrees and their parents at big brother’s 12th birthday, 6months into high school. A lovely bunch of parents with sound moral standards, good careers, positive and firm aspirations for their children. Typical authoritative parents, sensitive, intuitive and insightful. We fell in love with them and felt motivated and encouraged. Easily done we felt.

During the school holidays, throughout the 4years of secondary school, the lads met quite often outside of school. These meetings varied from the adventurous sleepovers, camping in the garden, playing in the woods, cinema trips etc. We did not have a problem with the long tracks to their residences and back. We got to know the lads, and they enjoyed our company, the take aways, sleep overs at our house as well as banter with little sis. What more could you ask for?

Fast forward to our darling daughter starting high school. The dynamics are a labyrinth. She is a winter baby and her birthday was a few months after starting high school. The poor girl wanted to hang out with her old primary school friends, catch up over some warm cheesy pizza, ice cream and ofcourse shopping. She was as good as gold. What a missed opportunity for us to meet her future bffs, squad and gang!!  These are young women who have now become the centre of her world, aspirations and dreams. She now gets invited to sleepovers, shopping sprees, cinema, restaurants on every school break. And that is hard, hard for me as a momma bear assigned to protect her cubs. ‘ I don’t know these people, I tell myself.’ How do I trust them with my jewel and treasure? My job in safeguarding children doesn’t help at this stage.

I recall a few years back when my cherubs were 6 and 18months and family friends with older children were anxious about the summer holidays. I couldn’t fathom what the drama was all about. For us, it was a longed for break from early school runs and pick up. What a perfect time for lie ins, late nights movie binge, picnics in the garden, bike rides in the cul de sac, impromptu braai with friends, trips to the museum and maybe a day or two in London. Life couldn’t be perfect. We even caught the infamous Nottinghill carnival.



Anyway, now with two teens in the house, I find myself rather unsettled and concerned about these loooooong school holidays. Why can’t they just stay in school? Right now I am a cruel, insensitive mother, you can judge and call me that.
I would implore you to keep your judgment until you understand my anxieties. Summer holidays are tricky in terms of managing the time effectively and giving your teens a sense of direction whilst maintaining a level of sanity and a decent bank balance. Don’t mention big brother needing encouragement to revise for the all important A’levels.
 I now appreciate that these results aren’t that important in the grand scheme of things. I deal with teens suffering significant mental health due to pressure from peers, parents and society at large. My heart goes out to them. And with that, the pressure has come off our two, not completely.. but we are working on it and very mindful 😊

The unavailability of extended family in diaspora can present a lot of challenges in terms of childcare and socialising. In most cases, our children socialise with their friends and it is a good thing. However, I cannot seem to break away from the longing of playing with cousins and making memories that endure the test of time. You know those visits to the rural areas, during the school holidays, tending to the fields, fetching water from the well, sitting around the fire waiting for the running chicken drum stick whilst having teary, stinging eyes from the smoke?. And the epic, taking a bath by the river. These kind of experiences is what I long for, for my two.

There is a significant part of me that feels I should package my children neatly and send them off to be with grandparents for the summer. Once I have done the number crunching, it becomes apparent that the sums do not add up. So we are stuck right here for now. Moreover, I have now learnt that evenings with grandparents nowadays are spent watching Isindigo or Muvhango 😳🤓

How is your summer holiday panning out? Share some love and ideas. Don’t forget to comment and share article with loved ones.

Enjoy the summer break, make memories and look after each other. Be hopeful always ❤