I’ve been asked by some readers to give a little more insight into how the children are handling this huge shift in their daily lifestyle and routine. In a nutshell: remarkably! Give a child love and attention and they will be happy anywhere. There have however been some difficult moments.
During the first week in Mamelodi, the children still had to go to school which meant we had to get up really early to get them there on time. The mornings are very cold and waking a sleeping child to get them to catch a bus at 5am is not really fun. The early morning wake-ups also resulted in tired grumpy children in the afternoon where all the attention from neighbourhood kids sometimes got a bit much resulting in every mom’s nightmare: the temper tantrum/meltdown.
The children are now on school holidays and in a way it has been easier (no transport issues) but it too has some challenges. All the other kids are still at school so mornings can be a little long and boring. We have however discovered a municipal park about 20 minutes’ walk away that we go to most mornings. The kids love the park and we can easily spend an hour or two there with a little picnic. We’ve become really creative in terms of toys and activities. One fun ‘game’ is building letters, houses, train tracks etc with matchsticks. Julian has also become the master paper airplane maker and some afternoons when he’s around he’ll have to make up to 20 planes for all the children who play in our backyard. Every afternoon there are tons of friends for the kids to run around with, play hide and seek with, roll around in the dust with etc.
The children love helping with the daily activities such as washing the clothes, cooking and cleaning the shack. What I do find though is on a day where I don’t have to work and am home all day long with the children I am exhausted by the end of the day as I have to constantly be involved and playing with them: there is no TV as a distraction.
Food has been another area that has amazed me. The very first day we arrived in Mamelodi the children pulled up their noses at the vegetable soup I’d made for supper and said they weren’t hungry but since then they have never complained, asked for sweets or other food etc. Our diet is completely different to what we eat at home: lots of beans, lentils, pilchards etc. Yet they eat it all, say it tastes good and never complain.
We all sleep in one bed here (a habit I am sure is going to be difficult to break once we are back at home) but the kids love it. It’s warm and they feel loved and get lots of cuddles at night when it’s cold .
So all in all I can’t really say the children are easier or more difficult than they are at home: they are young, enjoy being around their parents and playing with friends. Have the odd melt down, but overall are having a great time but will also enjoy being home again after the month is over.