#COVID19- Baby Mamas – fun and important things to do with your child during #THELockdown

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“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these”
(Matthew 19:14).

When our president, Cyril Ramaphosa, announced the other day that the schools will be closing down, even though I knew it was bound to happen, I still felt a little unprepared. I mean, as a single mom, this means looking after my little one, while still trying to pay the bills. I am sure if you are all in the same boat, you understand what I mean.

I always need to write everything down, so the first thing I did was take out my diary and draft what my days would start to look like (ideally). This meant taking into account the different possibilities.

Luckily I have always been an enthusiastic mother when it comes to fun activities, and I’m sorry, but I am going to have to force you to become one – if this is not your natural inclination. I particularly worry when children have to spend too much time in front of the television without mental stimulation. I hope that is a worry for most of us. A lot of times, as mothers, we tend to revert to this method of entertainment for one reason, and I know because I do that all the time. The main reason is that we do not want to be bothered. And television, fortunately, or unfortunately, as we all know tends, to achieve that for us.

With the schools shutting down, my biggest worry for my son was that he would stagnate in his academic growth, and I was willing to do everything I can not to allow that to happen. Luckily for the first week, the school provided us with some work for them to do, which was really helpful, and I am grateful that we have continued to receive more ideas from the school group which I had to take very seriously. If you are not part of a school or mother’s WhatsApp group, I would strongly suggest that you find one or create one with your close friends who have children. Use it as a way of sharing ideas on what to do with your children. I believe that when one sees what other mothers are doing with their kids, it has a way of keeping us motivated and I must say, conviction strikes if your child is not doing anything related to his/her school work.

This blog is about what I have been doing so far to continue to stimulate my son academically and some ideas that you could perhaps take home. Before you do anything, I believe that it is vital to understand your child. Is your child an early riser or a late riser? My son is up every single day no later than 6 am. For me, this means that I need to be up earlier than him. I am always up at 5 am to prepare myself, mentally, in terms of what to do for the day.

He is always in his good spirits in the mornings, and I always found that I could get more out of him in the mornings rather than in the afternoons – when he tends to be more playful. I also found that it is better to prepare everything that you plan to achieve with him/her on that particular day. I am a very structured person and if I do not prepare, I am often all over the place and not very productive. So I guess, it is true that you ought to know yourself in this whole process.

Here are my top ideas of what you and your child could be getting up to, during #THELOCKDOWN

  1. Reading

My son is still learning to read, so I’ve had to find some easy books (Level 1) for him to practice his reading. I have to spend at least 15 – 30 minutes with him doing this, in case he gets stuck, otherwise, he does not stop screaming “MOM!!”all the time. He has always been a Dr. Seuss fanatic. It has been great to see that he is starting to read some of the books on his own. The more he practices, the better it gets. So I would suggest that you pile up on those books and allow him to continue reading, even if it’s just one book per day. If you did not or were not able to get books beforehand – I would suggest that you subscribe to one of the readings sites like http://www.ABCMouse.com or https://www.audible.com/ which offers a lot of material for the children.

2. Resources

Find some suitable activities on https://ar.pinterest.com/. Don’t get me wrong – these do require some preparation and lots of work, which you can do at night while he or she is sleeping so that he or she can wake up to the new things in the morning. These activities will stimulate your child mentally, physically, spiritually and improve their logic and gross and motor skills depending on what activities you choose. I don’t know about your child, but my son is always excited by new activities and new things to do. So do take advantage of that enthusiasm.

3. Puzzles and 3D

I find these to be able to kill at least 45 minutes of the day depending on the complexity. I realized the other day that I need to invest in more of the advanced puzzles as my son has already mastered the ones I provided. If your child is not into puzzles, I would suggest that you encourage him/her to get into it.

4. Board Games and Fun Games –

Invest in a few board games that allow him/her to think on the ball. This is probably something that we need to do more of in the near future. We have started playing naughts and crosses and my son has really enjoyed it. Be creative – come up with your own games at times, or better yet, allow them to come up with their own games.

It is almost Easter time and I have always enjoyed the treasure hunts that come with this season. Have you bought your Easter eggs yet? If not, it’s okay, think of some treasures that you can hide and allow your child to run around your house searching for them. Make it fun, give them clues to follow and enjoy the rewards together. We plan to do this in the next few days.

5. Lego Challenge

One of the mothers on the school group posted a Lego challenge calendar which I thought was exciting and so did my son. I printed it out and put it on the wall, and every single day it gives him a challenge to build. He’s already made a roller-coaster, a robot and the likes. This can also keep them busy for at least 30 minutes in the day.

6. Spelling word

Your child can learn new words during the lockdown. I have made a note of all the words that he struggles with as I listen to him read. And it has been interesting to see how he recognizes the word better once he has had the chance to practice. So I suggest that you listen to your child while he reads, and then make a note of all the words he/she struggles with and write them in his practice book and allow him to re-write those words daily.

7. Mathematics

I once bumped into some math practice books which were going at a very meagre rate, and I bought quite a bunch of them. My son was still young then, but he has nicely adapted to the books, and he knows what is expected of him. So, everyday we just do one page to keep him thinking mathematically.

8. Screen time

Unfortunately, we cannot run from this, but I would suggest that you download some educational apps for your child. My son struggled a bit with his phonics in the beginning. I saw the benefit of having an app that re-enforced the sounds of the alphabets. Stay away from the normal ABCs. Get your child to only learn phonic sounds as a foundation- which will make it easier for him/her to learn how to read over time.

9. Baking or cooking together

When it’s time to prepare lunch or dinner, my son has always been enthusiastic about doing it with me. It is not always convenient, but I would suggest that at least once a week, do try and plan that you cook or bake together.

10. Social time

We have his cousin visiting right now and it is essential that he still grows socially as well. So, I allow them to play together for parts of the day.

Spend some time together – at the end of the busy week, do relax, make some hot chocolate with marshmallows, grab some popcorn, wear your fun socks and cuddle in bed and choose a nice kiddies movie that you can watch together and enjoy.

11. Coloring and painting

I walked into the PNA the other day and saw some fascinating painting ideas and the materials to create our own masterpieces. But I think since we are limited in terms movement, one can easily print out some clip-arts that he/she might be interested in at the time and allow him/her to paint them. This should keep them busy for about 15 – 20 mins.

12. Music and Dance

I am a very musical person, and I try to encourage my son to enjoy music and instruments. You often find us just dancing to music, and this is really fun for us. I would encourage you to do that with your children, especially the material about God. I believe music can create a strong foundation in a child when it comes to them knowing who God is. For example, I still remember some of the songs we used to sing, in Sunday school when I was young. Therefore I believe that it’s got the potential to plant a seed. A friend of mine recently suggested Colin Buchanan. I was surprised to see the amount of material he has written that is available for the children. So do check him out.

13. Dedicate spending time with the Lord

Most importantly; God says in His word “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14). My son has always loved bible stories, and he has subscribed to a channel on YouTube called The Holy Tales. Every night, we tune into one of the shows, about 5 minutes long, and then we discuss the story. His favorite has always been Noah and the Ark, and we have watched it many a time. We also have the Junior Bible which we have read from beginning to end a couple of times.

I firmly believe that our children need to engage with God in His word continuously so do keep encouraging them to read His Word daily and ideally you should do this with your child, so that you can explain to them what they need to know. At the end of our discussion, I do encourage him to pray. Especially in these trying times, I have seen that COVID19 can instill some kind of fear in our children, and that is why in my next blog I will be addressing how we can talk about COVID19 with our children. I look forward to publishing that in the next few days.

Lastly, as we remember the death and resurrection of our savior Jesus Christ, this coming Easter weekend, I suggest that you look for some online videos being shared by your church that your children can tune into leading to the holy weekend. We have been following Passion Church kids and Pastor Louie Giglio started going through his Indescribable book for the kids and my son really enjoyed his session this past weekend. Follow your church and their children’s materials as we remember the cross of Jesus Christ.

It is also not too late to pick up a Lent Calendar that is readily available on the internet. This will keep you focused on Jesus as we approach the Easter Weekend.

Now these are just some of the ideas that I have and you might be wondering how and when you will find the time to do it all. Well, one cannot do all this in one day. So I would suggest that you design a calendar that spreads these out nicely, so that you can make sure you cover everything in the week. This planning will ensure you still have time to do your work and pay those bills. That is if you are working from home at this time. If you are not working from home, then I’m assuming that you will have more time on your hands to get through all these. Having support from the family you live with does play a significant role, as you can easily alternate these responsibilities with them- if they are willing.

If you would like for me to send you some of the links and materials that I have gathered over time, please do leave your email address in the comments section, and I will gladly forward that through to you.

Thank you once again for reading this article. I trust that it will add value in your daily lives as we face these challenging times.

The Lord bless you and keep you!

Miss B

Baby Daddy Drama: When he does not pay maintenance…

“God is a Father to the fatherless” (Psalm 68:5)

I never fought for maintenance with my baby daddy. I had my own reasons, but the biggest one was that I always felt as if the whole process would take more out of me than what I would get out. I am not going to lie and say that I never wondered if he ever thought what his child ate, drank, and not to mention the nappies. Honestly, I still wonder about that today.

My son is now six years old, and I must say that life has not been easy. I hustle, and I try my best, and I have tried to give him the best in life: a decent school, clothes, opportunities to dream just like any mother should. I have allowed him to live his dreams in swimming, karate, pottery, and one day becoming an astronaut etc. I am the type of mother that makes sure my son does his homework daily and I try to give him a balanced diet. We go places together. We go on trails together, we visit the planetarium, the zoo, the movies and sometimes do picnics at the reserve. He also has a bicycle and skateboard (not that he ever rides them). He has toys that he never uses and sometimes must give some away for the sake of making space. So, I must say that he’s had the “best” in life.

But I have also taught him that you have to work for everything in life and that nothing comes easy. I have tried to teach him that nothing is free in life. So as a result, you will not see him throwing a tantrum at the toy store. In fact, we sometimes go to the toy store just to check the price of the item he wants and then go back months later to go and buy it (if he is still interested in it). I have taught him that he needs to save money for his toys. And he knows that it means hard work and going the extra mile.

In my previous blog, I wrote about why I finally let go of baby daddy. And if you read it, you will get the sense that the biggest thing that I always fought for was the relationship between my son and his father. It was not his money, nor his gifts, just his presence, period. And after many attempts, it just never worked out and this hurt us more than any money could ever maintain.

Over the years, various mothers advised to take baby daddy to court and sue him for maintenance. But I have also heard a lot of women complaining about this process, and sadly it is a reality for most.

You see the difficult part of being a father today has turned out to be just being there for their children, but I believe that this should be the most natural thing a man should and must do. A lot of men think that, just by paying maintenance, it makes them a “good” father, and I disagree.

Without saying much, all I can say is that I gave up that battle before it even started. I chose independence! I decided to do this on my own, with God on my side.

Single moms, you can decide what you want to do with regards to this, but I firmly believe that God has given us (women) a lot more power than we think. Traditionally and biblically speaking men are the providers or are supposed to be the providers. Unfortunately, the broken world we live in has not allowed some of them to play their assigned roles.

I believe that God is watching us day and night and He wants us to rely on Him for provision. The Lord says in His word “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7) and yet; because we are always chasing other things, chasing after the wind of maintenance – we have neglected to trust more in Him. I have asked God to help me many years ago, and I continue to do so every single day. There are times when I think “How Lord?” but He always makes a way.

I acknowledge that it can be an especially scary thing to do if one does not see the light at the end of the tunnel. However, think about the testimony you and your child will tell, one day. The testimony about how God came through in the hardest of times.

This will require a lot of work on our side. You may need to force yourself to be business-minded if that is not your nature, more so if you are not employed. You may need to make use of the resources around you to make it work.

Even though I work full-time, I always tried other means of bringing in an income, including starting two businesses on the side, one in floristry and events and the other in baking. These pursuits allowed me to not only rely on my full-time work for income.

Circumstances forced me to learn how to prepare a bouquet , make boutonnières and corsages using YouTube. I’ve had to make friends with people in the industry who could help me when I got stuck. I remember having to call a lady from the Flower Spot when I had a teardrop bouquet delivery on the same day and how God just made her available to help me put it together. Please do follow my Facebook page Mokibelo Events Solutions and Mokibelo Muffin ‘n Scone to see the extra work that I do on the side, all in order to provide for my son. My mom lost her job about 2 years ago, and she is now running the baking business. I connected her with my friend’s mother-in-law who gave her a crash course in baking and wow, how that changed our lives. People speak highly of her biscuits and it has really been a blessing.

Now, don’t get me wrong; I firmly believe that children are strictly entitled to their father’s monies, and in the same breath, fathers are strictly expected and responsible to support their children financially (and they should) and they should make every effort to do so. My point is that I wish single mothers would trust more in God’s provision than in the provision of men. Instead strive to build your relationship with the one true Provider who will always make a way. This is a more worthwhile endeavor than building a relationship with an absent individual who just wants to click the send button (and sometimes won’t), who makes no time for a good relationship with his child. I would rather live a life fully trusting in God for provision than have a man trying to prove his fatherhood in this way when he feels like it.

If any men are reading this, I encourage you to step up! Your children need you especially in this day and age. Mothers will never tell you about how much your child has cried for your presence or has longed to know you. We keep these things a secret, most of the time, because it hurts to see them hurt and we try to be strong for them. But it is a reality.

My Golden Pineapples Single Moms – I encourage you to “Finally be strong in the Lord and His mighty power” Ephesians 6:10

Miss B

Baby daddy drama – Why I chose to let go…

I still remember the first time I told my “baby daddy” that I was pregnant. His exact words were “I’m going to be coward… you are in this alone”. I could feel my heart sinking at that time; and I asked him if he was sure. And he said, “Yes … You are in this alone”.

When my son was born, I still sent him pictures of him with the hope that, perhaps, deep down he might find it in his heart to want to be there for him. He eventually decided he wanted to meet his child for the first time at around 6 months.

It, however, only seemed to work for a few days at a time and his passion for being a daddy just died down each time as days went by. I cannot pin-point it but he just could never stick around for his son. It would always start off all excited and lots of promises and then all of a sudden he would disappear again.

At my son’s 2nd birthday, he almost never came because he said he did not have a gift for him. I never really cared about those things, and I was always only focused on him having a relationship with his child, or rather my son having a relationship with his dad.

THERE ARE 5 REASONS WHY I CHOSE TO LET GO…

1 Mommy, Daddy, Baby in one home

I was on vacation with my son, down at the coast about a year ago. Firstly we booked an air bnb apartment and it was really lovely there. When we moved into the apartment, we were welcomed by the owner who was a really friendly man. My son, immediately adored this man and he was so excited because he thought that we were finally moving into our home with his “daddy”. I quickly had to explain to him that that is not the case. For me, that moment, though, revealed that he did not even know his dad. He could not put a face to him and he saw or hoped that any nice man could be his dad. This was saddening for the both of us.

2 Mommy, Where’s my daddy?

On the 3rd day of our vacation, my son was watching a movie. This movie had the typical mommy, daddy, baby story line, and at the end of the movie he burst out into tears and when I asked him why he was crying he said “Mommy, where’s my daddy?”. He was only 4 years old at the time and I could not help but wonder why these questions are coming so soon. Again, this was saddening for the both of us.

3 Uncle Daddy

I tried to rekindle the relationship between him and his dad purely for guilt reasons. And I was stunned at how my son did not even know him. He would call him “uncle” the whole time and he had to be reminded that. “No, that’s daddy”. As funny as it was at the time, it actually in reality wasn’t. It was heartbreaking. The confusion it caused and this was purely because of the inconsistency of his father’s presence in his life. I had to ask myself at that moment if that is the kind of relationship I want for my son and his dad. My son seemed happier when he was not around than when he was around as he did not quiet understand why daddy always had to go. I thought this relationship was doing more damage to him than any good. And believe me this was the last time we saw him.

4 “No daddy don’t go”

My son always had a difficult time when his dad had to leave at the end of a “play date”. For a while I wondered if it was because he genuinely did not want him to go because they were having a lot of fun, or if he was scared that he would never see him again. I still remember how he would hold onto his hand, and not want him to leave every single time. I had to think about this, and came to the conclusion that until my son could explain to me why he was doing that, then I do not think it’s a good idea to subject him to that. Again, this was saddening for the both of us.

5 The Eternal Father approach- a better one…

Of course, in my reflections, I also had to ask myself if that is the kind of daddy I wanted to model for my son? Letting go of him, allowed me to tackle his daddy longing issues in a different light. I felt it was a better approach to teach him about the Eternal Father who would never leave and never forsake him. The one true God who lives in his heart and who he would be reconciled to one day in heaven. And, my word, how he looks forward to that day is just amazing. Having his inconsistent father around caused a lot of headache, confusion and pain in his short life and it did not leave room for us to focus on the things that really mattered. The one true Eternal Father.

In conclusion…

Mothers, it is our responsibility to protect our children. It is our responsibility to look after their well – being, emotionally, physically and most importantly spiritually. We need to allow God to work in our and their lives and stop taking matters into our own hand. It goes without saying, also, that we need to be careful how we explain what is happening with their father, so that we do not say things that will harm them or cause any emotional scars. And believe me, these scars can last a lifetime.

We need to hand it over to God and allow him to make a difference in our lives and our children’s lives. I don’t think that there is anything that can compare to the love of God which is “greater far than tongue of pen can ever tell”. The love of God which surpasses all understanding.

“And to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” Ephesians 3:19 – Nothing greater than to teach our children about this love. Let us allow Him to guide us and give us wisdom as we tackle these issues.

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding ,will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:7

Miss B