Since the pandemic hit Kenya, my husband and I have had to make adjustments. We cut back down on play dates for our two-year-old twins and he started working from home. As a freelancer who worked from home, I felt he was encroaching on my space and quiet time since he’d previously leave for the office, leaving me to my devices. It took time for me to adapt to seeing him around throughout the day and hearing snippets of conversations between him and his clients while I worked.
As for the kids, they initially assumed their father was available to play because he was home and often disrupted meetings by banging on the bedroom door to get his attention. But with time, they also learnt to be quiet and accommodating.
Another change we’ve made is modifying our work schedule to integrate our children. My husband works the late shifts beginning 2pm to 11pm or 4pm to 1am when the kids are less active or asleep. For my part, I am a late sleeper and work at night when my energy levels are up, which leaves me time to homeschool the twins during the day. Also, I am privileged to have a good nanny to help with the children.
So far, homeschooling has been trial and error because it’s difficult to keep the twins calm and engaged for long periods of time. We have no fixed curriculum and use online educational programs as a guide.
It’s been such a joy having the family together for long periods of time. Previously my husband’s work prevented us from spending more time with him. Now, I see him bond with the kids during the day, playing catch, football or hide and seek, before he settles in for work.
Although the pandemic has presented difficulties, I am grateful it’s made my husband and I are more involved in each other’s lives and in our children’s lives and strengthened our marriage as we’re able to confront problems together as they arise, like when my daughter inserted a bead into her nose and my husband, calmer than I at the time, managed to get it out. On the other hand, my son has learnt to express himself better with his father around.
When the pandemic first struck Kenya, I was frustrated about staying at home all day and shouldering the burden as primary caregiver of the family, while handling my professional job at the same time. I had hoped that the kids would join a play group to ease my burden, but lockdown restrictions didn’t permit large gatherings. Nevertheless, I’ve learnt that I am able to handle more than I ever imagined. I have been able to balance my work while still taking care of the whole family. I have learnt to prioritise and deal with the most important things one step at a time.