How I am hacking working from home with the kids

Wednesday, April 8th, 2020 00:00 |
MAIN: Yvonne Ndungwa with her husband, David Karianjahi and their children Zarya and Ziah. ABOVE: Yvonne and Zarya working on their gardening project. Photo/COURTESY

While staying home to combat the spread of Covid-19 may sound like a priviledge for many mothers, in reality coping with the increased demands of trying to entertain and educate their children while also holding down jobs, can be daunting.

It has been three weeks since Yvonne Ndungwa, a mother of two, seven-year-old and two-year-old daughters started working from home. And she describes the experience as far from a walk in the park. 

“You were used to working in an office environment and suddenly, you face the reality of a new workspace.

Although once in a while I needed to carry work home before, it did not prepare me for a full time office at home,” says the administrative assistant at Management Systems International, an implementing partner that works with USAID.

She describes adjusting to working from home with children as a bitter-sweet experience, but things have beeen getting better with time.

“In the beginning, it was tough, but now it is a whole new normal that I am now getting used to,” she says.

Her children think it is a long holiday. “The challenges set in when you have to balance different roles in the house.

I juggle between being a wife, mother and a teacher. And last week, I had to step in and be a nurse to my son who was unwell,” narrates the 35-year-old.

Worked out a plan

Yvonne, however, counts herself lucky to have an understanding employer who gave them flexible working hours.

Yvonne and Zarya working on their gardening project. Photo/COURTESY

“My boss gave us an option to choose the timings when we will be more productive at home so that our output does not get affected,” she smiles.

She has worked out a plan to help her and essentially everybody work out their time at home. As for her, she prefers to work early in the morning and late afternoon. 

What’s funny though, she says her children don’t seem to demand for their father’s attention as they do hers.

“They don’t keep knocking at his door when he is doing his online meetings, but with me it’s mum…mum every two minutes,” she chuckles. 

As for the children’s school work, Yvonne came up with a timetable for her foster daughter Maggie, who is in Form Two and her first born daughter, Zarya who is in Grade Two.

In the morning, she attends work meetings via a cloud-based video conferencing service, Zoom, which you can use to virtually meet with others, when her children are still in bed.

When the children wake up, they study and then play and learn new things in the afternoon.

She admits that she misses her colleagues and her warm and friendly boss. “We have a close-knit office and we have a guy who brings us our snacks for tea. The small things,” she sighs.

“We also have webinar meetings on topics like coping with isolation and managing anxiety as well as teleworking with children at home.

At times, we have virtual tea and lunch dates and during such sessions, we are allowed to have our children run around as the dates are going on, which is pretty cool,” she smiles.  

Getting creative

Currently the family has a gardening project and is working on an Easter plan. “My daughter learnt several new skills.

This Friday I will be teaching her how to stitch so that she can be stitching her100 dolls by herself,” she laughs. 

They do a lot of creative arts together, “We tried playing board games once, but my son would walk all over the board and ruin it all, most importantly, this period has made our family stronger,” she says.

On Saturday they will be having outdoor games dubbed Karianjahithon and everyone is looking forward to this.

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