Parenting during Covid-19 has made me strong and resilient
PAULINE KINJAH was running a catering business until coronavirus struck, forcing her to close down. The agony of staying at home with no income waiting for the pandemic to end drove her to think of an alternative means to fend for her family. She shares her story of balancing motherhood and keeping her business up and running.
In the wake of Covid-19 pandemic, Pauline Kinjah’s line of business was one of the most hit and she had to close shop.
She had been running a successful catering company (Pau delicacies and caterers) since June 2016 until coronavirus struck and halted her operations.
As she stayed home, she pondered on the next move that would enable her fend for her family.
“I had saved around Sh100, 000. With Sh70,000, I went to Nakuru and bought 20 bags of potatoes, 200 kilogrammess of green peas, cabbages and carrots.
Then I went to Wangige and Marikiti markets and spent another Sh30, 000 on tomatoes, sukuma wiki and other vegetables,” Kinjah recalls.
She then went online and created a Facebook page Palde Farm Fresh and started by taking orders from her catering business clients. She further converted the boot of her car into a shop.
“I started selling groceries from my car outside Southlands estate in Lang’ata, Nairobi.
It wasn’t easy at first because of the many competitors not giving me room and some kept asking me to move away and not to pack my car near their business premises,” says Kinjah.
“With a family to feed, I never gave up. I kept pushing and luckily, I found a vacant shop where I could sell my wares from.
Since then, I have been able to meet all the basic needs of my family,” says the 40-year-old.
Her current line of business has enabled her to have some more time to spend with her family.
“I have to ensure that my supplies are fresh daily. This means I have to go out to the market and sometimes out of the city to source for them.
When it comes to deliveries, I do delegate hence I don’t have to necessarily be out and during this time, I rush home and check on my children, take time to encourage them even during this difficult time when they are not in school,” explains Kinjah.
Helping children understand
The mother of four boys aged 20, 17, six and three, has strived to remain calm and proactive so that her children do not panic. Since raising boys can be handful, she takes one day at a time and offers guidance y since she is dealing with both teenagers and toddlers.
She offers: “I hold conversations with my children, even the young one, enlightening them on the coronavirus disease and the important role they must play in keeping themselves safe.
I have explained to them some of the symptoms of the disease, and that they do not need to feel unduly frightened of this possibility.
I encourage them to let me know in case they are not feeling well or whenever they are feeling anxious or worried so that I can take the much needed action.
I empathise with the fact that my children are feeling understandably nervous and worried about Covid-19.
I constantly have to reassure and remind them that by adhering to the necessary precautionary measures and guidelines that have been put in place by the government, such as regular washing of hands, practicing social distance, then we can feel safe and have better control of our environment,” says Kinjah.
Striking a balance when one is a mother with a business to run can be challenging.
There are times her presence is needed both at home and at work, and if not properly handled, it leaves her drained.
Making every minute count
“Time is never enough when you are fully occupied. I have accepted that I actually cannot do it all, and neither can I have it all.
Rather than trying to keep all the balls in the air and avoid unrealistic expectations, I identify my priorities and allow myself to be fully present in the moment.
This gives me a chance to slow down and be more intentional with the time I spend with my family, and think about it as quality time over quantity.
By doing so, even when I am at work, I will experience less ‘mum guilt’ for being away from my family and vice versa,” she explains.
When she commutes to and from work, she takes the opportunity to release any form of stress and re-focus her energies.
“When I get home, before stepping out of my car, I take three deep breaths so that I can let go off any work-related stress and now be fully present for my family.
At the beginning of every week, I also write down my priorities and get my husband involved by creating a shared calendar.
We plug in our priorities for the week so that we are on the same page and make every minute count,” she explains.
Even as she brings up her boys, Kinjah says she always teaches her children to respect themselves, have self-discipline and lets them know they cannot have everything they want, but they can earn it by working hard and smart both at school and at home.
She terms her boys and husband as her greatest support system. “My husband always supports and encourages me in the different phases of life I go through,” she says.
For Kinjah, motherhood has taught her to be kind. “As an African mother, motherhood has made me strong and resilient.
It introduced me to my inner child and re-awakened the power of dreams in me.
It has taught me the act of selflessness since my family’s needs come before mine and I have become generous to others in need,” she says.
Her word of advice to other parents? “Being a parent calls for a lot of patience hence one has to be available for their children as much as possible. Cherish every moment with your children.
Time does fly. Follow your instincts and do what works for your family. Love your children and don’t neglect your spouse. Most importantly, be thankful to God for everything,” she says.