Petty DM manenoz


It seems house helps bring out the petty in me. After toughing it out for more than a month with no DM (domestic manager) I finally hired one only to sack her after 17 days. Then I hired another who is testing the work of the Holy Spirit in me.

I fired the first DM primarily because she was not forth right and secondly because she was grumpy. Petty, huh!

Let me start with forthrightness. My house is not an office. You have access to me and my children and my husband during our down time. You get to overhear private family conversations, see us vulnerable. You might even get into my bedroom and bathroom. You most likely have access to my handbag. So, no, standard rules of hiring and employment don’t apply.

I need to know everything I need to know about my DM to feel comfortable enough to leave her in my house and with my children and with my keys. She can’t be vague about her mother or who’s watching her children while she’s working or about her about her ex-husband. She can’t lie to me about how far her home is in hopes of minting extra bucks for fare. She can’t lie to me about small stuff in my house – like if my children ate supper or not or the details of a household accident no matter how miffed I’m likely to get.

Miss Grumpy. In her 17 days, I never heard her laugh despite hanging out with kids. She also had this look whenever I asked her to do something or called her a little too often for her liking, I guess. Yet she came to work in my house on her own free volition. May be circumstances were forcing her to do household work but that’s neither here nor there. May be she was running away from someone or something and my house was her safe house. If I had those details I might have been more accommodating. But I couldn’t have a DM who looks as if she’s under house arrest. A DM is a key atmosphere setter in the house; she can’t alter the mood in my house for the worse. If she can’t play, laugh and sing with my children, she is in the wrong job and wrong house. If working for me makes her so miserable, then I don’t want her working for me. It’s not a punishment.

My current pet peeves – taking three minutes when I call, wearing my or my husband’s slippers, leaving oil and food marks on utensils, leaving work undone to go chat up a neighbour’s DM or a young man in the estate, not turning clothes when hanging them and vice versa when folding them  and ignoring my directions/not following instructions/not doing what she’s been asked to do. Initiative only counts after you have finished doing well what I expect you to do.

However because I am a grown up who’s been doing these DM manenoz long enough, because I am human with my own weaknesses, because I have discovered I can’t have a life without a DM at least for the next three years because I hate washing dishes after dinner and mopping floors, I can live with these little annoyances as long as I see a DM has a good attitude towards her work, me, my husband and my children and that she listens to correction and tries to learn and grow. At the end of the day a DM with great attitude trumps all. But then again, you never know how long my patience will last.


#SocialStigmaAlert: Breastfeeding past age 2


Everyone seems to be wondering why I am breastfeeding past age two. I sometimes wonder the same, considering the acrobatics of getting kicked hard in the mouth by a feeding toddler, how many times she has embarrassed me when she gets bored in public gatherings with cries of “Mum nyonyo; mum the other one,”, how voracious her feeding can be even when she has sucked me dry and how poor she is at eating food.

The other day at the paediatrician’s office, Little Missy was crying for nyonyo and the doctor wondered aloud, “Is she getting any nutrition from that?” People keep asking me with a look of shock,” You are still breastfeeding! How old is she?”

Even her daddy, if he could have his way, the girl would have kissed the boob good bye the night before she turned two.

But I am not quite there yet when it comes to weaning. For starters, she is super attached to nyonyo. I feel like a mean parent taking away something she really loves if it has no negative consequences just because people don’t approve. You should see the look on her face when she tells me, “Mami ni tamu!”

Secondly breastfeeding has always been a quick solver of toddler problems, from sleepiness, to tantrums, pain, to hurt feelings and hunger. I’m afraid of losing my soother and bribery tool.

Third I enjoy breastfeeding. Except for those times when she is crying unstoppably for it in church or kicking my shin out in enjoyment, I love that I can feed my child and comfort her in a way that only I can. This has always been one of my little pleasures, mummy-child time, especially after I have been away from home all day long.

Fourth, my daughter initialised all her milestones, from eating to crawling, walking, talking, potty training … I am starting to wonder if we could experiment with self weaning. Is there a likelihood she will be in Class Three and still craving nyonyo?

Fifth, we have had times of illness, even as recently as last week, when for days she did not allow  a spoon close to her mouth, not even for water. I was grateful that the breast could provide hydration, antibodies and a little bit of nutrition to keep her looking bright despite sickness.

But two-year-olds are such aggressive breastfeeders that weaning is bound to happen sooner rather than later.

But before we get there psychologically, research does seem to indicate benefits of breastfeeding past the age of two. Lactation specialist Kelly Mom quotes research that indicates that breastfeeding continues to be a valuable source of nutrition and disease protection for as long as it continues. So yea doc, she is getting something nutritionally.

Kelly Mom also notes that breastfed toddlers aged between one and three have fewer illnesses, illnesses of shorter duration and lower mortality rates. “Breastfeeding plays an essential and sometimes underestimated role in the treatment and prevention of childhood illness. Breastfeeding has shown the greatest gains for those children breastfed the longest,” she says.

On the flip side, short of being accused of pulling a publicity stunt, researchers says late nursing increases the risk of severe early tooth decay.

Some other people claim children who are breastfed for too long tend to become self-interested and demanding because they are not used to boundaries [You should see the look on my face]. That and that moms who breastfeed for too long are  self-indulgent and possibly narcissistic, who are seeking attention and purpose through their children.

A writer on Daily Mail, UK, said: “Breastfeeding a child old enough to walk over to his mother and open her shirt creates a confusing message about personal boundaries and our bodies.”

Dr Joan Meek, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says that after a year, when solid foods are introduced, breast-feeding is less important from a nutritional standpoint, but “there is no psychological harm and no reason to stop.”

Kendall-Tackett, who is co-author of the book, “Breastfeeding Made Simple,” said that worldwide, the typical age for weaning is 2.5 to 3 years, but some mothers continue past 6 or 7.

“Some kids need it longer, and it’s OK,” she said.

Jen Davis in an article for lactation support group La Leche League International says, “Non human primate data suggests that human children are designed to receive all the benefits of breast milk and breastfeeding for an absolute minimum of two and a half years, and an apparent upper limit of around seven years.”

“Many toddlers are dependent on a bottle, pacifier, thumb, or blanket, and this is quite accepted, but a mother who is nursing a toddler may have to deal with veiled or point-blank suggestions that her child is too old for it,” she adds.

In 2008 the American Academy of Family Physicians said this in their position paper:

It has been estimated that a natural weaning age for humans is between two and seven years. Family physicians should be knowledgeable regarding the ongoing benefits to the child of extended breastfeeding, including continued immune protection, better social adjustment and having a sustainable food source in times of emergency. The longer women breastfeed, the greater the decrease in their risk of breast cancer. There is no evidence that extended breastfeeding is harmful to mother or child.

In the hopes that I might make a genius, I will continue breastfeeding just a bit longer. [Research here shows strong evidence of a causal effect of breastfeeding on IQ, although the magnitude of this effect seems to be modest.] May be we will even make it to the cover of a magazine for breastfeeding too long.



Too many people are over this coming weekend and week going to hear these life changing words: “I love you.”

I love you. How many times we rehearse those words in our heads when we are in love, waiting for the best moment to say or type them. Words we mindlessly utter on phone to the wife or husband of 15 years because we know we are expected to say them. Words we hopefully say to our children to remind them that we we would sell our souls on their behalf- well, almost. Words we forget to say enough times to the people we should say them to- our God, our spouses, our children, our parents, our friends, our brothers in faith, the weak among us, the lonely…

Every time I read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 on love, I find myself copying the verses, word for word, back into my notebook. This last week I was thinking about how Paul defined what it means to love, and compared that to how I love my children and secondly, how I love a certain difficult relative.

Love is patient, kind, not jealous, not conceited/does not boil over with anger/does not crave self interest, not proud, not ill mannered/rude, not selfish, not irritable/easily angered; it does not keep a record of wrong, it is not happy with evil but rejoices with truth. Love never gives up. It always protects, always trusts, endures all things, hopes in all things and never fails. Love is eternal.

As you tell someone, “I love you” this Valentine, check your heart against this benchmark. If you told someone I love you, if you are in a love relationship, and if you are supposed to be loving someone, check your heart against this benchmark.

My growth areas is communicating kindness, patience and no anger/irritability to my children. The list with my husband is longer: I pray that my love will be kind, will not be easily angered, will admit when I am wrong, will not crave self interest,will keep no record of wrongs no mater how many times they are repeated, will always protect, always trust, always hope… that my love will never fail my husband.

For my other relative with whom I am in a difficult relationship with, I seriously need to stop keeping a record of wrongs, to be patient and kind and to always hope.

I have recently totally forgiven and released someone who keeps hurting me, yet has never asked for my forgiveness, actually doesn’t even deserve the forgiveness. God forgave me and called me into his family when I was most undeserving. I can’t truly claim to love if I keep holding an age-long grudge.

Loving people like this without God’s help is impossible. Our hearts are selfish, catch feelings ovyo ovyo and remember wrongs done to us in nursery school. We always want to ask, “why me?” Why should I be the one being thoughtful, forgiving, initiating conversation, giving despite many broken promises, holding on even when everyone else thinks that ship is sunk?

God’s love flows through us, healing us, forgiving us, comforting us; and we can channel the love to our partners, our children, our relatives our friends. Because God’s love never runs dry, ours too can be eternal because we are being filled at the source whenever we feel like we are running low.

If you are running low on love for people God is calling you to love unconditionally, now you know where to get a refill so you can send the Valentine forwards, SMS, flowers etc and truly mean the words you say.

Getting your child school-ready: Tips from parents and teachers


A class in session at Zuwena International School. Photo: Courtesy

I spoke to a few parents and teachers about how to make the search for a school easy, how to make the transition and how to ensure the time spent in preschool is productive.

Kate Kitaka, mother of a five-year-old preschooler

“Know what you want for your child. Is it focus on developing non-academic stuff first or is it full swing academics?

Find a  school that does not shy away from religion, for example, find one that teaches children how to pray.

Then start hunting for a school as early as second term. This helps you do a thorough background check on the school and teachers.

Visiting the school is a must. Check for child-friendly facilities like toilets, the teacher-pupil ratio, the desks they use etc.

Find out exactly what the school fees covers as some schools have hidden costs that can see your budget stretched beyond what you had anticipated.

Consider the time it takes to get to school. School transport can take children for rounds before they get to school.

Then start talking to your child about school early, buy school stuff like cute numbers, alphabet charts etc and start singing about them at home.

To help your child adjust to the school environment, potty train early and let them learn to feed themselves.

Ask about school daily — ask about the teacher, friends, songs learnt etc. That’s when they narrate the good and the ugly. Ask even about little scratches and falls they had. Then let the baby teach you the songs they sing and sing along and follow the ‘dance moves’… that part is hilarious.

Finally, they should sleep early so that they don’t struggle in the morning. The first year we did 7pm. He always woke up fresh and ready to go.

Helen Ntinyari, mother of four-year-old

“For us mornings can be hectic since I leave the house pretty early, so I ensure everything is ready before retiring at night. For example, the uniforms have to be ready and placed at an easy to access place (read a chair in the sitting room).

I also realized explaining everything clearly to the househelp goes along way. Explain the tiniest of details to her, like the school schedule, snacks, clothes  etc. Having her on board has made it easier for baby and I.

I would also say understand your baby sleep needs. My daughter need nine-plus hours of sleep or mornings will be hell. So we have supper by 7.30pm and she’s off to bed by 8pm. It’s not always smooth but i have also found not getting worked up when she’s acting out helps in the end despite the fact that am afraid she’ll awake the younger one and get me late to work.

I do school transport provided by a private provider because of the personalised care. They pick her right at the house and drop her there. They make calls to make sure somebody is ready to pick her in the evening.

While scouting for a school, we wanted a place that was well-equipped in handling early childhood developmental needs, with experienced teachers, a place with a holistic approach to education and a value system that was similar to ours. We have exposed her to the Bible and the Christian faith and we wanted a school that will enhance that. We had to settle for a Catholic school because the Evangelical schools we either too expensive or their approach was skewed.

I also considered location; you do not want her to travel a million miles to school, what with the Nairobi jams. Cost too played a role.
Shop early for things like bags and shoes that are not standard. Also identify schools early (our school did interviews in July) so we had requirements early. This helps in getting stuff such as uniforms ata cheaper price.

We were to buy uniforms at School Outfitters but when I compared prices with School Uniforms (it’s on River Road), the prices were worlds apart, I ended shopping there. They do not have badges but you can order and wait for ten days. This being Kenya people will always inflate prices if it’s deemed the season for school shopping so shop off season.
When speaking to the teacher, try to gauge her on things like patience, passion for teaching children and friendliness.

Introduce school as a fun place. Taking them to organized kids groups of their age should come in handy too. We started Sunday School at 20 months so by the time she was joining school it was a lot easier because she already had similar exposure.

Also buy learning material like nursery rhymes CDs and DVDs. The songs will be a welcome familiarity when they join school.

 Esther Etende, director Zuwena International School

Every parent should visit the school and asked to be walked around. During the visit, the parent should check:

  • Is the school welcoming?
  • Is it neat, organized and clean? The toilets, especially, should be well cleaned and disinfected daily. The teachers should have their own toilets separate from the children.

Parents should ask to meet the potential class teacher for the child to assess if the staff are friendly enough to handle the children and their qualifications and experience.

Parents should check out the school menu and ensure that children are fed on a balanced diet.

The parents should understand the curriculum they want the child to follow and the school should be able to provide the yearly class goals for that child’s age.

She tells parents to request for a contact of an existing parent of the school to hear more about the school.

Before taking your child to school, talk to the child about starting school and actually visit the school together, introducing the child to the class teacher.

Have him/her meet the other children in the class and interact with them.

Buy the school items together with the child and have the child enjoy trying them out before starting school.  Ensure that all the uniform, bag, shoes and other items are well labeled.

Be positive about the school you have chosen for your child. Give your child a smile and a hug and reassure them that everything is going to be all right.

Be supportive. Get a daily update from your child about how school was, the most interesting things they did and also any challenging things experienced. Also assist your child with homework, read and sign off the school diary.

Instill a sense of confidence in your child. Celebrate your child’s successes and appreciate her for the work well done.

Be involved. Take time to learn more about the school and read the school information sent home with your child. Ask for clarity from the school where necessary. Ensure that you attend school activities scheduled during the term. This encourages the child and boosts their performance.

Finally, highlight to the school and teacher any issues that you may have and give them time to adjust. At the same time give credit for the good work done. Also suggest solutions that would make you and your child’s experience better in that school.

Twidley Ithiga, director, Jawabu School

“Do not to rush the process of selecting a good school. Consider the following pointers to guide the process:

  • Is there a good playground for the children and is there sufficient amount of time in the timetable for just play? Play is very crucial in the growth and development of every child and should therefore be incorporated in all school programs
  •   What is the teacher to child ratio? We consider 1:15 ideal in our school and especially for this tender age as they require a lot of attention.
  • What does a typical day in the school look like? If possible, request the administration to allow you spend a full day with your child in school. This can also help you as a parent to know how best to supplement the classwork at home. Beware of a school that is hesitant to let you do this.
  •  What kind of hands-on manipulatives are used in the classroom and how exactly are basic concepts like sounds and numbers taught? Please take note of drilling at this point. Such manipulatives really help in reaching out to the different kinds of learners in the classroom as well help the little ones grasp concepts faster.
  • Ensure that literature is part of the curriculum. Books open up children’s minds to the wider world and how best to respond to situations. Without books, children might end up being narrow-minded. Also, getting them to love reading at this tender age prepares them for the higher classes.
A music class at Jawabu School. Photo: courtesy

Once you’ve settled on your ideal school:

  • Request the teacher or administration to send you monthly updates, if possible, of the content that the children will be covering in the classroom. That way, you are abreast of what is going on and it’s thus easier to take note of any progress made.
  • Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer. When on leave or if you have a flexible schedule, please volunteer one or two days in your child’s school to perhaps read a story to the children or even teach an art class. Your child will treasure such moments and your child’s teacher will appreciate your help.
  • Always have the teacher’s contacts with you and check on her every so often as well as find out from her what more you can do with your child from home.
  • Ask as many questions as possible and politely share any concerns you might have. Remember that schools work as partners with parents and working from the same side, rather than against each other, will help your child in the long run. As an educator, I get concerned when a parent inquires for a vacancy for their child but does not have the time to hear more about the philosophies that guide us, more details about the curriculum we use and what a typical day in school looks like.
  • Attend school meetings and events as this also gives you a better glimpse of child’s progress and builds a richer relationship with the school. You can request the school to give you the school calendar and your child’s class timetable to enable you plan better.

This article was first published on Mums Village.

5 factors to consider when choosing a kindergarten


Finding a kindergarten for most parents is a stressful affair. Why? Because we have expectation and needs we want met and most times getting a school that has the perfect mix and match can be impossible. Often parents will find that they have to choose what matters most to them, then compromise on lesser matters to choose a school that offers the closest to their ideal.

People consider different things while choosing a school. You may not believe it but there is a school I checked off my list because it didn’t feel right. Everything looked alright on paper, the budget was ok, it was a walking distance form our home, but I couldn’t picture my son in a class there. I went for a repeat visit and again it didn’t feel like home. My husband just shook his head when I told him that the school felt off.

In another school I showed up at the gate and it’s the kids who were playing outside who opened for me. No watchman was in sight. I almost turned back.

Kindergarten is your child’s first introduction to formal learning so you want it to leave a positive impact on your child and not undo all the foundations you have so carefully laid.

Consider these factors:

  1. Educational philosophy. The school should share your philosophy on education and raising children. It needs to reflect your values and embody the future you want for your child. May be you want a school that instills confidence, or independence, or one that gets your daughter to speak with a twang. May be you want one that exposes you child to kids from different backgrounds. At the end of the day, these are the things that will help you judge whether the school has been successful with your child or not.
  2. This encompasses the distance to the school from home and accessibility. You may want to limit the number of external factors during the commute for your child’s safety and the amount of time spent on the road. You also want to ensure a decent pick up and drop off time. A school that is located a walking distance to the school is great. But what if the perfect school is two highways? This is where you weigh whether the benefits outweigh the risks of a long commute, the costs, inconvenience and the fatigue involved for you and your child. The distance to the school will also influence how early the child is picked up and dropped off. We had found a great school that involved a 90-minute direct ride on the school bus and a pick-up time of 6:20am. Add the time spent dropping other kids and our son would have been on the road an average of five hours every day. He’d also have had to wake up at 5:30am. I didn’t care if they were just about to turn him to the next Einstein. No, thanks. Traffic Jams happen; accidents happen; el nino happens. You need to be able to get to your child easily. That is not possible in the case of a school that is 15km offgrid.
  1. Education, particularly in Nairobi, has become expensive. Sometimes I look at fee structures of some schools for a term and I think, “It didn’t cost me that much to go through primary school, secondary school, university and graduate school.” You will need to find a school that fits your budget and for Pete’s sake stop competing with the Joneses. So they took their kid to the top school? Run your race. I believe that with a little looking, you can find a little gem that that fits within your budget and offers what you need for your child.
  2. Your child’s needs. Not every school will work out for your child’s specific needs. May be your child is gifted, or slow in learning than the rest. Bear these in mind while shopping for a kindergarten. This way you will know what to look for in teachers or the environment.
  3. Other extras offered. Apart from formal school learning, you will want to consider other special offerings like sports, swimming, music and musical instruments.

Where to take your heart when life hurts


In the last two months, I have thrice found myself dealing with that raw heart feeling that comes with being hurt, losing something I loved or wanted or getting rejected by someone whose approval mattered to me.

The feeling is almost as if someone crushed my chest and left me with a gaping wound that leaves me feeling breathless, tearless, restless; the kind of feeling that makes you want to go for a run up Ngong Hills or for a fast drive towards Namanga, then you remember your life sucks too much at the moment for such strain or pleasure.

In the past when hurt I would lash out at those who hurt me, especially with icy words that in my mind helped me gain back ground. However, in the big picture, this lost me relationships and got me labeled as mean girl. I hated being that vengeful vicious mean-spirited person. Then I begun building these high walls that I felt kept me safe from further pain. I shut myself in. You can’t hurt someone who doesn’t care. And I tell you I can stop caring. I can build a wall so high it becomes impossible to bring it down even when I need to. But again these high walls kept me lonely and unapproachable and aloof and kept people out. People know I was keeping them out and moved on to more meaningful friendships/ relationships. I hated being that person, again.

So how do I deal with hurts and disappointments and rejection while still remaining peaceful and real? I lay them bare at the feet of Christ. I process those feelings as raw and childish as they are and explain them to my saviour. I tell him how I am feeling, why I am hurt or disappointed or angry that things happened the way they did and what I would really have wished for.

Sometimes the Holy Spirit helps me see the vanity, lack of trust, lack of forgiveness or pride in my heart. Most times though I just trade in my pain for God’s peace. I let him take over the burden of dealing with those who hurt me or disappointed me and I walk away from that tearful prayer time with my heart ok. My circumstances have not changed, rejection is still as real as it was 15 minutes earlier, but my heart is fine. As God’s sweet waves of love sweep over my soul, I am reminded that I am loved, that I matter, that God’s plans for me are to bring me a hope and a future, that God is working all things for my good, that God is perfect in all his ways, that his love for me is so wide I could never ever fathom it.

You can choose peace instead of bitterness, depression and dejection when life hurts. God graciously exchanges our sorrow for his joy, our pain for his grace and peace and insufficiency  for trust when we, in surrender, lay all things at His feet. He daily bears our burdens.

What I learnt during my holiday at home with the kids


Happy New Year. I was hoping this January would start a bit differently on the domestic front now that my house help left some of he clothes behind. but yeah, like they all do every January, alienda akiendaga, going mteja on me on the day she was supposed to return back to work.

So my hands have been quite full with dinners to cook and laundry to fold and dirty dishes competing for space in my sink that making a post` here has been pushed to the back burner.

Mercy is our first guest blogger and she tells us about priceless moments bonding with her children over the holidays when Nairobi packed its bags and went to shags.

Karibu Mercy.

#Guest Post

I believe I had a transformation these last holidays when I got time to spend 24 hours with my two sons, for 12 days. This is how: Work closed on December 23 and many people had all these amazing plans about places to visit and all. It was Christmas; what would you expect anyway. Kenyans love to go to the village, spend time with rural folk and ‘eat’ Christmas the real Kenyan way. Well, we, that is my little household, has never had that chance. I don’t exactly know why and I do not want to give any explanations, but we are doing badly in that segment as a family. Back to my story.
So there I was, when I released the house help on December 20. I did all my house chores, even for the next day. Then on December 22, I requested hard that my husband would sit with the boys while I cleared up work for the holidays.
He agreed. The boys were super happy. They hardly get such chances with their dad. He cooked for them and fed them. By the time I was back, they did not need me. They had dad. Too bad the experience would only last the day. Dad had loads of meetings every day for the next month, even through Christmas, all of them out of the city and far away from his little boys who would have hoped that they could learn to ride a bike from him. So back to me, and my little energy bunnies.
We would have to be together; cook, clean, eat, shower. Sleep, wake up, watch tv, nap. Everything. The place would become more quiet as Christmas stayed, and went quietly away. Every other house was empty.
We were atop the buildings, perched away in our little hub, all by ourselves. All silent outdoors, only an occasional bark from a bored dog.
Inside the hub we played music. Watched YouTube videos. Played. Prayed. Quarrelled and fought. Slept in. Woke up late. Had breakfast. Went out for a bask in the sun.
Everything we did, we enjoyed. Mom had her work all in one basket. No particular definition but yes, the boys were satisfied with her. She would clean, cook, feed and clean the boys. She would change their clothing, put them to sleep, hold their hands while walking down the stairway. Everything.
Compare that with the days I would leave the house by 7am, stay away all day and run back in at around 8.30pm all tired and sleepy? And yet the children wanted to have a chat or play or just hang around me.  For once, I felt guilty of this fast lane that is called career building. Was I too busy trying to make ends, meeting new people, just being busy, while my own children are wishing every minute to be with me? I needed to wake up.
For days on end during the holidays, I envied those who stay at home and watch their children. I envied households where spouses can be supportive enough to give their wives time off and the assurance that they will run the bills and go out hunting while mom stays home and watches these dear little ones.
See, I wanted to be there to tell the teacher that my son wants to recite and act more. But I was in a hurry in the morning because I had to be at work by 8 o’clock. I wished I could stay around the house and see the 20-month-old jump off the sofa seats as he screams Zuka Zama in glee. Yet the reality was I would come home when he just had no more energy for it.
Why should I be the one trying to catch their attention when they are snoring in the evening? This is not right. I wanted to be there to wash the school goer out of the dust and dirt that he gathered in school all day. I told myself I have to check his homework and sign the diary every night, not wait for teachers to wonder if there is a parent or just a sponsor in that home. Me. Their mother. I must step up to my role and be a more involved parent in 2017. 
But I needed a firm back to lean upon. The back that reminds me we are going to be warmly tucked in, clothed and our tummies well fed. I needed the assurance that… sigh… we are a team and doing this together. If only.
At times you want to tell off these hectic ambitious lifestyles that men and women live today. Running for elusive gains. Trying to catch the sun. Wanting to live forever young and rich and famous.
Are we too busy for our own lives? What happens the day we wake up and find ourselves with no pattering feet running down the hallway to our well-acquired mansions? No sound of cluttering plates and spoons. No crying little ones with wet noses to wipe. Huh. That day is coming. It will be here in the twinkling of an eye. Will you smile when that day comes? Or will you silently weep in regret of a long gone past?

Secrets to marital happiness



In November last year I attended a marriage seminar at The international Christian Centre by an American couple whose names I forget. They turned theirs from a hateful marriage filled with violence and despair to a happy one. May you also, with the help of God, can.

Today I went through my notes and would like to share some of the secrets to marital paradise.

  1. Triumphant realism.Leave the fantasy behind. Embrace realism depending on whom you married. You are all flawed people. This will not be easy but God can make you mutually happy and whole for life. Apologise first. Start talking first after an argument. Initiate sex first. Show your love by what you do. How are you making your spouse’s life easier? Find what your man/woman likes and do it happily. Be gentle in the way you speak. Are you sarcastic, critical, abusive?

2. A redemptive spirit.  Damaged people carry a heavy burden of pain, anger, hurt and despair. Usher each other into the presence of God. Submit to God first, individually. You are no good to nobody if you are not whole. Return to your first love with Jesus Christ. Troubled marriages need spiritual renewal to get rid of hardness of heart and unforgiveness. The Holy Spirit in you will help you know how to minister to your husband.

Don’t give up on your self or your partner as God doesn’t give up on you. Then go to your spouse and reconcile the conflicts that divide you. Forgive him for his failures and wrong choices. That will probably move you out of your comfort zone. Next begin to provoke your spouse to love by deliberate godly actions. Love stirs up a reaction.

What have you done that has offended your spouse? What have you neglected to do that you’ve been asked many times to remember? Are you loving your spouse the same way you have been loved by God?

3. A passion that lasts. A passionate marriage is the result of investment, not chemistry. How and where you spend your time shows where your passion lies. You reap what you sow, where you sow, and more than you sow. Sow into your marriage. Show diligence in your marriage. Every forgotten action is an act of laziness. When is the last time you had a date together? Do you recognise your mate’s achievements? Have you neglected to pray together? If you show attention, the fire will never go out.

Deliberate actions can also cause the fire to go out in a marriage. These include:

  • Verbal abuse
  • Criticising or mocking when you talk.
  • Physical abuse
  • Refusing to have sex to punish
  • Acting harshly or rudely
  • Flirting with someone else
  • Vows broken by adultery

Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger. James 1:19

4. Be best friends. A friend loves at all times.  Be his/her enthusiastic and vocal supporter. Be a cheer leader for your husband. Be his friend and his lover, not his mother. Love him for who he is and where he is at, rather than his potential.

5. Ultimate sexual fulfillment. Honour each others needs and desires. The goal is mutual satisfaction. Sex for a man is a legitimate physical need like food or rest. Well, and frequent sex has been linked to less aggressive prostrate cancer. Your husband’s sex drive is God’s gift to you. It was intended for you. A virtuous woman can use the power of sex to call men to virtue and morality. A feeling of guilt is an indication that something’s wrong in your marriage.

6. The serpent expelled. Satan wants to destroy the family unit. Fight to save the marriage and win.

7. Prayer, partnership and purpose. These will bring you to your secret paradise. Stop expecting your husband to think like a woman. Our husband’s differences are intended for our growth. Make your home his safe place. Investigate what he thinks, feels, hopes, fears.Believe in him and intercede to the Lord on his behalf.Take your husband’s dream and birth it out in prayer.

Focus on your growth in the Lord, not his. Minister to him. Don’t take over; continue to refer to him about how he wants things done. The key to unlocking the potential in a man is to treat him with respect long before he deserves it.

Make your husband to enjoy being home with the family. Make your home a place of laughter and peace. Your diner table is your ministry ground. Use that time to know what your husband and kids are thinking.

Be in the word of God as if your life depended on it. And trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he shall direct your paths.

How to handle indiscipline and tantrums like a ninja mum


I often joke that my children were created to teach me patience and anger management. I never knew tiny people could press on all my buttons and leave me raging and out of control. Oh, and I do not like being out of control. Needless to say, one of my biggest parenting challenges has been handling the episodes that drive my emotions towards that curve of no return: anger tantrums, disobedience and indiscipline. My kids are four years and 20 months. My son is a strong-willed boy who never forgets a promise made and has an amazing ability to block out my voice from 10 inches away. My daughter is a fighter, holding and demanding her own quite well with fists and kicks despite her pint size. Oh and she doesn’t relent. It’s her way or her way. And the two can fight like two bull dogs over nothing really.

Through all the chaos my goal is to be a peaceful mom. I am reminded that peace is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. As is patience, joy, kindness, goodness and self control. I do not have to blow my top. I do not have to lose my joy. I can be kind despite the fact that my children are being mean to each other and to me. I can be good despite the temptation to withhold my love or hugs as punishment.

Slowly I’m becoming a ninja mum. But it has ben a journey. Of personal growth for me, of modelling right behaviour and reigning my emotions and forgiving and training in what I’d want to see. I am also learning my kids and what works and doesn’t. So here are some things you can try to  help navigate the highly emotional training moments. *Learning is the operative word because most times I am raging and threatening and yelling and probably damaging my kids emotionally.


Often, bad behavior is my son’s desperate attempt to make us pay attention to him. He knows running over his sister with a toy truck or snatching her trike will get someone’s attention. He knows that his little whiny voice that can make the same request 45 times in 60 seconds gets to me. So when I realise he’s about to burst into tears for no “apparent” reason, I put down my phone, get the nanny to pick the younger sister from my lap, and we sit and cuddle. We talk if he wants to but most times he doesn’t want; he just wants to be held. After a few minutes (as long as the sister doesn’t run back to me demanding to be held also), he slides off my lap and goes on to do whatever he was doing before. When you find your child acting out, look at your relationship lately. Have you been too busy, too preoccupied? Is your child feeling ignored, unloved? Connect. Hug. Switch off the movie. Put the phone down. Take your child out or help them ride their bike or colour a picture. Spend time.

Meet needs.

Hunger, thirst, fatigue, over stimulation and sickness are major causes of foul moods and anger outbursts. So anticipate these needs and preempt them. We carry a banana or crisps to the playground. I make sure the children are fed and have napped before going to the supermarket. When emotions get high, my first recourse is to cuddle and if things don’t get better soon, we look for food.

Deflect /distract/ prevent.

I marvel at how quickly you can get your child from whining for a toy by distracting with a funny sto that ends with lots of tickles. A child can choose a lollypop over a toy car. Yeah, Sh650 saved. Trade the iPhone she is crying for for an imaginary one. Know the things that instantly capture your child’s imagination. On the brink of a meltdown, you will find me making up a story about monkeys in the nearby tree or how I just saw Kayan of Disney’s Lion Guard laughing in the flower bush. At the supermarket I evade the sweet and toy aisle when I have no plans of buying. I lie that there is no power hence no TV time until homework is done. I send them to the bedroom to search for a ball while I sneak out of the door without accompanying tantrums. A mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do.


Everything is negotiable with kids; you just have to know your kids. I used to tell my son that if he wants to watch TV he has to play outside for one hour. If he doesn’t cry in the mall, he will get Kinder Joy. If he is nice to his sister he can accompany me to wherever. I know he will do anything for an hour on YouTube or a chance to go to the mall with me. So I dangle that carrot. (I know the line is thin with bribery, hey, don’t judge). Also, discuss treats/gifts and rewards way beforehand. Let the child choose the gifts/treats they want. That way your child knows that on his birthday he’s getting a bike, a Ninja Turtle cake and lots of chocolate sweets. Allow this to sink in so there is no space for unmet expectations. Ask the child what he/she wants as a treat on a day out and arrive at a mutually agreeable item. And stick to your pledge. If you said you were buying a milkshake buy one. If she cries for chocolate as well remind her you had a deal and everyone needs to stick to it. Give ample warnings before introducing changes. So tell them you are leaving their friend’s house in ten minutes, then after five then two. Warn them that you will switch off the TV shortly or take away the tablet.

Cool off.

When pressed to the wall, go hide. Leave the screaming preschooler and the spilled rice on the floor and walk to the bedroom or toilet or garden ALONE for a good 15 minutes or until you are no longer in murderous rage and the spilled rice stops feeling like a life and death situation. That mistake may no longer look so bad once you are no longer in the heat of the moment. You may even be able to view it from their lens. If you can’t physically walk off, go to your inner quiet place and daydream about Diani or ice cream. Pray. For peace and perspective and wisdom and that your blood pressure will come down and that these kids won’t be the end of you. Of course at this point everyone around you will judge your parenting skills but who cares. They don’t sleep in your bed and you know you are barely holding on. When you are at your wits end and you are about to lose your own temper, yell, curse or hit someone, breathe. Deeply. Five times. You are the grown up here. A broken TV screen  isn’t the end of the world. Once you are calm you can teach your child how to do the same.


See their world from the eyes.Or at least understand that you do not see their world from where you stand. Sipping his milk to check if it’s ok without his permission is a big deal. Opening the sweet wrapper for her before she is ready is earth shattering. You don’t have to understand it. Ask for permission.


Give in.

A mom’s gotta choose her battles wisely. So she wants more soda or won’t bite any of her veggies or meat. So this is the third cheap toy you are buying in a month out of pressure. So they don’t want to sleep at their bedtime or in their bed and you are tired of fighting with them. Think of how life would be if you never had them or something happened to either of you and the little annoyances get a whole new perspective. Embrace the early years. Embrace their drive and spirit. You were like that too. Don’t get too uptight that lessons aren’t sticking and your children will be malnourished, and you are turning into your crazy mother and your children will be the recluse of society. They won’t.

Put your foot down.

I was told to never force a toddler to eat. I tried it for a year until my daughter became badly  constipated because she won’t drink water or juice or yoghurt or fruits or vegetables. She just loves chicken, ugali and cake. She had to gobble down the spinach whether she liked it or not. We were no longer negotiating on drinking water.  We have to remove her poopy diaper even if she throws the mother of all tantrums.

Don’t be afraid of tears.

Kids easily manipulate and wear down your resolve, especially if you are in public – like church or a restaurant. I have learnt to eat my dinner amidst screams or to walk on unfazed by the teary preschooler who doesn’t want to go to school. My son has learnt my no is a no, whether he cries blood or rolls on the floor in fits. I got tired of being manipulated.

Catch the teaching moments.

Every moment is a moment to train your child into the person you’d want them to be. There’s no better time to teach about sharing as when your child is being selfish with his toys or chocolate. I ask my son what he would feel if he’s the one who wanted to play with the toy and someone wouldn’t share it. Once my son comes crashing on the floor from the sofa where he’s been bouncing despite my warnings, I use the pain in his arm to explain that he could get hurt or hurt others.


According to your child’s age and disposition. Spanking gets to my daughter. It doesn’t quite have the same effect to my son. For him I am currently trying denying privileges.  He  is currently not allowed to watch any TV for a month because he broke the TV screen. He gets it. He may not be happy about it but understands that he lost the right to demand for cartoon time after hitting the TV with a bicycle pump, intentionally.  This is working way better than any spanking I would have ever done. He also does not get to play with my tablet indefinitely because he forgets to go to the toilet when on the tablet.

Use your normal voice.

Yelling will drive you crazy and you will find you have to increase the decibels as resistance to your voice builds. Instead go stand or kneel before your child, call out their name in a normal voice and stop until they look at you, then pass whatever message you needed to pass.


Well, that really doesn’t work for us but you can try. Threaten to never buy them another toy if they smash theirs down, threaten to abandon them at the mall if they dare raise their voice, threaten to never go anywhere with them if they misbehave… you get the drift.


Grow along. Enjoy the teaching and growth moments for both of you. Ultimately, my children are helping me become more patient, prayerful, mature, healthy, loving… And I think that is a big point. May be it’s the whole point.


11 questions to ask when looking for a kindergarten


So you have made the visit to your child’s prospective school. Here are the questions to ask the head teacher to enable you judge whether that is the place that your child will call their academic home for the next 3 or so years.

1. What’s a normal school day like?

You want to find out what the children learn, how structured or unstructured their day is, meal times, nap times and any other extras that your child could benefit from. One school told me they start every day with singing and prayer. Another had a different “social citizen” agenda each day – on  Monday the kids talked about the environment, on Tuesday they covered science, Wednesday was about the various foods we eat and so on.

This information will help you know if the school exposes your child to just more than learning the sounds and numbers, whether it offers regular breaks and provides meals on time and how varied your child’s day is.

Also find out if teachers follow a strict curriculum or if is there an emphasis on lesson plans tailored to the progress of each child. What happens if your child is gifted or a little behind?

2. What are the school rules?

You are looking for rules and regulations that are simple, clear and logical and that tie with those that you have set at home to avoid clashes and future troubles. We all remember the case of a school that did not allow dreadlocks on boys in primary school and the fiasco that was. I recently saw a parent complain on social media because the kid was asked to repeat a class for not meeting the half way mark. Know the rules early on and choose whether you can live by them.

On the same note, what happens when the rules are not followed? What are the penalties?

3. What does the school fees cover?

Does it include meals? Is school transport paid for aside? Are extras such as swimming, ballet lessons and school trips covered? I assumed my son’s school fees was all inclusive only to find out school trips and music classes are paid for as extras.

4. What’s the school menu or do kids bring their own lunch?

You want to find out if meals are balanced, creative and adequate, and this can also help you plan your own dinner menu at home to avoid duplication. I know a mother who never cooks rice at home because that’s what the kids eat every day at school. Also, can you bring food or snacks to school? This might seem silly but there will be instances when your child hasn’t had his breakfast and you wish you could pack it.

5. How do you handle medical emergencies?

What happens if a child is unwell? Do they give emergency help or do they have to call the parent? Can they give painkillers for fever? Can they take the child to hospital before the parent arrives? Do they bring the child home?

6. What’s the policy on school uniform?

Can a child attend school in home clothes? What’s the average cost of uniform and where do you get it? By the way, school uniform shopping can cost a big chunk especially if you are restricted to one shop that has fixed (and high) prices.

7. What’s the school’s discipline policy?

How does the school handle specific incidents like bullying, prejudice etc? What does the school consider indiscipline?

8. What’s the classroom size?

How many teachers are there in a class? Small classes provide more individualised attention than classes with a high student-teacher ratio.

9. What extra curricular activities are available and what’s their cost?

Schools offer different programmes like skating, ballet, piano, tae kwon-do, horse riding and crafts. There are however schools that offer basic activities like field sports and that’s it. If you think your child could be the next Jason Dunford, you might need to get a little creative.

10. What’s your role as a parent?

Apart from paying fees and getting your child ready for school every day, some schools may place certain demands on you  like taking part in school activities or volunteering in certain areas. On the other hand you may want to be more active in your child’s academic pursuits but the school does not provide any arena for involvement.

11. Where do children who graduate from the kindergarten go?

I know a school whose curriculum did not allow my child to rejoin 8-4-4 syllabus without much hiccups because for the first three years, they focused on play and behavior rather than academic stuff. He would have been that kid in Class One who does not know to write ABCD. You may also find that the kindergarten has a special relationship with a primary school that takes their kids in Class One.

This article was originally published by Mums Village.