On house sitting and baby sitting

It’s that time of the year again. Silly season! Where parties are plenty and there is a plethora of travel plans.

black-sheep-clipart-sheep_black
As the unemployed black sheep of the family, I usually get asked to help out here and there with house sitting and baby sitting.

At the end of every house sitting or baby sitting session, I always swear state “I’m never doing that again!”

While it’s fun, it’s also a lot of responsibility and a lot of work. Kids are hard work. You literally spend the entire day running around and cleaning up after them, it’s like a full time job and I applaud all mothers and nannies/house helps/maids/domestic workers out there.

To avoid any awkward situations, I’ve come up with a few ground rules that parents can benefit from in making their lives and mine the babysitter’s easier.

One
Parent’s must not LIE to the baby sitter. When we ask if the kids don’t eat anything, this is an opening. Take it! Use it! This is your chance to let us know whether they are fussy eaters, what their favourite food is, what tactics we can use to get them to eat etc. This is not the time to be shy and say no, they eat everything. And letting us know they are picky eaters 2 days into the babysitting gig is NOT ON! All it causes is frustration on both mine and the child’s part. I have dealt with babies that want you to “fix” a fruit after cutting it, I’ve dealt with babies that need to be coaxed into eating by offering dessert and/or pancakes for breakfast the next morning, I’ve dealt with babies that walk all over the house and I have to follow  them around and give a spoon of food every now. But that’s ok, because I’m patient. I can spend two hours coaxing the child to eat provided I knew beforehand what I was working with!

Two
I am a babysitter. Not the house help. I will cook and feed the kids. I will bath them. Heck I will even do the dishes and clean up after the kids but I will not do their laundry. I will not do thorough cleaning. You know that spring cleaning that our Zimbabwean mums love to spring up on us! Yeah… that one. No… I won’t be doing any of that.  If you want these additional extras, we now have to talk money!

Three
Unless you are 1 of my 4 siblings, I will move in and help with the kids for a maximum of 1 week. Siblings get more time. My role is to help you while you organise yourself and organise your lives! After that, you need to have sorted yourself out.

Four
For house sitting gigs, please understand I will not be a slave to your house. Meaning I will leave the house. I will go and meet friends. I will go out. I have a life and I will live it but I will always sleep at home. And I will make sure doors are locked, windows are closed, bins are taken out and lights are switched on and off so you don’t need to worry about the general safety of your house.

Five
Please leave your house in a decent manner. I will keep the house neat and tidy meaning I’ll clean up after myself and I might even spruce the place up just before you return home but if I feel you left too much of a mess in a certain room, best believe I will not step into that room or even attempt to get things in order.

Six
If you are particular about how  a babysitter must take care of your kids during your absence, it helps if you leave a schedule with an indication of meal times, bath times, bed time routines etc. One of my sister in laws has a schedule and during the early days when I had to be home alone with my nephew, it helped to know what to feed him and when, when to schedule playtimes, when tv was allowed etc. I will try to stick to it as much as I can within reason.

Seven
Please book my services in advance. By the time  you book your flights, let me know your plans because I’ll also be making my own plans and gone are the days where I’ll be cancelling my own plans to accommodate yours.

So darling friends and family, before you ask me to take care of your place or your kids this festive season, please give the above guidelines some thought. It’s all peace and love!

DISCLAIMER: My baby sitting duties come free of charge. These duties are also only for family or really really REALLY close friends.

On every dark having a silver lining…

I saw a newspaper headline the other day that dubbed 2015 as “year of the #”. I think that headline was pretty accurate. The ability of people to hash tag events was a big game changer in social media trends this year. If I had to pick a hash tag it would be #silverlinings. I decided to look on the bright side of everything that has happened to date. So while unemployment may have been my biggest challenge, the bright side is I got to spend a lot of time with my family and share invaluable moments. I made new friends, reconnected with old friends, started going to the gym regularly and I even went on vacation with another group of friends.

http://jordan-austin.deviantart.com/art/Silver-Lining-281461718

I’m  not oblivious to the fact that it has been ages since my last blog post! Partly due to the creative juices not flowing and partly due to the way I handle things. I tend to withdraw if I feel I’m not in control and sadly my blog suffers the most. There were so many stories started but never finished and I just seemed unable to complete a full post. So much has happened since that last post. I finally got the balls to face my fears and quit a job that was draining me. It’s a remarkable feeling when one gets the courage to let go of situations that no longer bring joy. One of my greatest fears was unemployment and I faced that twice this year. I’ll share a little bit behind why I quit one of the jobs in a blog post later on. So after I left the other job, I got another one and left that one too for totally different reasons to the other one. But unemployment actually wasn’t as bad as I imagined. Granted there are certain things I’ve had to forgo because I have no constant stream of income but I am blessed with an amazing family who have supported me through everything so I cannot say I was in lack. Also the saving lessons my mother taught me from a young age came into play a lot during this year.

I had a disagreement with someone a few months ago but my unemployment status. I felt attacked and he made it sound like I was content in my current state. My response to him which at that time probably came across as very defensive also led me to have an aha moment.

I can either be depressed about unemployment and cry every single day and feel sorry for myself or I can accept that this is where I in this season and react accordingly. In those few minutes of having to justify myself I realised that how one waits during a setback is just as important as how one will react once the situation has changed.

I choose to be the best version of me – which is the best route to embrace hence my hash tag silverlining. Considering I’ve done the other route before and that just led me to be frustrated and sad and overweight, silver linings are the only option for me this time around.

Every challenge or setback also contains potential for a positive or negative outcome. By focusing on the positive, I feel more inner peace thus being able to accept that which I cannot change immediately.

on 2014 in pictures…

If I had to pick 1 word I had to use to describe 2014, I would choose laughter. And although it was a very challenging year, I think a smile was plastered on my face most of the time. When it wasn’t tears, I was smiling through it all. My mentor from university (yes Miss Andie, that’s you) taught me that happiness was a choice and while I’m still learning to choose happiness in every situation. Looking through my camera roll has made me realise that for the most part of this year, when I chose it, I was happy!

Change was also a constant them for me in 2014 and through change, I met some AMAZING souls, worked on friendships that I had let suffer and refused to succumb to fear.

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I have been blessed and I’m making a choice to take happiness along with me throughout 2015.

On types of husbands…

I came across this on Facebook. Not sure who to credit for the work so we’ll say its anonymous 😛

Types of Husbands

MR MONKEY

Mr Monkey is only married on paper but in reality he is still a bachelor. He married because of some family pressures, maybe impregnating the girl out-of-wedlock. Mr Monkey is not responsible, he doesn’t realize he is now a man and has a wife and child (ren) to look after. He still hangs around with his bachelor friends. They go out, braai, drink and are merry with young girls and his car pumps out loud music, it’s actually a mobile disco. His house is like a lodge to him, he only comes home to sleep. He sleeps out once in a while and has his friends to testify to his wife that he slept at their place after drink or when the car had broken down. He is really a nuisance to the family.

MR LION

He is very violent and is always boiling like acid and suffers from mood swings. His home is run through intimidation and dictatorship. There are strict rules and regulations for the wife and children and whoever breaks these is thoroughly beaten. His home is run like a high school. There are strict meal times and heavy padlocks at the gate. He takes pride in being in charge and behaves like a high school perfect. Half the time he is engaging in compensatory behaviour verbally and physically abusing his wife and children to compensate for his inadequacies elsewhere especially at the workplace.


MR GORILLA

This one wants to be treated like an “Igwe’’ (a King). He treats his wife and children like his subjects. He wants the wife and children to perform some traditional respect gestures. He doesn’t want to be called by his first name. The children found out his first name by mistake on a utility bill and they enjoy using this name when he is away and they are gossiping about him. When his food is served, the wife kneels and puts food in front of him and she retreats two metres and kneels again and announces that she has brought the food, as if he is not aware. He eats from plates that have lids. Only the wife knows what he is eating. The children don’t. Gorilla has a strong rural background and has a number of beasts at his rural home/farm, where he goes almost every weekend. The cattle are his friends, they are more important than the wife and children for he spends most of his free time with them than with the family. The cattle are not sold to improve his life; he delights in seeing them multiply and enjoys the numbers. He’s a very stingy man.

MR BABOON

He is very selfish, he thinks about himself first before the family. He is the best dressed in the family. His favourite word is ‘my’. Everything is HIS – my car, my house, my wife, my children, my trees, my lizards (those that hang around his house). He is a very greedy man. He is heavily involved in what happens in the kitchen, even knows how may slices are in a sliced loaf of bread and how many oranges are on his oranges tree. He doesn’t consider the emotions of the wife and the children. He is a dry man with no sense of humour and he rarely smiles and takes life too seriously.

MR FOX

He is a very cunning man. He doesn’t care much about the marriage. He is using his wife to solve his own personal and extended family problems. He knows his wife’s weaknesses and capitalizes on these to use the wife for his personal gain. When he needs the wife to do something, he is friendly and ‘loving’ and when he gets what he wants he relapses to his usual dry self. His habits are very fast and his eyes swift. He won’t look at you directly in the eye and he speaks very fast as if he is reciting a poem. It’s not clear what exactly he does for a living but he is always in town running from one corner to the other.

MR TICK

Is a very lazy husband. He lives off his wife! He is literary hanging on his wife’s skirt. He’s stuck to the wife because of her money. He is dependant on the wife as much as the children. He is very loving in his own way – fond of calling the wife all sorts of little nothings, honey, sweetheart, sweety, lovely and all but will siphon money off the wife and spends it with other women. He has no initiative and has negated his role as a bread-winner in the family.

MR PUPPY

This is a husband who is a cry baby, very childish and irresponsible. He is mummy’s boy. Behaves as if he is married to his mother. He cannot make a decision without consulting his mother (and sisters). His mother and sisters run his home and family. He is always comparing his wife to his mother and expects the wife to behave like his mother. It is rumoured behind closed doors that maybe the mother bewitched him to make him ‘loyal’ to her. His sisters are busy trying to get him girlfriends from among their friends so that they will even spend more time with him through frustrating his wife. A very useless husband.

MR PYTHON

There is the visiting husband. Mr Python, a rare species. His house is a lodge. He only comes to sleep. Leaves home when the children are still sleeping and comes back when they are in bed. He is always at work or making ‘deals’ to make money but unfortunately he has no time for his family. He does provide materially for his family but he is always absent.

MR ELEPHANT

Finally there is Mr Elephant, the man who is caring and loving and provides for his family. He will not allow anything to come between him and his family and will fight tooth and nail to protect his family. He tries his best to fend for his family but only through honest means. He spends most of his spare time with the family and guides his family spiritually as well. A very responsible man who treats his wife as a partner and cares for the welfare of his in-laws. He values the children as God-given gifts to be cherished, with no gender bias. – and I know that all husbands who read this column are Elephants.

The perfect man. IF YOU HAVE MET ONE, PLEASE TELL ME HIS NAME!

Enjoy your day guys!

on nieces and nephews

My nephew is such a boy. Granted he’s of the males species but some of his actions are quite manly for someone so young. The other day I was going out with some friends. His sister (aged 7) came and asked me why I was looking so fancy. After informing her that I was going out, she asked to help me. She patted my hair down and declared I was ready to leave. My nephew (her 4-year-old brother) on the other hand wanted to know who I was going with and what kind of car he drives. I found that episode truly hilarious and hence my opening statement. My nephew is such a little boy. He loves ALL things cars. If you ever need to get him a gift, a car will go a long way. What I love about him is that no matter how many cars he gets, he will play with each and every one of them till they are in pieces and his mum has to throw them out. At his age, it’s very easy to tell when he appreciates something or when he despises something. His face tells all. I guess also because, at his age, the art of masking his feelings is not prominent or a necessity. I saw this same look on a friend’s face just the other day. It was that 4-year-old-opening-x-mas-gifts-and-finding-a-brand-new-shiny-toy type face.

In a world with so much adversity, where people to seem to be always complaining and losing sight of their goals, it felt good to witness such pure bliss. Unmasked. Untainted. That cheesy grin stretching from ear to ear.

Its been a while since I saw such joy and it was refreshing. On another note, I recently discovered the poem If by Rudyard Kipling. It’s an amazing poem. Follow this link to read it…

Enjoy your weekend 🙂

Muroora anouya kumba*

I spent about an hour a chasing a goat.

or was the goat chasing me because I did spend a large amount of time trying to get out of its way...

 It was for my mother’s new muroora**. That’s my culture. When you get a new muroora**, you buy her a goat as a sign to say she is welcome into your family. I don’t know why it must be a goat specifically but that’s just how things are done. My thoughts are that a pig is considered unclean and a substantial number of people  do not eat pork in Zimbabwe so if you buy a pig and they don’t eat pork then the in-laws might take it the wrong way. A cow is too big for such a small occasion. Ok, relatively small since we had about 15-20 people at home that weekend. And mutton is not as popular as goat meat in Zimbabwe. Again, this is my opinion, I do not know the “proper” reason why a goat is used.

They arrived late, round about half past three in the afternoon. We were expecting them around noon. But they did let us know they were running late, which is what is important. It was 3 of them. The new muroora**, her tete***, and her older sister. We ushered them in and showed them where they would sit for the next 8 hours or so. A spot had been prepared on the floor, right there on my mother’s burgundy carpet. It was a jovial atmosphere. My mother’s house was packed with tetes, maigurus****, varooras**,  sekurus****** and more from my side of the family. It felt like a party but without music unless one considers my tetes and cousins singing off-key as music although that would be an unjust use of the word!

So we fed the in-laws but they were not allowed to eat chicken.

this is what they were missing out on...

Still haven’t figured out why yet. And they had to sit on the floor till about 1 am.

By 1 a.m. i'm sure this is how they felt!

The point behind this is that marriage is hard work. And one will have to show perseverance and endurance hence the long sitting/waiting period. Personally I think there are better and more effective ways for muroora** to prove she loves my brother but it’s the Shona culture. It is what tradition says and who am I to argue with tradition.

Anyway, aside from doing dishes and slaving over the stove, it went well. Muroora was welcomed into the family and everybody was happy.

the goat was somewhere in the background 🙂

dictionary:
*The daughter in law comes home
**daughter in law (singular) varoora (plural)
*** aunt (father’s sister)
**** brother’s older wife(s)
***** grandfathers but in this case uncles

last born woes…

I have fears of being 40 and still staying at home.

Not because I won’t be successful but because my mum would have refuted, denied, fought and won against my efforts to move out. See, I’m the youngest in a family of 5. The baby of the family. The one who never went to boarding school because someone had to remain at home with mom. I call this aspect sibling guilt. My siblings all left home for greener pastures and they are doing well but now mum is all alone and someone has to remain with her. In comes the last born. I’m the same person who came back home after university to settle down here. This was partly because I couldn’t get a job in my country of choice and partly to take care of mum.

It was fun to be the baby of the family when I was younger because I got away with murder. I would do stuff and as soon as someone said “ah, ndiye rugotwe ka” (she is the last born after all) and that inevitable hiding would simply disappear. Now that I’m older, it’s not fun anymore. My mum’s over protection was welcome in my tweens but now as a young adult, I resent the substantial helpings of love. I feel like I have no voice, no opinions NOTHING. It’s also made more apparent because I still live in her house. My mum goes to the extent of wanting to tell me what to wear, where to go and how to plan my social life (i.e. spend the whole day at home. Don’t go anywhere. Don’t meet anyone. In other words, live like a hermit). I remember when I initially came back home after a 5 year absence. She would insist on accompanying me to town, waiting for me while I checked my e-mails, saw my friends etc just so we could come home together. Now this is was sweet gesture but at 23, you don’t want your mum following you around like a lost puppy.  Subsequently I started working and if I wasn’t home by 6pm, the phone calls and texts would start.

I don’t blame my mum though. All her life she lived for her kids. Now the kids are growing up and moving on with their lives. Where does that leave her? I understand where she is coming from but I just wish I wasn’t the one who had to deal with it. I guess my point is she doesn’t need to hold my hand as I cross the street anymore. She doesn’t need to pick out my clothes and tell me when to eat and what to eat. Instead of appreciating it, I begrudge the extra attention. And even if I try to explain it to her, she doesn’t see it from my point of view and is yet to accept that I’m growing up and need to learn to make my own mistakes.

I guess these are the perks of being the baby of the family.

Counting down the years until I move out…