After close to three months of schooling, children are on holiday. But how are working parents juggling work, children’s safety and monitoring activities that children do at home while they are away? Phionah Nassanga finds out from some parents.
Hope Nankunda Mwijuka, Counsellor
I am a mother of three daughters aged 14, 11 and eight. Whenever children are on holiday, I go to work late compared to school days. By 5pm, I am at home because they have stories to tell me, especially from school and it is from those stories that I guide and lecture them on various subjects. During this time, children may want to go visit friends, but I never allow my children to go for sleepovers in their friends’ homes. It is through sleepovers that children learn wrong behaviour and are introduced to pornography and sometimes masturbation.
I interact with adolescents and many attest to that. Work is demanding and every child wants attention. But during holidays, I focus on talent identification and development. For example my eldest girl loves basketball while my last born loves ballet and salsa dance. I take them for training. One of them loves cooking and making crafts. So I buy beads for her to make earrings and bangles. She also reads cook books and has learnt how to prepare different dishes. She says she wants to be a chef and she is working hard everyday to realise that dream.
Sheena Namara, business woman
Holiday time means a break from work. Being self-employed enables me to have more time with my children. The time I leave home tends to change when I am not home, my husband is there to cover up. There is no time we are all away from home. My eight-year-old knows all phone contacts of immediate relatives. I regulate TV, to give them a chance to bond with each other.
During this time, the security of children is paramount. When I am not at home, no visitor is expected to show up, unless they call me or my husband. During this time I have two nannies because I have seen nannies that just wake up and leave the children behind without notifying you. Some of them go for coaching from morning to midday.
Jackie Asiimwe, Lawyer,
I am a mother of teenage boys and holiday time is an opportunity for me to interact and groom them into responsible persons. The day they break off for holiday, each one of them has to present and give an assessment of their report card. The exercise is aimed at informing us whether the performance was good or not and to find out if they need extra attention and items. I draft a timetable for all my boys to do house chores.
I want to teach my boys to do all house chores. I also travel a lot and on many occasions, I travel along with them to acquaint them with the kind of work I do and to gain exposure. Whenever I have workshops at office, they organise and do most of the work. My children must understand what the working environment looks like. As much as they are obliged to do what I assign them, I also listen to their ideas. For example, my youngest son wants to be a pilot. I used this holiday to take him to Soroti flying school.
Doreen Mirembe, Dental assistant , actress, producer
I have four children. The youngest is three while the eldest is 10. Each time they are home for holidays, I do evening work shifts. My househelp goes on leave. My children and I do all the house chores ourselves. I go for work at 12pm and I task them to take full responsibility of each other, especially the baby.
Fighting and disagreements are a common phenomenon among children. I have taught them to learn how to settle their differences. Juggling work at the hospital, theatre and knowing that children are home alone gets hectic and most times makes me panic.
Dorah Akankwasa Muhumure, Development worker
I have four children. The youngest is two while the eldest is 14. I leave a phone at home and do random calls to see how they are fairing. I maintain the normal working routine of 8am to 5pm. It is hard to leave them at home but they need to appreciate that work is part of our lives. We need the money to manage expenses. During holidays, I minimise my outings. I am mindful of the fact that they need my attention.
I also use holiday time to talk about sexuality education because they are growing each new day. We also work out a schedule that guides activities of the holiday including revision and housework. Both boys and girls must do housework. Revision forms the earlier part of the morning from 6am to 9am. Towards the end of holiday, I take them to Luweero for three days to experience village life. They play football andvideo games.
Jacqueline Ayuya Mukasa, Financial consultant
I share custody of my children with their father. Being teenagers, their safety during holidays is very important. Each time I am not with them, I ensure they are supervised by an adult at home and I regularly check on them through phone calls.
I schedule quality time with children and still maintain my regular working hours. I work from 9am to 3pm. I engage them through activities like football and basketball, music lessons, guitar and piano. I also take them for family reunions in Kenya. This is the only chance they have to know and interact with their other relatives.