Traditionally, men are in most cases the breadwinners for families and perhaps, this explains why they spend less time with their families compared to women. They are always on the go, looking for the next big deal and smarter ways to ensure their families do not lack.
You have probably witnessed that the number of men who drop children to school, men who attend their children’s class activities or men who actually get a moment to help children do their homework is less compared to women. They are always busy, right?
But Covid-19 has shaken the table. For the last two or so months, save for essential workers, most men have been grounded at home, a thing they were not accustomed to. Spending not just 24 hours but two months at home is no mean feat for any man.
Ronnie Prince Mukombe says the lockdown has made him feel a pinch on his finances, especially considering the amount of food his family consumes daily. Mukombe says that much as adults can adapt to hard times and change in eating patterns, it has not been the same with children at home.
“I want my children to be happy and enjoy each day of the lockdown. As a father, I have to ensure that food is stocked and once in a while, I have had to step out of home to different stores to buy food they like. Children do not understand that being locked down calls for spending sparingly,” Mukombe says.
Conflicts over television
Amos Tumwine, a father of three, says he has to scuffle for a television remote to watch his favourite channels during the lockdown.
“It is something I have had to bear with. When children to watch cartoons, no amount of explanation will change their mind. At some point, I contemplated shifting the television to the bedroom but this would be a toll order. I have resolved this conflict by drawing a TV timetable they must respect and follow daily,” Mukombe says.
Family and office time
Due to the fact that many people have had to work from home, Tony Mugisha says drawing a line between office time and family time has been a challenge. Mugisha argues that when children need attention, office work has to be put on halt. But Mugisha says the lockdown has been a blessing in disguise, considering that he has had time with his children.
“The lockdown is the longest time I have ever spent with my children at home. Even during normal holidays, parents still go to work and see children either in the evening of during the weekend,” Mugisha narrates.
Exercises and reading
Mukombe says he has been accompanying children for evening and morning walks to keep in shape. He also had to hire a fitness coach to work out,” Mukombe explains.
Tumwine and Mukombe also agree that telling children to read books, especially when there is a lot of uncertainty about the future has been a struggle.
“Children are anxious. They want to go back to school. They are worried about repeating class. They have been home for so long and they are beginning to get bored. This resentment is hard to deal with as a parent,” Tumwine says.
Children have been used to a smiling father in Mukombe but there are times when he has to raise his voice to get children to do work at home. At the same time, he remembers he has to tone down his frustrations to avoid carrying frustrations from work to home.
“I enjoy peaceful and calm environments but you are not going to have it at home. If children are not fighting, they are making noise. I have had to the bear with the banging of doors and I have turned into a lawyer of sorts, because there are endless cases I have to resolve at home,” Mukombe says.
Mukombe says he has learnt how to bake snacks such as chapatti, mandazi and buns and other snacks together with his children, something that has reduced expenditures on food items such as bread.
According to Stuart Oramire, the lockdown, from whatever angle you view it, has been humbling yet rewarding. Rewarding in a sense that it has given him time as a father to bond with his family away from the pressures of work related travels, stress and constant absenteeism.
Doing house chores together
Ivan Kahangire, also a father says during the lockdown, he has picked interest in the day-to-day affairs of his home including the kitchen which was not the case before the lockdown. He has also participated in doing some house work such as cooking with his wife.