Why Mothers are Relieved Schools Have Reopened

By Moraa, Created on 21st Feb 2023

“Why were parents-especially mothers- complaining so much about the schools being closed for two whole months? One month has already gone by.”


These were sentiments made by my friend on the 23rd of December 2022. I have to add, the friend is male, in his early 30s, has no kids, and his profession  -priesthood- ensures he will never have kids.


Schools have now re-opened and I have heard similar comments from Kenyans on social media, “why were parents complaining so much about the two months holiday again?”


Because I am among the mothers who were wondering how I will survive the two months, let me answer this recurring question.


I am a farmer and a writer. If I am not at the farm, I am in the house writing. I don’t have an office where I could do my writing without my son’s interruptions. Going to a café every time I want to write-which is 5 days in a week- is expensive. For the two months, my writing has gone down because my routine was constantly changing. My neighbour works from home as well and she has experienced the same challenges. Her productivity went down.


Let us also remember how unfair the economy has been. The disposable income we previously had that enabled us to take our kids out for activities like; swimming, dancing classes, painting, reading, horse riding, and bouncing castles is no longer disposable. Parents have been working extra hard to ensure the children eat. It is left up to the parents to come up with fun activities to engage the kids.


Most of us parents have resulted to screen time as a form of entertainment for our children. We know the dangers of screen time. We don’t want to give the children too much of it. Yet, we know it is the one sure bet for keeping them engaged. And giving us a breather. 


Parents with teenagers are constantly worried if their kids are engaging in sex or doing drugs. And when we look at the Kenya statistics, 50% of those infected with HIV/AIDS are below 18 years. And those who get pregnant are below that as well. They really do have a reason to be worried. In school, at least the routines of school life and the work involved leave minimal room for engaging in these activities. Not to say that in school, it can’t happen.


During our growing years, school holidays were for helping in the shamba and playing with the neighbours. Our routine comprised of waking up at 7.00 am, preparing for breakfast, and feeding the chicken and goats, and cows. We may go to the river if we had no water. Cleaning the house was an everyday affair. After lunch, it was playtime at the field till the evening. The only thing that returned us home was the darkness.


Our parents knew we were in safe hands if we were at the neighbour’s compound. They didn’t twerk their minds to come up with ways to keep us engaged. We managed alright on our own. Raising children was a community affair. But these times, raising children is more an individualistic task than communal one. We have domestic managers who do house chores- this I must add is a good thing. What maybe we need to find is a balance between children chipping in and house managers doing the rest.


It is almost unsafe for kids to play outside on their own. Kidnapping stories are forever on the media. There has to be an adult overseeing the playing.


In 1962, Dr. Benjamin Spock an authority figure on parenting wrote:


“The woman who chafes at the monotony of child-rearing (and I’m assuming that most mothers do at times) is really beset from two directions: the separation from adult companions, and being bottled up with the continual demands of the children. I don’t think Nature ever intended the association to be quite so exclusive.”

This statement reminded me why over the Christmas period when nannies had gone on leave, mothers were on social media wondering when they will be back. Mothers are telling us they are exhausted and need help. In some way, schools do come to the rescue.


On our 4th-floor floor apartment, we are three mothers with three, three-year-olds. We came up with a way of giving each mother 3 hours of rest in a day. The children will spend 1-2 hours in one house. Spend another 2 hours at the rooftop playing with one nanny taking care of them. And another 1-2 hours in another house.


One nanny has already pointed out that my son is too disruptive among this trio and she could like to limit how often he goes to their house.


As I said, mothers are glad schools are open.


The next time you hear mothers dreading a 2-month holiday; offer to take care of the children for a weekend, offer to take their teenage children camping, or offer to teach their children a life skill you are good at.


Simply, come up with fun and educative ways to keep their children engaged. Make it communal again.