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To celebrate Mother’s Day, we’ve interviewed various extraordinary women about motherhood and how they stay connected to their friends and family during the lockdown. Meet Nerys Harper, a married mom of three girls who works as a CSI Programme Co-ordinator at Vodacom.

How have you been finding life under lockdown?

Lockdown at first was extremely challenging, making new routines and venturing into this unknown space.  We have however settled quite nicely with the help of management who are conscious of the challenges we as parents of young children face. With structure and routine, life under lockdown has become quite bearable and enjoyable, to say the least.

Have you been homeschooling? If so, what technology do you use?

Yes, we have been homeschooling since the beginning of lockdown, with work during this second term intensifying. The girls are lucky enough to have a great Microsoft Online Frame work set up by their school. My eldest uses a variety of software which includes Microsoft teams for touch base lessons with her teachers - and Class Notebook for her activities which she can write on directly without printing (huge help!) in Grade R, also uses teams to touch base with her teachers as well as video embedded PowerPoint presentations with content. The girls access Vodacom e-School from time to time to brush up on curriculum as well as access content for further enrichment. Parents access Microsoft Bookings for Parent/Teacher interviews.

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What has been the most challenging aspect of parenting for you at this time?

The most challenging aspect of parenting in this crisis is finding balance and trying not to be too hard on ourselves.  Parenting on any typical day is hard! Throw in a pandemic, add in taking on the role of teacher, housekeeper, cook, and a full-time job and you have a recipe for disaster.  Remembering that we are not alone and that every other parent is experiencing the same difficulties helps.  Being open and honest about struggles and challenges during this time and seeking advice and perhaps just an ear to listen helps alleviate these challenges.  My circle is small but the women I confide in and seek advice and assistance from are strong – this helps tremendously.

How are the kids feeling at the moment?

The kids are doing much better, it was quite overwhelming for us to be able to assist our girls to cope with the stress and anxiety of the pandemic and the new way of living.  As with most kids, the girls were affected by social distancing and more particularly the closure of schools and not being able to physically see our loved ones.  We have created space for them to have 15-minute video chats with their friends to touch base and I feel that has made a world of difference.  The fact that they are also quite settled into their daily routines has helped as my girls thrive on structure and familiarity.

How do you stay connected to the rest of your family and is this important to you?         

We are an extremely close-knit family scattered across the world.  Staying connected during this time has become even more important to us.  We make time to have video chats via Whatsapp with our parents who live in the Eastern Cape, our family chats are abuzz with everyone sharing their latest and greatest baking creations, pics from long lazy lunches over the weekend and just seeing the grandkids in their daily activities. We have also had a Zoom session – which mind you ended up exactly like the Zoom meeting memes.

Do you have a set routine each day, and are they expected to also help around the house?

We do have a set routine every day, with the weekends left for free play and time for relaxation and connection.  Our children thrive on routines so it was important for us to develop a new way of living but also allow flexibility. It helped them feel more secure knowing what to expect and their behaviour was better. When creating the routine we sat and spoke about what chores we each wanted to perform in the house while our domestic worker Theresa was away.  We were all assigned duties to ease the workload but also get them more actively involved in our household chores.  The house didn’t stay clean and they didn’t always do what they needed to but it is a start to getting them more actively involved in household chores besides only making their bed. They have learned new skills – both know how to use a washing machine now.

How do you spend quality time together?

The bulk of the quality time we spend together is over the weekend. We start on Friday nights making pizza and watching a movie.  We also bake and love making flapjacks for afternoon tea, have actively started a veggie garden for this year – the girls are loving seeing their seeds sprout.  We cook together as a family and play board games as well. 

Has your view of motherhood changed at all over this time, and if so, how?

My view and perception of motherhood have changed completely.  This time at home has made me realise that our children need so very little to thrive.  Give them love and time and they become happy kids.  I’ve also realised that at the same time, that is all I need for myself to be a better mother. I’ve also learnt that the time and effort I give so freely to others I should invest in myself as well. 

In the end, I am the only one who can give my daughters a happy mother who loves life.

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