Mommy Drives #DSFL

It has been a while but I am back to share what I learnt during the Ford DSFL Course.

After sharing the post on child safety, I saw this post by a Mum on FB. Support is so important, and her children’s lives were saved as they were strapped in correctly at the time. This really needs to be taken seriously by Kenyan parents.

We finished the theory part of the course with a brief discussion on what one should always have in their vehicle at all times.

  1. First Aid Kit
  2. Fire Extinguisher- this is to be changed once a year. To be stored clamped under the passenger seat for easy retrieval- should not be put in the boot.
  3. Torch
  4. Tow rope, gloves
  5. Safety triangles
  6. Cables
  7. A bottle of water (2litre is good) Handy when the car overheats and can also quench your thirst
  8. Car phone charger, you would not want to be stranded somewhere with a phone out of charge.
  9. Loose change, for parking and tipping
  10. Umbrella
  11. Note pad and pen
  12. Tissue

There are so many other things drivers keep in the vehicle, some have a complete tool box. (I did not mention H here LOL), but it’s all about being safe on the road and prepared for any eventuality. As a Mummy driver, we keep everything from a kikoy or khanga, or even a picnic blanket, hand lotion, wet wipes, sunglasses, shopping bags and a small bag or bin for trash.

It sounds like a lot but just check what you have in the car with you, you will be amazed. Some of us even have a bag of ready to wear clothes for spontaneous trips. Hehehehe!

With the recent plastic bag ban, my boot now has a kiondo or two (those sisal baskets we’re are given on our wedding day by our grandmas) which is a big help when shopping.

kiondo
Image source: Google.

What else do you keep in your car as a Mommy driver?

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Mommy Drives: #DSFL

This is a continuation of the previous post about Ford’s Driving Skills for life course.

Another tip was on the importance of adjusting rear and side view mirrors.

This should be done before turning on the engine, and after seat adjustment. Adjusting the mirrors to appropriate angles helps maximize the driver’s field of vision. Adjust the rear view mirror to ensure the whole rear window is in view. Yes, this sounds like driving 101 but you would be surprised at how often drivers neglect this.

Without proper adjustment and proper use of the mirrors, the driver simply does not have a clear view of the road and other road users beside and behind her.

As one adjusts, keep in mind blind spots, cyclists, pedestrians and other cars, you should angle the side mirrors to enable you to see such approaches.

Another tip was to drive relaxed, but alert. One should avoid constant accelerating and excessive hard braking. Drive while anticipating different traffic situations. Keep the proper distance between vehicles and please oh please use indicators before taking turns! This irks me so much, why is it so hard for Kenyan drivers to indicate. It is not as if you are getting charged for it. Argh! This is a major peeve for me. As for distance, a 3 second distance is fine. Increasing your distance increases your scope of action and reaction time, in bad weather, you can increase the time interval to six seconds.

Mommy drivers should also avoid distractions while driving. I know it sounds easier than it actually is. You are trying to concentrate on your favorite Adelle song on the radio, the kids are yelling for your attention, sip coffee and the crazy matatus are trying to cut into your lane. Sigh.

Increasing distractions = increased risk of a crash.

Distractions include talking (yes!), constantly adjusting the radio, eating, mobile phone, etc. How to avoid such? The phone calls and messaging can wait. Strap in the kids at the back. PLEASE! I see guys driving with the kids in front and I shudder when I imagine what could happen if the driver has to brake immediately. The snacking and intense conversations can wait. All attention needs to be on the road drivers. All. Attention.

Let us keep our eyes on the road. Will be back with more tips.

Mommy Drives- Seatbelt Safety

Last week I attended a short Ford Driving Skills for Life course. I learnt a lot within a short time and decided to share the same with you.

Q: How many of us (mommy drivers) have gone for an advanced driving course?

I have not. But doing one preferably by Glen Edmunds is one of my goals. We were challenged by the trainer on how we make an effort to improve other aspects of our lives, but neglect improving on our driving. It was a challenge and be sure to sign up for one ladies. There are several types of advanced driving courses available, some are tailored for ladies, others defensive driving (to counter carjacking), and others on how to drive in difficult conditions (rough terrain and insecure places.)

There were many tips shared, and I will try to exhaust each. I have a disclaimer though; I am no driving expert or car guru, this is just to share what I learnt and keep learning as we need to keep ourselves and our families safe on the roads.

Tip 1: Safety belts.

This is a no brainer Ladies. Seat belts need to be used by ALL passengers ALL the time.

It is a legal requirement in Kenya too.

Why? They reduce chances of fatalities and/ or serious injuries.

Kenyan statistics are not easy to come by on seat belt usage, but it is a challenge. As you drive, make sure all your passengers are belted up too. You would not want them to become missiles in case of a crash now would you?

Here is an article on the same.http://www.machakos-orthopaedics.org/single-post/2016/02/17/Should-I-really-wear-my-seat-belt

I do not even want to get started on those who drive with their children in the front seat or between the driver’s legs. We can and should do better as parents. If I see you do this, I call you out there and then. It does not matter if I know you or not. What is the point in belting up as the driver and not ensuring all the passengers are belted up too? Safety measures apply to all in equal measure.

Below is a clip of an ad advocating use of safety belts that was shared in the class.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-8PBx7isoM

Also, as you belt up, ensure the belt is adjusted correctly, you do not want it to cut your jugular in case of impact, or slice your tummy either. Here is a great article on how to ensure you are wearing your belt correctly. https://www.yourmechanic.com/article/how-to-wear-your-seat-belt-properly-by-jason-unrau

This really hit close to home as I realized I was wearing my  seat belt wrong this whole time. You also need to adjust the belt every time you use it. H is much taller than I am so he adjusts differently and if I fail to do so when I drive well, let us not discuss the possible ‘‘headless” scenario.

Until the next tip, let us belt up and make it a rule that every passenger in your car belts up too.

The Abscondita Effect

Maggie has a uniform.

It was her only request when she started working with us.  We agreed and had some made, including aprons.

My father in law is a mechanic, so he spends a lot of time on overalls. As Leo has not started school yet, he spends a lot of time with his grandpa tinkering around. We decided to have an overall made for him so we do not have to struggle with grease on his clothes. You should have seen how excited he was when he wore it for the first time, he even wanted to sleep in it.

Now my princess felt left out and asked for a uniform like Maggie’s. Complete with an apron so she can help out in the housework. I was taken aback at first as I thought she would ask for an overall like her brother’s. But no, she was adamant. Uniform with an apron, same design and colour as Maggie’s.

I thought it was a phase and ignored it for some weeks, but the girl was persistent. Turns out she even requested Maggie to take her to the local tailor to have her measurements taken. This Mum still thought it was a joke, until I was asked for some money to pay the fundi yesterday morning.

I came home from work to find my girl brimming with pride over her uniform. I have never been so jazzed up as I was yesterday. The girl is so excited she can now look like Maggie as she helps her.

I am learning a lot out of this; I am a young parent but I am learning to let my kids be. If it does not harm them and will help them, who am I to deter them?

I have learnt to appreciate Maggie more. She is excellent with kids and it is obvious they love and respect her. A LOT. She loves them too, see how she just took them to have measurements taken and even picked the clothes herself. Men the kids do not even talk back at her (unlike me). Yani, I do not know how I can ever repay her for the great job she is doing with my kids.

I have also learnt that written education is not everything. In many of the Moms groups I am in, mothers are looking for young, educated help for their kids and a whole endless list of perfect qualities they must have. Ours was only for Maggie to love and care for our kids and she has done a fabulous job, without even knowing how to read. Yes, you read me right. The first time she told me she was semi –literate I thought she was joking but yes, she cannot read written instructions. And yes, she was able to measure formula well and has never mixed up the kids’ medication.

I have learnt to be patient. Maggie is much older than H and I. We have learnt to take some things in stride and overlook some, because nobody is perfect in this world. And she is much wiser than us, raised more kids than us and lived longer than us, so on some issues, she knows best and me and my degree certificates just take a back seat. She also cooks porridge better than me, according to my angels 🙂

This has also challenged me on the gender stereotypes we have, and I am still working on this. We have exposed both kids to the same environment, they both tinker with their grandpa on the cars he is working on, both help in house chores including the cooking, both help out in the shamba, both play with the same toys (they have full blown tea parties) but Njeri just gravitated towards household chores. I need to dust off my developmental psychology notes as I am lost on this. Have we subconsciously taught them gender roles or is it just Njeri growing into her gender identity? Leo has more blurred lines but you will hear him say some things are not for boys, or for girls.

Raising kids is a whole degree in psychology I tell you.

Election Season +254

A few months ago we had a sermon series in Church about the role of a Christian in the political space. There was a phrase, “When Good People do Nothing, Evil prevails.”
Out of that we were challenged; if you are not happy with the status quo and have the means and conviction to do so, run. Run for office and change things from within. That sermon made an impact on many of us. For Samantha Maina, running for MCA in Kileleshwa Ward, that was a sign. She was frustrated by a couple of potholes outside her home for the longest time, and had tried to engage the current MCA but to no avail. So she decided to run and change things from within. Boniface Mwangi announced his candidature for Starehe constituency after years of activism. You may not agree with him, but he has also taken a necessary step to change things from within.

Many of us do not have the courage to do so, but we can support those who do. Look around you guys. We cannot afford to be apathetic. We all have an active role to play in our country’s decision making process. Refuse to conform, be concerned for ALL, and have the courage to intervene.
We need to make an effort to understand each other’s differences and appreciate our diversity. We have to seek healing and reconciliation and begin to trust one another again.

Our leaders are there to SERVE us. Let that sink in guys, SERVE US. We are the ones who employ them. So look around you, examine all those running for office around you. Look at the MCA candidates, those running for MP, Women’s rep, Senator, Governor and President. Do they have manifestos? They should, every one of them, because that is the only way you as a voter will know what they stand for and what you should hold them accountable to for the next five years. Especially MCA, MP and Governor, The buck stops with them. How will they manage the funds allocated from Central government? How accessible will they be? What are their plans for the county? Etc. Devolution is new to us and the past five years have shown us the loopholes that need to be sealed. Examine the candidates guys. Wachambue kabisa.

We also need to examine ourselves as voters. Hii mambo ya kuuza kura and benefiting from some candidates’ handouts needs to stop!
Dagoretti South constituents, I am looking at you. Eh! Dennis alituacha, wanted to run for Nairobi governor saw he could not make it, ran back to the constituency, lost Jubilee nomination, now splurging funds east, west, north and south so he can retain his seat. Folks, do you seriously think he has our best interests at heart? Think deep and hard about it, in fact go stand outside his recent development something “meadows” hapo Naivasha road and think hard and deep if he has the constituents’ best interests at heart when he says he wants to retain his seat. Ha!
As for our governor , the least said the better, let’s just say the suit doesn’t hide the thuggery. Women’s Rep, what is that again? Senator? No comment. President? None of these so called “two horses” deserve to lead. None. Do you honestly think they have our best interests at heart? Really? Really? Think hard and deep. And there are OTHER candidates by the way.

We cannot afford to be apathetic guys. We have a responsibility and a role to play as the citizens of this country we need to be strong and courageous enough to make a difference. So we have until Monday to read those manifestos and chambua those running for office in our counties. Tulale unono, tuchaguane Tuesday kwa Amani. Vote wisely peeps!

It Takes a Village.

This past Saturday, H and I attended a parenting forum that had been organized by one of our Church departments. They had sent out texts about three weeks earlier and has asked folks to RSVP to confirm attendance.

It was an early meeting, from 8-11am, So we were able to plan that day well in advance to be there on time. Not much information had been given, but since it had been billed as an open and free parenting forum, I assumed many parents would sign up. Wrong. We were exactly 12 people. TWELVE! Out of a church with many members, most of whom are young parents. TWELVE. And these twelve included the facilitators and church staff present. Never mind that the texts had been sent to all church members with kids aged 12 and below. TWELVE. To say I was shocked and disappointed is an understatement. I know some had work and urgent commitments but 12 is such a low number.

Anyway, those who did not come missed out on a lot. The forum was basically an open discussion on how we are raising the children we have now, to be the proper adults of the future.

A lot has changed in the world culturally, socially, technologically, scientifically, education wise, but there are still core issues that need to be ingrained in the children we are raising.

  • What values are we instilling in them, and how will they be able to maintain those values? Exposure is key, but there have to be boundaries set on the same.
  • What determines our children’s self-worth? How will they know who they are? From a young age, they are taught everyone is a winner, till they grow a bit older and realize it does not always work that way. We need to start celebrating the right successes in them and with them.
  • Do our children have a relationship with God? This is taught by the parents, not the Sunday school teachers. They need to know how to pray and that God answers prayers. God does not make mistakes, and He listens, even if He does not answer immediately.

Role modeling.

Are we appropriate role models? Who are your children’s role models? In our parents’ time, our aunties and uncles, even neighbours had a right to call us out when we did wrong. It is not the same these days. The saying “it takes a village to raise a child” has changed, or is no longer even valid in some places.

Fact is, as parents we NEED that village. You need fellow parents to encourage you, your child needs village members to learn from as you may not be able to do it all. You could have a grandparent, an auntie, an older cousin and an older friend who know your values, agree with them and are able to impart the same to your children in a way that it does not seem to come from you directly. There was even a great example given to observe how our children treat those younger than them, who look up to them. Observing such interactions speaks volumes on what our children are learning from us. Remember the saying, “Monkey say, monkey do?”

We need to be deliberate and intentional about the people around our children.

Transferable Skills

There are those things we can be able to teach our children to equip them for the world ahead:-

  • Communication skills. Both verbal and non-verbal. When we teach them how to communicate, they are able to express themselves successfully. For younger ones, understand but do not encourage the tantrums.
  • Taking Initiative. Do not decide everything for your child. Allow them to verbalize what they want.
  • Creativity. That is, encourage free flow and expression of the ideas they come up with. Do not schedule their every minute, it is alright to allow them to get bored a bit.
  • Integrity. How do we handle the first “white lie?” Do we lie to them?
  • Attitude. “Talk to the hand” should be nipped in the bud as soon as possible, they need to learn how to have the right attitude.
  • Work Ethic. Always think about the adult your child will become. Let them not think that work tires and is a drudge. Work can be fun, work is rewarding. Encourage them to learn and enjoy work.
  • Team Work. Teach them how to work within a team, how to partner with others. How to interact well with others. Let each have a turn in doing something and celebrate the joint successes.
  • Leadership.How to lead themselves and lead others. Also comes in with patience, honesty, attitude, taking initiative and working well in a team.
  • Time management. We need to teach them how to divide time between different things. Schedule but do not overdo it. Routines are good and teach them there is a time for play, for chores, for others, etc.
  • Listening skills. Reading to them hones their listening skills. Also listen to them as a parent, expect a response from them to know whether they are paying attention or not. Ask them if they understand what you have said. Use age appropriate language and terms so as not to confuse them.
  • Personal Development. Appreciate the milestones. (Do not reward) Make them look forward to each stage of development.
  • Research and Critical thinking. Let them find solutions, do not always give them the right answers.
  • Information Technology. Let them know what it entails just limit the exposure.

There was a lot more and some of these skills were expounded in detail that each would probably need a blog post on its own.

It was a great session, H and I as well as the other parents in session learnt so much and agreed to another forum in future, but most importantly, agreed to share with others what we learnt.

It is never too early to prepare your child for the adult they will become in the future. We are not just raising future scientists, teachers, politicians, engineers, chefs, musicians etc. We are also raising future fathers, mothers, aunties, uncles, workers, and role models.

As I look at our two children right now and how H and I are raising them, we are now conscious that what we may not nip now, will rear its ugly head in a few years, and what we water now, will blossom wonderfully in a few years too.

Have you been to any parenting forum? How was your experience?

Weekend Recap: Nairobi Mamba Village.

Saturday

Was Njeri’s day to have her hair done. Nothing much happened. I visited my former work place and it was nice catching up with former colleagues. We stayed in traffic for a long time though. I do not know why I had the not so bright idea of heading to Mombasa Road on the same day as the Mater Heart Run. Sigh.

Saturday dinner was chicken and lemon, chunky fries and coleslaw. I was happy that I would finally get pictures for the recipe so I could update it on the blog but Kenya Power had brighter ideas. Power was gone the whole afternoon till next morning. The food was delicious though. The only photo I got before my phone went off did not do the meal any justice. LOL

Sunday

Went to Church and decided to head to Mamba Village to treat the kids.

Mamba Village is a crocodile farm located along the Langata – Karen Road, just after Stedmark Gardens. The big sign on the road is no longer there so I had to call for directions. We were shocked when we got there. The place has huge grounds but the landscaping and some of the facilities have been severely neglected.

The restaurant grounds are beautiful though, well-kept and clean. And the washrooms were very clean too. Other positives were the service and the food albeit less positive. Service was fast, food was good, though nyama choma was a bit dry (the beef especially), and not marinated as claimed.

You have the option of a la carte or a platter selection. Their buffet is Kes 1500 per person, which didn’t make sense for us to try cause of the kids. We decided to go for a meat platter with three different accompaniments.  That was more than enough for the four of us and we even had to take away some of the meat.

The highlight of the place however are the Nile Crocodiles they have there. They are divided into three sections. The kids, the teens and the mature crocs. The kids were fascinated and Njeri even held a baby croc! Too cute.

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The Mature Crocs basking in the sun

That is a two year old tortoise, isn’t it the cutest?

They also have some tortoises and three female ostriches. Njeri and Leo were bowled over by the tortoises too, especially the baby one that was so small it could fit in her hand. She did not want to let go of it. We had a guide too, Stephanie who took as round, answered all our questions, involved the kids in a little Q and A of what they had seen. Let’s just say we all learnt a lot.

We were also lucky enough to watch the crocs being fed. This is done once a week, every Sunday at 4.30 pm. Messy and stinky affair to be honest but also quite intriguing.

Mamba Village will have to do a lot to reclaim its lost glory, especially now that neighbouring Stedmak Gardens has started a small park too with snakes, ostriches, turtles etc.

Price wise, H and I paid Kes 250 each, Njeri Kes 100 and Leo got in free. Their Facebook page is Mamba village  I found the pricing quite fair and would not mind going there again.

Have a great week ahead and strive to learn something new every day!