My home in an earthquake every school morning. You see, my four children all go to school from home. They are 14,12,10 and 8. Before now, the two older ones were in boarding house, so I only had two kids to prepare for school. Then the events of our life as a family took us to East Africa and we withdrew the older ones from their boarding school and now they are regular day students. As we made the decision, my only thought was, ‘How would we manage every morning?’ It was bad enough coping with the younger kids. When they were all younger and we lived at home where we had lots of help, it was not so difficult. But then we moved and I had to manage the kids by myself every morning. The whole thing changed.

So school resumes and the earthquake hits my home every morning. First, the alarm jars into my sleep at 5am. Before that, cock crows and praying mullahs are part of my morning. By the way, I have two alarms go off at 5am, otherwise I cannot be held responsible for not getting out of bed. Then I rush off to my son’s room. ‘Dikachi, wake up’. His first response is always ‘mmmm’ What does that mean? Then I go to his sisters. ‘Hello ladies, time to wake up’. I don’t say it, I recite it like a poem with different pitches. They first turns over. Then I do my second recitation. Then one of them sits up in bed. Then the madness starts.

In fact, it becomes a frenzy- first breakfast. As simple as I try to make it, it is still a chore. ‘Neto eat you food’, she’s sleeping over her food. Then I realize Ginika is not at the table. Where is Ginika? She’s in the bathroom, she’s dozed off on the toilet seat. It is one thing after the other. I am trying so hard to get them out of the door by 6.30am but they are doing all they can not to.

Breakfast finally over, now I have to get them, the four of them, into the bathrooms. Another daily hurdle. ‘Mummy the water is cold’. ‘Mummy, Maruche is still in the bathroom’. Use the other bathroom. Have you brushed your teeth? Instead of saying yes, more excuses. The earthquake is still on. By this time, I am exhausted. Finally, they’re all out of the bathroom and in their uniforms. I look at them and I can’t believe it was the same people who almost drove me nuts.

Then they all file into the sitting room for prayers. We had earlier tried to say prayers first thing in the morning, but it just did not work. They would all sleep off. So we do it just before they leave home, by which time they would all be wide awake.

You would expect that we would be on our way but we still need to get them into the car before we can leave. That is the time someone will go back to get her water bottle or snack or homework or swimming kit……. It could be anything.

Then we can finally drive out of the house at about 6.30am. It is usually one and half hours of madness. School starts at 7am and it is important to me to get them there on time. So we go through this every morning.

But I recently thought I should try a different route. I woke them all up as usual. Then I made an announcement. ‘Get your breakfast. Everything you need is in the kitchen. Organize yourselves and get ready for school. I am going back to bed. Wake me up when you’re done. Guess what, they were done 15 minutes earlier than normal. I could not believe it. You mean, they could get ready for school without me. I no longer have to go through that earthquake every morning. Amazing. I realized I was not allowing them take enough responsibility. I needed to push the limits to keep sane and of course, regain my freedom.

So my morning job description has changed for good. I am the alarm clock, I wake them up. Then I am the chaplain, I lead the prayers except my husband is up. Then I am the driver, I take them to school. I get him to do it sometimes. Everything in between has been delegated to them. I am a happy Mum now. CK