Mother, Teacher, Hero!

As we observe Heritage Month and go back to school this October, we are pleased to celebrate an exemplary mother, teacher and hero in this week’s edition.

With two mouths to feed at the time, my mother, Mrs. Ermin Blossom, Mair, at one point in her life had to get ackee from the tree in the yard where we lived to hopefully exchange it for sugar at the shop down the road, in order to make sugar tea for supper that evening. A dignified respected teacher who put herself together well, no one really knew her troubles during those early years. But that is the sort of woman she has been; one who innovatively provides, relentless cares and proudly puts one foot after the other as she played her roles of exemplary teacher, faithful wife and devoted mother of six.

As a child I use to think mom was miserable. But as I look back I realize she was just stressed by all of the financial and emotional challenges in our family. The truth is that she was a hopeful striving woman. She would use tamarind and coconut to make treats for sale to augment her teacher’s salary and help make ends meet; ends that were as basic as us eating well and getting a sound education and as lofty as seeing the pantomime often, visiting Jamaica’s varied attractions (such as Coconut Park and Dunn’s River Falls) and going to Disney World when the opportunity arose. If you looked at her salary, we couldn’t afford those things. But if you looked in her heart and the strength of her determination, we would and we did. We grew up, educated and exposed to the great possibilities in the world. Now as adult children and parents ourselves, we can’t help but feel a deep sense of gratitude for the love and dedication of this woman who still mothers us to this day and spoils us if you ask me.

Certainly at different stages as children we didn’t deserve her sacrifice and kindness. I remember my teenage years when back answering was a main feature of our relationship. I remember the many times that I tested her faith, how I didn’t honour her but how she still held firm, dispensing discipline while cutting me some slack. I remember how she still loved me, covered me, and bore with me; how she provided for me and all of us, even in the face of lack and the many stressors in her life, including the albatross of a difficult marriage.

Tears come to my eyes now as I imagine the excruciating burdens at the time being exacerbated by the stinging ‘back chat’ of the feisty child I used to be. I know it was a stage, partially puberty, partially my frank personality, partially a heart that had not yet been made whole by faith, but I still look back and shake my head at myself for some of the disrespect that I showed her as a teenager. And even as I am shaking my head at myself, I am marveling at her grace. I remember the soft comfort of her duster (housedress) that we would rest our head upon when we got sick with chicken pox and measles and whatever other communicable diseases that was going around at the time; I remember the slow deliberate pacing of her slippers coming to check on us in the middle of the nights even when she was suffering with unappeasable migraine. Sacrificing for us was her way of life. And yet she thrived.

In addition to being a master teacher at the primary who has taught and studied both locally and internationally, her culinary and confectionary exploits led to involvement in many extracurricular activities. No wonder she was eventually tasked to develop the 4H programme at the various primary schools that she taught during her 30+year career. She can crotchet, make clothes and repair shoes! There isn’t much this girl from the rich red soils of St. Elizabeth cannot do!

Today I am happy to say that this overcoming woman who has done quite well for herself and has pumped thousands of dollars in our varied business and professional ventures; wisely warning when things don’t seem to make sense financially yet continuing to provide support to all 6 of us. Many a times you could find me, now a mother of 4, acting very much like a child at mom’s house where she would skillfully chop a coconut and pour it into a tall glass for me to drink when I am stressed about life and parenting. She is gracious, attentive and kind.

Plus she doesn’t have any ‘airs about her.’ So she is the kind of woman who makes real friends everywhere she goes and at every stage in her life. I suspect it is also because of her sense of humour and humility. When mom eventually bought her first second-hand car, we would always have someone who she was taking home. Soon enough, with the long hours to get home in Portmore all those years ago before the toll road was built, they would become her close friends and friends of the family. Even now well over 60 years, my mother has made a new close female friend. If you saw them you would almost think they grew up together. 

I am thankful that today this hardworking woman is now retired, well, sort of, because based on who she is, she can’t really stop working and contributing. She now teachers a grade 4 class online at a prep school in Kingston. Indeed more expert retired teachers could be brought into the mix virtually to strengthen the education system, pandemic or not. 

This tireless mother and educator will always have my love, admiration and respect. Today we are not merely mother and daughter, but close friends. There isn’t a relationship quite like a friendship between mother and daughter. Your mother knows you; knows the ugliness and the shortcomings as well as the talents and the beauty, and nevertheless loves you and will love you in and through all of your iterations. It is the closest thing to God’s love and that is why I honour her this heritage month. 

As we reflect on our history and celebrate our national heroes in this season, I choose to celebrate my personal hero – my teacher, my mother, my friend.

Who are the real life heroes in your life? Tell us by submitting a comment below!

Loving a Husband Through COVID-19: How a wife’s dedication saved her husband from succumbing to the virus

After enduring days of high fever, lethargy, difficulty breathing, loss of taste, loss of appetite and severe weakness, Bradley James was extremely tired, and incredibly, he had lost 20 pounds in less than 10 days. The 7-mile runner had tested positive for COVID-19 after working as a DJ for a party event for some church friends in Florida. He had worn his mask and tried to keep his distance from guests but sadly he left that mid-June gathering exposed to the virus.

His wife, Kiva remembers those early moments when they were wondering if he had gotten infected.

“One of the things he said when he returned home from that party is that he was annoyed that people were approaching him. He had a mask on but I don’t know if he was consistent with it when he was trying to talk and pull it down sometimes,” Kiva shared with Family and Faith Magazine.

“He was annoyed that quite a few people kept coming up to the DJ booth which was separated and distanced from everybody. But as they were drinking and becoming less inhibited they were being more bold and coming and requesting music, commenting and high fiving and he said he was reminding them to back away but I don’t think they were very cooperative because as I said they were less inhibited – that was on the 13th of June,” Kiva recounted.

Unusual Symptoms of COVID-19

Days later he was suffering from a backache which his family thought was as a result of falling during a soccer game with his kids or his medical history with kidney stones. But they were wrong. Instead, it was the beginning of a frightening fight with the COVID-19 virus.

“He continued to have the aching on Wednesday and then symptoms of vomiting started. He just had 1 or 2 episodes and 1 bout of diarrhea and I was like this is not as a result of your falling (in a soccer game),” reasoned the wife and the mother of their 2 boys, ages 12 and 8 years, and a girl, 10 years old.

Kiva (left), Bradley (right) and their three children.

On the Thursday he started having classic respiratory symptoms and a fever and that is when they decided to get tested. “We got the test that day and I remember that evening he got a couple calls from people who were attending that party saying that there were one or two people in attendance that ended up being positive between the time he started showing symptoms and got tested. So at this point we felt pretty confident that this is what we are dealing with while we are waiting on the results. So we
contacted people we were personally in contact with between the 13th and the 18th and informed them,” the responsible wife revealed.

Bradley’s results came back 2 days later as positive. At this point his symptoms were progressing – the fever was spiking to around 102.5, he was more lethargic and started to lose his appetite. With her husband testing positive, Kiva moved quickly to look about the rest of the family.

“His test came back positive on the 20th. I went and scheduled a test and I was able to get in for the following day, Sunday for a test. At that point I had no symptoms at all. And then on Friday, my 12 year said he was tired and was going to take a nap. He laid down on the floor and took a nap. He never does that in the day. No fever no nothing. He napped for a couple hours and then he was fine. My 8 year old son said he was also feeling tired, I took his temperature and he had a very low grade temp of like 99.5 for about 24 hours and that was it, he was fine running, around, didn’t want to rest much and his fever was gone the next day. My 10 year old daughter had zero symptoms, no complaints, acting normal no fever, nothing,” Kiva remembers of her children’s brush with the virus.

The kids were therefore doing well and interestingly Kiva’s test results came back negative at first. Her second test however came back positive. Fortunately, she was largely asymptomatic but Bradley’s symptoms continued to worsen.

“His respiratory symptoms and lethargy and the weakness were progressing; the appetite was down. He was taking Tylenol when his fever was spiking and he had trouble resting and his back was hurting and I was checking his respiration,” Kiva, a veterinarian by profession explained. Both Kiva and Bradley were born and raised in Jamaica and received their Bachelor’s degree before relocating to the US. The two have been married for 14 years.

After Bradley’s symptoms continued to progress, Kiva, meticulous and forward thinking, started to take more action.

Useful tools and tips for fighting COVID-19

“At this point I had gotten a pulse oximeter – a finger held oximeter – which measures oxygenation. And that is a great tool because a lot of people won’t know when their oxygen levels are falling until it is way too low. Monitoring it early is a good idea and it was like US$20 or US$30 dollars for that so I had ordered it very early. I think I ordered it the Thursday and I think it came the Friday on the 19th . So I was checking it and checking all of ours and we were normally 98% but his was hovering around 96, 97 so he was a little lower than the rest of ours so I was using ours as a reference point. So he was maintaining that until early into the following week when his symptoms (the tiredness, the weakness, a little cough) were progressing and his breathing rate was increasing,” she continued.

The nights were particularly difficult and he had trouble sleeping. Moreover, his oxygen levels started deteriorating even further.

“I started checking his oxygen more often because it started hovering at 95, 96 so it was slowly dropping. We didn’t want to get below 94, 93 which is when I would get really concerned. We were told to practice some breathing exercises which we saw some YouTube videos about; just stretching to open up the lungs, putting our arms in the air and taking deep breaths,” Kiva shared with Family and Faith Magazine.

She added that, “one of the things we knew from the beginning is not spending a lot of time on your back. That seem to be the single most important thing which is kind of the opposite of what most people would want to do when they are feeling this way because they are tired, they are exhausted, and weak. So he did want to be on his back and laying in other positions kind of makes it a little harder to breath. So I had to insist that every few hours he is getting up (which became difficult because he was feeling weak and tired) moving around, so that you’re kind of getting your lungs moving and doing the breathing exercises. The nights were the most difficult. He would feel a little better in the morning but as the day progresses he would feel tired and it seemed like breathing was tiring so as the day progressed it required a little more effort to breath.”

In addition to medication and the oximeter, the Jamaican-born wife added potent herbal teas to her husband’s healing arsenal. “I was steeping ginger, garlic, onion, mint for flavour and mixing that with lemon and getting that at least 3 times a day which was the only thing he would consume plus lots of water,” Kiva revealed. “I said you have to stay hydrated, hydration is super important for the lungs. I also tried to give him broth and he would take a little bit of it,” she explained, noting that his sense of taste had diminished by then and his fever was spiking at nights.

Going to the Hospital or Staying Home

By around day 9 or 10, things had gone to a head. “I realize that at this point this is when people end up in the hospital and the reason is that your body can only fight an invader (virus) for so long. It requires a whole lot of energy, of resources – rest, nutrition – all these things for your body to put up an optimum fight. It can do that for a certain amount of time. After you do that your body is going down and the virus starts to win. At that point, we started getting really scared because we realized he was not beating this. It was weakening him,” Kiva recollected.

But the loving determined wife had prayer support and a plan. “Tons of prayer, everyone in Jamaica, here, because it got to the point where by now I had packed a bag for the emergency room. I talked to the children and I told them they may wake up and not see me or daddy so I would leave a note and we discussed that.” Of course in a situation like that it would be tricky to have someone come over to stay with the children when the family was battling COVID.

Thoughtful and diligent, Kiva continued to put things in place for any eventuality. She continued checking his blood pressure, his lungs, pulse oxygenation and recording them. But after around 10 days, the virus wasn’t only taking a physical toll but an emotional toll on Bradley as well. He was so drained he wanted Kiva to decide on if he should go to the ER.

“And I said we need to go. The bags are packed. But the look of defeat on his face – it was really hard. And I was like he can’t go into the hospital with this attitude and feeling like this,” the woman of faith insisted. Plus Kiva herself was tired and didn’t feel confident about going to a hospital.

“I wasn’t confident about what I was hearing about the hospitals and the stories about ventilators and how they do more damage to the lungs…It forces air into the lungs… in cases of pneumonia and COVID…you are going to cause damage even if not leading to the death, it is long term. But then you are in between a rock and hard place because if we don’t go he could decompensate quickly,” the medical practitioner reasoned. Plus she was no longer comfortable caring for him at home: “I had passed the point of feeling comfortable treating him at home and as much as we didn’t want to go to the hospital I didn’t think we had a choice.”

Telemedicine Support

However the couple came up with a compromise. Kiva would keep monitoring Bradley closely and then they would do a telemedicine appointment the next day. If the doctor insisted that they go to the ER,
then they would go.

Armed with days of meticulous records of Bradley’s heart rate, respiratory rate, oxygen saturation, blood pressure and breathing metrics, Kiva was able to provide the doctor with useful data. The doctor was essentially trusting Kiva’s ears and eyes in order to determine the way forward – hospital or home. Via telemedicine, the doctor prescribed a nebulizer and prednisone for Kiva to treat her husband and if that worked they wouldn’t need to go to the ER. Of course, with the support of her medical colleagues, Kiva had to figure out how to set up and use a nebulizer, which she did successfully.

Bradley Starts to Recover

After the first day of nebulizing, Bradley started to feel a little better. “By day 2 on the nebulizer he started playing cards with the kids. By day 3 he was looking better. Each day was appreciable improvement,” Kiva testified.

Of course in life threatening situations like these family and friends have an abundance of advice. One of them was to put an onion under Bradley’s shirt on his chest. Although not seeing the science behind it, Kiva acquiesced and placed an onion on his chest and elsewhere in the house, while administering the nebulizer and prednisone. And over time the father of her three children steadily improved.

“It took a while for his strength to come back. He was still very weak even though his respiratory symptoms were better and now (August) he is fully recovered. He hasn’t put on back the weight but that is intentional and his hair looks a little fuzzy which I think is long term impact but his lung capacity is back. He is back to running his 7 miles,” Kiva told Family and Faith Magazine.

The good book asks the question – a wife of noble character who can find? Another version asks it this way – an excellent woman [one who is spiritual, capable, intelligent, and virtuous, who is he who can find her? Well, Bradley found Kiva.

Life Lessons from COVID

With the ordeal behind them now, Kiva now reflects on the meaning of life with appreciation and new purpose. “During that time, of course it crossed my mind that I could lose my husband. This is real. And you start to think about all the things that are not important – if he gets through this then you’d be a better wife,” she committed.

“There are just so many things that don’t matter that we think are important that aren’t because at the end of the day all you want is that person to be there,” Kiva confessed, noting that all they now want to
do is spend quality time together. Since the ordeal, Kiva has also had a spiritual awakening.

“I have gone on a journey – I am doing The Purpose Driven Life (book) now. I have gone on this journey of seeking my purpose because you realize that your time on this earth is temporary. And God has trusted things to us to take care of it. Nothing is ours. Not our life; not our possessions and they are all temporary. I am trying to redefine my life and purpose,” she declared.

Submit comments and queries below!

Parental Burnout during COVID-19 | 7 Tips for Parents to Feel Well

Working mothers, fathers and other caregivers are having a really hard time during the Covid-19 pandemic. Moreover, it appears that those who work from home are burning the candle at both ends. They are trying to entertain their children, prepare exciting meals and get ready for back to school where some are dreading the idea of again taking on the ‘substitute teacher’ role at home. They are making these plans while at the same time trying to be fresh, on point, level headed and focused for video conference calls and strategy meetings and sitting down to actually do the work for which they were hired – all this in the same physical space and time with their buzzing children. It’s a lot. And it’s taking a toll on many.

Jennifer, who works from home, recently had to visit the doctor to get a checkup because she wasn’t feeling herself. After her doctor’s visit, she had to be placed on blood pressure medication and a stern instruction to make time for rest. Jennifer explains that balancing everything with home and work has been very difficult. She has an overactive toddler with no space at home for play in her small town house with limited green spaces so she has to entertain him by herself while doing an already high stress job.

Walric, a typically jovial risk analyst who always has a joke ready for office banter, now seems to go to the office only to escape from the stress of trying to balance home life and work. With a fuzzy beard and tired eyes, he explains that his three children are consistently hungry and bored, and now after weeks of life during Covid, he is oftentimes at a loss. He laments that the family’s grocery bill has gone up significantly, not only because the children are eating more at home but also because food prices seem to have gone up in recent weeks. He confesses that he feels bad when he says to his 5 year old, “are you really hungry again?” Recently he took his kids to the country for a weekend where they went to the beach and did a number of fun activities. “At home they are hungry 24/7 but while we were out there swimming and frolicking, they weren’t really hungry until after midday and they only had cereal for breakfast,” Walric marvels.

Keisha, a single parent, shares much of Walric and Jennifer’s experiences but adds that one of the issues that makes her feel even more stressed and helpless is when her 9 year old asks, “mommy, I don’t want to die from corona,” every time she overhears the news or a conversation among adults. Keisha’s other children also always need time to vent about various issues and developments since they no longer have daily relaxed in person access to their friends. It’s a lot.

There is no doubt about it – working parents have been having a hard time balancing everything during the pandemic. They may in fact be suffering from something known as parental burnout. Research, published on the Clinical Psychological Science website, notes that “parenting can be difficult, and when difficulties are experienced as being chronic or overwhelming, parental burnout may occur.” Jennifer, Walric and Keisha can certainly attest to feeling parental burnout. But what can they do?

  1. The experts recommend that people take regular breaks when facing traditional burnout. Maybe a 2-hour drive out for a fruit smoothie, green juice or ice cream for mommy or daddy only could help.
  2. Wellness blogger, Jeanette Burnette, who herself has battled burnout, insightfully recommended (in her recent Brunch-ish online conversation) establishing a rhythm of replenishing which involves solitude, reflection and observing ‘pockets of Sabbath’. Parents need this advice more than ever. In two parent households, mothers and fathers can alternate to afford each other these pockets. Single parent households will need to rope in the extended family where it is safe to do so in these Covid times.
  3. Exercise is known to reduce stress levels and improve wellbeing – don’t neglect to maintain a quick, structured routine in your schedule.
  4. Meditation and prayer are good for engendering peace, positivity and hopefulness. Parents could opt to carve out 30 minutes before kids wake in the morning or after they go to bed. Alternatively they could use their 2 hour drive out to also pray and meditate. They can use the popular Scripture in Philippians 4:8 as a frame for how to guide their thoughts during this time. “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned[e] and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” They can also use music to help put their minds in a good place.
  5. Go outside on the verandah (if you have one) or out in your yard and have a regular phone call with a friend or relative.
  6. See a medical doctor to rule out clinical depression or other medical issue that could be causing you to feel excessively drained or hopeless. Or get help from counselor or a pastor to improve mental health. Clinical psychologist Robyn Koslowitz notes that, “it’s imperative that primary
    care physicians and therapists learn about parental burnout, so they can educate their patients, be aware that these symptoms are distinct from clinical depression, and encourage their patients to access appropriate help.”
  7. And take a look at your nutrition habits and vitamin intake and make improvements as best as possible.

What else can parents do to overcome burnout?
Submit comments and queries below!

Children, Chores & Independence (Pt. 2): Husbands & Household Helpers

Last week we started looking at how families assign chores to help teach children responsibility and independence. This week we continue looking at how chores are assigned to children and other members of the household. We also see how the assignment of chores is impacted by having a household helper.

We have already seen how children and mothers share chores but what about fathers/husbands? Nahima, mother of 4 girls, aged 18 to 4 years old, discloses that her husband, Donovan, the main breadwinner and entrepreneur for a local tech business, does not have a particular assignment. Nahima had highlighted that each member of her household has a particular area of the house to take care. “Those areas are the washroom, the kitchen, the patio and the dog (which are combined), the living room, the dining room and hallway (which are combined) and someone gets one of those areas to take care of,” she explained. But her husband does not have any special area to take care of.

“Donovan does not do any of these jurisdictions. We tried having him involved in the chore scheduling but we found that when he was given a particular jurisdiction to do, his schedule was so unpredictable that even with the very best of intentions he would not be able to manage consistently enough and so things would get left undone. So what I have done is I have decided to take that pressure off of him and instead have him focus on 2 things which are taking out the garbage (and that’s garbage from all the rooms that have garbage bins) and taking care of the car,” the devoted wife of over 20 years explains.

Continuing, Nahima is quick to point out that Donovan not having an assigned chore “doesn’t mean that he doesn’t help with anything else, it just means that he is not responsible for it and I find that, that frees him up, frees him from guilt, frees him to pour his energy into the work that he does and it also has helped me with my own expectations to not be frustrated when the dishes are lying in the sink 24 hours after they were used.”

On the cooking side of things however, Donovan is very busy in the 6-person household. “He is responsible for breakfast and he also does Sunday dinner, so those are his areas. And then he helps around generally and if he feels like washing stuff any day he will chip in and wash those even though it’s not a part of his duty, which is also beautiful because it teaches all of us that we don’t have to be strict and stringent about what we do – we don’t say ‘this is not my area so I am not going to help’ but instead we can learn to serve each other,” Nahima admonishes.

Homeschooling mom of 3, Angela’s husband, Irwin is similarly not assigned to a chore per say but is involved with a little cooking and other activities. “Irwin is not on my chore schedule. He takes care of outside. He and my eldest son cut the grass (front and back and trim and rake). Irwin cooks when I need him to and he used to wash the dishes for the children on Friday nights. Some nights he will wash all for them and sometimes he helps them with washing,” Angela outlines. She was also delighted to share that “Irwin cooks us breakfast every Saturday morning. That is his gift to me because I am the main breakfast cooker. It lets me sleep late on Saturdays because almost every other morning I am up before him.” Irwin works outside the home and like Donovan is also the main breadwinner for his family.

By contrast, Sheila’s husband does not participate in household chores in general. Perhaps this is because their family has a household helper. Sheila and husband Winston who have 4 children, both work outside the home and so they rely on a household helper to get household tasks done. “There is no doubt about it, we definitely need a household helper but the challenge I face with this dynamic is ensuring that our children learn how to take care of a home and themselves,” Sheila confesses.

“So while I have my helper do the big tasks of cleaning and cooking, I assign the children dishwashing, sweeping and general tidying of the spaces. I also require that they spread their own beds every morning. Of course I have to work with my helper on this and tell her what she must not do or hide and do for the children. I want them to learn to do basic tasks,” Sheila insists.

Furthermore “since COVID-19 with our helper not being with us consistently, the kids have had to learn to cook more and that has been a blessing,” Sheila adds, noting that “they still have a lot to learn in terms of cooking meats and more complex meals.” Interestingly, Winston doesn’t participate in household chores today but Sheila says that he used to help with bathing the children and getting them ready for school when they were little.

How do you manage household chores in your home? Tell us by submitting a comment below or sending an email to .

Names have been changed for privacy purposes.

Children, Chores & Independence

Did you know that making your bed every morning is somehow linked to improved productivity in the long run, a sense of general well being and the ability to stick to a budget? That’s what Charles Duhigg found in his bestselling book The Power of Habit. Parents have long accepted the enduring value in helping their children form positive habits but these benefits put forward by Duhigg certainly help to reinforce a mother and father’s resolve.

One of the key ways to develop positive habits in children is assigning them chores. A chore is a routine household task, such as spreading your bed, doing the dishes or taking out the garbage. According to Baylor College of Medicine, “giving children simple chores can help them learn responsibility and independence from an early age and ease the transition to adulthood,” which is a relevant and opportune way to reflect on emancipation and independence with your kids this season.

Simone is a single mother of two: a 16-year-old boy and 13-year-old girl. She tells that “routines are very important, especially for my son. My daughter is more free spirited and is more of a challenge.” They both nevertheless have chores. “For example with washing the dishes everybody has their day and my day is on a Sunday so they alternate the days of the week and then there are some set things that each person is assigned and they own it – my son is assigned to take out the garbage and my daughter is assigned to taking the clothes off the line and fold and sweep up,” the dedicated working mother explained. As it pertains to cleaning the bathrooms, Simone says “my son cleans his bathroom. I clean the other bathroom. My daughter needs to take on some of that,” she confesses.

Married mother of two boys ages 16 and 7 years old and one girl age 11, Angela shares that maintaining and managing a routine of household chores for her kids is a constant work in progress. The Jamaican born mom who now lives in the United States has a very structured system of reward for chores. “I have a thing where they earn time to use electronics, specifically using the computer to watch whatever they want to watch. They get a base time that is freely given and then they have a maximum of a certain amount of minutes that they can get if they complete a certain number of things (chores).”

Moreover, the way chores are assigned has evolved over time. “There was a time when they were younger when I would call the names with all the duties listed and I would have a time for check off. They use to earn rewards, they use to earn money all kinds of things… but right now the easiest way for us is that there is a standard list of things they have to do and there are 3 slots on that list that involve routines and housework. So there is category called chores and there is a category called mom reserves one and mom reserves 2. So there is a set chore they have to do and then mom reserves is literally whatever I reserve that I want done in that slot and that can be housework or something else. And then each week I hand write a list for the 3 of them and the 3 slots,” the super organized homeschooling mom described, noting that her mantra is that “in families, we help each other.”

Angela’s children also chip in with cleaning the bathrooms. “We have 3 bathrooms. Downstairs is a half bathroom so we use the half bathroom most since we are downstairs a lot. So we try to get that bathroom cleaned twice a week and the upstairs bathroom that has the bath we try to get those cleaned once a week and then have an additional day when all toilets get cleaned. So we cycle through the 2 older ones doing those duties,” the attentive mother reveals.

Nahima, another homeschooling mom of 4 girls ranging from around 18 years to 4 years, who also works to support her husband’s tech business in Jamaica, provides a different perspective on how chores can be assigned. “We have gone through many iterations of chores schedules over the years – currently what we are doing is having a cycle. So I focus on a few main areas – those areas are the washroom, the kitchen, the patio and the dog (which are combined), the living room, the dining room and hallway (which are combined) and so what we do each week is that someone gets one of those areas to take care of. So for example I am on kitchen duty this week that means washing all dishes, wiping down the counters, sweeping the kitchen, wiping off the stove top etc,” she outlines.

But Nahima being on kitchen duty doesn’t mean that others don’t help out. “We try to encourage each other to be considerate so that if you use something you wash up the thing that you use. But there is always stuff that gets left behind from cooking or if somebody uses something and they end up going out for whatever reason then their stuff gets left behind and so on, and that’s fine, but we try to make sure we wash what we use and the person on duty washes up everything else,” Nahima shares. When it comes to cleaning bathrooms, she says that “I clean the bathroom that my husband and I use. The girls are responsible for theirs. I am a little pickier about bathrooms so they are asked to clean their bathroom at least twice a week because it’s very heavy duty usage.”

The experienced mom adds that “I use to give the girls rewards for chores but the main thing I want to emphasize now is that chores are part of being good stewards of the spaces that they occupy. Its preparation for them when they leave the house to become roommates in college or if they are going to get married. (So it’s about them) just learning how to take care of a space that you share with somebody else and learning how to manage your time and resources so I am trying to emphasize that.”

Next week, join us for part 2 of Children, Chores & Independence.
Names have been changed for privacy purposes.

Submit comments and queries below!

Father’s Day Edition | Raising Strong Boys and Repairing Broken Men

Raising Strong Boys and RepairingBroken Men is the timely theme for the June | Father’s Day Edition of Familyand Faith Magazine. Shorter than the previous documentary at 22 minutes, this throwback edition features impactful Christian men and their testimonies of faith, fatherhood and restoration. They include: Altano Morgan, manufacturer of ICAN; Robert Dixon, Principal of Operation Restoration Christian School and Dr. Wayne Henry, Economist and Director General of the Planning Institute of Jamaica. The documentary also connects with three promising young boys – Israel Redwood, Seth Ridgard and Luke Ridgard.

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In keeping with the theme, the documentary, which was sponsored by the Jamaica Broilers Group, provides godly advice on raising strong boys.

In the documentary, Principal, Robert Dixon asserts that, “Children spell love – T-I-M-E. We have to spend time with our children. For both my son and the children at school I see my life as a foundation for these students.” The young principal advances that, “For my son, yes his foundation, his identity is linked to me to who I am and to who I am in Christ but for my students who have no other foundation who probably don’t know their father, can I be that foundation for them? Can I be so secure in myself that they can build their life on who I am and what I stand for?”

For his part, Dr. Wayne Henry points to three strategies for growing strong boys. First, he says it’s important “to be present, to be alongside, to be near.” Then, “There must be instruction and advice. Solomon, he said, listen to my advice son, heed my warning and you will prosper.” His third nugget of wisdom is the need to show boys lessons and principles by example. “A lot of times we are too willing to say “do as I say and not as I do” and there is a key of leadership that we miss where Paul says follow me as I follow Christ. “We don’t invite people to follow us. Part of leadership, part of mentoring is that you have to be that example. The willingness to put on display even with your mistakes and your flaws, that example,” the father of 3 insists.

Manufacturer and motivational speaker, Altano Morgan adds that the key to raising a strong boy is teaching him that there is a God, a Father who loves him despite the challenges he comes across in life. “There is a father there that will take care of him. There is a father there that wants the best for him. Even as an earthy father you are not going to be there every time to guide him and to teach him and all the different things, but when you tell him about the Father up above who is looking down with his tender love, showing you, guiding you, directing you, that’s the fundamental foundation for me for raising a strong boy,” Morgan declares.

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President and Founder of Family and Faith Magazine, Shelly-Ann Harris feels turning the spotlight on boys and men is vital at this time. “The data is showing us that in many ways we are failing our boys, so we felt it was very important to focus on how to raise boys and restore broken men for our Father’s Day Edition, which balances our recent focus on women in the Easter Edition that was released a couple months ago,” Harris explains. Watch Now!

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What Can Families do this Summer?

June marks the beginning of summer but of course this holiday will be different from any other summer in living memory! Older teens will have exams in July and younger kids won’t have the freedom to freely frolic as in previous years. Plus travelling overseas to visit family, friends and exciting foreign destinations is likely to be a no-no. So what can families do this summer? Well, if the Government goes ahead and reopens the economy and the COVID-19 virus continues to be contained, there may be a few activities that can keep the family happy and engaged with the world in the upcoming holiday!

  • Road trips – pack the car with food, sanitizer, masks and change of clothes and take the family on road trips across our breathtaking island! There is so much you can still go out and see while of course continuing to wear a mask and maintaining proper hygiene.
  • Start a home garden together and see the beauty of watching something grow! It’s a great reminder that even though so much is out of our control, we can still sow, reap and experience the wonders of life. Peppers and tomatoes are easy to grow and reap in 2 months!
  • Use those smartphones and tablets to capture videos of all that adventure and make family movies. Add those movies to your blockbuster hits for family movie night at home!

Do you have any cool ideas for how to keep the family happy and engaged this summer? Comment below!

Mothers, Helpers and Balancing Home & Work during COVID-19

Working women across the world have taken on at least another 2 or 3 homebased jobs during this COVID-19 season – teacher, chef and maid – and this of course while continuing their traditional primary roles of mother and wife. In Jamaica, the burden is no different. However one of the factors that has made it even more difficult for working women in Jamaica is not having the support of a household helper which is a common feature in many homes. It has become problematic or at best, tricky, to continue to benefit from having a household helper given the social distancing and stay at home precautionary measures required to keep COVID-19 at bay. Helpers, after all, can’t work from home.

Renee is a marketer who lives alone with her 4 children ranging from 3 years to 14 years of age. She relies heavily on her mother and her helper to help care for the children, prepare meals, clean and do laundry, among other activities. But with the advent of COVID-19, Renee has to work from home and directly take on the management of the household. She is immensely stretched as her helper who lives in St. Catherine was unable to come to work for 2 weeks due to the lockdown in the parish. And then after the lockdown was lifted, Renee was reluctant to have her helper take public transportation and come into their home to care for the children. “Social distancing is not possible when you have a helper bathing your toddler and feeding her meals,” Renee insists. So she has asked her helper to stay at home, even though she continues to pay her salary. Renee has also lost the help of her mom who is over 65 with underlying health conditions and who has not been feeling well since the crisis escalated locally.

There is a huge upside however. Renee says her older children have now started to help with laundry and to make some of the family meals. “It’s not easy at all, but I would be lying if I didn’t say I was grateful for how my children have had to become more responsible and helpful. They have stepped up,” the marketer confessed. “I have to continue to work and they have to do school online and we all simply have to pitch in to make things work,” she reasoned. The older children have to also take turns with watching their 3 year old sibling but that is not always seamless. “Sometimes I am doing video meetings and my 3 year old will just run into my room and I say, ‘mommy, I need to pee, I need to pee’ or ‘mommy can I have some juice please’,” Renee reveals laughing.

However the pressure is expected to ease a bit when the family’s helper returns to work in the next week or two, depending on the rate of local transmission. She is expected to work every other week and Renee’s children are expected to continue with their chores of washing dishes, laundry and tidying up not only their room but the whole house. “This is the silver lining in all this. Finally getting my children to not only pitch in but also to recognize the value in all the things required to take care of our home and each other,” the mother of 4 concludes.

Jennifer is another mother struggling to balance all her responsibilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Married with 2 daughters, ages 15 and 9, Jennifer runs her own consultancy firm. Even though her family can more than afford a helper, they had been trying without success to find a suitable person who could live-in from before the health crisis. Now, with COVID-19 precautions, they no longer see it as a feasible/ safe option. Moreover, with both Jennifer and her husband Paul having to go into office from time to time, this has meant leaving the children unsupervised on a few occasions. Eventually Jennifer had to make a decision to work from home, contending that “the office must be able to function without me being physically present.” Now she is able to closely supervise school projects and other activities for the children while doing most of the ironing. Her husband Paul, who does most of the meal preparations, still goes into office but with Jennifer anchoring things at home, they are reaping the benefits of investing more time in family and saving money they would have ordinarily paid a live-in housekeeper.

Medical Doctor, Sandra has a 16 year old girl and 14 year old boy. Her family still has the benefit of a helper who comes in daily. However the helper does not take public transportation. Sandra’s husband, who also works full time, picks her up and drops her home every day to reduce her risk of contracting the virus on a bus or in a public space. Sandra who works extremely long hours in one of the major public hospitals also has very strict personal protocols to help keep herself and her family safe. Of
course, she dons all the necessary personal protective equipment and observes all the protocols at the hospital but at home she takes other steps which include quickly again changing her clothing and showering before seeing her family. Additionally, Sandra has chosen to avoid all direct contact with her elderly parents to eliminate the risk of them contracting the virus from her, in the event that she has it and is asymptomatic. For Mother’s Day, she sent her mom a beautiful heartfelt message and transferred a financial gift to her mom’s account. It’s the first time she has not seen her mother on Mother’s Day but she reasons that it is a small price to pay to keep her safe.

No doubt, women have had to balance work, home and extenuating circumstances for a long time. Without much fanfare or applause many of them remain faithful to keeping their families fed, safe and cared for regardless of the current of health crisis.

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What Husbands & Wives Need from Each Other

Did you know that one of the main reasons people go to see a counsellor is to solve a marital conflict?How is your marriage doing and what are your relationship goals? Today, Family and Faith Magazine takes you to marriage counselling with no less than renowned marriage counsellor and CEO of Family Life Ministries, Dr. Barry Davidson, who reveals that 40% of engaged couples who come to see him eventually decide not to get married! That’s a large percentage! The good news however is that it also means that 60% are prepared for the journey and to get the tools they need to succeed in their marriage. Part of that preparation involves understanding the needs of your spouse. Dr. Davidson explains that a happy marriage is where you have needs fulfillment; where both husband and wife understand and strive to meet each other’s needs.

So, what are those needs? According to the experienced marriage counsellor, a wife has 5 primary needs.

  1. The need for affection – That doesn’t just mean sex. Wives need to be made to feel valued, cared for and important in their husband’s life.

2. The need for conversation. From a woman’s perspective there are 3 aspects to conversation – a. Information, where her husband shares with her what is going on in his life and she shares what’s going in her life and so on; b. Investigation where questions are asked and answered; and c. Understanding – she wants her husband to try to understand her.

3. The need for total trust, openness and honesty. She needs to know that she can trust her husband and that she is the only woman in his life; that she doesn’t have to worry about getting STIs, HIV etc.

4. The need for financial security and support – She needs to have a husband who is going to play his part financially. She is not necessarily asking him to make more money than her but she
wants for him to pull his weight. She doesn’t want to think she has a big son. She wants to know that she has a partner, a husband.

5. She needs her husband to be a good father to the children – Being a good father isn’t just about being a provider, it is being able to give the children time and attention and being a positive role model for the children.

Here now are the primary needs of a husband.

 Most husbands need sexual fulfillment – Not that the wife obliges them or feels sorry for them or is going to give in to them or not have a head ache tonight but that their wife is in fact interested in sex as much as they are. Moreover, what husbands will tell you is that if their wife initiates lovemaking it has the ability to transform a mundane black and white existence into living glorious technicolour and so that is a very important need for most husbands.

 The need for companionship – recreational, social intellectual. A husband needs his wife to go places with him, to do things with him and think through issues together.

 The need for a wife to maintain her physical attractiveness. Most men are meeting attractive women out there and so they want to go home and see their wife not wearing an ‘old frock’ but rather a husband needs his wife to stimulate him and maintain her attractiveness – it is very important.

 Most men want their wives to be a domestic manager, not a domestic helper but a manager who manages the home and makes sure things are done properly and in good order.

 The final need that most men have is not to be constantly criticized. Men don’t want their wives to constantly complain but rather a husband wants his wife to be more affirming, to stroke his ego, to make him feel larger than life!

According to Dr. Davidson, if these needs are being met, the wife and the husband will experience happiness which psychologists define as the beautiful experience of having someone to love who will in turn love you back.

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God’s Grace After Losing a Baby

How does a woman recover after losing a baby she carried and loved in her womb for 9 months? Moreover, how does she recover after losing more than one of those babies? If we learn anything from one special woman’s story, we learn that it is by nothing less than God’s grace. Family and Faith
Magazine caught up with the beautiful, soft-spoken powerhouse Founder and Director of Laud Dance Ministries, Nickeisha Antonette Jones who recalled when she had a miscarriage as a young mother and how she was tempted to take her life.

“The nurse said don’t push until I come back so as a first-time mother, if the nurse gives you an instruction even if you feel like pushing, you are gonna close your legs. So that’s what I did and it ended up sending the baby in distress because the baby defecated inside of me and inhale it and later on the pediatrician that came to talk to me said that if the baby lived she would have been a vegetable,” Nickeisha recounts.

A miscarriage can certainly be one of the hardest emotional and physical experiences for women, especially for a young mother. To make things worse, the hospital where Nickeisha delivered her stillborn placed her in the same space with women who had just delivered their babies safely.

“So that was like torture. I remember when I was laying down on my bed, it was 4 persons in our cubicle and when I looked over I saw this teenager who I had learned worked in the market. She didn’t have anything. And another lady was there and she wasn’t married or anything and ‘the enemy’ just came in. I literally just felt a presence sat on my bed, it sank. And he was like ‘you do praise and worship, you dance, so whe your God deh, whe your baby deh?’ And he showed me the young lady who wasn’t married and the lady who wasn’t married with their babies and he showed me some other persons and I just draw the screen around myself. And he was saying to me, when the nurses do the last call just tell them that you are going to the bathroom, go all the way to the top and jump off the building cause you don’t have no purpose.”

Nickeisha was so broken by the experience that she had decided in her heart to jump. However, God in the nick of time, sent one of His servants to encourage Nickeisha during this dark moment. Nickeisha remembers an African nurse who was to do the last check on the ward that night.

“She asked, ‘why is the screen drawn?’ You are not supposed to draw the screen because we have to see the baby. And the other lady who was across the bed told her that I lost my baby and then the nurse said, oh. And when she pulled the screen she just started to pray and she started cover my mind. She said ‘The Lord is going to give you a child that you think is like 10 children’ (which is now my son), and He is going to allow you to do things and she started to prophecy over my life and when she did that I started to feel different. I was actually planning out everything (to jump off the building) but when she was leaving she said God loves you and I will see you tomorrow and I said ok. And by the time she left, the place wasn’t so gloomy anymore and so I started to go over to the ladies and I went to the teenager and I said where is your stuff? And she said her mother don’t bring it yet, she will bring it in the morning.And I took up most of my baby stuff and I gave it to her and the other ladies and I just start walking around and giving away all the things. The only thing I kept was a blanket my mother bought and a booty.”

Since that time Nickeisha experienced other miscarriages but she is happy for the two wonderful children – a talented daughter and son – who God allowed her to have. The phenomenal dancer and mother is certainly a woman of faith who has experienced God’s hand in her life and now more than anything else she just wants to make Him smile, through dance.

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