It’s that time of the year when we all migrate from the cities and our urban dwellings to go and ‘reconnect with our ancestors and our roots’ by spending a few days/weeks at our parent’s home in the village or bundus/shagz as a lot of kids refer to it.
Going upcountry to the village with your family can be one of the best experiences for all of you. It can be a chance to reconnect with your relatives and with nature as well. Its also an opportunity to escape the huff and buff of city life, traffic jams, water rationing and the concrete jungle that our lives have become confided in.
It can also be one of the most boring, hair pulling experiences for you and your kids if not planned well or if its not something you all honestly feel is good for you. Going to visit your parents in the village just to appease them is one of the worst motivations of travelling with your kids as you will all be complaining about one thing or the other. The pit latrine, the lack of electricity or a fridge, the mud, the nagging relatives coming over to ask what you brought them, the list is endless.
Our two girls have already spent 2 weeks at my mum’s place and will soon be going to their paternal grandmother’s place in the Mt. Kenya region in the next few days. It has become a long holiday ritual which they have come to both appreciate and love. This might perhaps change as they grow older but we will deal with it when they grow into teenage-hood.
So for you planning how you will get through those two weeks in the village wondering how your kids will cope, here are a few tips;
- Its all about having the right attitude and appreciating the unique experience that all of you as a family will have. As a parent, its important for you to explain to your kids the importance of family and why its important that they know and reconnect with their grandparents, cousins, uncles and aunties. This way, they know that they are part of a larger family. Its also important that your child understands that there is more to life than material comfort, that relationships are important and that not its not everyone who lives the same way they do.
- Purpose to carry for them as few electronics as possible. It simply beats the whole logic of going to the village if they will re-create the same urban home environment in the village. The whole idea is for kids to thrive and cope in a totally different environment to understand what real life truly is. That food and groceries don’t come from the supermarket, its actually grown in the farm. That milk comes from a cow or goat not from the dairy. I think you get my drift.
- Plan a schedule of activities they will help out in when in the village. Be it harvesting, fetching firewood or water, milking, feeding the farm animals, cleaning their homes, planting, preparing meals etc. It should not be optional and if you are not there, then their grandparent or relative should be with them and ensure that they don’t give excuses.
- Leave junk food in the city and get some cleansing. We have all come to be very clingy of some urban eating habits which are sometimes un-healthy. Travelling to the village does not happen every other month thus its a great way to fully immerse yourself into a shift in the way you and your family eats. Leave the cereals and the processed juices and foods in the city. Nothing beats eating arrow roots, cassava or sweet potatoes fresh from the farm in the morning for breakfast. Most of the foods available in the village are healthy as they are directly from the farm with little processing. The diet in most villages usually has more legumes as a source of proteins and not meats, your body will thank you for all the detox thanks to the village diet.
- Teach your kids a few words of greeting and basic communication in your mother tongue as well as your husband’s/wife’s if you are from different communities. Those few words will help them appreciate the need to learn more when in the village making it less awkward for the grandparents trying to squeeze in the few English words they know. If the uncles or aunts are in the village, you can inform them in advance that you are trying to get the kids to learn their mother tongue for them to speak to them in both swahili/english and their mother tongue.
You might not be able to successfully implement all the above tips in the first visit especially if your kids are in their teens as they tend to feel like the village is the worst thing that can happen to their otherwise interesting life in the city with their friends. Take it all one step at a time and don’t be hell bent to ensure that they appreciate being in the village like you do. Most importantly, don’t forget to have fun and relax, Its a holiday after all.