An open letter to Dr. Matiang’i; This long December holiday

My two girls, Naomi & Wanda closed school on Saturday 29th October to resume in January next year. That is exactly two months and five days. In other words, those are 9 weeks or 63 days. That is a darn long time for kids to be free to stay at home with no strict program and with minimal supervision.

I am a worried and concerned parent.

Yesterday in a cousins’ group, on one of my cousins posted a letter supposedly written by a teacher in reaction to us parents whining about this upcoming long holiday. To summarize the lengthy letter that feigned love and concern from a dedicated teacher. The teacher asked us to stop complaining and take the time to bond with our kids because we have somehow left that responsibility to Matiang’i ,his team and our nannies.

This is why am writing a letter hoping that as Matiang’i is going through his phone, he will come across it and empathize just a bit with us.

Dear Dr. Matiang’i,

My name is Njeri but please call me Mama Naomi, am a mother of three kids; two of which, are in kindergarten. The last born just turned 10 months.

I want to believe that the decision to give our kids a 2 month holiday came from a good place. Yes, some of us parents have not been the best at prioritizing and knowing the importance of spending as much time with our children.

In an ideal world, I would fully support you. In an ideal world, our employers would agree to a 3-week leave in November, just before the Christmas break. But we don’t live in an ideal world.

It is virtually impossible to survive on one salary in this country. I know you have probably heard the argument that it’s because we are in pursuit of too many comforts, but I can assure you, our kids do not go to a Montessori kindergarten. In a country where we are forced to seek  private solutions to public problems, private solutions cost money. I am sure you have kids and know just how many times they feel unwell. I cannot rely on NHIF and private clinics cost money.

Many mothers like me are now caught between a rock and a hard place over your decision.

I hate to leave my kids watching cartoons because our Nanny needs to do house chores and take care of our 10-month-old son. I pity her because for 8 hours, she will be all alone managing 3 kids all under 5 years. I have been there and sometimes they can make you go nuts.

We have planned a holiday program for the two older ones. However, this costs money not to mention the crazy logistics of dropping them and picking them.

Bwana Matiang’i, did you know, there are virtually no community playgrounds anymore! If they have not been grabbed, they are not safe. You cannot leave your child there and go for them 6 hours later. So now we are left with paid entertainment in form of Luna parks, malls, and camp programs. Do you know how much these things cost? A minimum of 1,000 per child per day. If I am to take my two daughters there every day for just two weeks, that will come to Ksh. 20,000. I have not even calculated transport or the snacks they will be asked to carry. That does not even cover December. Come January, I will be so broke, I might have to take a loan to pay school fees. For me to pay it back, I will have to work extra hours least I get fired. This now becomes a vicious cycle.

Please forgive me Bwana Matiang’i for my rant. I love my children and I want the best for them. I know that no toy, no nice clothes or cartoons can ever replace my presence in their lives. I have given up things I love doing so that I can spend as much time as I can with them. This is what I signed up for when I became a parent.

Here is my suggestion to you so that this long holiday does not to seem like a punishment from you to us for bearing children;

Why not have your ministry liaise with the ministry of labour and the Federation of Kenyan Employers to synchronize the December holiday with work/compassionate leave. I am sure this can be worked out. We are seeking to emulate the developed countries that allow children to go on summer breaks. Well, the break is also extended to the parents so it can be done here as well.

This is my humble request to you as one parent to another. I hope you will put it into consideration.

A concerned parent,
Mama Naomi

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