Advice Column, Child, Parenting

LOAD SHEDDING AND YOUR FAMILY – life lessons to be gained

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Instead of going into a decline about load shedding and feeling unable to cope, show your teenager how to manage load shedding to her advantage. Our load shedding can be used as a practical and hands-on way to teach our kids to plan ahead and be prepared for any eventuality. Instead of moaning about it and considering emigrating, embrace load shedding to demonstrate valuable life lessons.

Complaining in front of your teens does not help them. Let them see that there are ways to manage what we cannot change.

Everyone has a cell phone and it is easy to find the load shedding schedule for your area. Eskom-se-Push is reliable and friendly. Your teens can learn to decipher and follow a schedule which has some meaning to them – rather than the bus timetable in a textbook, which they will never use.

Your teens know when they have tests to write or when assignments are due. Load shedding teaches them to complete work or to study in advance. No more last-minute rush to prepare for a test or finish a project. It requires discipline and discipline is a good life lesson.

Teenagers know when they have sport or phys. Ed. at school. They must plan to wash the relevant clothing when the power is on, not use load shedding as an excuse to be without the correct uniform. I have even heard some teens blaming their helper for clothes not having been washed! We want to raise responsible and self-motivated young people.

If your load shedding is due to take place early in the morning, teach your teens to put out their school clothes and bags the night before. It will save a lot of stress when nobody has to hunt for an odd sock in the dark. Organizing your clothing and necessities is a good habit and one which can be continued for life.

Shower or bath when the power is on, unless your teens do not mind cold water. We don’t usually have load shedding in the evening and then again the following morning, so have a proper shower when the water is hot and perhaps a “lick and a promise” wash in the morning!

Phones must, obviously, be charged when there is no load shedding. Possibly, if there was load shedding at your home, the phone can be charged at school, where the schedule is different.

There is no need to buy expensive take – out food when the lights are out. When you know that there will be no power before dinner time, prepare a meal in advance which can be enjoyed cold. Chicken and salads are enjoyed by most teens. Ice cream in your freezer will not spoil after a couple of hours without Eskom, so give them an ice cream and chocolate sauce treat. Remember that most fast foods are filled with MSG and other chemicals which we cannot pronounce. Do we really want to encourage out teens to consume these foods regularly? Later in life they will be sad when they have developed diabetes, high blood pressure or cholesterol problems.

If your family really objects to cold dinner, invest in a small gas cooker. These are available at most hardware stores. You can then prepare a meal when ESKOM favours you and later heat it on your gas cooker.

Plug-in lights, which you charge and then use when the power is out, will provide you with enough illumination to see, read and do homework. There is a way to cope with any problem!

Keep a few good-quality thermos flasks filled with boiling water so that you can have a hot drink in the mornings.

Resist the temptation to give your teens tuckshop money in the mornings when the lights are out. Train them to pack a healthy lunch box for themselves the evening before. Fruit, vegetable slices and a wholemeal sandwich will be fine kept in the ‘fridge overnight. The other teens in your child’s class will envy the delicious food brought to school by your teenager every day!

For a later evening black-out, you could devise a general knowledge-by-candelight quiz. This will be valuable family time and you will be teaching your teens about the world and current events. You will also enjoy setting the quiz and probably learn a lot!

Make load shedding a positive part of your family life. Laugh and enjoy the time with your teens when they cannot be on their laptops or phones. You will love the real conversations you can enjoy!

Every blackout has a golden lining!

Tracy Freemantle 

Pinnacle College Kyalami Senior English Teacher

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