Don’t Panic. Well, don’t panic too much.
As exciting as a the resumption of a new school year may sound for kids this September, it is currently nothing cheery for many Nigerian parents. With the price of everything literally now double and the insistence of our finance minister that recession is just a word, a word that can cause near heart failure when your child’s school sends you a fee’s reminder email, I decided to write a few tips on surviving or hopefully living above this horror of a word.
- MEAL PLAN; Make a meal plan for your kids. Weekly, monthly, however works for your family. This way you know how much exactly you need from fruit to vegetables and snacks. By following a planned menu, you can easily cook in bulk and re create left over meals. If you serve pasta and sauce on Monday night, you can toss some tuna and sweetcorn into a little oil and mix with the left over pasta for Tuesday lunch. The key is to make sure they continue to eat healthy. And healthy does not necessarily mean costly. Cut down gradually on frizzy drinks. Those things drain your purse faster than anything else. Buy fruits and juice them. Put them in fancy cups with straws to distract them and reserve the fizzy drinks for school and birthday parties.
- RE USE; Instead of buying every single thing on your kid’s back to school list, consider reusing some of last session’s unfinished stuff. For instance spiral notebooks. Hardly do those notes finish during a school year, but because a new school year need’s a new book we tend to forget about them. How about you take out all the pages that haven’t been written on and put them in a new ring binder. That’s a fresh new book right there. Or at least use them as scrap paper to practice handwriting for younger kids or subjects that require workings and practice like math for older kids. Last year’s pencil case can be this year’s art and craft storage kit. Same with things like glue and glitters. Add half bottles together and you just may be saving yourself a few thousand naira’s. Switch things up here and there.
- PRIORITIZE; As this new school year begins, have a proper discussion with your child(ren) perhaps have a written agreement on what exactly they want to do as extra curricular per term or per year. While it is interesting to have them be in swimming club, music club, karate club, ballet club, mandarin club, restrict the number to what you can afford and the dearest one to them. Explain why they can only do a certain number this time around. And though you are saving cost on buying resources and accessories for each club, you are also teaching them to commit to something specific and work at it. Plus the fuel to drive them to all these activities??? Jesox!!!
- CARPOOLING; When I was growing up, I remember riding to school with neighbours many times and they also with us. We didn’t all exactly attend the same school, but the schools were all inside the university of Ibadan. I don’t see that as much now probably because there are now more cases of kidnap and child related crimes and trust is a hard thing to find. However, there are still trust worthy people, and you can make plans that work for you both with them. Say you drop your kids and their’s this week and they do same next week. Or you drop them off in the mornings and they pick up after school. Consider factors like your office location, your closing time, availability of a domestic staff, etc.
- BE SMART WITH YOUR BUYING(s); If you have children ages 0-15, they grow every 6 months to one year. Don’t spend too much on kicks this session because believe me they will ask for another pair before next March whether or not they have out grown them. For stationery and school supplies buy in bulk and mandate how long they should be used for. For the one’s they can’t immediately grow out of, like back packs, buy really sturdy ones that can last for two years or even more.
- HOME REMEDIES; While it is important to get children to a hospital as soon as humanly possible, try home remedies first for common flu or diahorrea. Also use preemptive measures so they don’t fall ill easily. Bump up their vitamin C intake this rainy season and consider home treatments ranging from lemon to honey to palm oil before rushing to spend money on antibiotics.
- SCAMS; Many new desperate money making and saving platforms will spring up in different names. Don’t fall for it. If you can’t understand how the business makes the money it promises you, don’t invest in it. Keep in mind that in these hard times very few will actually publicise a business opportunity that gives them fantastic returns. If they’re publicising it, it’s usually because it needs a lot of people to commit their money to provide the illusion of bumper profits. This is a hallmark of ponzi schemes.
- ***BONUS—Consider homeschooling for 2-4year olds if you have the time, resources and will to do it. It can be terribly draining but you can give it a shot. After all, research has shown that children who went to play group/pre school don’t necessarily have a head start advantage over children who didn’t when they start proper primary school.
- ***BONUS– Shut down internet at bed time. We all know that older kids with phones don’t necessarily sleep immediately. They often check instagram and snap chat just before they nod off. Well, if you pull out the internet plugs every night, you will be saving some data. They will most likely be grumpy after they realise, but well, who grumpy epp???
I hope that the recession blows over soon. Stay on top of this mama’s and papa’s, this too will pass