While everyone hates when load shedding kicks in, for parents it can particularly be nerve-racking trying to keep their children entertained. Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency(ANA)
While everyone hates when load shedding kicks in, for parents it can particularly be nerve-racking trying to keep their children entertained. Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency(ANA)

This is how SA parents are entertaining their children during load shedding

By Theolin Tembo Time of article published Mar 12, 2020

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Cape Town - While everyone hates that moment when load shedding kicks in, for parents it can particularly be nerve-wracking trying to keep their little ones preoccupied and entertained until the lights go back on.

On Thursday Eskom said the nationwide power cuts across the country of up to 4 000 megawatts will last indefinitely, as repairs are taking longer than anticipated. 

The latest round load shedding was triggered by breakdowns this week at a score of generating units, including at Koeberg nuclear power station in Cape Town. Initially, the power utility giant said the outages would last only until Friday. After speaking to parents, these were some of the ways they said they entertain their children during power cuts.

For Venecia and her two children, aged three and eight, load shedding means being extra cautious as a parent and to keep a watchful eye on them.

“I always have to entertain and watch them to prevent them from getting hurt. I don't like candles and try to use a light or phone torch when we do our 'shadow puppet show' against any wall of the house using the light to help make shadows. These days, I load their tablets with movies to keep them occupied for at least two hours of the load shedding session,” she said. 

Nontando says that life hasn't changed much for her one-year-old baby boy: “We have some of his favourites shows/ cartoons downloaded on YouTube so he can watch them when we are on or offline,” she said.

Quinton said his 17-month-old toddler’s curiosity is at its highest during load shedding: “Load shedding allows us to play and discover. At night candles are usually lit around the house simply because I haven't had a chance to buy those fancy LED lights. I'm sure should we get those lights he'll be as fascinated with them as he has been with the candles,” he said.

For Megan load shedding gives her and her little five-year-old girl a chance to bond: “Sometimes it's a struggle getting her to bed early because she's usually awake until 9pm or sometimes later. When the lights go out we read under the flashlight (she loves that) and she also loves playing shadow puppets. 

”I also encourage her to make up her own bedtime stories - which helps put me to sleep. Before long we're both fast asleep,” she said.

Mom of two kids, aged five and 11-years-old, Marchelle reveals load shedding brings them closer as a family: “Basically when we know what time load shedding kicks in we go on to Netflix and we download a few episodes of whatever the kids want to see and once its load shedding we all go to the bedroom with our snacks and we all in bed watching series on a small phone with speakers on the side of the bed,” she said.

Yolisa, mom of a three-year-old and a seven-month-old, says: "The worst is when we have load shedding between 4 pm and 8, as those are the times we get home and get them ready for bed and prepare for the next day. So when there is load shedding during those times, we have to bath them using candlelight and find activities for them to do till they fall asleep. We usually have to eat take out or sandwiches as we aren't able to make food. The baby usually falls asleep quickly after bath time and her bottle," Yolisa said.

"The toddler usually watches videos on mine or her dad's phone. Or we will sit in bed and read a book, with a torch, which she loves, until she sleeps. We tried playing Monopoly and Scrabble when the power is out, but it was an epic fail. She just runs away with the money and keeps stealing pieces, so we stopped that. Then when the power comes on then I will have to get ready for the next day, iron their clothes and make the little ones meal for the next day, etc. I usually end up sleeping later than usual as everything is delayed.

Kim, mom of a one-year-old and a six-year-old said: "When load shedding occurs during the day, I take this time to make sure the kids get fresh air. So we take the dogs for a walk or go to the park. If I can't do that I make sure they are playing in the yard. I don't like leaving them in front of devices. Sand is the best playtoy. All they need is a bucket and spade."

* Additional reporting by Marvin Charles.

Cape Argus

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