So Why Should I Hire a Virtual Assistant?

very busy business woman by jesadaphormIf you’ve got this far and have opened this article to read, then you have already recognised that you may need a little bit of support in your business. I’m glad you’ve chosen Remote Associatesto give you a little bit of an insight.

You’re possibly feeling overwhelmed with the amount of work you have to do? Spending more hours doing those menial tasks that take up your precious time, when you could be concentrating on the elements of your business that make you the income. For example, clearing and prioritising your inbox, sending and chasing up invoices,  scheduling appointments, answering enquiry telephone calls, proofreading and editing documents, keeping on top of your social media or even taking time out and remembering to have lunch (VA’s offer reminder services too!). Well then, you need a virtual assistant!

So just what are the benefits?

Hand holding benifits buttons by Photokanok

1. Virtual Assistants are independent contractors. So you…

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How success is defined in the diaspora

With the economic meltdown, so many Zimbabweans have flocked to South Africa and other countries for better living conditions. While a few have been disappointed, the majority have realised their dreams, buying cars, techno gadgets, furniture or even clothes. For a person who hardly had anything other than the clothes on his back at home and now be able to walk into any store and buy whatever the heart desires, it is truly a dream come true.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

They damn well must feel this good because they have work so hard, some working for more than eight-twelve hours/six days a week. Education does not really count here as even university graduates can find themselves doing menial jobs next to an uneducated person because they do not have the right documents to acquire the jobs that they have trained and qualified to do.

Success is then characterised by how many goods you send via “courier” often by a guy who has worked equally hard to acquire a truck so that he can ferry the goods of fellow countrymen back home at a price. Though quite risky as the courier is unregistered and often results in good being lost, damaged or stolen in transit it is still the most favoured method of transportation.

Another measure of success is owning a car, no matter what shape or condition it is. From a person who maybe only travelled several times in a bus before, owning a car is a huge step, often worthy of respect from peers and family.

One can also command respect by having the latest smartphones or techno gadget like iPads, notebooks or even just a desktop pc.

The biggest success is being able to buy a plot back home and building even just one room. This is understandably a success measure, because from the getting the plot to building a room, everything is obtained using cash up front. So it means working long hours so that you can support your family wherever they are and still be able to save money to purchase building requirements.

When it comes to children, if you put your child in an English speaking school or preschool, then you are on top of your league. Though most criticize English speaking peers, alleging that they are trying to be too white, one gets a kick when their child wows crowds by speaking through the nose, as they call it. Then they claim that it’s the school’s fault because the school teaches the kids to be like that.

For women, if you can wear heels with stockings, boots and coats in winter, switch hair styles frequently, then you are making it big. Having your nails done even if you work as a domestic is a sure sign of success. In the home you can’t miss having a fridge, microwave oven, plasma TV and a room divider, those top the must have in the home. If you can add satellite TV then you are surely successful.

All this comes through working extremely hard in the diaspora at the expense of raising your kids. They are raised by extended family back home in Zimbabwe, sometimes it can take years before one can visit, for others who can afford, they can do one or more visits per year to see the kids. I guess the kids are only too happy to see their parents when they visit or send goods and money every month, no matter the circumstances or conditions the children live in. It is a choice the parent makes in the name of success.

Mother to child communication

levelOver the last few years our parenting skills have significantly changed from the way we were raised. This is because we have an overload of information resources which can be easily accessed through the internet, workshops, clubs, groups and so on. Because of the internet we have an endless sea of self made gurus who seem to know all and are willing to impart information freely or at whatever price we can afford to pay.

While it is good to instil good self esteem patterns, it is also important to maintain discipline. Effective communication lines should be open at all times and one must know when to use the best method. You cannot always have time to reach to your child’s level or even talk to them. Even when you are busy they should know that you have their attention.

As an African, I remember growing up that most if not all mothers had serious eye communication skills for every situation. Having several children in an extended family set-up, mothers did not have time to give full attention to every child yet they were expected to raise well behaved children. A child’s behaviour is a reflection of the mother’s character, so one had to be ingenious in any circumstance and come up with effective ways of dealing with their children.

It did not matter if the mother was standing across the room or street, sitting with the child or away from the child, if she was busy with something, occasional she would take a quick peek at what the children were doing, it seemed their eyes were everywhere. Though not perfect methods, the different eye communication was very effective and I happy to use some of the ways I learned from my mother.

Don’t let me come there
Just means stop what you doing, because if I come there, there will be hell to pay

Don’t you dare
Is when she somehow can tell what you are about to do and her look will tell you not to even think about it. As a child I remember always wondering how she knew what I was going to do next.

This is not over
She realises you have done something and just maintains her cool but not before telling you that she has reserved a lecture for later.

We have spoken about this
After so many warnings you still not listening. It’s like “how could you do that again?” “We are going to have another talk about this because I do not think you heard me correctly the first time and we are going to have to escalate this, if you not listening” No child wants to go there for sure.

Time out stare
A child will just go into their own time out, when a child has gone past the limits and the mother says you need to leave my presence before I lose my cool. Even when others call you to play, you dare not get up

Killer Stare
Is the look that tells you to stop whatever you are doing or you will die. This was usually applied when a child is pushing the limits in front of guests. One look and you just get on your best behaviour.

Approval
Is when she gives you the go ahead to do something. In the case another adult asked you to do something that was against mother’s rules, confused yet you want to be polite. To calm the situation, mother will give her approval and then you will know what to do. It can be equally used in the opposite when another child invites you do something she doesn’t approve of.

I understand you
Growing up in an extended family, sometimes the mother cannot voice her concerns over the way other adults behave or say to you, mother’s eyes will tell you that she understands and is on your side. She will wait for a moment when you can be alone to explain why she could not speak out to whoever because of the circumstances and how best you can deal with the situation.

I am proud of you
When you have chosen to swallow your pride and do the right thing on the playground. She can tell you are hurting but have chosen to be the bigger person. Not wanting to interfere her eyes will tell you that you have done well and that she is proud of the way you handled the situation. This is good for any child’s self-esteem.

Often times I have tried to use the guru methods but can’t help but slide back into the old ways methods which are more effective. My children know exactly what I mean through my eye communication.

The best way I have learnt, is to take the basics and spice them up with new age methods. Doing things in moderation also helps, you can’t over use one method because these little people are clever and will come up with ways to counter your methods. Communications lines should be open with or without physical body contact.

Just Listen

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God, Karma, Universe whatever your beliefs are, has a very funny way of rewarding the wicked. One of the most under rated evil habit that humans have developed and are nurturing, is talking our peers down.

We are so opinionated and feel that what we think or feel about the next person is what is right for them. We even begin to believe that it is definitely what they need and can even get angry should they feel otherwise.

When the victim of this practice chooses otherwise we eagerly watch and wait for their downfall so that we can be justified in saying “I told you so”.  We do not see the bigger picture or even take time to listen and understand where our peers are coming from, what they envision and where they intend to go from way they are.

We do not even have faith to believe in a friend, we can even crush and kill their dreams because we want to voice our opinion basing on salmonour beliefs and norms. We do not realise that at times we actually contribute to the downfall by being negative and not giving our friends the benefit of doubt and encourage them in what they aspire to be.  Sometimes one has got to get through against  the current for their own survival.  Who are you to judge what is right for them or not?

What we often miss or don’t realise is that we maybe killing our own destiny in the process. The dream that you kill with your own words can be your own opportunity to rise to heights with the person you are squashing. We can in the process lose a very good friendship.  Just stop talking, listen and consider the other person’s feelings.

Should you drift apart as friends because of the toxicity of your words, and you begin to see the rise and success of your friend. Don’t be offended when they don’t stop by to say hello. Don’t start making claims that they wouldn’t have been where they are if it hadn’t been for you because you did such and such for them. It is God’s way of rewarding you for lacking faith and trying to kill someone’s destiny by the irresponsible use of your mouth.  If you had chosen to walk with them, you may not only benefit but get to bask in the glory of their success because your friend knows how you stood with them in tough times.

Terrible Two – Potty Training Blues

When I moved to a new area, I put my son Justin to a local daycare and he came back home potty trained in one day.   He was shouting “bye nappy, bye kimbi” (Afrikaans word for diaper). While I was fascinated at this instant transformation I could not help wondering what method they had used to train him.

diaper

I wondered if the training was brutal and intimidating. I prayed to God that it wasn’t that he had just copied the other little boys. I had to shut the horrid ideas running through my head, since I was new and couldn’t speak the local language I couldn’t-t question, neither did I want to be seen as fussy and for fear of victimisation for my poor boy, he was only 26 months old. I had to be brave because I did not have anyone else to babysit him.

The worst thing was I had to leave him there for over 12 hours (killed me) daily to go to work, I felt I needed to be on the carers’ good side, I was in turmoil. Over the next 2 months, I watched him become more independent toilet-wise and hoped it was not just some phase.

Everything worked well for a while until he decided he could use peeing as an attention seeking device. If he feels ignored by anyone he will pee in his pants. With the winter full on, I sometimes worry that he will catch a cold as he can go through 6 or so pants in rapid succession. To curb this I have had to put back on the diaper. With a diaper on he will whine and harass anyone he picks to take him to the toilet, especially if it’s no.2. If it’s only pee, he will do it in trickles so that he goes to toilet several times. It’s not like he doesn’t get enough attention but he just feels that he must always be in the spotlight.

Right now I can’t figure out exactly what I am dealing with, attention seeking or incorrect potty training method, or maybe the Terrible Two phase. I guess I am just going to have to wait this one out and see what happens. I am just keeping my fingers crossed and hope that this latest phase will soon pass.

The highs and lows of being a single mum

Beautiful daughter
Beautiful daughter

With a teenager you hardly think much about being a single mum, this is because like in the case of my teenage daughter she is well on her way to being an adult.  Side by side we look like, sisters or cousins though we are twenty odd years apart.   She can cook, clean and practically live on her own if she had to.   My main function is to provide a home, food, clothes and schooling for her. 

We chat about everything be it fashion, men, gossip anything almost except detailed graphic sex (shiver just went down my spine), today’s children know more than we do or did when we were their age.  We both love to review books, movies, songs and even adverts and can easily agree to disagree.  I can come down hard on her for not doing her chores, then she gets into a foul mood but we always work it out.  We are buddies as much as we are mother and daughter.

Being my daughter’s mum does not constantly remind me that I am single or any shortcomings that I face as one but with my two year old son, it’s another story.

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I for one, do not know how to teach him manly stuff like peeing.  When he doing his thing, he thrust his little pelvis forward (his own idea) and pees without holding his organ to direct the flow of his pee though it doesn’t look very comfortable, he does the job so well without messing his pants.   I often wonder if this is the correct way of doing it, whether I should try to teach him something else and if it’s wrong will he grow out of it.  I worry that if he develops girly habits, he might get teased by his peers as he grows older.

As I am not employed currently, I find shopping for groceries a tedious and very stressful task, because he wants to grab everything and really doesn’t understand why I cannot buy the stuff I used to when I had an income.  So our shopping excursion for basic stuff, usually end in screaming matches and hectic tantrums, much to the displeasure and disapproval from other shoppers, that leaves me feeling more stressed as to how I am going to make it on my own as a parent than not having enough to meet our basic needs.

He seriously demands attention.  Sometimes I just need help, because if I become too busy for my son while doing important stuff, he will start looking for ways to get my attention.  This can start from emptying his toy box and throwing the toys everywhere to demanding food or whatever.   He can pull the worst card of them all, peeing everywhere if he doesn’t have a diaper on, if he does have the diaper on, he will demand that I take him to the toilet.

I worry myself sick to my stomach if I have to get home late, or when I am late to pick him up from daycare.  Sometimes I wonder if for some reason I cannot get home because I have fallen ill somewhere or worse, how he would cope, how my daughter would cope with him.  Just that thought can drive me insane, I have to take a few deep breathes, calm down and pray that I get home safely.  It is such times I wish I had a loving partner who would take care of my kids should I die.

I can list a whole lot other negatives but I think I am doing an awesome job juggling both roles.   I do not have to fight about what is best for the child, how he should be or act, which school or whatever is best for him.  And my parenting skills don’t have to be questioned by in-laws or extended family except my own, which I can effectively deal with without upsetting someone in the process.

While I do need help sometimes, ultimately I feel blessed and celebrate every new word or action learned without needing approval from my ex.  What if we couldn’t find common ground on parenting skills, what would do, would I be able to cope.   What if he had issues with the way the way he was raised and wanted to correct the issues on my children’s life?    

After a harrowing day, I do not have to go home and try to please someone else (African men have huge egos), especially if I wasn’t happy to.   An African wife is still expected to perform all the wifely duties even if she is dog tired from work, regardless that the husband is unemployed and stays at home.   I have nothing against marriage, bless those who are happy, but sometimes it can be more disastrous and not beneficial to anyone to stay in the marriage.   I can whisk a quick meal without thinking if it will be satisfactory or pleasing enough to him then rush to bed to cuddle with my son (another uphill task at hand, I have to wean him off my bed) drift off to sleep, looking forward to another day…

 

Bucket toilet system

Open letter to bucket toilet system designer.

bucket

To whoever designed the bucket toilet system, what were you really thinking? I have some questions that I would love to hear you answer.
Do you have a family?
Did you design it for family use? By this I mean that, is this bucket meant to be used by the whole family, parents, children and extended family, because usually Africans as whole live as extended family. Maybe each household will have 6-8 people to using it, will it be adequate for the whole family use?
How is it kept?
How did you envision the users store or keep it? I can’t imagine it being kept in the house where people, sleep, cook and eat. It is their home, would like to have dinner next to a bucket full of poop and piss. Keeping it outside is not really an option as one runs the risk of it being abused by strangers, what was your ingenious plan on how they keep this bucket?

How often must it be emptied?
In your wonderful mind, how long do you think they must keep the poop and piss, before they have to take it to the designated point to be emptied? To make matters worse one family member has to walk for about a kilometre to the designated drop and collection point

How hygienic is this bucket?
Would you recommend a pre-scholar uses this bucket after everyone else in the household including visitors. How do the users themselves keep a bucket full of poop and piss hygienic, what is your advice? Somebody decided they should be equipped with gloves when they take it to the designated point, was that part of the plan? How do you curb the risk of urinary tract infections and other related infections, I shudder as I try to imagine.

What are the methods of using the bucket?
So does one have to crouch or kneel when using the bucket, because as a woman I am not able to squirt my stuff directly into a small hole, I would have to kneel or crouch to direct the flow of the pee. And what happens when I am doing no.2, especially if I have bout of diarrhoea, what are my chances of not having an accident on the floor of my one roomed home? And if it’s that time of the month, how best does one use it without causing accidents?

Here is what I think about you and your ingenious plan and to those who have made you rich because of your design. You obviously do not see the end users as human. Whatever was in your mind when you designed it, you certainly knew you would be not be using it all. I want to believe you are human like the rest of us and could cut you some slack and say maybe it was just an experiment for some science project. That you were actually surprised that someone wanted to buy repetitively for a whole nation. I really can’t blame you for cashing in on someone else’ degradation and misery, it is the way of the world. This is exactly what it is making cash out of misery of the poor.

But I will not leave it there, since you came up with this ingenious plan, I now beseech you to stop producing them and please don’t even sell the patent.   Just tell them you have made enough money and you know that no human being needs to and should be using these buckets.   Please highly recommend that they be incinerated with immediate effect. Don’t even let them talk you into improving the design just tell them it’s over.    Should you not have fulfilled all your dreams with the millions you made, please sit down and come up with a real portable toilet system designed for real people like yourself.     Please only contact your buyers if and when you come up with a real  HUMANE toilet system design.

Yours truly