Both are full-time working dads who, like any parents, work hard to give their adopted six-year-old son, Jeremy, the best that life has to offer.
Emanuel is a senior manager for a financial institution in Johannesburg and is office-bound from 8am to 5pm, while Darren enjoys more flexible working hours as a marketing consultant.
Much of the weekly day-to-day parenting therefore falls on Darren’s shoulders.
Here’s a sneak peak into an average weekday for their family of three:
4am – 6am
Darren wakes up with the birds and spends an hour getting breakfast and lunch ready. He then makes his way to the gym and is back by 6am to rouse the household.
6am – 7am
Once everyone is fed, the couple gets Jeremy ready for school. He and Darren are out the door by 6:30am to be at school by 7:00am.
7am – 8am
After school drop-off, Darren heads back home to shower and dress before he and Emanuel leave for work. Darren drops Emanuel off by 8am, after which he heads to his own office, normally arriving there by about 9am.
1.30pm – 3.30pm
Darren leaves to fetch Jeremy at lunch time. “Unless we go to kids’ gym, we’ll head home most afternoons to have lunch, followed by a bit of downtime, and then we’ll alternate Mathletics with some reading for about 20 minutes.
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Jeremy usually heads to the park in the family’s housing complex to go play with his friends. “There’s a safe and secure park in our complex where all the kids congregate at the same time daily. It’s pretty cool! They’ve gotten to the point where they come and fetch their friends from home to come play,” says Darren.
5pm – 6pm
Darren and Jeremy head out to fetch Emanuel from work and the family arrive back home about a half hour later, depending on traffic. “Once home, Darren and I chill in the kitchen with a cup of coffee to catch up on the day while Jeremy watches some TV,” says Emanuel.
6.30pm – 7pm
With Darren in charge of breakfast and lunch, supper normally falls to Emanuel. “We try to make Jeremy’s meal first so that by 7pm he can head to the shower and start winding down for bed while we finish up,” he says.
7.30pm – 8pm
Before bedtime, the family comes together for a daily devotion that reinforces what Jeremy learnt at Sunday school that week. This is followed by a couple of pages out of a chapter book. Having outgrown picture books, Jeremy has started enjoying some older children’s literature.
“At the moment we’re very into The Umbrella Mouse by Anna Fargher,” says Darren, who has seen an improvement in Jeremy’s vocabulary, comprehension and memory since they switched over to chapter books. “Still, he often falls asleep before I’ve finished and I’m not sure whether it’s my voice or the story,” he laughs.
8pm – 11pm
Assuming neither parent falls asleep while trying to settle Jeremy (a trap most parents know all too well), Darren and Emanuel spend the next two to three hours catching up on work or enjoying some downtime.
“Emanuel uses this time to work on the blog and sometimes we sit together to strategise content for the next few posts,” says Darren. “And because I’m in the position to leave the office at 1.30pm, I try to catch up and do a bit of extra work at night to fit in that full day,” says Darren.
He adds that, while he is more fortunate than most to have such flexible working hours, it also poses some difficulties. “I try to maintain a normal day’s work, but it’s tricky because my day is so fragmented. Between homework, playdates and kids’ gym three days a week, I’ve got to fit in work where I can.”
On weekends the Kelly-Louliés love spending time outdoors and try to remain active, enjoying the various kid-friendly cycling and road-running races that Joburg has to offer. Cooking also becomes more of a joint effort and the family make sure to get in some crucial downtime before the start of another week’s rigmarole.
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