How two single moms created the ultimate pandemic partnership

April 10, 2020
Image via Nicolette Myburgh

Indeed, we are all in this pandemic together. However, healthcare, childcare and other essential workers, as well as single parents, are all under an extraordinary amount of pressure to keep work and family life going right now. That means a lot of sacrifice and creativity must come into play for these families. 

In a recent post to social media, Nicolette Myburgh, a single mom and healthcare worker, shares how she and her nanny of eight months Mercy Gxokwe, also a single mom, are quarantining their families together during coronavirus, so both Myburgh and Gxokwe can continue to report to work helping others and their four collective kids can stay safe and healthy. Quite frankly, this partnership is full of all kinds of love and goodness. 

Myburgh, mom of 3-year-old Alexander and a pharmacist in the town of Hermanus, close to Cape Town in South Africa, writes: 

“I am sharing this post to thank my son's wonderful nanny for staying by my side during the lockdown. We are supporting each other as we are both single mothers. She is looking after her own daughter, as well as her sibling's daughters [the girls are 8, 9 and 10]. I am a healthcare worker who has to return to work soon and would not have been able to do so if it wasn't for her. She is speaking Xhosa to my son and now the girls can teach him too. He loves his new sisters! One woman supporting another woman. Please stay at home and take care of your family! Many of us wish we could do the same.”

Image via Nicolette Myburgh

Since posting this, Myburgh has returned to work while Gxokwe takes care of the children during the day and does most of the cleaning. They take turns preparing meals. 

Myburgh tells Care.com, “It is working out very well! I have worked out a schedule for the kids. There is time scheduled for doing their chores, exercise with Mercy (who is very fit and a gym fanatic), playtime and activity time. Every night we have dinner at the table that the girls set for us. The children take turns praying for the meal and then eat and share about our day. After dinner, I read a story to the children and each of them gets a chance to choose a movie.” 

Image via Nicolette Myburgh

Myburgh says, as a single parent, she’s had to learn to be resourceful and regularly accepts support from her “village” of friends, neighbors and colleagues. But managing her time and finances during the pandemic is proving to be an even bigger challenge than usual. “I work long hours, but I also want a meaningful relationship with my son,” she says. “Financially it is very stressful, but I just keep on telling myself that we are all in the same boat!”

Read more: Questions to ask child caregivers during coronavirus

Myburgh and Gxokwe’s cooperative arrangement allows both single moms to show up for what’s important right now. Both can continue to take care of their families and make a living. And at the same time, they are also working for the greater good by keeping Myburgh participating in her critical role in the healthcare system. 

Image via Nicolette Myburgh

“Before anything else, I am a mother. If my child is well and taken care of, I can take care of other people and do my best at work.” “Mercy, before anything else is a mother. How can I expect her to take care of my child if her child is not taken care of? Women should support each other and stand together.” 

Myburgh can’t say enough about Gxokwe and their indispensable partnership. “Mercy is the hero!” she says. “I would not have been able to return to work if she did not help me through this.”

Read more: Questions nannies and sitters should ask before caring for kids during COVID-19

And what advice does Myburgh have for all of us in this strenuous moment in time?  “Help someone else when you can,” she says. “You might not always be able to help someone who has helped you, but you can pay it forward by helping the next person.”  

Any of us can and should help one another in ways we can. Now and in the future ahead. 

Tips and stories from parents and caregivers who’ve been there.

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