A Kid’s Life: South Africa

14 Jun

Time for a new A Kid’s Life interview.  This series shows us how families from different cultures and countries around the world live their daily lives.  We learn about everything from what they eat to the local school system to what sort of extracurricular activities are popular.  Last week we heard from Elisa and her family who are living in Zurich, Switzerland and today we hear from a super interesting (and inspiring) family living in a seaside town south of Cape Town in South Africa.

I met Se7en (as the Mama is known online) on Instagram and I’ve been faithfully following her ever since.  I’m just so enthralled and curious about how this woman manages to mother (and homeschool) a family of 8 kids plus write a blog (called Se7en) that chronicles their life in South Africa, arts and crafts projects, outings and recipes.  This is one busy woman to say the least.  As you can see, I’m a fan.  Where does she get the energy to do it all?

After reading this interview and seeing the photos I’ve decided South Africa will definitely be one of our future travel destinations.  It seems like a pretty idyllic place to bring up a family.  I loved hearing about their second language Afrikaans (especially since we understand quite a bit knowing Dutch) and about how their school year starts in January instead of September like we’re used to. And of course, I’ve decided that sometime in our lives we’ll have to enjoy a good traditional South African braai.

So let’s hear about what family life is like in South Africa…


What country do you live in?
We live in South Africa, in a beach town south of the city of Cape Town, called Fish Hoek. We live on the slopes of a mountain over looking a beautiful beach.

Are you and your husband the same nationality?
My husband and I are both South African – born and raised, while we love traveling we have spent most of our lives under African skies.


Do you both work? Or does someone stay at home?
My husband works out of the house and goes into the city each day. My work is to stay home with the kids, taking care of the house and home and teaching the kids, because we homeschool.

How many languages are spoken in your house? What one(s)?
My husband and I both speak English and Afrikaans. Afrikaans is a Dutch based language that evolved when Dutch Settlers began to arrive at the Cape a few hundred years ago. We both studied a foreign language at University, and so my husband has a little French and I have a little Italian. Our country is a country of many different people groups with eleven official languages. Almost everyone speaks English and all children are taught Afrikaans at school. Then their is the local African language in each area, and children who have an African language as their first language learn that as well.fish hoek

How many kids do you have? What are their ages?
We have eight children, five boys and three girls. Two teenage boys age fifteen and fourteen, then a girl age 12, then two more boys age 10 and 9, two girls age 7 and 5 and finally a little boy age 3 and a half.

At what age do kids start school in your country?
Children here have to start school in Grade 1, the year they turn six, there is a year Grade R a readiness year that most children do before that.


During the school year what time do your kids usually wake up?
We usually get up around eight a clock in the morning, but that is a little later than most, because we homeschool and we are all night-owls!!! Most schools begin about eight in the morning and so kids wake up between 6:30 and 7:00 am, depending on how far they have to travel for school.

What do your kids typically eat for breakfast?
We usually have oatmeal porridge or French toast for breakfast. Many, many South African children eat a staple food, called “pap,” which is a maize meal porridge.

What time does school start? What time does it finish? What is the weekly school schedule?
As I said, we homeschool, so our day starts a little later than most children here. Most schools start about 8am, we usually only get going by about 9am. Primary schools finish about 2pm and high schools about 3:30pm. Five days a week, Monday through Friday.


Do your kids learn a second/third language at school? From what age?
Our children speak English as their first language, they have picked up smatterings of our local African language, Xhosa and Afrikaans, informally through friends and singing at church. And they study French formally as a second language when they are in high school.

Do your kids eat lunch at school or home? What is a typical lunch for your kids?
South African Schools do not serve lunch generally, there may be a tuck-shop, where you can buy snacks or light lunches. Almost all South African children take a packed lunch of sandwiches for school. We usually bake a flat bread or rolls for lunch and have cheese or salad with that.

 Do your kids do any after-school activities?
Sport is very big here and almost all children take part in organised sport like rugby, cricket, soccer, swimming, or athletics as part of their schooling. We don’t because we aren’t in school, but we go running on the beach and walking on the mountain behind our house a few times a week and we go to gym for sport and games with other kids and coaches. There are any number of extra-murals to choose from here: music, arts and crafts, drama, sport, they tend to be fairly expensive. My older kids do music as an extra-mural, we have a trumpeter, a saxophonist and a violinist so far. I am planning to have an orchestra to play for me in my old age. Otherwise, we are all about lots of free time so that they have plenty of time to follow their passions: lego, cooking, lego, electronics, lego and reading and did I say lego. Our kids spend their afternoons playing together in the garden, or with friends.


What time do you eat dinner? What’s a typical dinner you would eat?
As a family we usually eat dinner at about 8 pm, and we have a meal plan for each week. My kids do a lot of the cooking or food preparation, since we cook from scratch and so it helps them to know what we are eating on a particular day. On Monday we eat a meal with mince, like spaghetti and meatballs; Tuesdays is mac’n cheese (quick and easy because that is the night we run any errands – like library visits or a dash to the store); Wednesdays our granny always visits and she likes roast dinner, or cottage pie or curry; Thursdays we try something totally new, usually from a cook book we are reviewing; Fridays we always have burgers or wraps and my kids all go out at different times on Friday nights – so supper has to be something they can construct themselves; Saturdays we fill our house with friends and eat pizza; Sundays is soup night!!!


How much television/computer time do your kids have on a daily basis?
We don’t really watch television, I grew up without one and never think to put it on. My husband loves television so we have one in a cupboard in the lounge and they do watch movies and chill out with him. That being said – they get their fare amount of screen time, we all like time on the internet and playing, reading, surfing. A favourite site we visit is WeGiveBooks.org which has heaps of fabulous books to read online and once you have read a book they donate a book.

What time do your kids go to bed?
My younger kids go to bed sometime between eight and nine and I read with them while the older kids clean up from dinner. The older kids go to bed and read and all the children are usually in bed and asleep by about ten thirty.


What are some typical family week-end activities?
We try and do all our errands in the week so that Saturdays are free to spend with their dad. We like to go for walks and especially photo walks, maybe in a neighbouring town or on the mountain. On Saturday evenings we usually invite folk over for Pizza. On Sundays we go to church in the morning and then just rest and relax in the afternoon. We always have a nice family tea together, that definitely involves baking on a Sunday afternoon and then the older children go to church and the little ones stay home and go to bed early and the little ones and I try and read our way through a massive pile of storybooks.


When do your kids have vacation from school?
South African schools have four terms of about ten weeks each. Our school year begins in January, then we have an Autumn break in April of about ten days; a winter break in June/July of about a month; a spring break in September of about ten days and then a longer break in December and January over the Summer. Our family timetable is a lot more flexible and when we take a break from school it is usually during the regular school term times so that we can make the most of all our city has to offer without all the holiday crowds.


What do your kids do during the summer vacation?
Summer Vacation means one thing to nearly all South Africans: beach, beach, beach and swimming and watermelon and more swimming and still more swimming. Our summers can be really hot so we tend to go to the beach early – to miss the holiday crowds and the worst of the sun and then we relax and might go down to the beach in the evening again. Otherwise we love to braai, which is really a national pastime, and is similar to a barbecue – but rougher, cooking over an open fire. Otherwise, another national past-time is a road-trip. One thing we do have is incredibly beautiful countryside and a road trip to the coast or out of the city is really something that everyone enjoys and looks forward too.


What are the typical “first foods” for a baby to eat in your country?
A lot of people here use jars of food for their babies, we never did. All our children ate their first foods as something they tried from our plates while they were sitting on our laps. We do have a lot of fruit here and it is quite common for moms to feed their babies soft fruit like papaw and bananas.


Many many thanks to Se7en and her family for telling us all about their lives in beautiful South Africa (just look at this photo above!).  I absolutely loved reading it from beginning to end.    Please check out her blog here.  And you can find her on Instagram here.

Previous interviews: ItalyJapan, AmericaCanadaAustralia,New ZealandThe PhilippinesColombiaGermanyBelgiumFrance , Switzerland and The Netherlands

If you’re interested in participating in the A Kid’s Life series contact me at jillianinitaly@hotmail.com.


7 Responses to “A Kid’s Life: South Africa”

  1. TravelT June 14, 2013 at 22:27 #

    What a great post. South Africa is such a beautiful country, and Se7en’s story and pictures are fantastic. I’d love to visit.

  2. Tom De Groeve June 14, 2013 at 22:42 #

    What a great place to live, Fish Hoek. It must be paradise for children to grow up there.

  3. cbholganza June 15, 2013 at 04:11 #

    beautiful! this is THE frontierland i’d love to travel to.

  4. Nicola June 18, 2013 at 19:46 #

    Ahh – I would move there for the beach. It looks like such a great place to live. I love reading these interviews.


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