Posted in Faith, Family, Inspirational, Parenting, PhD Journey, Work/Life Balance

Thinking through my first solo work trip

“Worry is fixing your imagination on all the wrong things.” I’ve had a very overactive imagination in the past few weeks as I prepare to take my first week-long work trip without my children. My youngest is not weaned yet so a week without breastfeeding is huge…for both of us.


I don’t doubt they will be in excellent hands, but what concerns me is that fact that it was never my plan to go on work trips without them.  I have been trusting God to blend my work and home life, and so far, he’s made a way for them to come along every time I need to travel for more than two days…until now.   I’ve prayed and thought of all of the possible ways for them to be a part of this upcoming trip, but as things stand now, the answer has been no.

I won’t lie, I am disappointed at this because in my mind this plan of mine should be pleasing to him, and as such, should get a resounding yes instead of these closed doors. I should be excited about the prospect of five nights of uninterrupted sleep, of being able to work on projects for a whole week without being interrupted by a little person who wants me to read them a story, and of being able to sit down to some extended adult conversation over dinner and wine.  But the vision I have for my life is not one where my children and family are in one compartment, and my work is in another; my vision is one where the two spheres are blended and actually support each other, instead of competing for my time and energy.  I’ve been able to achieve this so far, with a lot of help, but with this pending solo work trip, that seems like it is about to change.

My rest now, though, is that even though I had a certain idea of what should happen and what this work/life balance should look like, the answer that has come, although not exactly what I would have liked, comes from the mouth of a God who loves me, is good and generous towards me, and has plans and purposes for me that I can’t even begin to imagine.  That doesn’t necessarily make the upcoming trip easier, but it does settle my heart and my faith because an answer from God is infinitely better than any plan I might have had in my mind.

(c) 2019 Sisanda Nkoala

Posted in Inspirational, motherhood, PhD Journey

Daring Greatly

daring greatly

3 years… That’s how long it has taken me to write a 15 page PhD proposal. 3 years, a career change and 3 babies later… Today I finished the draft. The proposal itself is not usually a big deal, but when i think of all the false starts, the funding challenges, the juggling act, the 3am reading sessions and all of the things that have had to align to get to this point, I know that I am being carried by grace, and that grace spurs me on to dare greatly

#phdingwhileparenting #thejugglesreal#ajourneyofgrace #academia

Posted in Family, Inspirational, Parenting

Write the vision down

I came across this journal entry from September 2005 today, and it reminded me why I’m such a believer in writing down my goals…I achieved almost all of these in one way or the other, though not necessarily in the stipulated time frame. Mind you in November 2005 my mom died and for a few months after that I wasn’t sure how or even if life would continue…

Engineering and Built Environment Students Council (EBESC) 2006

But it did, and my goals were one of the instruments God used to strengthen me to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Seeing this takes me back to that 20 year old version of myself: a university student studying something she wasn’t interested in, while trying to find a way to tune into who God had created her to be.

The goals I wrote down had to be very literal in that season because it was only through trial and error that I found the thing that really moves me: telling stories and teaching others as I go. In this season, as a mother of the young children who is finding her feet in the world of academia, I’m motivated by a sense of being, rather than just of doing, but doing still matters because we become what we do.

So if I want to become a woman of depth, I need to invest in doing things that cultivate this such as taking time to think and read deeply, and to tend to relationships that root me in life.

If I want a life characterized by discipline, while trusting God to grow this trait in me, I also need to put measures in place that will act boundaries in some respects, and as prompts in others.

And if I want a life marked by delight I must not only prioritize time for things that delight me holistically, I must also be intentional in noticing delight in the mundane and the seemingly undelightful.

A delightful day outdoors with my family. Jan 1, 2019

As this journal entry from over 10 years ago has reminded me, keeping a vision before me in the form of goals I’ve written down, is one way of staying connected to the dreams that move my heart so that they don’t get lost in the busyness of the juggle.

(c) 2019 Sisanda Nkoala

Posted in Family, Inspirational, Relationships

I have learnt…

…that the truly wise are often the truly humble.

…that the truly strong are often the most gentle.

…that those with the most profound insights are often those with the fewest words.

…that those with the most compassion are often those who’ve been most hurt.

I have learnt that the truly knowledgeable are often the most zelous in their quest for even more knowledge.

I have learnt that those who are truly powerful use that power to other’s advantage.

I have learnt not to mistake being gentle for being weak, nor assume that being outspoken is indicative that someone has something important to say when they speak.

I have learnt that we have the most to learn from the ‘least of these’

I have learnt that life takes on a more hope-filled and joyful perspective when we see it through the eyes of our kids.

I have learnt

(c) 2018 Sisanda Nkoala

Posted in Book reviews, books, Discipline, Family, Inspirational, motherhood, Parenting

Book Review: No Bad Kids


I’ve decided that I don’t want to look back on this stage as having been terrible.


I want to look back on it as having been the phase when my children discovered their individuality within boundaries, where they developed life long skills with mommy as their gentle leader, and where they worked through the tough situations needed to develop their character, all the while being secure in my love and acceptance of them even when they fail.


This book has been a game changer in that respect (in fact, I love most of Janet Lansbury’s pointers on parenting). It’s extremely practical and gives relatable scenarios. She also did a great job of breakdown the emotional and physical development that drives toddlers to behave the way that they do.


If you’re struggling with yours and are looking for a non punative approach this book comes highly recommended.

(c) 2018 Sisanda Nkoala

#mammaof3under3 #thejugglesreal #fortheloveofreading #parenting #parentingbooks

Posted in Inspirational, Women

#IAmWinnie lives on: A reflection a month after Winnie Mandela’s death

It’s been over a month since Winnie Mandela died.  While I did not wear black or a doek to mark the her passing, the #IAmWinnie #IAmNomzamo movement has occupied my consciousness ever since.

I Am Winnie

I have thought of Winnie’s remarkable resilience in the face of a brutal de-humanising system, her lioness-like courage on behalf of her nation and children, her sacrificial love for the oppressed, and her faith in God especially evident in her latter years.  Uppermost in my mind has been how to take the fierce fighting spirit that seemed to arise in our nation’s women when this great matriarch left us.

While she probably would have been proud to see our pictures on Instagram with raised fists and revolutionary captions, what would have moved her more is if the images were translated into action.  Sadly, as with most things, life quickly moves on in South Africa, and the next big thing seems to take up our energies.  But what happened a month ago was more than just another headline-making event; it was a nation-shaping movement.

Most of us won’t have to fight our fights in public platforms like she did, but that doesn’t make them any less significant.  Whether it is fighting in boardrooms to change the face of corporate South Africa, or in classrooms to undo the damage of Bantu Education that still has repercussions today.  Whether it is in the four walls of your home as you train you boy child how to join the fight against patriarchy, or in the pews of your church as you seek to make faith an experience that brings about social change.

The initial shock of Winnie Mandela’s death has subsided, but the impact of her life lives on.  If you wore a doek, or a black outfit, or if you used the #IAmWinnie #IAmNomzamo caption, what are you doing to embody that today?

Posted in Family, Home education, Montessori at home, Montessori education, motherhood

And so our homeschooling journey begins

This week I sort of kind of formally started our Montessori- inspired mother tongue-based homeschooling journey through an initial setup of our formal learning space.


The key principles that have informed the setup are:
1. Keep it very minimalist and only put out the materials you want the children to use in honing specific skills.
2. As far as possible, use real materials and avoid plastic items.
3. Display the materials so that the children can see them regularly. Our learning space is in the lounge where the family spends most of its time.
4. Make sure the children can reach the material so they can take it off the shelf themselves when they want to use it, and put it back again when they are done.


It didn’t take long for my boys to decide that the materials, aka toys, belonged on the floor rather than nicely packed on a shelf… And while the OCD side of me didn’t like this much, at least they’re engaging with the material… In their OWN way😂😂😂


One of the up sides of keeping it minimal is that tidy up time becomes a lot quicker and more manageable.

(c) 2018 Sisanda Nkoala

Posted in Family, motherhood, Relationships

Two years of motherhood

Two years ago God blessed me richly when he allowed me to become a twin mom to Zhakiya and Zhani. I hadn’t necessarily always dreamt about being a mom, but from the moment I held my dear sons in my arms I knew I was born for this.

I can’t full encapsulate the extent of their blessedness to me. Their lives have brought healing, hope, joy, a deeper appreciation for my Heavenly Father, a richer marriage, stronger friendships, bolder dreams, the discovery of untapped talents, a greater clarity of what life is about and many more blessings untold.


A dear friend of mine once said to me “A mother is born when a child is born”. Even though today is officially their day, I feel like it’s also the day I was born into the woman I’ve been becoming. Their unexpected arrival on the 3rd of May 2016 was my arrival to the wonderful season of motherhood.

My husband had been an amazing father. I have had the privilege of enjoying motherhood because I get to parent with such a loving, sacrificial, hardworking, caring, accommodating, prayerful man.

When I watch him interact with our first born sons, I am so at peace that with him as their role model, they will overcome the shackles that patriarchy places on boys. I am confident they will see the love of Christ in action in how he loves me. I am inspired that while we’re not necessarily raising A-students or super athletes, we’re raising boys who will become men that live to leave a legacy like he does.


(c) 2018 Sisanda Nkoala


Posted in Family, Media, motherhood, Relationships, Women

‘Divorce Winnie or be president’: The ultimatum still faced by black families Reflections of the Winnie Documentary

Mandela was given the ultimatum to either divorce Winnie or be president

I Am Winnie

Of all the meaty things that the #WinnieDocumentary gave us to chew on, this has been by far the toughest for me.  It is so loaded and yet it chrystalises everything that apartheid was about: destroying black lives by tearing them apart at the seams of the family unit. No black family has escaped this, from the ordinary “Dlamini” family to the most famous and powerful family of them all: the Mandelas.

I asked my husband what he would do if he was given the same ultimatum and while I won’t reveal his answer, the discussion did raise the following question: “Is there ever an instance where any struggle is worth sacrificing your family in order that a ‘greater good’ can be achieved?”  Further, once that sacrifice is made, is there ever a way of undoing the ramifications because trauma in families is generational, and what’s more, traumatised families are what make up traumatised communities, which in turn are what cause a traumatised nation?

There are many grand plans on how we can turn South Africa around and right the wrongs of the past.  None of them, however, addresses the fact that on a daily basis the majority of black families are faced with this brutal ultimatum of choosing between their families and the greater good.  From the obvious migrant labour phenomenon that is still prevalent and affects everyone from the poor to the upper echelons of black society, to the daily decision caregivers are forced to make of whether to meet the physical needs of their children now, or save up so that they can have a decent education in future.  From young black professionals who must navigate black tax while trying to focus on advancing their careers, to parents who are forced to deliberate on the risks associated with sending their children to a dilapidated school where they might fall into a pit latrine and die, be sexual abused by a teacher, or fall victim to the gangs that control the playground.

Just as there were no easy answers for the Mandela family, there are no easy answers for us today.  And just as there were casualties and compromises in the decision Nelson made to become president without Winnie as his first lady, there will be casualties as we work towards realising the aspirations of the Freedom Charter. Despite this,  if we are to move forward in dismantling the impacts of apartheid that black families still feel today, we must learnt to view EVERYTHING from the foundational unit of restoring the dignity, well-being and cohesivity of the black family unit.

What are some interventions you think can be put in place to ensure that black families no longer have to face the same ultimatums that we do today? Share below

(c) 2018 Sisanda Nkoala

Posted in Book reviews, Entrepreneur

Book Review : Make money as a ghostwriter

A very informative, captivating and useful read for anyone wanting to venture into ghostwriting.

As an emerging ghostwriter I found this book to be extremely helpful. It touches on everything that I need to bear in mind and also includes links to several useful resources such as templates for pitches and directories for ghostwriting jobs. It’s a resource I’m going to keep coming back to as I prioritise ghostwriting as one of my service offerings in the coming months.


(c) 2018 Sisanda Nkoala