Tell us about yourself?
My name is Sibella Knott-Craig and I just love to laugh. I qualified as a chartered accountant and made a move to embrace freedom and flexibility through technology after having children and struggling to commit to corporate hours. To achieve this, I co-founded a company to build educational apps for young children in local languages, three years ago. This allows me to learn a plethora of new skills everyday and still spend time with my family. The mountains call me for a jog on weekends and I may potentially be spotted doing a jig to Taylor Swift.
Tell us about your blog?
Oh dear, it has become an extremely occasional decadence, and I hear rumours about this not being a good thing. I started my blog while I was on maternity leave, thinking that dabbling in blogging and technology would allow me to learn new skills (and keep me sane). I found the early days of motherhood extremely difficult and thought that sharing my experiences could help others who felt the same. But I’m a very private person and still struggle to “publish” my intimate thoughts, so I have a few unpublished pieces that I’m waiting to share once I feel more removed from them. In the meantime, I had another two children and started Tribage, so I pushed the pause button on my writing and blog. I’ll get back to it one day, I love writing and believe in sharing experiences that could help others.
How do you feel about using technology as part of learning?
I’m totally on that bandwagon, publishing and distributing books is expensive and onerous, software is available worldwide immediately and can be updated instantly. I still believe in a solid base of skills and drills, tertiary education and a post-grad degree is a ticket to freedom. I believe technology should enhance this process, not replace it. For example learning also includes social skills, networking, cramming, deadlines with printers that inevitably don’t work at that moment, tenacity, and curiosity, developing common sense and a solid BS detector. It’s obvious that these skills cannot be replaced by technology.
What are your kids favourite apps?
They all love Xander apps and have spent many a holiday traveling around the country with their Xander soft toys. Xander is a range of educational apps created by Tribage to support early learning in local languages, so children can learn while they play and parents can have peace of mind while their children engage with technology. Other apps they love include Minecraft, Colorfly, Very Hungry Caterpillar, Dubsmash, MSQRD, Toca Boca, Duck Duck Moose, and the Writing Wizard is a new favourite that is beautifully designed.
What do you love about South Africa and raising your children here?
Barefeet. Sunshine. Diversity. Space and fresh air! (And Wayde van Niekerk right now for winning a gold for SA in Rio). The natural order of life is maintained as we have dangerous mammals reminding us of our place on the food chain. South Africans embrace life, music, food and a good braai. We love to travel and experience different places and cultures. It’s always remarkable when you find a place that bans barefeet, and wood-fires (true stories), has limited diversity, Internet, and religious freedom, or suffers from gender inequality or natural disasters. We have many challenges, but that leads to creative problem solving, which is why we have some of the best innovators coming out of Africa and South Africa.
Suppertime tips for parents with young children?
It’s not easy, but worth the trouble. I made a huge effort to keep our young children healthy by sticking to good food choices. The first years are crucial for development and healthy food leads to strong building blocks, a good brain, and solid future habits. It gives you more freedom as you won’t be sitting in doctors waiting rooms and cancelling travel plans, this also makes it cheaper in the long run. Basic advice? Breastfeed if possible, avoid sugar, make as much as you can yourself, hide veggies in minced meat and stick to water as a beverage.
TV “Yes” or “No”?
A resounding yes for rainy days, after 5pm, while I prepare dinner and in the mornings preparing for the school run. Age-appropriate channels, no Barbie or teenager-eye-ball-rolling shows.
What is in the lunchbox?
If you are what you eat, they’d be baby carrots and cucumber sticks. Cheese / yogurts / dried mangos / raisins / biltong / ham sandwich / rice cakes. A fresh fruit and a water bottle. Emphasise quality, not the items (e.g. stone-ground bread, and not white bread). Little brains need a lot of healthy food and fat to develop optimally).
How do you balance it all – in one sentence?
I’m not sure I do. It’s a constant balancing act, and needs evaluation as circumstances change. At the moment it’s (ruthless) prioritisation and trusting many helping hands, both at home and at work. I try to communicate to my children so they know why I sometimes can’t be there.
Do you children do chores at home, if so what and how do you manage it?
Absolutely, isn’t this why we have children? (Jokes). They get up to mischief if they’re bored, so I involve them in whatever I’m doing. Watering the garden, wrapping gifts, slicing veggies, setting the table & unpacking dishwasher etc. It’s easier for them to help when they can reach, so their clothes hang low down in their cupboard, they can reach the cutlery, the fruit bowl and the water dispenser. Our ‘big baby’ is now three and can dress herself, our 8-year old likes to cook dinner for us on a Wednesday night, and our 5-year old likes to throw dirty clothes in the laundry basket (it’s a game). I don’t force it, but encourage it. (There are enough daily battles, so I pick them carefully).
What is your favourite holiday plans/ activities with kids?
Walking in nature, playing at the beach, dancing, and marshmallow braais.