Keep the lights low


I’m beginning to think we made a mistake in how we’re raising Muna.

Of course there are several mistakes we’ve made before as parents. Some of them began since the time she was in my belly.

The first mistake I recall making was have her listen to Bruno Mars. GB had one of his albums in the SD card that played from the moti’s stereo. And it played often. All the time I was in there it played. I don’t recall the titles of the albums or the tracks, but I recall one line that has refused to wash itself out of my brain. “I’m a dangerous man with some money in my pocket. Keep up!”

No one should listen to Bruno Mars. Even Bruno Mars doesn’t listen to Bruno Mars.

I like to think Muna has since recovered from our brutal exposure to this extravagant form of urban radiation. But you can never really be too sure.

Then she was born. November 19th. A Thursday. Late afternoon. We brought her home the Monday after.

The next mistake we made is we didn’t put her on strict routine from the moment her head cut through the pink ribbon of our front door. That’s ideally what we should have done from day one – put her on a routine because babies thrive on daily routines. Bedtime routine. Daytime feeding routine. Night time feeding routine. Morning routine.

I’d read Gina Ford’s book from when I was about five months preggos. ‘Contented Little Baby Book: The secret to calm and confident parenting.’

I’d taken notes, highlighted chapters, bookmarked pages, mastered quotes by heart, ‘Newborn babies feed after every three hours, they shouldn’t nap any longer than that.’ ‘Newborn babies do not know the difference between day and night’… It was the whole shebang.

I basically had a manual to raise that baby right in its first 36 months. Gina Ford had guided me in writing a manual to raise our baby. (I should have known better. A woman who doesn’t have babies has no business telling others how to raise them. There’s something called temperament. Say it again, this time slower – temperament. Temperament. The baby wouldn’t respond exactly how the book had said she would. She’s a temperamental human being for Chrissake, not a recipe for coconut French toast.)

Muna charged through the front door and that manual was flung right out of the window. I don’t think I ever went back to my notes again. Maybe just to poke fun at my own naivety.

OK, you tell me, what was I supposed to do when she was four months old and it’s 4 a.m. and it’s the third time she’s woken up that night and I have to be at my desk in the morning? Should I have turned to page 197 of the book and checked how to troubleshoot the frequent waking? One hand holding the book open and other patting Muna as she bawled her lungs out?

“…Remember, the aim is to get him to take all his daily requirements between 7am and 11pm. As long as he’s gaining weight steadily, he can be encouraged to go through the night to 7am without a milk feed (see core night method on pag 305).

“If he wakes up at 5am, give him one breast and, if needed, 5 to 10 minutes from the second breast.

Keep the lights low and do not over-stimulate him with lots of talking or eye contact. Only change his nappy if…”

Oh screw it! At four months, when she was waking after every two hours in the night, I did what any sensible self-serving parent with a career would do. I brought her from her cot back into our bed, stuck my booby in her mouth and snored myself back to sleep.

I slept like normal people should. Everybody did.

That girl didn’t leave our bed until she was a year and three months old.

Gina Ford, I know you’ll never get to read this, but I’ll say it anyway, because a new parent somewhere shouldn’t feel so shitty for not following your bloody routines to the letter: There is no secret to calm and confident parenting. And if ever there were, it would be to have one child, make all your parenting mistakes on them, pray, and pray fervently that you’ve not screwed that child up for life, then get another child, so you can do it right this second time around.

You’ll do better because you know better.


So yes, most of the mistakes stemmed from the absence of a daily routine. We eventually fell into healthy ones when Nanny Viv checked in to our lives. She couldn’t have come at a better time. She came just when we were about to give up on ourselves as parents and ship Muna off to Kaplong so my mother would raise her alongside her calves.

Nanny Viv came when Muna was a year and three months old. In every sense of her abilities against our shortcomings as new parents, Nanny Viv was my Gina Ford – my experienced, fast-talking, cocksure lunje Gina Ford.

She has three kids. She had sleep trained her twins in Kitale without burdening herself with the self-imposed demands of ‘calm and confident parenting’.

Last Tuesday afternoon, when Muna had a class presentation in their school, I realised another mistake we’d made: we didn’t teach her to speak swa.

She recited the memory Bible verses well. And she danced to the kiddie praise songs alright. Granted, she missed a few steps, but hey, she’s Kyuk, so I’ll let that go. She also nailed the poem about animals in the sea. That part for walking up to the front, saying good afternoon to the bevy of beaming parents and introducing herself? She also aced it.

What had me rub the bridge of my nose in pity is when they did shairi and sing the Kiswahili songs.

Her lips moved but she said nothing. Whatever she did say was nonsense she’d made up in her head. The poor thing may have been speaking the Spanish she picked up from, I don’t know, Peppa Pig international.

I raise my hand and admit that it’s me, I’m the problem.

I speak mostly English, that’s what we spoke in the digs growing up. My Mum was a primary school teacher and she taught Class four English, so yeah, she brought the English back home. imported it back, is more like it. The Kale she could have taught us was cut short at our second born; I’m the fourth. Nowadays, though, she says she should have put in more effort to speak it in the digs.

(It makes sense now why they say lugha ya mama, doesn’t it?)

GB is a guy of part sheng, part English and major Pan-Africanism. I sometimes ask myself why I don’t recall him hitting on me, it’s because he dropped his sheng one-liners that had me know from the get-go he was proudly a guy of Buru. The Bronx!

My Kale, like his Kyuk, makes for embarrassing chuckles. It’s so embarrassing that I only speak it with my Mum, and she keeps correcting me like I’m some 10-year-old mastering the four stomachs of a cow. My Kale is so horrible that if a cop pulled us over for overlapping, we’d spend some hours in Central.

“Madam, unajua ile makosa umefanya?”

“Heeh, mkubwa. Nisamehe.”

He’ll stand by the side of my window intimidating me with silence. “Nisaidie license.”

I hesitantly hand it over.

Some moments later, he’ll ask, “Chemutai? Chemutai Bett? Ingen ile kaiya makosa?”


“Imache ayaun nee?”

I’ll stare back like some bucktoothed jackass, the words stuck in my throat.

I’m going to make things right with our disenfranchised British child here, you wait.

I’ve told Nanny Viv to be speaking to her in swa when they’re together in the digs. She’s already pointed out how awkward it’ll be because… you know, “Nimezoea kumwongelesha na English.”

I think she already saw enough awkward when she found out back then that we were all sleeping in a family bed, the three of us.

GB is playing Juliani albums in the moti on our morning rides to school, and when they go out together on weekend mornings for their lollipop treat and newspaper.

Then there’s me. I want to do the most. Whenever I’m reading her those Doctor Seuss bedtime books, I tell the story in swa.  I also throw in swa lines when we’re chilling together or catching TV. I’m disciplining her in swa. We watch YouTube videos of kina Mercy Masika.  Yesterday I was showing her the parts of the body. “Mdoma, mapua, macho na masikio. Shika masikio na vidole zako. Alafu weka mikono juu. Hivi”

She crossed her arms and leaned to the side crooning, “Girrrrrl, what y’all trying to do?”

Oh noo.

She’s a Bruno Mars.

Anatomy of a desk
Foreplay is overrated

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Florence Bett-Kinyatti


Columnist Saturday Nation Writer Craft It Author of best-selling ‘SHOULD I?’ and ‘HOW MUCH?’ ~ Guiding word: Overdrive Subscribe to our Newsletter👇🏾 eepurl.com/igmN8P
  • Dear God, 
It’s me again.

I don’t pray as often as I need to, You know that. I don’t kneel by my bed in child-like humility, as Muna does. I don’t whisper a prayer in the morning. Or at noon. Perhaps just in the evening. 

This going-to-church habit is a constant false start. So is reading the Word. 

I’m often guilty but I also know: You and I have a language only we can understand. 

I speak to You through this gift You bestowed upon my Kale shoulders, this gift to write in colour. It’s a gift that sometimes feels like a curse, a burden I have no choice but to pursue. 

Yet other times – most times, actually – it’s the very breath of my essence. Everyday I sit to write, when the words flow from my head and heart through my fingers to the page, I feel You next to me. 

You are here, Lord. Hovering. Lingering. Swooshing about in Your regal robes, like a character from Bridgerton.

Sometimes You get so close I can feel You breathing on my neck and I’m like, ‘Err, God, do You mind, personal space?’

And You chuckle uncomfortably. ‘He-he, of course. Of course.’

I’m here to tell You, Thanks!

I hosted my first in-person event last March, Lord, thank You to all the lovely ladies who granted me their time and full attention. 

I’ve carried them in my heart since and every day, my prayer is that You bring them closer to the life of abundance they each seek. To their own version of wealth. 

I always call them by their name: Becky. Purity. Lindsay. Wangui. Naomi. Shiqow. Mercy. Liz. Winnie. Polly. Nduta. Lynet. 

And Mike. 

Dear Lord, I’m prepping for my next in-person event in June, Inshallah. 

Walk with me as I get there. 

Love always,

  • Highlights from our first-ever in person event hosted by Craft It and @financialfitbit 
Thanks to all the lovely ladies — and gent, hehe — who honoured us with the privilege of their time and attention. And colourful energy. It’s been weeks since and it’s only now that I’m coming down from the high. 

Thank YOU!

🎥 @mikemuthaka 

#craftit #author #MakeYourMoneyMatter #personalfinance #money
  • I am a woman.

I’m strong. I’m brilliant. I’m like a comet shooting across the sky, I’m so bright you have to put on shades to see me.

I’m almost 40, I’m almost fully realising myself as a woman and the power of womanhood I possess.

I’m so powerful that if KPLC connected me to the national grid, I’d power up this country and we’d never have another blackout.

Ho! Ho! Ho!


To recognize and celebrate International Women’s Day today, I’d like to recognize and celebrate eight women.

I have eight things to give away to each of these women:
a) Two tickets to my upcoming event on March 18 with @financialfitbit Theme is ‘Make your money matter’
b) Three autographed copies of my book ‘Should I?’
c) Three autographed copies of my other book ‘How Much?’

To participate:
1. Like this post
2. Tag women who deserve a win of either event ticket or book (tag as many women as you like)
3. Tell us what you’d like her to win and why she deserves the win
4. Make sure your tagged women follow @_craftit and @financialfitbit 

Here are the rules for the giveaway:
— One woman, one win
— Winners will be contacted via DM
— Giveaway closes at the end of this week, Inshallah, on Sunday 12 March
— Only open to people living in Kenya

All the best!

(Swipe right to see the women I’m celebrating.)

#craftit #internationalwomensday
  • My 2022 word of the year was Wholesome. 

Wholesome meant engaging in moderation and in pursuits that didn’t leave me feeling yucky.

An example: there’re weekend nights I’d go out then have too much to drink. On the drive home, I’d tell GB to stop the car every half mile so I could throw up on the side of the road. Then I’d take three working days recovering. 


No more of that nonsense.

Now I have only two doubles of Singleton whiskey and chase it with water. I eat less food and I eat better. I take my supplements. I treat myself to an early bedtime and arise with my body clock, no alarm.

I spend a lot more time hanging with my kids, Muna and Njeeh. 

I buy fewer things. 

I play the piano. 

I created a disciplined routine for my work and take Thursdays off. 

You catch my drift…

Wholesome has become my lifestyle. 

(By the way, I was asked, ‘Where does this word-of-the-year come from, Bett?’ I don’t know about other people but for me, the words present themselves when I’m journaling. My spirit tells me what it needs; I must be still enough to listen and brave enough to obey.)

My word for 2023 is Overdrive.

My two books have unlocked new opportunities for me as a writer and creative. As an urban brand. I’d honestly not foreseen them. 

I know that if I adjust my sails to where the wind is blowing, these opportunities will translate to wealth.

Last Friday, I listed all the work I’m already doing and all the new opportunities – potential and realised – knocking at my door.

I asked myself, ‘What am I taking up here and what am I dropping?’

The response, ‘None – we go into overdrive and smartly pursue them all.’

#craftit #urbanguide
  • Years ago, my best friend said to me, ‘Bett, we’re almost 40 – forget makeup, let’s take care of our skin instead.’

I had to laugh because this was coming from Terry. Terry my Kisii pal, this fine gyal with skin the colour of honey, the only practising SDA in my circle. 

Terry had spent her 20s and early 30s sleek with Arimis. That’s right, the milking jelly with a lactating cow on its logo. 

Arimis addressed all her skin pickles back then. It was her problem fixer. Her Olivia Pope. It’s the one thing that always said, It’s handled.

Now here she was preaching to us about a consistent skincare regimen in the AM and PM.


It wasn’t until Terry shared her selfies on our girls WhatsApp group that I stopped laughing. It wasn’t until we stood next her – and took these selfies – that I reeally stopped laughing: Terry’s skin was youthful and toned, plump. Hydrated. Moistured but not shiny. 

It looked like it had been kissed by the Greek goddess of radiance. 

So we gathered around her feet and said, ‘Forgive us, master. We are ready now. Teach us everything you know.’

She did. 

Terry and I now spend plenty of time before work and before bed squeezing out little portions of expensive skincare products from expensive tubes, we layer them on our face in a calculated measure.

This serum here is for the circles under my eyes and the fine lines around my mouth.

Turns out I’ve been giving away too much of my face: I’ve been looking too hard, laughing too easily.

I’ll have to spend the next year into my 40s with my eyes half shut and laughing little. I'll have a resting bitch face.

Don’t blame me, blame the retinol.

And age.

#craftit #urbanguide #urbangirl
  • I’m Bett. I’m the author of your favourite books about money. I’m hosting an in-person event in March, Inshallah: This is my personal invite to you.

#craftit #moneymaker #moneyinkenya
  • I am hosting my first money event this March, Inhsallah. It’s the first of quarterly events I have planned for the year. 

(Give me a moment here so I pull myself together long enough to write this. I’m smiling very hard right now, ha-ha, I look like a donkey.)


The event will be in-person. On a Saturday morning, a loose three hours which, I am certain, you’d have burned on some other pursuit you couldn’t account for later. (I’d probably be oiling the hinges of a squeaky door or decluttering my sock drawer.)

My guest host for this edition is Lynet Kyalo. 

Lynet is a personal finance coach under her brand @financialfitbit She also hosts @getyourbagrightpodcast 

Buy your tickets from our Market.

Early bird tickets are discounted until the end of this month.

Limited slots available. 

#craftit #millenialmoney #moneyevent #moneymaker
  • Sometimes I sit down and read my own book. 

Odd, huh?

Reading my own stories is like an out-of-body experience. Or getting introduced to myself again. An outward journey inward.

It’s fascinating.

I also read because I need to improve my writing for my next project.

We call them the Elements of Craft: things like sentence structure and punctuation, word placement, story length etc, they all inform your reading experience.

This is what makes the book easy to read, and has you turning the pages.

Cop your autographed copy and #betteryourmoney 

#craftit #howmuch #millenialmoney #moneymaker

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