Load shedding: How to get through the dark times with a smile on your face

Just when you thought the days of load shedding might be over – or at least few and far between – they’re back like a bad habit you just can’t shake. Since the first days of rolling blackouts saw the country covered in darkness and chaos in 2008, we’ve learnt ways to cope: try time your travel according to the schedule; have a skottel and stainless steel kettle/pot with a gas cylinder at home in case you need to heat something up; don’t overstock your refrigerator (you don’t want all that food to go to waste – especially in summer) and, when all else fails, make the most of the lack of power to bond as a family over candlelit games or a braai and smores.

It’s not so much the fact that there are power outages, but rather the suddenness with which they happen. The powers that be (pun intended!) must surely know ahead of time if there are to be large-scale disruptions to the grid but they persist in denying existing problems, or leave it to the last minute to let us know.

“Why go through the motions of prepping a home-cooked meal when you might lose power while cooking?”

But, it’s a given and you are bound to sit in darkness for a week – just in time for the heatwave that’s about to sweep over parts of the country (Eastern Cape, Gauteng, North West and Limpopo – we feel your pain). If ever we needed a sense of humour, this is it. And with that in mind, here’s our tongue-in-cheek guide to getting through the dark times with your sanity intact.

  1. Win the “Mom of the Year” award for letting the family eat all the ice cream in the freezer – it’s going to melt, after all.
  2. Who needs spoons or bowls? With the dishwasher not working anyway, why not eat the cereal straight from the box?
  3. Blame being late on gridlock due to the traffic lights not working, or not pitching up at all if it was an event you weren’t keen on attending in the first place.
  4. Make the most of sexy time with your partner – there’s no need to turn off the lights to hide your post-baby body or close the curtains so the neighbours can’t see when you’re already in the dark.
  5. Mix that gin and tonic a little earlier than you might have (and don’t worry about being a little heavy-handed with the gin) because the ice will also melt soon.
  6. See no chaos, there is no chaos! Sometimes your house is scarier when the lights are on and you see everything you need to organise or clean. No power means no hoover, right?
  7. Relocate to the garden and decompress with your furbabies – no technology, no stress. Lounging in the pool will help you get through the heatwave, too!
  8. New moms (and kids) can get away with skipping a shower or two with no judgement.
  9. Meal planning takes on a whole new meaning. Why go through the motions of prepping a home-cooked meal when you might lose power while cooking? This is the perfect excuse for a takeaway treat, or for dad to flex his braaiing muscles.
  10. Homework, schmomework. This shouldn’t become a regular thing, but why not forego it for one night in favour of some uninterrupted family time?

A positive attitude and good sense of humour will go a long way in getting you through the frustration of yet another unscheduled and unwelcome “load rotation”.

The EWN website shares how you can check when or if your municipality will be affected:

  • Light bulb with no power in a person's handsIf your municipality is an Eskom customer, visit loadshedding.eskom.co.za and type in your area’s name.
  • For City of Johannesburg, visit www.citypower.co.za, or call 086 056 2874, or follow them on Twitter @CityPowerJhb.
  • For the City of Tshwane, visit www.tshwane.gov.za, or call 012 358 2111/012 427 2111, or follow them on Twitter @CityTshwane.
  • For the City of eThekwini, visit www.durban.gov.za, or call 080 13 13 111, or follow them on Twitter @eThekwiniM.
  • If you live in the Mangaung Metro Municipality, visit www.mangaung.co.za, or call 0800 111 300. You can also visit www.centlec.co.za or call 086 007 6937.
  • For City of Cape Town residents EWN has created an interactive map (ewn.co.za/assets/loadshedding/capetown.html). Just enter your street address or turn on your location and go.