Category Archives: motherhood

Nothing says it better than your kid

I tried this “how well do you know mom” interview with B, and his honest and hilarious answers melted my heart today.

My mommy’s name is Mei
She is 19 years old
Mom and I like to paint and play
Mom likes to say I love you
My mom really loves me
She likes to eat ice kacang
She likes to drink tea
My mom’s job is to help me
If she had time, she would like to play with me
Mom is really good at typing
If I could go anywhere in the world with her, we would take roller coasters in Japan
I love my mom because she loves me

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I also had a flashback to the past when us CRIB founders were interviewed for a Mother’s Day feature last year. Here’s the coverage 🙂

Happy Mother’s Day to all moms – you are indispensable super women!  And for those trying to conceive and/or moms to be, take care of yourselves, and while we trust and hope for a future to come, don’t neglect to live fully in the now.  Hugs.

For updates, reviews and more, follow Finally Mama on Facebook and Instagram.

Perfect in our imperfections

This year, B (mostly) ran his first 800m race at the 2015 Cold Storage Kids Run.  Seeing him press on despite feeling hot and tired made me proud – and reminded me to persevere and not give up despite how we feel sometimes. Motherhood is kinda like that, isn’t it?!

We're almost there, B!
We’re almost there, B!

This year marks our fourth Mothers’ Day. Every time, I can’t help but thank God (again!) for B who finally made me a mommy – and provided the catalyst for this blog, Finally Mama.  I’m all too aware of my imperfections as a mom but am glad that since I made my 2015 Chinese New Year resolutions, I’ve been able to find greater contentment this year at working full time, supporting CRIB, and being a mom to (just) one – adorable, amazing, appreciative, and at times, aggravating – 3.5 year old kid.

Thanks to B’s teachers and dad, I received some nice (surprise!) dedications this year:

Presenting me with my letter
Presenting me with my special letter
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with DIY coupons to redeem and art for Mother’s Day

What was inside was so simple yet awesome in its effort. B’s drawing and colouring isn’t great at this age. I know he wants to write and colour better, but I’ve been trying not to “correct” his grip and control, but rather let him keep scribbling, drawing, painting, clay and play doughing et al.  So, it touched me to see him try to write his name, illustrate each “coupon” accordingly (with his smiley faces) and colour the flower as best he could.

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Coincidentally on Mother’s Day, I also started to volunteer once a month at his Sunday School N2 class.  Many (including the hubby) would argue that my schedule is packed as it is!  But I just wanted to play a bigger part in his faith journey, support the regulars that put in so much effort to manage the kids while we attend the main service, and also spend a few more moments with him on a weekend, especially on weekdays when I’m away.

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I’m not perfect, but I’m in the “World’s Best Mom” to someone 🙂

Last but not least, this year, I also wanted B to appreciate not just mama but his grandma, as both grandparents have stepped up this year to help with chauffeuring and childminding. Daddy took B to a nearby nursery where he chose fresh carnations for each of us “moms” – mama, ama and nainai.

Ultimately, what makes most happy as a mom are the spontaneous expressions of love and honest remarks that affirm the bond B and I have.  Just as we love our kids through the ups and downs, so too do they love us despite our imperfections.  And although we “older and wiser” adults should guide them as they grow, our kids often teach us wonderful lessons too – like ending a race well, no matter how tough the journey can be sometimes.

This post is part of the “Dear Mummy” blog train, a series of letters and dedications from our kids to moms.  

Next up is Winnie, who blogs at Toddly Mummy, where she shares her thoughts on parenting, and fun moments from their home learning sessions and outdoor adventures. She sometimes share about her favourite food too, along with occasional side orders of stuff that she finds useful as a busy mum.

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For updates, reviews and more, follow Finally Mama on Facebook or on Instagram

Time is precious, waste it wisely

This month, I have 3 weeks of no business travel. Hooray!  His teachers and my parents tell me that he’s thriving – at nursery and at home, even when I’m away. But when I’m back, B has definitely become more demanding of me, my attention and time. I find his worst behaviours tend to get triggered on evenings when I’m the most tired too. In those moments, I’m learning that  empathy, consistent TLC with a dash of discipline (when appropriate), and some basic psychology (choices, counting down, consequences) goes a long way. While days at work remain focused and full, I’ve been trying to carve out precious time with the kiddo every day. This week, instead of rushing to pick him up after work and head back for our regular home-cooked dinner, we detoured to Clarke Quay. We shared a Hokkaido ice-cream and watched the river boats chug by, B scooted while I attempted to window shop, and we had a later than usual dinner with daddy near his office by the river. FullSizeRender While I have less time to plan those projects and outings which B and I enjoy, I find that simple spontaneous activities together can fill that need B has for mama time, which has typically evolved around art and craft, books and music. This week, after countless volcano eruptions and floods, I suggested to see what happens next. So we cleaned and dried our clay models, rolled and flattened them like play dough. B had fun figuring out how to spell “VOLCANO” and “FLOOD”; find and make the clay letters, and later created his version of what the ground would look after a natural disaster – with animal tracks and dead trees. He was also overjoyed to receive some dino and volcano stickers from a friend at school – everything just came together nicely 🙂 The best part? These at-home activities didn’t take much time or money, just some hands-on investment and imagination. Yet IMO, they pay off far more than classes or toys. IMG_2600 A mom friend recently asked me if I felt guilty working full time.  I’ll always remain an engaged parent regardless what the circumstances are.  I didn’t feel guilty leaving the corporate world back when B was 6 months old, which led me to start up CRIB with some awesome ladies. I don’t feel guilty today with my commitments at full time work either. I think perhaps a big reason is that I’ve had the benefit of choice – and I chose to do what felt right, and what I was passionate about at that time. Honestly, having been a full time mom, flexi mompreneur, and working mom, I must say, the grass always seems greener!  Working full time has its ups and downs, like days such as these: I really need to work todayBut rather than guilt, let’s focus on making the most out of the time we have today. After all, time is precious. Waste it wisely. For updates, reviews and more, follow Finally Mama on Facebook and Instagram.  

Advent-uring together

Where has the time gone?

As a full time working mom again, I find that I have more focus as my daytime schedule, work and family priorities are very straightforward (sick days and school closure days aside). I also relish the me-time, especially when I’m travelling and am grateful that all the transition and support planning has worked out. When I was away for 10 days on an overseas trip, I was completely reassured that B is in good hands even though we both missed each other. What can’t ever be replaced though is TIME together. Our weekday mornings and evenings now just feel so rushed!

Speaking of time (or the lack of), I’m keen to carve out some quality mom-and-B time as we count down to the Christmas and New Year holidays.  Last year we learnt about the gift of Christmas, that the season is not just about gifting but also the act of giving, and God’s ultimate gift of life.  As B had just turned 2, he learnt Christmas carols, art and craft, how to pray for others and joined us in his first community service visit. Now that he’s 3, we’re trying to be more intentional to cultivate his faith. We started by including him in our weekly cell group fellowship this past Friday night. B was so excited before and after – though I’m not sure if it was due to extended time playing, hanging out with mommy and friends, or the extra special late bedtime 🙂

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Meanwhile, I’ve also been compiling ideas to try this Advent season, though as usual, my wish list is far longer than in reality:

1) Devotional: Reading the bible is now a regular bedtime routine. B actually takes his beginners bible out and asks (insists!) on a story or two every night.  As we’ve read through the Old Testament and most of the New Testament stories, this December, we’ll move to the One Year Devotions for Preschoolers book that we got from a friend.

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B’s beginners bible and a sample page from the preschooler’s devotional

2) Truth In The Tinsel: Designed for 3+ years, we’re trying it now as B has been introduced to the kids bible (see above) and can stay engaged on a home project over several days (see what we did for Teachers’ Day).  Also, the Christmas tree is quite bare as I did a bit of spring cleaning and I’m sure B will happily oblige to add more stuff to it. The idea is to read a passage of Scripture, make a Christmas ornament and talk through the related narrative every day. The story or activity can be adapted as needed – to match B’s level, attention span, and our time together. We did a “trial” to replace the star for our tree, loosely based on a sample page from the e-book:

Our new Christmas star using foam and paper stickers
Making a star using foam and paper stickers
Sample page - Star
Sample page – Star

3) Advent Calendar:  Last year, I recycled B’s artwork to make a wall calendar with clear plastic pockets to mark the 24 days till Christmas. Each day, we prayed for specific family, friends, those in need, our country and world, ending with the fruits of the spirit in our own lives. Although this calendar has since been used as a fun Letterland upper and lowercase matching game, we could always just repurpose this once more if I run out of time…

2013 advent prayer calendar
2013 advent prayer calendar

HOWEVER, I’d love to make a new advent calendar which could double as a festive decoration too.  Here are two DIY ideas that I like and find age-appropriate for toddlers: Toilet Paper Roll House and Scrapbook Gift Wrap Paper calendars. These could contain simple clues (for Truth In The Tinsel), scripture verses (from daily devotion), or just a list of fun yet meaningful activities or items each day.

4) Christmas books:  This year, I hope to check out the titles in this reading list as we’ve found quite a few (still) available at the public libraries in Singapore.  B also received a beginners Christmas piano song book from his aunt in California – and we look forward to incorporate that into our regular home music sessions 🙂

Unwrapping the gifts from  California :)
Unwrapping the gifts from California 🙂

Even if you don’t celebrate Advent but are keen to get some crafty time with the kid during the holidays, feel free to try these out, visit my pinterest board for more ideas, and of course share what you’re doing with us too. Happy Advent-uring!

For updates, reviews and more, like me at Finally Mama on Facebook.

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There and Back Again: Returning to Full Time Work

“Validate one another: Moms who work outside the home should regard moms who work inside the home as real workers. And likewise.” – Debora Spar

I feel it’s important for a woman to have her own career to gain financial security and self-reliance.  After 12 years of a blissful dual income no kids life, everything changed in 2011 when baby #1 arrived! While being a stay at home mom was unexpected, I had the rare chance to make priceless memories and witness all those amazing milestones in his early years. I also came to appreciate the many choices mothers and moms-to-be need to make.  As I started considering my how, when and where to return to full time work, I came across this article which challenged my attitude and approach.

“Take investment intervals when needed.” There are times when moms need to trade off personal desires for spouse, elderly parents, kids, health, career, etc. Looking back, my Plan A had seemed so straightforward when I was (finally) pregnant: Take 3 months off and return with a one/two-day flexi work arrangement. After maternity leave, a major reorg and my aging parents led me to decide to stay at home for a while – Plan B.  Sometime after #1 turned 1, I had a miscarriage and became a homeschooling mumpreneur while I recovered – Plan C. Eventually we found a great nursery drop off and childcare, freeing mama to pursue full time work again – Plan D!

childcare“Don’t choose a career for flexibility, but one for passion.” We shouldn’t just be drawn to busy work, highest paid or most flexible jobs. Any work commitment will take you away from home and family, and you need a compelling reason – a meaningful ROI – as to why you’re still out there doing it. When deciding to return full time, I only considered jobs that I really wanted to do with a family-friendly boss and/or environment (ideally, both). This means fewer but better options in the long run.

Switching hatsThe freedom to be anything doesn’t mean the responsibility to do everything!” Super women are a myth. I admit I’ve a hard time NOT mothering 24/7 but in preparation for full time work and travel, I have to LET IT GO! I’m entrusting him to regular childcare, after-school drop-offs, visiting grandparents and the school bus on weekdays. I’ll pick him up from preschool if I can, but at the very least, will commit to be home by 7p for dinner and our evening routine (bath, book, bed) together before lights off at 9p.  After then, I have time to catch up with hubby, downtime for myself and/or late night work, if needed. Weekends will remain family time – church, doing what we enjoy like music, plays, parks, pool, and catching up with others as and when.

The busier life is, the more we should take time out for reflection and self-calibration. If your circumstances have changed or compromises are being made that are not what you intended, don’t be afraid to stop and ask “what if?” Having gone through multiple plans, all I can say is you won’t know till you try – be it working full time, staying at home, or something in between!

This post is part of a blog train hosted by Christy from Kids ‘R’ Simple, where 22 FTWMs from Singapore Mom Bloggers aim to give other (current or soon to be) working mums inspiration and support. I’m writing to share my transition to full time work and hope to revisit later with an update on how my after-work hours really turn out :0

A Peek into the After Work Hours of a FTWM
Hop onto the last stop with Meiling from Universal Scribbles!

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A mother to two primary-school aged kids who mean the world to her, she tries to balance their childhood with as much fun and happiness as she can. Read how she manages work, kids, school and family life as she journeyed from a stay-at-home mom, full-time working mom, part-time working mom, to finally settling on being a mom with a full-time flexible work arrangement on her blog.

Also linking up with

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Her Hands

To my mom, my son, and all mamas this Mothers’ Day:

Her hands held me gently from the day I took my first breath.
Her hands helped to guide me as I took my first step.
Her hands held me close when the tears would start to fall.
Her hands were quick to show me that she would take care of it all.
Her hands were there to brush my hair, or straighten a wayward bow.
Her hands were often there to comfort the hurts that didn’t always show.
Her hands helped hold the stars in place, and encouraged me to reach.
Her hands would clap and cheer and praise
when I captured them at length.
Her hands would also push me, though not down or in harms way.
Her hands would punctuate the words, just do what I say.
Her hands sometimes had to discipline, to help bend this young tree.
Her hands would shape and mold me into all she knew I could be.
Her hands are now twisting with age and years of work,

Her hand now needs my gentle touch to rub away the hurt.
Her hands are more beautiful than anything can be.
Her hands are the reason I am me.

Author: Maggie Pittman

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Motherhood across generations: Compare less, celebrate more

A friend recently asked why we seemingly struggle to raise our kids while our moms raised larger families without help from hubbies or domestic helpers. I was typing out my reply along the lines of “Different times, different approaches, different expectations” when I came across this DDB Life Style Study. This got me thinking why today’s moms often feel they “have to” and “need to” be different from their own moms, and hence, our greater perceived struggle.

We have to as families living in a highly materialistic society in the post women’s movement era.  Modern women are wired to aspire for equality with men at work AND excel at home. In a way, this has led to the imagery of today’s woman as both domestic goddess and corporate high flyer.  This is an impossible task without a corresponding social and institutional change, leaving many moms frustrated with their identity and choice of career – whether you are a stay at home mom (this label is really quite a misnomer), work full time, or somewhere in between like me. It’s also the curse of our 21st century that “the more we have, the more we want” and the technology that boosts productivity has also broken down the walls between work and home. For better or worse, we grew up wanting to do more and better than our own moms (those born pre-1960s). The breadwinner(s) today feel a constant pressure to improve their social standing, to rise above. The irony is our moms had less pressure to achieve this “feminist” ideal and lived in an economy with a simpler, less dispersed, standard of living. As a result, they derived more joy from parenting and spending time with their kids.

Although motherhood brings joy, it is not without its challenges. Millennial moms are significantly more likely than Boomer moms (22% v. 11%) and Gen X moms (22% v. 15%) to view parenthood as a real burden. The toll motherhood exacts on Millennial moms is even more apparent when considering how they view time spent with their children. 34% of Millennial moms say that if they had to stay home with their kids day after day they would lose their minds, while only 21% of Gen X and 18% of Boomer moms feel this way.*

We need to so that our kids will not just survive but thrive with smaller families and a “bigger” world. Women today tend to have children later, resulting in fewer siblings to help out at home (and also to take care of their own parents one day). Add to that the lack of grandparents due to death, divorce, separation, etc. or aging grandparents who also need caretaking during your children’s early years. The tighter family unit and close-knit communities in the past have also expanded to a wide diaspora due to the search for a better “life” – overseas study, work opportunities, cross-cultural marriages, etc. With less support from traditional sources, moms today look for help from their spouses, or outsource to nannies and child care centers. While this is happening at the home front, our world is also gaining complexity and losing boundaries, leading to higher expectations and greater possibilities, higher cost of living and greater pressure to succeed at school and work. To paraphrase Voltaire: With greater knowledge, comes greater responsibility. Today’s moms are more educated and/or aware, and feel this responsibility towards their children keenly.

Millennial moms, more so than their Gen X and Boomer counterparts, want to make certain their parenting efforts aren’t for naught. 61% of Millennial moms say they do whatever they can to make sure their children get preferential treatment, whereas only 46% of Gen X and 44% of Boomer moms do the same.*

There’s a saying: “Mothers and daughters become closer when daughters become mothers.” For all the differences we face, the reality is that every mom is doing the best they can given their situation and understanding. So let’s NOT compare one generation with the next, or even one mom with another. Let’s NOT say “You have it easy!” or “You don’t understand!” But rather, celebrate and affirm the unique bond that is motherhood. Happy Mothers’ Day!

Image*Generational guide: Millenial (1980s through 2000s), Gen X (1960s to the early 1980s), Boomers (mid 1940s to early 1960s)

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