0

Not Looking Forward

It has been two weeks since we returned from Perth, one week since the birthday celebration. It’s time to get back on track. Been very slack about outdoor time…waking up early… getting the kids to do chores… reading to the kids… personal diet and exercise…….. 😣

But seriously very sian about it. Once I start, there’s going to be no break till the next school holidays in March. And who knows what’s the holidays going to be like with a primary school going kid?? Will there be tons of homework, projects, field trips, whatnots…?? Now our weekends are free, except for inline skating classes which are flexible (can go for any of the six timings each weekend, or not go at all. It’s pay only if you go.) Next year, Kor Kor will be in the afternoon session (double sian!!), so his wushu and swimming lessons will be weekend classes instead. Plus the weekly visits to my in-laws……. weekend is gone………. *cry*

I guess (hope!) my weekday afternoons will be more relaxed with one kid out of the house. But I am quite sad that Kor Kor will have very little free time in future… After breakfast, he has only a couple of hours before we have to eat lunch, so that we can be out of the house by 12nn as school starts at 12.10pm. When he comes back from school, it will be dinner time followed by bath and bedtime. Early bedtime is still important even though he’s in the afternoon session and can sleep in if he so wishes. And that couple of hours includes homework and revision time if necessary. AHHHHHHHH…..! 

That’s why in order to maximize his time, I have to wake up earlier to prepare breakfast. Cannot sleep in on weekends either because of wushu and swimming. This is devastating because now that Meimei is older, I actually can continue to sleep even when all the three kids are up and about. They are content to play until I wake up to make milk and breakfast for them. Sigh. 

The worst is, I am feeling tired all the time. OK, truthfully, I only feel tired during the day. Very energetic at night. Once the kids go to bed. Ha! I am tired even when we stay at home the whole day, no outings, no adventurous hiking, no sun, no major housecleaning.. just the usual cooking and cleaning. Before I went for a checkup a few months ago, I was worried that this lethargy might be a symptom of a serious health issue. Turned out I am perfectly healthy. Cholesterol, blood pressure, all good. Not even anemic. Then what on earth is wrong with me! I drink coffee every morning and often a bottle of chicken essence at midday. 

But I think I need to solve this problem. Since coffee + chicken essence is not sufficient, I shall start taking supplements. Ginseng, vitamin B, something, anything. Oh yes and I need to resume exercising. That should help too. Only when I am more energetic can I be a better mother and do more things with the kids. And be better-tempered too. I must, I must!!

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1

In Defence of Cry-It-Out

Quite often, I come across articles condemning the CIO method of sleep training, usually links posted on facebook. Seriously, with three kids and a firm confidence that CIO is the right thing for my children (in hindsight!), I can’t be bothered to even comment on those links anymore. One man’s meat is another’s poison, to each his own, and all that.

Sure, I have no doubt that non-CIO methods can be just as good, if not better than CIO. How can letting a baby cry and cry be good anyway? Who cares about a baby being independent anyway. I am just quite sick of those articles implying that mothers who do CIO are lousy mothers.

And what’s not mentioned in those articles is the opportunity cost for the rest of the family. And I don’t mean the mother. It is obvious that the welfare of the mother is of little importance in comparison to the baby, not going to argue with that. And ya, it’s not just about the baby and the mother.

The other children

So, when the mother is doing her best to soothe the baby to sleep, what happens to the older siblings? I guess they will either be playing on their own… or being taken care of by another adult (maid?)…. or maybe the TV or smartphone is babysitting them. Baby gets mummy’s loving attention and time – good for him, perhaps not so good for his siblings.

Or what happens if the older sibling is still young enough to need a nap? And to need the mother to soothe him to sleep as well? I don’t know how the mother is going to juggle that. Maybe end up neither child get to nap at the time that he should nap? Or get the amount of sleep they need?

The baby’s father

Baby sharing the matrimonial bed. Hmm. Or perhaps the husband doesn’t even get to sleep in the bed anymore.

The mother

OK, even though nobody cares about the mother’s well-being, I still must mention this. It might not matter that the mother is exhausted and stressed – that’s the price for having a baby what, how can let the baby cry just so that the mother can rest, no way. But the quality of her relationships with the whole family will probably be adversely affected when her fatigue makes her impatient, or just no energy to play with the other kids, ya?

– – –

I know there are mothers out there who seem to be able to do it all – multiple kids, homeschool, outings, fun activites, no maid, cooks, does all the housework, takes care of all the kids herself, and does NOT use CIO. But but but, I am sure there’s some compromise somewhere. It is just not possible to really do it all.

If not for CIO, I would not able to homeschool my children. I would not be able to manage taking care of my three kids without a helper, be it family or hired help. Since I really want to homeschool, I would really really hate it if I had to send the older kids off to school just so I could take care of the baby, and I would feel it was really really unfair to them.

I did CIO for my first child even though I only had to take care of one then, because I knew there would soon be a younger sibling (before I got pregnant). We had planned to have a second child soon, and I needed to think for the near future. (I started calling Kor Kor ‘Kor Kor’ when he was three months old.) I did CIO for my third child even though there would be no more younger ones, because I was already taking care of three young children then. (In all my plans, a maid was never in the picture.)

Not everyone want to homeschool, so most people won’t be bothered about sending the older kids to school. There is nothing wrong with not homeschooling anyway. My point is, other than whether it’s good for the new baby, there are many many other factors to consider. Is it good for the old(er) baby? Is it good for the father? Is it good for the mother? Different priorities for everyone, just remember to consider the whole family!

By the way, I don’t mean to say I first tried CIO because I only considered the welfare of my husband and children. I wasn’t so noble. I tried it because back then, I was feeling so tired and frustrated and stressed and helpless. Other than knowing I must not start co-sleeping if I wanted to take care of my second child on my own in future, the other sleep training methods we tried had failed, namely by schedule and pick up put down.

Frankly speaking, I think it’s perfectly reasonable for mothers to do CIO just so they can have more rest. Even if it’s the only reason for you wanting to sleep train your baby. No need to feel guilty. Happy mother, happy baby. Happy mother, happy family. Happy wife, happy husband. So go ahead, no need to justify your decision!

5

How Did I Get Eczema At 34 Years Old???

A couple of weeks ago, I got some rashes on my hand. It started on one finger and spread to another finger within two days. My hands are dry in general but the affected fingers felt even drier. It was also painful and I had difficulties opening my hand fully. I suspected it was because of the amount of dishes I had to wash almost everyday, but I did wear gloves most of the time, and I had never been prone to sensitive skin my whole life, so what happened? By the fourth day, I couldn’t take the pain and discomfort anymore and went to the GP.

Hmm, the photos don’t look too bad hor? Anyway the human eye is way more powerful than any camera, and my pain sensors are even more powerful! I can only say these photos don’t do justice to my suffering!

The doctor examined my hand and diagnosed it as ‘acute eczema’, likely to be due to contact with harsh chemicals.

I asked him why I suddenly got eczema when I had never had any such history. Doctor explained that it was probably an acquired allergy, or accumulated allergy. His brief explanation gave me a clearer understanding, and intrigued, I googled for more information after the visit.

What is eczema? According to netdoctor,

Eczema is an itchy inflammation of the skin, associated to a varying degree with other features such as:

redness of affected areas of skin
generally very dry skin, which is often thickened in the areas that have been scratchedlumps or blisters in affected areassigns of superficial infection, such as weeping or crusty deposits.

(Click here to read in detail.) Thus, eczema refers to the symptoms.
What is acquired allergy?
Acquired allergies arise from altered body ecology due to usage of medications, improper diet, and unhealthy lifestyle.(source)
What is accumulated allergy?
I can’t find a nice concise definition of accumulated allergy, so I shall try my best to explain it here based on what I read online and what the doctor said.
Disclaimer: I am not medically trained and I don’t even have much experience about eczema cos none of my kids nor myself suffer from eczema prior to this. Please read up more and check with your doctor if you have more questions about this topic.
Here goes my layman explanation. It’s like each of us has a different threshold to certain allergens. So somebody who is said to be more sensitive or prone to allergy or eczema has a low threshold – one contact is sufficient to cause some symptoms. On the other hand, people like me who is usually very non-reactive, have a higher threshold. However the allergens accumulate in our system. This means that no matter how high our thresholds, sooner or later we will hit it if we have constant contact with the allergen.
In my case, given that the rashes appeared on my hand and that I used latex gloves and normal dishwashing detergent, it was quite likely that the cause was either latex or detergent, especially since they are both quite harsh substances and common allergens. (I didn’t always use gloves when I washed dishes, so I still came into contact with the detergent quite a lot, because the amount of dishes in a day is simply massive.)
I think my trigger is probably latex. Though I have bought a 100% plant-based dishwashing liquid after the visit to the doctor, I am still using the same sponge which hubby uses with the old detergent, which means I still have some contact with the detergent. On the other hand, I have not used gloves at all since then. My rashes have recovered very well since I started applying the cream from the doctor. He did warn that the condition would deteriorate rapidly and it could become very serious eczema if I continued to have contact with the triggering allergen.
But hey, even though I do not have allergic reaction to detergent now, I will sooner or later if I continue to have direct contact with detergent everyday! And my hands are already very dry, they will crack before they even accumulate ‘enough’. But cannot wear gloves.. how? Thank heavens for non-latex gloves!
So what’s my key takeaway from this experience? I used to think that only very young babies need to use special baby shower foam, but that once they are older and have not shown any adverse reaction to regular shower foam, it’s ok to let them use anything… not allergic mah, right? Now I know that though they are not showing any skin reaction now, it is accumulating in their bodies! Thus I shall be more disciplined and vigilant in ensuring my kids (especially Meimei!) only use baby products specially tailored for their delicate skin.
As I was googling on eczema with a specific focus on detergents, I came across some very interesting information relating to detergent and eczema in young children. To summarize, apparently detergent is a very common cause of eczema, yet it is omnipresent in most households. Even though babies’ clothes are usually washed with baby detergent, there are detergent residues on adult clothes, residues on our bodies and hair from our regular adult shampoos and soaps, residues on the dishes from dishwashing detergent, etc. When the adult holds the baby, the baby comes into contact with these residues and suffers an allergic reaction.
Do read how this mother conquered her two-year-old’s eczema by eliminating detergent from their home.
For safety’s sake, I repeat my disclaimer – I am not medically trained and I don’t even have much experience about eczema cos none of my kids nor myself suffer from eczema prior to this. Please read up more and check with your doctor if you have more questions about this topic.
Phew, took me 2 hours to write this post! But I hope it will help some of you who are battling with eczema yourself or for your child. All the best!
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P1 Prep: Overview

No no, Kor Kor is not starting primary school next year.. only in 2016! But I started to think more about this topic when I saw many mummies post about their child’s first foray into primary school at the beginning of the year. Though it might seem too early (and kiasu?!?) to start preparing Kor Kor now, the more I ponder, the more I think it is necessary to start early. Here are the main things I will be working on, and I shall update as we go along.

1. Sleep (i.e. the challenge of waking up at 6am or earlier every schoolday)

2. Breakfast

3. Independent work

4. Study area

5. Life skills (e.g. money, telling time, personal hygiene, buying food)

6. Academic skills (e.g. pencil grip, handwriting).

Ahh.. as I was writing this, I thought, hmm my first post on school! Soon I would be a homeschooling mum no more… Then I remembered, hey even when Kor Kor starts primary school, I will still be homeschooling the younger two! Yay!

Countdown to P1: 671 days

5

Being A SAHM of 3

Most of the time I manage quite well, probably due to my high-energy personality. If I could run two marathons, I can do this.

But frankly, usually I’m dashing from one chore to another, and dashing from one kid to another. Even though there are a couple of hours of downtime in the afternoon before I have to start preparing dinner, the worst is the one hour plus of rushing at each mealtime.

Lunch: start cooking around 12nn, eat at 12.30pm, start cleaning up around 1pm, hopefully finish by 1.30pm. That’s 1.5 hours of flapping around like a headless chicken.

Repeat at dinnertime. But this is even worse. Cos dinnertime is followed immediately by playground time then bedtime routine of baths etc.

I’m usually drained by then. Fortunately once I get to rest for a while after the kids go to bed at 8+, I get a second wind and have enough energy to do my own things, things which I like and enjoy doing.

So much that I end up going to bed at unearthly hours. But then, I need to do things to be ME, don’t I? Otherwise I would just be a mothering robot.

The result is insufficient sleep, of course. But usually I still cope quite ok, with the help of coffee and chicken essence.

But this means when I do crash, it’s sudden immobilising fatigue. Maybe I didn’t sleep that late the previous night, but take into account all the previous late nights……

Actually, it’s not just accumulated fatigue. It’s more of suppressed fatigue. Running on turbo takes a toil on the engine, you know?

Zzzzzzz

2

How To Get Enough Sleep

HOW could I have possibly left this out of my self-care post??? See what inadequate sleep does to one’s brain?

When humans don’t get sufficient sleep, we fall sick more easily, lose our temper more easily (snap, Snap, SNAP), cannot think clearly, etc etc. And being mothers (or just a woman, for that matter), we are probably used to multi-tasking… and having a hundred things on our to-do list. I am definitely a Type A, task-oriented person. Though I sometimes manage to be Efficient (yes, capital E ok), it often means sacrificing my sleep. Then I pay for it the next day.

(Actually, I think it’s OK to occasionally stay up to finish an engaging book. That’s a I-don’t-want-to-sleep euphoria! Very different from I-want-to-sleep-but-haven’t-finished-doing-everything.)

Recently, I learnt from a friend about the importance of prioritising sleep in order to sleep. I felt that this was very true, and started thinking more about it. It’s not practical to wait till we really do not have anything to do before we pay the sleep debt, is it? How possible is that anyway?

Just for fun, I shall share an example from my teenage days. I was in JC then and was tackling my F Math homework at night. It was a topic I was good at but I was getting nowhere with that particular question. So I decided to go to bed. I wasn’t the type to stress or worry about homework, so when I lay on my bed, I was truly intending to sleep, not thinking anymore about homework. Then suddenly, out of the blue, the solution hit me! See, don’t even need to think. Just sleep and the brain works better! I also realised that I did much better at exams when I got enough sleep the previous night. So instead of trying to cram or revise more, I made myself go to bed, even when I had not finished my revision. BEST excuse to sleep instead of study! (I must remember to apply this to my kids when the time comes.)

What has worked for me thus far:

1) Prioritise. Make a commitment to allowing yourself adequate sleep.

2) Set a bedtime for myself. Darn, I am so good at enforcing my kids’ sleep schedule. What’s one more?

3) Plan ahead. Before the evening arrives, I decide what is the ONE thing I want to do that night. Go for a run? OR do a facial mask? OR read a book? OR write blog? Stick to just one main item.

My nightly to-do list used to be something like go for a run THEN do a mask THEN write a post THEN read. Crazy, right? What was I thinking! Needless to say, I often ended up going to bed at an indecent hour.

Go ahead, give yourself a treat, go to bed early TONIGHT. Don’t wait till you finish doing abc. and xyz.. and.. and….

Good night!

6

The Importance of Self-Care

When I was doing my Bachelor of Arts in Social Work, we learnt about the importance of self-care to prevent burnout. And this is so very important to a parent too. (Actually, I would like to say to a sahm, or maybe, to a mother. But I shall be politically correct and include the daddies too, haha.)

How do I take care of three kids by myself, day in day out, without going nuts? Especially since I don’t even have the respite of them going to school. In fact, my three keys to survival are Routine, Early bedtimes, and Self-care. I can truthfully say that I don’t even feel much stress as a sahm of three. Tired, yes, especially on days when there is no overlap in their naps. Stressed, hardly.

(Since I don’t feel stressed and am just merrily going about my business of taking care of a household and three kids, I feel embarrassed when people say I am a supermum. I think those mummies whose kids go to bed very late are the true supermums, cos they won’t have much/any downtime for themselves!)

What I do to maintain my sanity:

One off day a month – my off starts at 10am and ends at 6pm. I go out whether I have appointments or not. If I am not meeting friends, I might just roam around or have a cuppa. After Meimei was born, I have to bring her along as she is total-breastfed, and also because it’s hard for Hubby to take care of three kids. But it’s still good.

For the past couple of months, I also go out with Meimei for 2-3 hours every weekend, while the boys nap. I leave the house after sending the boys in for their naps, and meet up with them outside after their nap. I usually use this time to visit the library and to run some errands.

It is very important to Ask For Help. For example, Hubby used to bring one boy out (to playground or swimming etc) while I did the housework on a weekend morning. This meant that I had to take care of one boy plus Meimei plus do housework, which I found very stressful. Couldn’t even wash a toilet in peace and had to worry about the boy making noise and waking up Meimei. If Meimei woke up, I really couldn’t do any work cos she’s quite clingy. So, one day I decided I couldn’t take it anymore and asked Hubby to bring both boys out. He readily agreed, and from then on, I LOVE housework mornings! Hee hee : )

I also like clear allocation of duties. While Hubby was quite willing to help out on his off days, I was usually the one up earlier. And because I am very task-oriented, I often end up bathing the boys even though Hubby would be happy to bathe them when he woke up. One fine day, I decided that Hubby shall do all the boys’ baths on weekends. So I made myself STOP.  So what if the boys were still in their pyjamas at 11am? It’s about making myself Let Others Help.

I don’t cook on weekends. Either we eat at the grandparents’, or we eat out, or we buy food back. I do like to cook special dishes (i.e. those that require more preparation) for the family occasionally, so I usually do so on public holidays which are like ‘extra weekends’.  In this way, I get to rest on weekends, instead of having to cook and wash for one extra person!

Thanks to my kids’ early bedtimes, I sometimes go out with my friends at night. I leave the house around 7pm after Meimei goes to bed. If Kor Kor didn’t nap that afternoon, the boys would go to bed around 7pm too, so Hubby just had to read them their bedtime stories. If not, the boys would go to bed around 8.30pm, and Hubby helps to do their bedtime routine of baths and milk as well.

Most importantly, I get me-time every night once the kids go to bed. I use this time to read, write my blog, watch television, have a leisurely shower, do a facial mask, go for a run, or just space out and do nothing.  Reading provides intellectual stimulation after a day of interaction with only under-fives, and running gives me much-needed exercise to keep up with the young and energetic ones.

Remember,

  1. Ask for Help
  2. Let Others Help
  3. Me-time!