The Back Seat

Lessons on moth­er­hood from some­one who’s been there, done that. By Loke Poh Lin

Time Out Malaysia Kids - - News -

Heed this grand­mother’s sage ad­vice and en­joy par­ent­ing

Ican’t imag­ine how chal­leng­ing it is to be a mother now. There are such big changes from the ’80s when I first be­came a mother. These days you can ab­sorb an en­cy­clopae­dia of knowl­edge from the gad­get you hold in your hand. You can or­der con­fine­ment meals on­line and use an app to se­cure a babysit­ter. There are so many things to help new moth­ers, but at the same time there is also too much in­for­ma­tion and just as many dis­trac­tions. It seemed much sim­pler 26 years ago when I was a clue­less first-time mother with a baby girl strug­gling with the rhythms of feeds and sleeps.

The good and the bad

By all means use tech­nol­ogy when it’s ap­pli­ca­ble, from apps to search­ing for in­for­ma­tion you can down­load to help you han­dle the first years. Shop for baby sup­plies, scout for med­i­cal ser­vices, in­for­ma­tion to help you find which con­fine­ment home fits your ex­pec­ta­tions, recipes to cook your own con­fine­ment dishes, places to share baby pho­tos safely on­line. The only down­side I can pos­si­bly see is that there is just so much in­for­ma­tion out there; it’s dif­fi­cult to shut off and zoom in on the rel­e­vant and ac­cu­rate bits.

I must put out a plea to par­ents ev­ery­where: While I’m in favour of us­ing tech­nol­ogy to help with the de­mands of moth­er­hood, the tablet gets the thumbs down when com­pared to a hu­man be­ing. You’re much bet­ter off en­gag­ing with your child than let­ting him or her be en­ter­tained by an elec­tronic nanny. It’s sad to see par­ents ig­nor­ing each other and their chil­dren when ev­ery­one is on their phones and elec­tronic de­vices.

Ac­ces­sorise, ac­ces­sorise

There are baby shops on­line and off, rang­ing from the big bud­get es­tab­lish­ments de­serv­ing of Mike Zucker­berg’s off­spring, to mod­est ones pru­dent mums will aim for know­ing that baby will grow out of toys, clothes and ac­ces­sories in a few short months. When it comes to toys, read up and buy only the ones you will use. Cloth books are al­ways good and play­mats that dou­ble as teach­ing aids also get our vote. Share with other moth­ers and don’t hes­i­tate to ac­cept good con­di­tion hand-me-downs.

Re­cy­cling old wives’ tales

You will re­ceive a lot of wellmean­ing ad­vice from friends, col­leagues and fam­ily. Let com­mon sense pre­vail is all I can say... and stand your ground! For ex­am­ple, when our weather is so darn hot and hu­mid, is there a need to wear socks and a sweater at home dur­ing con­fine­ment? Un­less you’re in Cameron High­lands and it has been rain­ing for the last two days.

Feed them right

En­tire rev­o­lu­tions have hap­pened in the world of nutri­tion in the last two decades. De­bates on or­ganic food, the top­pling of the food pyra­mid, the slow cook­ing move­ment, raw food, veg­e­tar­i­an­ism, ve­g­an­ism... A lot of the things we con­sid­ered sound prac­tice has been re­placed by new find­ings and al­most ev­ery day there’s new in­for­ma­tion sur­fac­ing to dis­place the old.

Know­ing what to be­lieve takes in­tel­li­gence and a lot of reading. And the lit­tle one will let you know what they will eat and what they will not soon enough. The gen­eral guide­line is to keep food as nat­u­ral and un­pro­cessed as pos­si­ble, go or­ganic if you can af­ford it and if it’s avail­able. The prin­ci­ple of min­i­mal seasoning still ap­plies as baby’s lit­tle liver and kid­neys should not have to do hard labour at this early stage of life.

Steam­ing is still the best method of cook­ing as it’s the gen­tlest. Keep­ing ac­cu­rate records is good as you can see what baby likes and doesn’t like, as well as know­ing when to ro­tate their diet so that they’re ex­posed to a va­ri­ety of tastes and tex­tures.

Bring­ing up baby

When it comes to dis­ci­pline and de­cid­ing what’s right for your child, do what you feel is right. And don’t let any­one tell you oth­er­wise. I know this is eas­ier said than done es­pe­cially if you live with fam­ily. Get your part­ner on your side early and get him to swear undy­ing loy­alty and have your back no mat­ter what. That’s half the bat­tle won; the rest is just stand­ing your ground. There is no need to be com­bat­ive though, just say that this is the way you want to do it and ask ev­ery­one to re­spect your wishes. Ul­ti­mately, it’s your child and as pri­mary care­taker, you spend the most time with baby – hence the main per­son re­spon­si­ble for their well­be­ing is you.

Mother tongue

De­cide with your part­ner what baby’s mother tongue(s) is go­ing to be. Who says it has to be just one? You’ll be sur­prised how many di­alects baby will be able to ab­sorb. De­cide later on whether it’s go­ing to be Man­darin, Can­tonese, English, Malay or Tamil.

Ed­u­cat­ing baby

There’s still a long way to go be­fore de­cid­ing where to en­rol baby, but know the op­tions out there. There’s a wealth of reg­u­lar school or pri­vate or home school choices. And be­fore that, there’s nurs­ery and kindy. Do your re­search and talk to other like-minded par­ents and es­tab­lish a flexi-plan of ac­tion.

Rel­ish time out

Re­mem­ber to leave some time for you. There is no rush to ‘fin­ish’ ev­ery­thing on time. In other words, no­body is go­ing to be hurt if you let things slide a lit­tle. Think of your own san­ity and well­be­ing. Savour the mo­ment. Ba­bies will be toddlers and then be­fore you know it, they will be go­ing to school. Take time to be with them, and not just clean­ing and fuss­ing. Check what ab­so­lutely needs to be done and re­mind your­self it’s all right to step back oc­ca­sion­ally. The chores will al­ways be there. More im­por­tantly, baby needs to be cud­dled now.

The brighter side

Let com­mon sense pre­vail is all I can say

Most of all, know this: Learn­ing to look at the funny side of things will see you through the day, ev­ery day, no mat­ter how tough it gets. Re­ally. Af­ter all, baby is fine, you are fine. So take it easy on your­self and oth­ers around you and have a good gig­gle, be silly and trust that the sky will still hold up for an­other day. En­joy!

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