By now, you must have seen the video on the World’s Toughest Job. If you haven’t, you must have been living under a rock, or been really busy, probably DOING the world’s toughest job. I confess that it took writing this post, to get me to actually watch the video.
For those of you who have no idea which video I’m talking about, here it is:
I thought it really captured our ‘job scope’ very well, and some tears may or may not have been shed while I watched the video. I am in complete awe of Full-Time Working Mums (FTWMs), who go to work, then come home to do even more work! I went from ‘mothering’ thirty-five boys in class, to mothering one baby boy, and gosh, it was way tougher than I thought it would be.
When I was pregnant with Noah, C and I had a discussion on how I could be a SAHM, without going completely crazy.
Survival Tip #1: Outsource
We both agreed that Noah would be my top priority, and that we would outsource whatever we could. We tested out a few tingkat caterers during my pregnancy, before finally deciding on Select Catering. After my confinement, we had our dinners delivered to our doorstep for four out of the five weeknights, just so that I didn’t have to worry about planning and cooking our meals.
In addition, we have a part-time helper who comes in once a week to do the routine cleaning of the house, washing of our toilets, and ironing of our clothes.
Survival Tip #2: Split your chores up
I used to be really particular about doing the laundry all in one shot, ie wash, dry, fold, and put away the clothes, all in the same day. I started getting really frustrated because on many occasions, I didn’t have time to complete all four steps. C then pointed out that ‘the world won’t end if you don’t do everything in one day’, and I realised that he was absolutely right. Yes, in the ideal world, all the laundry would be done and put into the cupboards by elves or fairies, but in a SAHM’s world, that will never happen.
These days, I pop the clothes into the washing machine in the evening, then toss the washed clothes into the dryer before we go to bed, so that the clothes would be dry by the time we wake up the next day. On very good days, I am able to fold the clothes in the morning, AND put them away immediately after I fold them, but on most days, Noah demands my complete attention, and if I so much as try to fold a t-shirt, he grabs it after I put it down, and either flings it onto the ground, covers his head with it to play peekaboo with me, or runs away with it, giggling madly to himself. Sometimes, I leave the clothes in the dryer until he takes his nap, so that I can quickly fold and put away the clothes without any ‘help’ from him.
Also, stock up on the clothes and towels, so that you don’t find yourself doing the laundry every other day. I find doing laundry twice a week to be pretty manageable, so I make sure that we have enough clothes to last us at least five days, just in case I don’t manage to get the laundry done on time.
“Helping” to fold the clothes
Survival Tip #3: Find ways to get some me-time
I know this is something that has been said over and over again, and most mums will probably laugh in my face when I say that we can have me-time. On any given day, there’s hardly any time to go to the toilet, so me-time is pretty much a fantasy, one that has been whispered about, but something that most mums don’t get to experience.
First of all, set your standards low. As low as possible. If you think me-time is going out for the day and getting a massage/manicure/pedicure, then I’m sorry, that happens maybe once or twice a year, if you’re lucky. I’m talking about… alone toilet time. After our confinement lady left, Noah was still pretty manageable, napping a few times a day, and quite content to lie in his cot or sit in his bouncer when he’s awake. Those were the days that I could actually go to the toilet, and even take a shower during the day, while he napped or
pondered the mysteries of the universe stared blankly into space. As he got older, he became more aware of his surroundings, and needed to be able to see me whenever he was awake. Those were the days when I plopped him into his bouncer, then carried it to the toilet, so that he could spend quality time with me there. We have full-length mirrors outside our toilet, so he was quite content to sit there and talk to his reflection too.
Talking to himself
Then, he became mobile. These days, whenever I tell him that I need to go to the toilet, he says, “NO!” and when I was down with the runs last month, Noah spent a lot of time in the toilet with me. I know that some people will baulk at the idea of having their kids in the toilet with them, but it was either that or leave him unattended and hysterical outside a closed toilet door.
What was I saying? Oh yes, me-time. When C or my parents are around, I leave Noah with them while I go to the toilet or bathe, and gosh, those few minutes alone are so precious. I appreciated those moments of silence so much that I actually wrote a post about it long ago.
I also started trying to get Noah to learn how to entertain himself. I leave books and toys within his reach, and always tell him to read/play by himself. I make it a point to ignore him during those ‘self-entertainment’ periods, and most of the time, he will do so. Of course, when he’s too quiet, I start getting worried, and sometimes, I catch him playing with ‘contraband’, such as tissue paper.
Playing by himself
Use a play-pen or play-yard, if you have one, to contain the mess (and kid)
What happens when he manages to pull down the pack of tissues from the shelf
Most children have very short attention spans, so rotate the books and toys regularly. We were away from our home in Singapore for a couple of months, and when we got back, it was as though he had a brand-new collection of books and toys, and he kept himself busy with the ‘new’ materials.
When Noah is able to entertain himself, it frees me up to do other things. Sometimes, I choose to do my other motherly duties, like cook his food, or do the laundry, but when I’m tired, I choose to surf the net, blog, or read a book instead. I believe that by reading my own books in front of him, I’m showing him that reading is a good habit, and sometimes, he will put away his toys and pull out a book instead when he sees me reading.
Survival Tip #4: Sleep or rest when the baby is sleeping
This is another one of those tips that most mums scoff at, because there are a million and one things to be done when the baby is asleep. Again, because preserving my sanity is more important than say, doing the laundry, I do nap with Noah, especially if he had a rough night, and woke me up every hour for milk. Many people have told me to sleep-train him instead, but for now, this is what works for us. Even if I don’t nap, I read or watch videos, so that I feel more relaxed by the time he’s awake, and I am less short-tempered with him.
Survival Tip #5: Have a support network
I have various whatsapp chats open in my phone, and these are the people who make me feel less alone. We text each other frequently, and I can always get sound advice from the more experienced mums. Staying home with the baby can be quite alienating, so when I’m in Singapore, I make it a point to meet up with my friends during the day. They don’t need to be mums, and actually, meeting friends without kids means there are more people to look after one kid. Once in a while, I get my mum to take time off from work to hang out with us, so that there’s an extra pair of eyes watching Noah, or to even babysit him, while I go out to run errands or just get an hour or two of me-time.
Noah playing with grandma
I have a few other items on my ‘Parenting Cheat Sheet’, but five is plenty for now, and I’ll save the rest for future posts. Want more? This post is actually part of a blog train, hosted by the amazing Gingerbreadmum, where 31 stay-at-home mums share their survival tips. Click on the adorable drawing below to read Gingerbreadmum’s tips, as well as to see the full list of 31 SAHMs. We hope that you’ll find our tips useful and remember that you’re not alone!
The next mum on this SAHM Survival Tips blog train is Mummy Edlyn!
MummyEdlyn works from home whenever she has the chance to, but with 3 kids of ages 1.5 to 6 years old, those moments are few and far between. She blogs at MummyEd and has never been happier to leave the corporate world behind.
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