8 great reasons why you should go on a holiday without kids

reasons-couple retreatSome moons ago, I wrote a piece sharing 20 reasons why you should lug your kids on holidays. Today I thought it’s time to do a piece on reasons why you should do the opposite.

The hubs and I just came back from a trip to Phuket and I must say it’s made quite the difference in the way we treat each other and communicate. So yes…this post is inspired by that.

Here goes. :)

1. To reconnect
It’s easy to lose touch with your spouse amidst the stresses and busyness of daily life. Work demands, kid demands, and so on can really drain the energy and quality of the marriage relationship. Taking time to intentionally draw close to each other – emotionally, mentally and physically – is really necessary in today’s context. The trick is to leave the phone behind or forget about asking for the password to the hotel’s free wifi; instead take the time to just focus on each other.

2. To remember you are first husband and wife, then parents

When the kids came along, I recall being so caught up in the demands of child-rearing and devouring all the parenting books with a vengeance. Now that they are a tad older, and we can breathe a little, go on date nights every fortnight, etc etc, I find myself seeking out more marriage-related books and wanting to invest more energy into building my marriage.

I think it’s a normal process that we go through when kids enter the picture. Their needs are pressing and their voices are loud. But we also need to remember that marriage came first, then kids.

3. To have the conversations you’ve been meaning to have

There are times I’ve shelved a discussion I’ve been meaning to have just because of lack of time or mental energy to deal with it.

But sometimes the conversation is important enough for you to plan ahead and to get it off your chest. For instance, if there is a family issue that’s been bothering you, and you don’t know how to resolve it.

When you’re relaxed and rested during a holiday, it might just be the best time to deal with it head on, in partnership with your spouse.

4. To enjoy each other

When was the last time you had fun with your spouse? When you could laugh at each other, and just do wacky, silly things together? A holiday provides you with ample opportunities to go on exciting mini-journeys and day trips, and seize the day and do (or learn) something new with your mate.

Of course, physical intimacy is an important part of the whole package. For a couple of days you get to be like crazy honeymooners who are madly in love. Need I say more?

5. To make a baby

Friends will laugh at this one, because they know we’ve officially “closed shop” in the baby department. But lots of people take time off to “make babies” and let’s admit it it always sounds glamourous to say, “Oh this baby was made in Bali / Koh Samui / Tokyo.”

6. To forgive and heal from past hurts

An idyllic resort getaway provides an ideal setting for married couples to work through a rough patch, to hone their communication, and to seek restoration of friendship, love and trust. It’s no wonder that lots of churches organise marriage retreat programmes to help their members work through and resolve marital problems.

You don’t have to wait for a big issue to arise before retreat-ing as a couple. Taking time off regularly  helps build a healthy loving relationship, and that should put you in a better place to deal with life’s hurdles as they come.

7. To envision a better future

What are our goals as a family? What steps do we need to take to align everyone to these goals? Which activities do we take on, and which do we say no to?

Most families these days have to deal with very hectic routines and schedules. We all become great do-ers and runners, but it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture.

Time is a precious resource, and we want to invest it on things that matter. In order to know what matters, and what doesn’t, it’s essential to take a step back to evaluate your purpose and goals, and to plan concrete steps on how to achieve that ideal life for your family.

8. To recharge for the journey ahead

Parenting is a life journey – people say it gets easier but I think the truth is, there will always be challenges; they just change from stage to stage.

One thing is for sure. That we’re all in it for the long haul. And every seasoned sojourner will tell you how important it is to rest and take pit stops at regular points, in order to finish the race well.

What do you love most about going on holidays sans kids? I’d love to hear your views!

Inspiring mumpreneurs: Ruth Wong, life coach and founder of My Philosoulphy

I’m excited to have Ruth Wong, founder of My Philosoulphy, share her entrepreneurial journey with us. I’ve known Ruth since from our early blogging days. She’s been an inspiration to me, always reminding me how important it is to keep my focus, and to never stop working towards my dreams and aspirations.   

Here is Ruth’s story…

Ruth_landscape

1) What gave you the courage or motivation to start your own business?

I knew long ago that working for someone else isn’t for me and that living life on my own terms and doing work I really love are important to me. But it wasn’t until the sudden death of a good friend that motivated me to take action. He and his wife were both killed in a car accident while on their honeymoon. It left me in shock, yet at the same time made me realized that life is just too unpredictable and I had to start doing something about my dreams or it may be too late. That’s what got me started on a journey to discovering my passion and talents, and reconnecting with my dreams.

I value freedom and flexibility and desire to be a stay-home mom.

2) How did you decide to do coaching?

I did freelance writing for a few years around the time when my son was born. While I enjoy writing, I began to feel restless, like something was missing. I came to realise that it was my desire to do meaningful work – work that makes a difference in people’s lives – calling out to me.

I evaluated my options – I am a social worker by training but I didn’t want to go back to the sector; I value freedom and flexibility and desire to be a stay-home mom. My search eventually led me to the field of coaching and I am absolutely love the work I am doing. I help women design and achieve their goals, and work towards their ideal life. I help them to reconnect with their dreams and desires, overcome limiting beliefs, confidence and self-worth issues and expand their wealth-consciousness so that they can live with greater purpose, passion and prosperity.

A woman who wants to have it all can’t do it all.

3) Can you share with us your biggest setback so far and the lessons you learnt from it?

I started another business with a friend before going into coaching. Unfortunately, I experienced betrayal and the partnership fell through as a result. It was also during that time that I suffered a miscarriage. It was altogether a very painful time for me but a precious lesson learned. It taught me how important it is to have a contract in a business partnership. I would advise everyone who is going into a partnership to have a contract drawn up even in the early days, and even if the partner is your spouse or sibling. A business is a business and you do what a businesswoman has to do.

It took me about a year to finally let go of what happened, both the business and the miscarriage, and see the positive side of things. I am also thankful that because of this incident, I can now have a coaching business I love.

The thing with entrepreneurship is that the first business idea usually doesn’t work out for various reasons. I think statistically, the number is that 80% of businesses closed within their first two years. The important thing is not to lose sight of our vision and dreams. I always believe that when God closes one door, He will open another even better one, and it’s been true in so many instances of my life.

4) Balancing business and family is not easy. How do you do it?

It’s definitely not an easy task. I put my family’s needs as priority but it doesn’t mean I sacrifice my dreams. Instead, I learn to work smarter.

I love what my mentor says: A woman who wants to have it all can’t do it all. We have to drop the mentality that we need to do it all by ourselves. It serves no one by trying to be a martyr. One way is to delegate as much as possible – outsource the house chores; hire a virtual assistant; if you don’t have the funds to do that yet, then at least outsource on project basis to freelancers. Be resourceful and find help that meets your budget, such as going to places like Fiverr, Odesk and Elance.

I also learn to say “no” more often and not be afraid to offend people. I would periodically examine all the activities and commitments I’m involved in to see if they will move me towards my goals or distract me from them. Some activities may be fun to do but they don’t necessarily help me with my business or add value to my family life.

Ultimately, it boils down to keeping our focus on what’s most important in our lives and living in alignment with our dreams, values and desires. It’s about making smart choices with the limited time and resources we have.

 

5) Finally, what advice would you give to mums who are thinking about becoming a mumpreneur?

There are many things I would love to share but I’ll limit myself to three:

  1. Start a passion-based business that aligns with your essence

I feel this is especially important for women entrepreneurs, because many of us are more emotionally-driven and heart-centred than men. It may sound clichéd but when you start a business, the early days are going to be tough and if you don’t love what you do, it is going to be so much harder. The learning curve will be steep (unless you already have some business related experience), there won’t be anyone telling you what to do; and you will face setbacks and challenges. But when you do something you are passionate about, and which aligns with your essence and core values, your business will stand a higher chance of making it. Don’t let money be the main motivating factor.

  1. Hire a coach or mentor

For first-time mompreneurs, it is helpful to work with a coach or mentor. See it as an investment in yourself and your business. It will help collapse the timeline when you learn from someone who’s been there, done that. It also saves you from much heartache and unnecessary mistakes.

That said, take your time to find the right coach and mentor. Bear in mind that it’s important to not only work with them on the systems, structures and strategies – all these form just 20-30% of the business. The rest of it is about mindset. That’s why in my coaching, I also help my clients to examine their limiting beliefs, confidence or self-worth issues as well as wealth-consciousness. All these can have a huge impact on the success of your business.

  1. Have the right mindset and attitude

In the end, no one else but you are responsible for achieving your dreams and goals. Treat your business as a business and not a hobby; it’s either you are all in or not.

Remember, you make your life happen. It doesn’t depend on anyone else. Because if it does, you are giving your power away and you are not allowing the real brilliance in you to emerge.

I’d like to end with one of my favorite business quotes:

Entrepreneurship is not about building a great business, it’s about building a great life.

But, you will never get what you want from the way you contribute to the world until you learn how to align your actions with your essence. And you cannot do that until you know who you are.

If your work lights you up, lets you express yourself, tap fiercely into your potential, play with people you love and earn enough to live well in the world, rock on.”  – Jonathan Fields

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If you’d like to get in touch with Ruth, you can reach her via My Philosoulphy’s Facebook page! Thank you, Ruth, for sharing your story and tips with us!

Dear Mummy: A hopeful letter

Vera wrote this little card for me, upon my request.

dear_mum_card

She always has a knack for hitting the needle on its head.

“I hope you’ll be more patient with JJ” – represents the many times she wishes I’d be more patient, less “shouty” with the boy and more loving and gentle. (I often ask God for help to be more patient too…Guess it’s still work-in-progress.)

“I hope you will bring me out more” – tells me just how long it’s been since we went out on a mummy-daughter date. When I read her words, I felt so sorry for having neglected to spend one-on-one time with her (being caught up with her two younger brothers most of the time).

She even verbally said to me, Mummy, I think it’s been a year! (Okay…kids are fond of exaggerating especially when it comes to time!)

So last weekend, we went on an ice-cream date. And did girly stuff like shop for crafts and knick-knacks. A simple date but we had fun.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Dear Vera,

I wish I could take you out on more dates too (and will definitely work harder to make these happen!) More fun trips to the museum, to parks, to feed the fish at Botanic Gardens, to anywhere that catches our fancy, just as long as we get to spend time together.

You’re growing up too fast. I wish time would slow down for us.

Love you more than you’ll ever know,
Mummy

~~~~~~~~~~~~

This post kicks off the Dear Mummy blog train – a series of dedications and letters from our kids to us, specially for the month of May.

DearMum_300

Tomorrow, be sure to tune it to Lyn’s Dear Mummy post! Lyn Lee blogs at Lil Blue Bottle, where she writes “letters” that are placed in a bottle, cast off into the bluish sea of the world wide web. She is a FTWM to two not-so-little girls, and enjoys scrapbooking.  

k&B

 

Confessions of a newly-minted SAHM

So I made the leap early this year and took on a new position: the stay-at-home mum, or SAHM.

I’ve kept quiet about my new title. Partly I didn’t know how to make an announcement on it. Partly I’ve been spending an extraordinary amount of time battling some horrible feelings – loss of identity, sudden anxiety due to the loss of income, and just generally feeling overwhelmed. And of course the heaviness that comes from the realisation that I’ve got nothing much going on in life apart from caring for three kids under six 24/7/365.

Will I go mad? Will I become “aunty?”

What am I doing with my life? My skills?

On bad days dealing with my neanderthals, I can’t help but feel a strong urge to run back to civilisation. I itch to start getting productive again, and I mean productive in a different sense from being able to change a dirty diaper at lightning speed – lest my hyper-toddler runs off butt naked and pees on my sofa.

Some mornings when I’m woken up at 6am by a screaming baby – and then left wide awake while the baby falls back to sleep – I ask God, “Is this all? Is this what I’m meant to be doing for the rest of my life?”

Don’t be silly. It won’t be for the rest of your life.

Oh. So I can quit after a year of plugging at this?

Well, you don’t actually get to quit. But the kids do grow up at some point. Usually…faster than you know.

I wish I could say that I actually am able to have such God-conversations. But what I usually get is silence. So I totter through the rest of my day, often wishing for more sleep, and more meaning in my existence.

Confession #1
I feel there has to be more than this. After stopping work, I found myself searching and asking what should I be doing with my life? Wait… Am I saying that staying home and bringing up 3 precious lives isn’t good enough? Of course not, I know that’s totally untrue! But it didn’t stop the questioning.

Confession #2
I feel inadequate to tackle the chores plus cooking plus kids plus husband. On top of that, I also try to keep up with writing and blogging, which serves as a creative outlet for me. I’m also tempted to get a helper. But that kinda makes me feel horribly guilty…

Confession #3
I realise that being able to spend more time with the kids doesn’t automatically result in parent-child bonding. I still need to make the effort, to switch from bringing them through daily routines and tasks, to just being with them, playing with them, and being more intentional overall. Not to mention being patient and trying not to make scolding /yelling my normal tone of voice.

Truth is, I’ve always dreamt about being an SAHM. I’ve always looked forward to this day. But then, why am I not fully relishing the moments now?

So I realise that there is no perfect work-life arrangement for mums. SAHM or FTWM or WAHM, there is always a trade-off. Now that I’m at home, I’ve got little / no income but a lot more time with the kids. That’s something I have to accept and be able to be happy about.

To help myself along in this new chapter, here are 5 things I’m going to remind myself on daily:

1. Simplify life and focus on what is essential. This involves cutting out excess and distractions – things that take up our time but don’t necessarily add real value to our lives.

2. Focus on what you do have instead of what you don’t. Make the best of the time I can spend with the kids.

3. Believe that it all adds up. God uses the small. God honours the small done with a happy heart. All the mundane messy things actually does amount to something in the bigger scheme of things, in the larger project of Life.

4. Just Be. Home is where I can be myself. And perhaps that’s all my kids really need – For me to be me, to be present, to be joyful, and to learn to embrace the tough moments as teaching moments.

5. Keep a thankful spirit within me. The hubby and I worked hard to enable me to have this time at home for a season. I need to be grateful for that, and to relish the simple joys that this season brings.

Lastly, I think I need to sift out the essential from the minor, and make daily decisions to pursue small and simple wins in areas that are essential.

Instead of trying to accomplish it all — and all at once — and flaring out, the Essentialist starts small and celebrates progress. Instead of going for the big, flashy wins that don’t really matter, the Essentialist pursues small and simple wins in areas that are essential.”

- Greg McKeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

Most of all, I need to plug deeper into the vine, to gather strength for this new season. SAHMers out there, please do share your tips and experiences with me. 

Let's make something bigger than ourselves

How to talk about sex with your child

I started the whole where-do-babies-come-from talk with Vera when she was 5+. It wasn’t as hair-raising an experience that I thought it would be, and I think using a book helped. This particular one I used is called Before I was Born.

Before I was born

The book covers the process of God creating the world and man and woman as different beings. It talks about the difference between a boy and a girl. It also covers the various body parts that are unique, mainly breasts, penis and vagina.

Before I was born3

It reads almost like a simple biology textbook as it presents the information in a factual matter-of-factly way. The topic of sex is introduced in the context of marriage, as God’s gift to the newly wedded couple and as a way to make marriages strong.

The pictures are hand-illustrated and pretty “safe”. Vera was initially tickled by the parts on hairy arms and legs, but I could see she went quiet when we moved into the section on sex. She asked, what is sex? To which I took a deep breath and said, it is God’s gift to a married man and woman, when the man’s penis enters a woman’s vagina, and they experience pleasure and love.

I probably rambled all of that in one breath. But thankfully she didn’t ask further at that point.

Before I was born 2

Before I was born1

While we have initiated the conversation, there’s definitely more to talk about.

Sex education begins with us – the parents. We should be the ones to first broach the topic rather than leaving it to the schools. It doesn’t happen in one sitting too. I think the best approach is to layer the information on as the child grows and gets more curious and asks deeper questions.

The information given should be age-appropriate. For instance I wouldn’t talk about abortions or pre-marital sex at this stage. I don’t think she has reached the level of maturity required to handle the tougher side of things.

Right now, I will continue to focus on helping her build the foundations. I highly recommend using books like this one. I will also be sharing other books such as The wonderful way babies are made and The princess and the kiss

Have you broached the topic of sex with your child? How did it go? Do share any tips or fav books with us in the comments below!

Keeping healthy expectations of your children

Since I wrote this post about accepting my child for who he is, I’ve been thinking about the expectations I have of myself and my kids.

Where expectations are concerned, there are basic ones that help us plan and structure our lives. These include: the expectation that my mother will come around on certain days to help out. That the husband and I will set aside time to spend together as a family on weekends. That the school bus will arrive on time.

These expectations help us to function as a family unit. They are also explicitly said, agreed upon and understood by everyone involved. Healthy expectations drive us towards a shared ideal; they help us move towards meaningful goals.

Then there are unhealthy expectations. The ones that carry unseen weight.

The unhealthy ones tend to place too much responsibility on someone else’s shoulders or depend on circumstances that are beyond our control. For instance, that the baby will sleep through the night all of the time, or that we’ll never see any more pee/poop accidents once the kids are potty-trained.

I guess a good indicator of how unhealthy or healthy an expectation is, is how we react when the expectation is not met. Do we get upset if the husband doesn’t come home with a gift on Valentine’s Day? Do we blame the older sibling when the younger child she’s supposed to be looking after suffers a fall?

>>>

We’ve recently been re-learning from ground zero how best to parent JJ. We’ve also discovered a few things about him, such as he loves order and perfection, to the point where he sometimes throws a fit when things fall out of order.

I’m starting to see that loving order isn’t a disorder. It’s a personality trait that can be positive if managed well.

Because of his personality, we are mindful to not impose expectations that certain things need to be done in a certain way. (We try to encourage flexibility rather than rigid-ness.) For instance, we try not to say you must paint the fire engine red.

As far as possible (and where it doesn’t cause harm), we let him do things his way. We allow him room to be the artist, the story-teller, the builder. It doesn’t matter if the story he tells isn’t absolutely logical. We just let him run with his imaginations.

Coping with disappointments

When he accidentally wets his pants, we try not to make a big deal of it. We remind him to go earlier next time and ask him to change his pants.

We didn’t use to be like this. There was a time when we thought he was potty trained, but he went through some regression and started to poop in his diaper. As we didn’t understand the whys, we scolded and even used the cane, thinking that he was acting out of defiance. But we read the situation wrongly. Our expectations of him were haywire. He simply wasn’t ready at the time, and the best reaction from us is to have no reaction as all. (Of course now we have the benefit of hindsight. At the time I remember being really frustrated at all the pee/poop accidents.)

Now when he loses control and throws a tantrum, we try to remain calm, sit by him and calm him down. I don’t entertain lofty expectations of him being able to control his emotions all of the time. I understand he’s still learning to cope. He is after all just 3 and a half. This helps me to appreciate (and affirm him for) the times he does show us he can control his temper.

In a sense, I’m keeping my expectations of my children realistic.

This mindset helps me to look out for the bright spots. For one, JJ’s been learning to cope with unwanted interruptions (usually from baby Josh) by stopping his play activity altogether. Say he’s been building his blocks halfway and they get toppled over. He’ll just pack them up and do something else for a little while. Of course, he’ll still get upset. But if he expresses his emotions in a controlled manner, we think it’s okay for him to “let it out” – as long as he does not spiral out of control, and no one is harmed.

I take heart that he’s learning to cope with life’s little disappointments. (We can’t shield him from these. We can’t make every single thing go his way – that would be setting ourselves up for a bigger disaster.)

I take heart that as we encourage him to keep trying, and remind him that he can do it with God’s help, he’s slowly but surely making small steps.

mum_son_date

I don’t expect parenting him (or any of his siblings) to be a breeze. I expect curve balls and shocks and surprises, and tears, fears and disappointments. I expect failures, multiple times, my own and theirs.

But I do hold on to hope.

I hope that as we take to this new way of parenting him, he will be freed from the weight of expectations.

I hope that he’ll enjoy being him, and that we’ll enjoy him as he is.

With young children, letting go of some of our expectations (especially the unhealthy / unrealistic ones) can help to minimise the frustrations felt by both parent and child. It can help us become calmer, happier parents.”

Have you experienced this in your own parenting journey?

How to handle sibling rivalry and fights

I had a good talk with the kids this week about fighting and sharing. (For the record, I am still getting used to my role as mediator in family fights.)

When it comes to sibling fights, first there is usually the question of ownership. Then there is the question of who got the toy first. Then, as Vera puts it, “but he always get his way. I never get mine” — the issue of fairness.

I looked at Vera when she spoke those words, and it was a picture of a disgruntled little girl who’s been trying to be “good” and “the big sister,” but who inadvertently felt trampled upon at the end of the day. Her need to feel loved and heard had not been met. So it’s no wonder that she couldn’t feel the joy of relinquishing her rights in order to create peace in the home.

If we dig deeper, beyond the “who owns it”, beyond the “who came first”, the heart of the matter is actually the intangible stuff, stuff such as love, selflessness and patience.

These virtues are at stake here.

Why don’t I want to share MY toy? Because I want it and I want it now. I come first. Me. Me. Me.

Why can’t I wait to take my turn? Because I want my way. NOW.

I realise it’s a lot harder to focus on the intangible things, and so easy to play judge and decide who’s right because “he’s younger, he doesn’t know” or “you’re the big sister so you should give in.” But as in all family squabbles, it’s important not to take sides. The truth is it takes two hands to clap, and two selfish hearts to fight.

I also realise that little brother needs to learn that not everything bends his way just because he’s small (and loud). And he needs to learn how to wait.

Patience – the art of waiting and coping with your emotions so that you don’t blow up.

Selflessness – the art of moving over so that you give some room in your heart for others.

Things that even us adults struggle with, so what more young children?

We held a family discussion and drew some boundaries on how to share, and how to wait for your turn.

This is helpful as it sets out some boundaries for the kids to follow, some tips on what is helpful to say, and what’s not. For instance, ignoring the person’a request for the toy isn’t helpful. Saying “go away” or “I came first” isn’t helpful. “Can you give me 5 minutes? I would like to finish this song.” works better.

Of course, this will need some repeating, and heaps and heaps of practice in the months and years to come.

But perhaps more importantly (as a good friend reminded me one morning) is help them see the why.

Why should we bother with sharing? Why is it important not to fight? Why work hard at keeping the peace?

Sharing means less tears.
Sharing means more joy all around.
Sharing means we love more, hurt less.
Sharing means a peaceful home.
It also means that we are becoming the boy / girl that God wants us to be. And this is probably the most important reason of all.

Once they are able to see that we’re on their side, and that we’re working towards the same goal, it will help to motivate them to keep trying.

How do you manage sibling rivalry at home? Any tips to share? 

duo_share

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...