Little lessons: Back to basics

Baby J’s arrival has helped to slow life down to a snail’s pace.

The most exciting thing that happens around here these days is when Vera or JJ gets into a fit. Or when it’s time for my post-natal massage. Or when I read a funny /informative article on the web.

My calendar is filled with things like buy diapers, call mum, and cut baby’s nails.

I find myself sometimes counting minutes till the hubby comes home. If I’m not asleep that is.

Yes, the initial baby days (after recovering from the delivery) can be mundane and rather brain-numbing.

To keep myself busy and happy, I’m chatting with good friends on whatsapp and scribbling down ideas for activities to do with Vera and JJ.

I’ve started taking daily morning walks with baby, and am planning to bring him to the botanic gardens for walks every week. And maybe even bring the kids swimming in the afternoons as well.

I’m going to dive into good books, and have just ordered a copy of Building Healthy Minds from Book Depository.

Also gonna plan one-on-one dates with Vera and JJ. This may be tough to execute as the other usually want to follow whenever one goes out, so will have to start prepping them mentally. JJ is starting to exhibit signs of the middle child syndrome, like extra fussiness and wanting a lot of attention, so I really feel the need to spend more time with him.

For a start, I’ll just head to nearby playgrounds or malls. I’m thankful that at this age, they are easy to please. Being anywhere outdoors and with ample space allows for fun and creative play, and it’s just about giving them our undivided attention.

And of course, let’s not forget fortnightly dates with the hubby. Even if it’s just for a cup of coffee downstairs, or renting a movie and snuggling up together to watch it. Little moments like these count, no?

As I’m planning all these activities, baby J is sleeping contentedly and making little snoring sounds. Watching him reminds me that life may be slower and mundane with a newborn, but there is good reason for it to be this way.

By slowing down, I’m able to breathe better and manage the things closest to my heart. Priorities. Keeping first things first. Not getting distracted or overwhelmed.

By taking things slow, simple pleasures can also be found.

Like admiring his little wrinkly toes. Like an unexpected hug and kiss from my girl.

little toes

Baby J, you’ve only entered our lives for 30-ish days and you’ve already taught me something.

Contentment is not about having plenty or being rich in material things. But it’s about cherishing what you do have and being rich in the important things.

Rich in love, joy, fun, imagination. In caring, sharing, teaching and guiding…And for baby J, rich in milk, cuddles and sweet baby dreams.

Now it’s your turn. What have you been learning lately?

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10 surefire ways to lose your joy

I was doing my devotion one Sunday, and came across this devotional passage on how to lose your joy. It spoke about prayerlessness, fear, self-centredness, focusing on circumstances, as some of the main culprits and joy-stealers. It also listed two of the biggest culprits: dissatisfaction and ingratitude.

It made me think. About the different ways that I allow everyday frustrations to block my joy-sensors and overwhelm me with a sense of dread and anger.

Here are my 10 surefire ways to lose your joy as a mum.

1) Compare yourself with other mums, especially those who are thinner, prettier, younger, etc etc.

2) Desire what other mums have that you don’t.

3) Don’t be thankful for the things you have. Focus instead on what you do not have. (And grumble about it to your spouse daily.)

4) Be quick to anger when your kids act up or throw tantrums.

5) Be quick to anger when your hubby forgets to do something that he promised to do.

6) Keep worrying about the future. Keep mulling over your anxieties and fears about what will happen IF… Let your fears paralyse you from doing what you really want to do.

7) Dig up the past. When you speak to your kids, use sentences that begin with “When I was your age…” and keep bringing up past grudges to use against your hubby and put him on a guilt trip.

8) Stop playing with your kids. Make sure that every minute of their time is “well-utilised”. If not, enrol them in some enrichment class or tuition or sport. (Keep telling them they need to get ahead because we “live in such a competitive society”.)

9) Compare your child to everybody else’s kid in every single way (grades, height, weight, looks). Make your child (and yourself) miserable by telling him how much he does not measure up.

10) Focus on every negative thought, every tough circumstance you find yourself in, and keep dwelling on it. Remember that your glass is always half empty.

Heh, I know I kid. But I think to some extent, we tend to fall into the trap of such negative, joy-stealing habits once in a while. If we are able to consciously and conscientiously do the opposite of all of the above, I think we’ll cope much better with life’s plentiful stresses and challenges. Wouldn’t you agree?

What are your biggest joy-stealers?

Worker, mother of two, writer, wife

It has taken me a while to realise this.

That I am a worker (part-time but worker no less.)

A mother of two.

A writer.

A wife.

I don’t know how I cope with all the various demands from these four major roles that I am focusing on right now. I really don’t, as in I have no clue. But quite recently, someone at work came to me and asked me. (This was after she found out I had two little ones.)

How do you do it?

I was taken aback. This wasn’t a question that I’ve considered before. I haven’t quite found the secret recipe at keeping it all together. Some days, I don’t. Some days, I surprise myself that I still have energy to write and to upkeep this blog. Other days, I get by by telling myself that it’s okay I don’t have time to apply nail polish and trim my eyebrows and shop for new shoes. It is enough that my husband and kids love me, and these itty-bitty things just don’t matter as much anymore.

But still I have certain expectations of myself. Every night, I try to clean and wash out my kids’ water bottles. Every night, the hubs and I try to make conversation, to share about our day, what went on, what went right or what went wrong. Every night, we hug and kiss the kids to bed. Every night, I ask God to keep us safe and sound. Every night, I ask for strength and grace for the next day.

At night, I also come face-to-face with the truth.

How do I do it?

The answer is, I don’t quite do anything in my own strength.

I do give my best at the different areas of responsibilities that I have, but I would be totally faking it if I said that everything is done at 100% and that nothing is breaking. Let’s face it, we were never meant to be superwomen. At least, I never set out to be one, because I would just fall flat on my make-up-less face.

But this is who I am. I am a woman content with what I have. I am thankful. For both the joys and messiness of motherhood. I see that we don’t lead picture-perfect lives. We all struggle in some shape or form. Every day, we juggle the perennial balls of family, work, dreams, health, finances, love. Maybe sometimes we just need to know that it’s okay to drop a ball once in a while. Let it slide. That no one will wag the naughty finger at us.

I depend on God. I depend on others. I can’t thrive in a me-and-myself world. It would be too lonely and isolated. I’m intricately connected to several important people, and I see that these relationships are my lifeblood. It gives me pure and simple joy that others can depend on me too. Truly, I would not be who I am now, if not for the presence and support of family, and the love and encouragement of friends. And the sweet precious grace of a wonderful and loving God.

Without them, I would lose balance. Without them, I would probably fall.

strength and dignity

 You balance many roles and responsibilities too…How do you do it? How do you cope?

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