Why I Couldn’t Blog When Travelling with Family and a Toddler

Hello all!

I’m back from a long holiday with my family in laws. I thought I could give a short update everyday when I was travelling, but I underestimated the dedicated family time required throughout. Let’s just say, when you are travelling with a toddler, you just can’t take your eyes off them, not even a minute, except when they are asleep at night, and by then you are just dead tired. I also personally feel it’s selfish of me to be using my phone when I’m with everyone else. I believe that when you are with family especially during holiday, your mind and heart must be present there with them. So I consciously decided to ignore my daily blogging rule when I am on holiday. I hardly checked my phone too. And it felt good!

Now I’m fully recharged, ready to embark the journey of 2nd half of 2019! I have a lot of readings to catch up for sure.

Let’s do this!

Where else to travel?

I have always loved travelling. It’s the idea of exploring new places, seeing and learning new things that excites me. More so after I got married 4 years ago as my husband is an avid traveler too and the fact that he has had the opportunity to travel to many places since he was young. So both of us just love traveling together. We’ve been to about 10 different countries together and when we were in the US from June 2016 to June 2017, we managed to explore over 30 states. Whenever we look back, we always wanted to do it again – it’s the most treasured memories we had together as husband and wife so far.

Since we had our first son in late 2017, we have traveled less. It’s a deliberate choice too since our son is still very young so lots of factors to consider such as safety, weather, things/activities to do etc. But we aim to do it just the 3 of us at least once a year. Last year we went to Taiwan. This year we will probably do somewhere near, in fact local, we’ll see.

But personally, I would want to go to China and Hong Kong, perhaps not with my son as it’s probably not safe for him considering the crowd madness we have to go through, but more in a work capacity. I thus far only read about the crazy development in China and Hong Kong, read or watch the news, documentaries etc. But I feel that it doesn’t do justice. I need to go there and see the future for myself. The future of a global superpower. Then only I can make a comparison with the US since I’ve been there.

This video is just on Shenzhen (a Silicon Valley equivalent). But it looks very futuristic.  Can’t wait to go there.

 

 

A note to my dear son

LIVE WITHOUT FEAR
ENJOY YOUR LIFE
BE CURIOUS ALWAYS
HAVE EMPATHY – BE LOVING AND CARING
MOST IMPORTANTLY, BE YOU
AND KNOW THAT MUMMY WILL ALWAYS BE THERE FOR YOU

Love you my dear son.

Setting Expectations

You know how we stress ourselves on daily basis just by our own many little personal expectations? For example, (1) I want to get up by 7am to do some readings ahead of my meeting later, (2) I want to respond to that particular email before anybody else does, (3) I want to get the work done by 5pm so that I can leave on time, (4) I want to post about something I read yesterday, (5) I want to cook my husband’s favourite food today. I could go on, but you get the picture right? Then as you go through the day, the unexpected happens and ruins all your plans. And you get stressed about not meeting all your little personal expectations.

Then we ask ourselves, is it worth it? Is it worth the stress and anger when your own family, spouse and/or child (or children) are the ones that caused you not to meet your expectations? You are after all doing a favour for your loved ones which above anything else, matter most.

We are all wired to be ambitious, to achieve our goals and dreams because it makes us feel good about ourselves, we receive great pleasure from being successful where the successes are all defined by our own self. We are responsible for setting all those expectations. But the psychologist in the “Danish way of Parenting” book highlighted that human beings receive greater pleasure from making other people happy. True, but as human beings we tend to forget, we get so engrossed in our world and our little expectations that we forget what really matters most in our lives. And before you know it, the time is gone.

So let it go. Readjust your expectations according to what is realistic. If you couldn’t meet one or all of your many little expectations today because your loved ones need your attention and help, be happy about it. 10 years down the road when you look back, that’s all that matters. The only regret you will have is not because you couldn’t respond to that email first, but it’s the time lost helping the people that matter that we didn’t treasure today.

Happy Mother’s Day

My son, 18- months old, is still very young to show his appreciation to me. In fact he showed his tantrum over lunch whereby he refused to eat the food I cook. Picky eater this one! Hopefully next year will be worth celebrating Mother’s Day when he is able to say I love you, Mummy!

So I’m going to dedicate this post for my mom, to remind me about all the sacrifices she has made throughout her life, from the moment she held the title, Mummy, in 1982. She is the most selfless human being I’ve ever known. I guess it’s ingrained in her due to her upbringing, as an adopted child, where she had no choice but to put away all her needs and wants every time. I definitely saw that in her. The word “tired” is never in her dictionary.

The most apparent and critical time was when my late dad fell ill in 2012 – lost his eye sight in 2012 and he had to to be on dialysis every day from 9pm to about 8am. As the breadwinner, my mom still had to work during the day and then took care of my dad from evening till night. She even had to wake up early in the morning to prepare lunch and dinner. In early 2015, my mom had to stop working because my dad’s condition had worsened. She took care of him every day and night. My dad’s siblings felt indebted to her because they didn’t think someone would be able to take care of their brother as perfect as my mom. They didn’t even think they could do the same for their spouse.

There were many occasions when my dad had to be hospitalized a couple of nights, sometimes a week, and my mom actually slept on a plastic chair every night. My sisters and I tried to take turns but she refused to. So we helped her during the day instead. But whatever we did, could never commensurate with what and how she took care of my late dad, until the very end of his last breath in late 2015. And the most humbling part of her is that she never had any expectations or rewards from anyone, including her daughters.

I guess you can never separate the word ‘sacrifice’ from a mom’s title. For some people, it came naturally. For some people, they learn the hard way. For some people, they tried to find the balance between being selfless and selfish at the same time. But for my mom, it was never ever about her and that’s something that my sisters and I can never repay her. We hope that God will bless her with Jannah one day, insyaAllah.

Everyday, I pray for my mom’s health and happiness and I remind myself to be a better daughter. But as we all know, we can never be a perfect wife, perfect mom, perfect daughter, perfect daughter in law all at once, every day because life is not perfect as such. In the end, we carry the guilt as if we if we have not done enough. So this post is to remind myself  to take almost every opportunity that I have to be the perfect daughter whenever I’m with her.

Mothersday.jpeg

Happy Mother’s Day Mummy dearest! Love you very much.

Parenting 101 – EQ is as important as IQ, if not more

I’ve just finished listening to one of the episodes of Dr. Rajini Sarvananthan’s podcast on BFM. Dr. Rajini is the best paediatrician in the country, focusing on child development. If you want to meet her, your child would have to have a serious problem, otherwise, you will be on a 1-2 years waitlist. So in a way, it’s good news if your child does not need to see her.

But you know sometimes you just want to get advice from an expert about what’s best for your child in terms of development because you want the best for your child. Thankfully, BFM interviewed her before, multiple times and the interviews are recorded on BFM’s podcast. You can listen to all her interviews here to get some tips. She should really consider writing a book.

The episode that I listened to was a really good one, the title is “Raising Resilient Children”.

Some advice that I find useful are as follows:

  1. In the first 5 years of your child, you need to focus on the 4 Cs – Competence, Confidence, ability to Connect and building on their Character
  2. In terms of competence – you would want your child to be independent in terms of looking after themselves which include feeding, toiletting skills, dressing, wearing shoes and more importantly, to be able to apply those basic skills in different settings, not just at home but also at other places such as day care centre, grandparents’ home, someone else’s home etc
  3. Social competencies which include basic communication skills are also important, i.e. you would want your child to be able to communicate their needs through signs, gestures and to be able to do it in different community settings. When your child is able to do it in different settings, indirectly it builds your child’s confidence
  4. We also need to focus on building our child’s connection – within and beyond family, i.e. be able to connect with other people around them which indirectly builds up their confidence, resilience and independence. Within family, you want them to know that home is not just a physical secure environment but also an emotional secure environment so that your child will continue to share and talk to you even during teenagers and beyond.

Basically what she’s trying to emphasize is the need to hone our child’s EQ as much as his IQ early on so that he can survive in the real world when he grows up. With automation and AI taking our jobs, I too believe that these are the essential life skills that a child needs to acquire and hold on to.

If you want to know more, listen to her podcast and other episodes. It’s the closest you can get to meeting her.

Happy Labour Day!

When it comes to work and the hours we pour for work, there is no one universal method/concept that works for everyone. It really varies, depending on each individual’s circumstances, personal life, other responsibilities, work ethics, values, goals.

Last Sunday, NST published an article by NST Leader on related subject, entitled “Rostering Routines”. The main message is to urge Malaysians to be more productive at work and home, to have a more enriching work-life balance.

Last week, there were a lot of noise about China’s work ethics saying that the tech employers tend to exhaust the employees to work tirelessly just to get the work done, to achieve their ambitious goals. It all started when Jack Ma called long working hours “a huge blessing”. Richard Liu, from JD.com, said people who frittered away their days “are no brothers of mine”. They even has a term for it – 996, i.e. working from 9am to 9pm 6 days a week, a culture they refer to as “hustle culture”.

And then in the US, FT published a long interview on Warren Buffett (which I must say a good weekend read) and quoted this from the man himself, “I’m having a vacation every day. If there was someplace else I wanted to go, I’d go there. This is the pleasure palace here — you’re sitting in it now. I have more fun here than I think any 88-year-old is having, virtually, in the world.” Which means, he doesn’t mind working every day.

From the glance of it, the successful founders in 2 most powerful countries in the world are portraying that they love working and that we should continue to work for as long as we want to reach greater heights. And they are already billionaires. But here in Malaysia, we are trying to get our people to slow down when in actual fact, we haven’t worked hard enough and have to work hard to push our country to climb the development ladder.

I’m not saying that everyone should be working 996 throughout their lives, I myself wouldn’t want to do that too now. But that’s because my circumstances have changed, my priorities have changed. I now have a family, I have a son that I want to go home to play with, I want to see him everyday in the morning and at night. I have done my fair share of 996 when I was younger and still single, in fact sometimes it’s 907, i.e. 9am to 12am 7 days a week.

So I wouldn’t stop the youth to follow the 996 culture, especially if you have a target to meet or a problem that you are so passionate about to solve. Why not? No one should be stopping you as long as you don’t compromise your health and forget your parents. At the end of the day, we all must know when to switch on and when to switch off. Learn how to be physically, mentally and emotionally present. If it’s dinner time with parents, stop thinking about work and be there for them.

With that in mind, let’s have a good break and spend a wonderful time with our families today, in conjunction to Labour Day.

Happy Labour Day everyone!

Supermom Today

I decided to take a day off today to do a research on preschools for my son. I’m thinking of sending him soon as he is turning 18 months old tomorrow so that he has early exposure to other kids, creative and fun learning to stimulate his brain and curiosity.

I have to say that I’m really glad my husband and I chose Ara Damansara as the area to live. There are just so many schools for kids and they are all within 5km radius! Yesterday alone I went to 5 different schools and I realized I have 3 more schools that I haven’t checked out. Don’t think I am able to take another day off to do this mainly because my mind is fixated with this one school.

Anyway, will share my thoughts on this later as I am now fully knackered. Felt like a supermom today!

 

Evoke by Melinda Gates

Ok I just realised that Melinda Gates has a blog too and I just subscribed to it. She presented the blog as a community to share stories of all the women she met from her walks of life such as Africa and South Asia, and not to mention her own stories too.

Her idea of women empowerment is as follows:

Empowered women are drivers of progress, creators of wealth, and the world’s greatest force for transforming societies.

In her post about “I wouldn’t be where I am today without contraceptives”, she mentioned that there are about 225m women in the world who do not want to get pregnant but they do not have access to contraceptives nor they know that thing even exists. She also mentioned that “when women space the births of their children by at least three years, their babies are twice as likely to survive their first year of life—and 35% more likely to live to see their fifth birthday”.

I guess family planning is key and I have always believed in that. My husband and I practised family planning too. We chose to because we just wanted to travel freely, enjoy the company of just the 2 of us, for 2 and a half years until we decided that it’s time. Our first son came into our lives 2 months before our 3rd wedding anniversary, the best gift ever and we never wanted to turn back time.

But I think family planning is more prominent for families who are living in poverty and that’s what Melinda is trying to advocate. Sometimes the babies don’t survive long enough because the mothers just couldn’t afford to feed them. Some of them don’t even know how to breastfeed. Is this for real? What century are they living in? Let’s not talk about the parents who don’t have enough money to send the kids to schools. If you can’t even take care of yourselves, how are you going to take care of your own kids?

Here’s an excerpt of her post which I thought is interesting:

What’s more, contraceptives are often a key determining factor in whether a woman is able to lift her family out of poverty. Research shows that women with access to family planning tools not only tend to have fewer children, they also tend to have higher individual and household incomes. Their kids spend more time in school, increasing the economic potential of the next generation, too.

What I See: 6 illustrators on what it means to lift up others is also another interesting post and timely too since today is my best friend’s birthday. One of the women she interviewed, Aya Tashir who is an illustrator and comic artist, said this:

I chose this work because a strong, empowering female friendship can lift you up so much. It can lift you up to accomplish more professionally and creatively, and it can help you overcome difficulties and crises.

It totally reminds me of 3 of my closest women friends now whom we share a lot of stories, goals, inspirations and we continue to lift each other up. One whom I basically share all my dark and ugly moments for almost 15 years but what I appreciate most is her honesty and loyalty whereby she always nags at me and put things into perspectives especially on family-related issues. Another one whom I always talk about my personal side of goals had I not have a full-time work and we both share somewhat the same goals or rather dreams, she’s also one of my main avid readers and the one who pushes me to continue with this blog. The other one whom I thought what connects us most is when we talk about career women especially in corporate life, how do we climb up the corporate ladder, how do we maintain a healthy lifestyle. 3 different friendships that are unique on its own.

Anyway, I’m so glad I stumbled upon Melinda Gates’ blog. Going to do some more reading before I get ready to work.

Opportunity cost of eating healthy

Sometimes I wonder if eating healthy food can make you feel happier. I mean I’m sure it’s good for your health in the long run and that should be your goal for eating healthy – for long term health and hence happiness.

But there are opportunity cost of starting this new habit.

The main one is your cost of living will go up as healthy food are generally more expensive. Why does it always have to be that way? Earlier during lunch I ordered grilled fish and vege, the total amount I had to pay was RM30. I can get a plate of rice with a variety of dish (with chicken, beef, vege, egg etc) for only RM15 or even less. Fruits are expensive too. Mixed fruits selling at supermarket can cost up to RM5-8. So all in all, I would have spent almost RM40 just for one meal. It’s crazy.

I don’t think twice when it comes to buying healthy food for my son. Every week I’ll buy him the strawberries, apples, bananas, not only because it’s good for him but he just loves eating fruits too. But for us adults, I’m not sure. Does it really matter? Am I willing to increase my expenditure just to make me feel good about eating healthy? Or it really does make you feel good. I would like to think that it’s the psychological effect that’s playing with our mind.

Take for example eating organic food vs. non-organic food. Can you tell by consuming organic food you can increase your life expectancy by x number of years?

How do we find the balance between spending more for healthy food vs. just living to eat? Should I be consciously choosing my food by tracking the ingredients and the amount I take?

Rush Day

This morning is an epitome of a rush day. I struggled to wake up early. I had to leave my son crying because he didn’t get enough milk as I was already late for work. I had to fix my make up in the car and I had to fix my headscarf in the toilet at LRT station. And I’m now blogging about it in the train while standing and listening to Falling for you by Shawn Mendes.

I hate it when I feel that my life is not organised. Thankfully, this doesn’t happen everyday because it is something that I can control. Some days, it’s uncontrollable like today. My son latched on me from 5 to 6am so I ended up feeling groggy and could only bring myself out of bed at 730am. And I have a 930am meeting. It’s a busy week and this is just a tinge of a peak period. Next month will be peak for me and I foresee that I may not be able to blog consistently every morning. But I will try anyhow. A reminder that I need to start planning for the busy period as early as this month.

Thoughts like should I start weaning off my son run through my mind as well. He just turned 17 months and has been on my milk fully since day 1. So technically, I can. But only for selfish reason – so that I could sleep more soundly and wake up earlier. I keep telling myself that I should not compromise my son’s needs over my own needs.

I guess that’s a dilemma of a working mother. And thoughts like these occur on a rush day when you are feeling overwhelmed. Once the day gets better, you somehow managed to brush away all these thoughts.

It’s a random post about life but it feels good to let it out. Now let’s zen and have a productive day! Speaking of which, I have just arrived at KLCC station. Hit publish button.

Staycation

staycation

So husband is liking to the idea of staycation, which as defined above going for a holiday in Kuala Lumpur (“KL”), and potentially outside KL. He used to reject my idea of staycation because (1) he thinks it’s a waste of money and (2) our house feels like a resort already (to us). But to me, being away from home and being in a new environment which has elements of quietness, calmness and relaxation makes a huge difference to your mental and emotional state. It’s a psychological effect. It makes you feel relaxed and not think of work. And the best part is, you get to spend quality time together.

So it’s an achievement unlocked for me as I managed to change my husband’s perception of a staycation and he doesn’t mind doing it again. But if it’s more than one night, it can’t be just the 2 of us. Don’t think we can bear not having our son by our side by more than 24 hours thinking that he’s just 30 minutes away from us.

Till the next staycation!