18 June 2012, by Tan Yi Lin

A Week Without Help

We have a very amicable relationship with our family’s helper.

M has been with my family for, gee, I don’t know, ten years (or more?) and we all get along well. When Coco came along, it was mutual happiness on both sides. We were thankful to have experienced, trustworthy help on hand (she has SEVEN grown children and one granddaughter) and she was happy to take on a squirmy infant as part of her job (specifically, she exclaimed when told of my pregnancy, “Work is not so boring now!”)

She often regales me with tales of exciting or funny things that Coco does during the day while I am at work, like crawl for the first time or raise her arms and “dance” to music from the radio, or books that they read together. It makes me slightly envious that Coco has so much fun with Aunty M, but I’m glad that she’s in good hands. In any case, Coco still clamours for mummy the moment I step through the front door when I’m back from work. Hee!

M gets a day off every Sunday, typically from 8am to 8pm, which is an arrangement that works for everyone. We’re glad for her to go out, because we would feel pretty awful if we were all relaxing at home or making fun plans to go out for the weekend and she’s stuck at home doing chores. Plus, we don’t need to bring her out with us to help mind Coco because we enjoy looking after Coco ourselves, especially since we’re both away at work during the week.

However, we recently learnt that not needing a helper to be around every Sunday is a far cry from not having a helper at all.

M’s father passed away last week and even though she said she didn’t need to be back for the funeral (we suspect it’s to save on the airfare), my parents made her take a week off work to be home with her family. I gladly paid for a return flight on Philippine Airlines and we saw her off at Changi Airport last Wednesday evening.

Because the news of M’s father’s demise came rather suddenly, we, together with my parents, had to scramble and put together a childcare duty roster for the duration that she would be away. We hurriedly put in our respective leave applications to be at home to look after Coco in the morning until my aunt arrived for the afternoon shift.

It didn’t occur to me then that looking after the baby was only one aspect of M’s morning duties. Somebody had to wash the baby’s clothes, bibs, hankies and towels. Somebody had to change her sheets. Somebody had to clean the floor because the baby crawls all over it. Plus, there’s the rest of the house to be cleaned, toilets to be washed, clothes for seven adults to be laundered (and IRONED — possibly the most hateful chore on earth), dinner to be cooked, plates to be washed… ARRGGGHHH.

Also, the conveniences that we take for granted have suddenly become luxuries that we can ill afford. We can’t just phone home on a weekday evening and ask M to help spot the baby between the time that my aunt leaves and the time that we or my mum get home so that we could make a quick visit to VideoEzy, or to the supermarket, or even make impromptu dinner plans with friends. Because SHE ISN’T THERE and we need to rush home to relieve my aunt of baby duty, so that she can go home.

While this isn’t the first time that M has been on home leave and we have always managed the chores on our own (because the floor doesn’t have to be THAT clean for two weeks), having a baby in the mix throws up a lot more things to be done. I have newfound respect for working parents who don’t have hired help. While caregivers (e.g. in-laws, infant care, etc.) are on hand to help with childcare in the day, how do they find time on weekday evenings to feed, bathe, bond with and put the baby to bed; provide for dinner; do household chores AND catch up with each other during whatever is left of the day?

So far, my dad has taken it upon himself to stay home to clean the house and cook dinner, while my mum and I take turns to look after Coco. I wash Coco’s clothes, agonise over what a messy eater she is and make a mental note NOT to dress her in white clothes for meals (why are watermelon juice and chocolate stains SO hard to remove?!) Dan chips in by helping to sort the clean laundry and lending his muscles when my dad decided, on a spur of the moment while cleaning the house, to also rearrange all the furniture for a fresh look….

It’s been four days without M around the house. We have another four more days to go. While I’m glad that she’s home with her family during this period, I’m honestly looking forward to her return.

To all the helpers out there: You are amazing. Thank you for helping to make our lives easier. We can only hope that our contribution to your lives can live up to the contribution that you make to ours.  

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Posted on : June 18, 2012

Filed under : New Mums & Dads


Tan Yi Lin

Yi Lin

June 26th, 2012 at 1:37 am    

Hi Serene,

Thank you for your comment. I had already typed this incredibly long reply in response before other readers posted theirs, but decided to hold back while I thought twice, thrice and many more times before posting it – just like how you suggested.

So here it is:

Interestingly, if you read my reply to the comments on the entries that you described, I DID say that I may eat my words when I became a mum. It is not beyond me to humbly admit that I wish I could take back some of the things that I said, but not before clarifying some of the points that you raised:

I did not condemn families who put babies on flights. Just like how you don’t jump into the deep end of the pool when learning how to swim, I suggested taking baby steps to flying with an infant, which was what I eventually did and what I shared in my entries.

This current entry was on my appreciation for my helper and my family’s experience in running the house without one. The topic of SAHMs is irrelevant here. Please don’t take my entry out of context. In any case, “easy brainless job” are your words – not mine. And if you are implying that SAHMs have it worse than helpers because helpers at least get a day off on Sunday, let’s go interview some foreign domestic workers and see if they share your view, shall we?

Weaning: I never told mothers when to stop breastfeeding. I shared my weaning experience – we all have to wean at some point or another. I chose to wean after six months – so this is the experience I shared. It worked for me, for Dan and most importantly, for Coco because she was ready to move on and doesn’t seem any worse for it, be it health-wise or emotionally. At the very most, it may be a useful entry to mums thinking of doing the same. I can’t imagine how anybody could have construed it as encouragement to stop breastfeeding. Weaning is a personal decision that is not lead by what you read in a blog entry.

The purpose of this blog is not to give pointers or advice. I am a new mum and in no position to give any advice on motherhood or parenting. Readers looking for advice should refer to articles published on the main Maybebaby website as these are substantiated by qualified field experts.

What I’m doing on this blog is sharing my thoughts and experiences. The journey to – and now through – parenthood is an emotional learning journey. Think of it as me sharing my diary with everyone out there. I cannot write entries that are devoid of emotion, be it fear, joy or yes, even frustration. I do think before I pen entries. In fact, a lot of thought goes into them – to decide how much of my personal life I want to put out there for strangers to read and judge me on. (Sometimes I wonder why I even want to do this.) Even so, none of my thoughts can be 100% correct or acceptable to everyone.

I have never approached this blog with the thought that this is my blog so I can write whatever I want. That is a completely irresponsible view. It may come across at times – when emotion overrides reason – and I apologise if it creates a wrong impression and I wish that I could edit the things that I wrote. I can – but I won’t – because that would change the whole nature of the entry and my memory of my pre-parenthood Self. I want to look back on this blog as a measure of how much I’ve grown and not how correct, diplomatic or popular (or unpopular) I was.

I’m all for readers leaving comments and in fact, I’m honoured that they take the time to do so. Even the less than positive ones, which I request that I Love Children publish if they deem the comments acceptable within their guidelines for publication, so that I can respond. I don’t expect everybody to agree with my views but at least be fair. Don’t just nitpick on the ones that you don’t like.

If you are looking for 100% factual, accurate advice, my blog may not be what you are looking for and I suggest that this be the last entry that you read.

But if you are looking for a true-to-life, behind-the-scenes, living, breathing parenting journey, read on – and I thank you for it. But hopefully, you will think (and read) twice or even thrice before penning future comments.


P.S. To zihwye: I’m not sure whether having a resident troll is a good thing or not, but thanks for leaving a comment, albeit a rather cryptic one. Made me mull over it more than twice or thrice….


June 23rd, 2012 at 9:43 am    

Dear Serene

As a new parent myself, I know the reality is that it is all about learning and growing. No two kids are alike, and no two parents are alike, but everyone tries their best. In the same way, everyone (and every baby) has good days and bad days, and parents are therefore entitled to days of frustration. Perhaps you might even go through that yourself, although your comment seems to paint you as a ‘holier than thou’ kind of person.

In any case, this blog is meant to show Yilin and Dannie’s journey as a husband/wife/parent. Journeys are by definition difficult, and frustration and tribulations are to be expected. I think kudos should go to them to present their unvarnished opinions. I’d appreciate if you could cut them some slack.

miss ene

June 22nd, 2012 at 5:23 am    

I think that it is truly great that you have written an entire entry devoted to your family helper. Honestly, how many people out there with helpers actually say THANK YOU and are appreciative of their helpers who do all the work?

With regards to the whole SAHM vs working mothers, I don’t get it. Whether or not you are a SAHM or working, I think that is one’s personal choice. No one is “better” or “worst” than the other. I have close friends who are both and I am in awe of them. BOTH have their sets of challenges to face on a daily basis.

I have been a blogger myself for many years and I don’t think any blogger out there claims to be an expert on the topic that we write on. We write based on how we feel, how we view things, all PERSONAL opinions. I really don’t see how anyone out there will treat a blogger’s writing as FACT.

So please, let’s all live with the mantra that if you have nothing good to say, don’t say anything at all.


June 21st, 2012 at 4:15 pm    

i’m yi lin’s resident troll, so i’m not simply siding her, but i’ll just like to say that i don’t think hypocrisy or eating her own words is the problem with this blog. in all honesty.

Rebecca Koh

June 21st, 2012 at 3:15 pm    

Get a life…be more objective…

Dannie Cho


June 20th, 2012 at 3:37 pm    

Hi Serene,

I’ve decided to respond to your comment on Yi Lin’s behalf.

I’m thinking you are referring to two of Yi Lin’s more controversial blog entries -“Babies & Long-Haul Flights Don’t Go Together” and “Judgemental”.

Babies & Long Haul Flights was memorable because our friend removed us from her Facebook friends list because of it. We’ve since reconnected on Facebook, so whatever, right?

As the title states, Yi Lin was against putting infants on LONG-HAUL flights. In fact, looking back at the entry, she did suggest trying out a nearer destination first to see how baby takes it. Bali is a 2-hour flight. Maldives is a 4.5 hour flight. Neither are considered LONG-HAUL.

Judgemental received 22 comments (including Yi Lin’s own responses), which amounted to quite a debate going on in outside the entry itself. What people don’t seem to understand is that she is asking SAHMs and those who advocate SAHMming to not see working mums as selfish, horrible mothers. To each her own. If being a SAHM works for you, great. No need to put down people who (for whatever reason) work in the corporate world.

Since these entries were written some time ago, you might want to actually check what she wrote, rather than sit around thinking twice or thrice on what you remember she wrote.

That being said, let’s get a few things straight:

1) There is no way that Yi Lin and I are holding ourselves out as model parents. Look at it this way – Coco is our first child. What type of experience do we have? Not much. But if weaning our baby and returning me my lovely friends works for us after six months, we tell it as it is. It is our life story. It is not advice. You want advice, speak to a PD.

2) Yi Lin and I are humans. We learn and gain experience all the time. To expect us to travel the parenthood journey to in a straight and narrow path, not deviating from what we thought was right a year ago is ridiculous. If we need to eat our words, so be it. What do you have to crow about?

3) You imply that we never had much respect for SAHMs. Nothing could be further from the truth. We both agree that being a SAHM is something we could never do. She would go nuts and I would have to forego my nuts. SAHMs have our respect, along with their other halves who then bear the sole responsibility of bringing home the bacon (or lamb, if you’re Muslim). So stop putting words in our mouths.

This comment is already longer than some of my blog entries. Which makes me very annoyed. Because I really should be writing new blog entries rather than rebut inaccurate comments. Now, I Love Children is going to find out that I’m not as busy as I claim to be after all. Dammnit.

Okaybye and have a good day.


June 20th, 2012 at 2:45 pm    

I’ve been reading Yi Lin’s entries since I embarked on fertility treatments and I have to say, I never once felt that Yi Lin comes across as someone who is frustrated with her life. In fact, she sounds grateful: for her family’s help in looking after Coco, for a job that she enjoys, for her precious daughter etc.

Her entries are penned from her point of view, she is writing to share her experiences. I don’t think she is telling everyone that she is an EXPERT and that we should all follow as she does.

Since having my own baby recently, I have found myself perusing her older entries, seeking solace in our similar experiences and I am glad to have her as a source of information!

Serene Tan

June 18th, 2012 at 2:25 pm    

Hi Yi Lin,

I was introduced to your blog by a friend of mine. Your much earlier entries (before the birth of Coco) came across to us that you were really frustrated with your life and everyone else plus the surroundings during your pregnancy. One of your entries condemned families who travel with babies on the plane. Another one belittle the stay-at-home-mums, comparing them to the full-time working mums like yourself. In that entry you made it sound like it’s an easy brainless task staying at home taking care of the kids, as compared to having a 9-5 job in an office. Those entries were written before Coco arrived. It seems like now you are eating your own words. You put Coco on a plane, in fact twice. In this entry it seems like you have a newfound respect for the SAHMs as what they go through on a daily basis is almost the same as what your helper is going through, and they don’t even get a sunday off each week. It’s true this is your blog and you do have the right to say and write what you want to say. However, I believe this website is being visited and read by many people out there and at times, you are giving misleading pointers/advices. A recent example is your entry on breastfeeding Coco and it came across as you are encouraging mothers to stop breastfeeding when their babies are just 6 months old as they are eating solids.
Hopefully you will think twice or even thrice before you pen down any future entries.

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