31 October 2014, by Tan Li Lin

Lessons from Living with Kids

I’m going to honest.

Am I a fan of children? Nope.

Do I get possessed by ‘Kid Talk’ aka “Come come let Aunty bao bao!” every time I see kid? Nope.

Am I experiencing the joy of children? Yes.

We (Sis, BIL, nieces and hubby) recently were involved in a MEGA FUN film shoot for MaybeBaby’s ““Times May Have Changed But The Joy Of Parenthood Remains”. Have you seen it yet?

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The trick to looking like picture-perfect parents who have got everything together – a personal stylist.

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Woa. What’s this I woke up with?

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Several hours later, the ballooning doesn’t stop. Posted this on Facebook and shocked the living daylights out of our friends *snigger*

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Ronald has never touched a diaper over the last 3 years with the girls at home. Now, he’s forced to.

While I’m not riding the happy wave of parenthood yet, I’m certainly enjoying splashing and wading around in the kid’s pool with my 2 nieces. I’m a proud stay-in Aunt, or more like, had-no-choice-and-got-initiated-Aunt-who-lives-under-the-same-roof.

In the video, I play a new Mother and went through a fast-forward journey of entering parenthood. From the first “I’m pregnant!” to the final “I’m pregnant again!” scene, I zipped through the whole choosing names, bag burst, 1 month party, changing diaper gig within 12 hours. But at the end of the day, we pack up and I resume my life (hello feet). I know that doesn’t happen to ‘real parents’. You can’t opt out. You wake up the next day choosing, amidst squabbling kids, to opt in no matter what.

I’m lucky I’ve experience what parenthood looks like before its my turn to pop. The perks of having an elder sister is accessing first-row seats to everything Life throws at her first – school, work, wedding and children. The downside is living with the responsibility of the babysitter/nanny/entertainer/educator role. Just the day before, my (younger) brother and I were musing at how our affinity for children has changed since Coco and Claire entered our lives – from “get that kid far away from the same building I’m in” to “bah.kids.” to eventually “Okay… I’ll pat her head“.

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The culprit behind our change of minds hearts.

Here’s what has changed since living (24/7) with kids

1. Being patient and understanding

I work from home. I get annoyed when I’m focusing on work and there’s high pitched wailing downstairs that echos through the house. I’ve reconnected with another use for doors – shutting the wails out. But I catch my agitation and admit that it’s unfair to get annoyed. After all, Coco’s expressing her emotional experience and I ought to embrace and celebrate that. Empathizing with her helps the agitation die down (or is it just the door?), and I go back to work with renewed focus.

2. Baking without chocolate

My husband LOVES chocolate. So does my brother and my dad. Everyone in the house eats chocolate – without breaking out into odd rash patches. All that changed when we found out Coco can’t eat chocolate. Out goes all the cake, cookie, pudding and ice-cream recipes. For any baker, chocolate is a comfort zone. Do anything with chocolate and it’s a sure hit. Not only do we cut chocolate out from home-made goodies, we have to be mindful about eating (too much) chocolate in front of Coco. Not that we can’t, but with a sensitive and highly observant 3-year old, it’s our responsibility to practice an inclusive culture. This however gives Ronald an excuse to pop WHOLE chocolates in his mouth now.

3. Forwarding situations

Coco gets picky around food, and we never know what to expect at the daily dinner scene. Is she in a good mood? Is she going to ask for Guo Tiao then Rice then Pasta? Is she going to need force feeding? Is she going to eat 2 bowls all on her own? Who knows! Let’s just throw our hands up for every time we gave up dealing with her…. Wait. There’s not enough to go around. But you know what there will always be enough of? Wit. Humor. Intelligence. Creativity. I soon learn getting angry or repeating the same ‘I SAID STOP’ seldom works and so, every time the girls whine, its an opportunity to get cracking. How to do it? Just grab anything nearby to turn it into a point of curiosity. This time, teaching/distracting her to learn how to stretch her neck out over her bowl to drink soup stopped her tantrums and focused her on learning something new – something ‘adult’. “See! Daddy’s doing it.” *BIL obliges* “See! Popo’s doing it!” *Mom *obliges*. She’s pleased she’s doing what the adults are doing and soon proceeds to commanding everyone else at the table to do it too.

Same flexibility applies at work too. Note to self.

4. Speaking properly

It gets tough. Sometimes I really want to take shortcuts. Few days ago we joked with Coco about “throwing Gong Gong to the rubbish truck” (instead of her) and I blurted out, “You can carry Gong Gong…………(silent meh?!!)” ARGH. STOP. I cringe hearing myself say it in my head. But can’t lah. D**m difficult. How. Change lor. What would an Ang Moh say? Then say it the same lah. Must speak good english campaign abeet.

Hey, can I start blogging in Singlish? Save time.

5. Conscious attention and positive energy

Generally, being around Coco and Claire means constantly checking myself and observing how I come across. Do I have positive energy? Am I pleasant, open, embracing and welcoming? Am I paying too much attention to either one? Am I coming across bias? How would they interpret what I say and how I act? All these fuse into this “connection” and “love” that children intuitively pick up on. No more flopping around the house and throwing tantrums like the second kid (heheh). I have to grow up as they grow up.

PHEW.

Si bei chor man. But bo pian. Formative years so got to do the right thing lor.

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This moment concludes the joy of living with children. I walk into the playroom and this is what I find. Cracks me up and makes my day (life).

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Lin Tan is an Entrepreneur and an Executive Coach who dedicates more time to making society a better place over making babies (for now). Follow her blog on ilovechildren.sg/blog and journey with her as she embarks on all things ‘life after 30′.

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