Stay At Home Moms

Many people have misconceptions about homemakers/housewives. It is sad to note that these women are not given due recognition for their hard work or for some, due respect. Being a homemaker is an award-winning job like any others. Maybe, more than others? Worst is that they don’t draw a monthly salary nor do they have any pension plan waiting for them….there is no official retirement age for being a homemaker!

Their job specs are borderless and endless, including but not limited to these: routine household chores, family welfare, dietician, trainer, tutor, chauffeur, life coach, home nurse, chef, baker, adviser, seamstress, gardener, party planners, etc. No official one-hour lunch break, medical leave or annual leave. No public holidays too! Full-time job which covers 24×7. Break time is when one manages to find slots during the day, to get off their feet to relax for a while.

These are women, some of whom once upon a time, were professionals or carried high posts in their organizations. They chose to retire from workforce to be Stay-At-Home-Moms (SAHM) because they have different sets of priorities. They prefer to take on a more challenging job to manage their homes, by exchanging power suits with aprons, so to speak. These are very hands-on mothers. All they want is to give the best to their children by contributing their skills and knowledge to tasks at home. They want to be there when their babies take the first step, utter the first word, care for their children when they are ill, personally prepare meals for the family, send and fetch the children from schools, attend sports practice, attend Parents-Teachers meetings, so on and so forth. Some took up additional lessons in cooking, sewing, baking, languages, to complement the existing skills that they have.

Many people who have no idea what these SAHM have gone through would jump to conclusion that homemakers are very free just because they stay in the comfort of their homes. They have no bosses screaming or breathing down their necks, no mean colleagues or customers to deal with, they don’t have to drive through bad traffic to get to and back from work, no datelines to meet, they don’t have to deal with office politics, no need to work harder to remain competitive, all in a package and then, returning home to undertake another set of job.

If I may say so, there is no way to compare or measure who is doing more or less. It depends on the landscape of the family. Some more fortunate families have the luxury of delegating house chores and certain degree of childcare to third parties like domestic helpers, nannies, childcare centers and/or part-time maids. There are also “ladies of leisure”, who do not literally have to lift fingers to do domestic chores, that they spend time pampering themselves at the fitness center, spa, salons, going to clubhouse, tea rooms, parties, launches, shopping trips and vacation. I assume, these are the ones whom the working ladies are envied about….maybe not only working ladies but those who wish for this kind of lifestyle?

Whether one is a homemaker or working mom, it is your personal choice. Always give it time to grow and get into a system which works for you. Don’t waste time envying other people just because you think that their lives are better off than yours. What you see may not be the real thing. Each household has its own happy and sob stories. Just do the best that you can for yourselves and your loved ones, and be grateful for the chance you get to do as you wish.

Regardless if you are a SAHM, WFHM (Work From Home Moms), or Full-Time Working Moms (FTWM), let’s not compare who is better off. It will not do us any good but only breed unnecessary dissatisfaction, regrets and resentment. These feelings will hinder you from being happy with yourselves. The most you can do is to learn from one another. Oh yes, we can learn loads if we take the initiative to mix around and have an open mind.

Therefore, please stop passing comments that homemakers are so very free. They take offense and I don’t blame them. They work very hard, tirelessly, physically and emotionally, to provide and maintain warm and loving homes for their families. It is heartless to dismiss any one of them as someone who shake legs (lazing around) at home, watching soap operas all day long. Even if they have time for such breaks, don’t you think they deserve it after a hard day work? Everyone deserves a good break. We are only humans. Be more sensitive and tolerant of others. Be happy for those who have done well. If we don’t waste time feeling jealous of others, and use that time and energy to be productive, I’m sure we can all realize our dreams, sooner or later.

Gentlemen, be proud of your wives who are SAHM. They work hard but don’t produce progress reports. They don’t submit job sheets either. That doesn’t mean they do nothing at home. They work silently to give you peace of mind to perform your work at your best. They are the ones who ensure you have healthy food on the table, children affairs taken care of, small stuffs dealt with, provide support whenever you need it, hosts functions for your family members and colleagues, and many more. You know best. If they have weaknesses, speak to them gently and kindly. Every human has faults, as no one is perfect. There is no super woman in the real world. There is no super man either. So, it is cool be more considerate, understanding and less demanding with your other half. There’s so much one can do. Give her a break. Give her time for herself by offering a helping hand with the house chores or take the children off her hands. Pamper her…after all she is the love of your life.

Cheers everyone!

~ Alice N.

 


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Can Women Wear Aprons & Power Suits Too?

Can women assume both heavy responsibilities and still remain cool and collected? Climbing the corporate ladder during wakeful hours and thereafter, being a wife and mother at home is no ABC. We all know that women champion as multi-taskers. We often read and heard from many women, finding it quite difficult to make choices between staying at home or building a career. This is especially so when these women just entered motherhood. It is an emotional experience for any new mom, to be separated from her newborn after confinement or end of maternity leave, to return to work. Some had at the end, decided to leave their jobs to care for their own babies.

There are women who remain in their jobs, by choice or circumstances, as their families really need dual income with the new addition. Working moms may struggle to cope with increasing demands from home and office. They not only work for 8 to 10 hours outside, but upon reaching home, another “job” awaits them. There is no break in between at all, unless they are blessed with wonder domestic helpers. I think, it would be close to midnight before they can finally sit back to relax but by then, it’s bedtime already. That’s the end of another busy day.

Staying in the corporate world when you are a mom is no crime. If you are in it, don’t feel guilty. The world needs intellectual contribution from men and women alike. More women today, are well educated, intelligent, sophisticated and able to carry out work responsibilities as well as, if not better than their male counterpart. It would be a waste of talent in the human capital department if all mature and experienced women leave the workforce due to motherhood. Some caring organisations go all out to provide childcare centres or flexible working arrangements, to keep these female employees continue working with them. I think for anyone with grown children, if you wish to go back to the workforce, you should be given the chance to. After all, your knowledge and skill is your valuable assets and should be put to good use. However, before you start doing so, make sure you engage reliable extra help at home, to free your mind, so that you can focus on your work in the office. Delegate and plan well, for all will work out at the end. A happy and confident mom will have happy and confident children too. And yes, you still have to spare some time for your husband and children too – that, you can’t delegate and I’m sure you don’t want to either.

Some women choose to quit 9-6 jobs to start being an entrepreneur with flexi hours and working from own SOHO (small office home office). This way, they can have the best (and worst) of both worlds, while watching their children grow up. One has to be very disciplined and good at time management in order to carry this off. It is tough indeed to draw a bold line separating home and work. If one is not careful, she will be distracted by adorable baby demanding attention, other children walking in and out asking for help with their school works, the pull of television soap opera, the inviting bed, etc. Being on your own also means you are your own boss….don’t spend productive time on shopping and personal grooming too often. By the end of the day, nothing much was accomplished in the work department. Self-discipline is vital.

Working solo from home has another disadvantage too, on the self-development department. The danger of being complacent might make you lose track of the growth in the industry. There may be times when decisions and actions made become unclear and there isn’t anyone else to conduct check and balance. On a more positive note, as long as one knows the threat to a given situation one is in, and be pro-active enough to deal with it, where one works, at home or office, is immaterial. Engage a buddy or two to work with and for brainstorming sessions. Then, one will not feel so lonely.

There are books authored by successful women around the world, who wrote about not having to choose either/or, but to have it all, i.e. being able to take care of the family as well as keeping the career. These authors provided ways and guide to time management systems with less stress, making smart choices, not wasting time on un-productive activities, the list goes on. I’m sure you have read some of these books yourself.

I believe, as women, regardless where you are, who you are, we basically share the same issues. We are continuously seeking solutions to make our lives simpler, to seek the right connections with our husbands and growing children, to develop our personal skills and knowledge in our areas of expertise/interest, to uphold the family values, spread our love and laughter, and create harmony in our families.

Sounds like a Super Mom or Super Woman’s job descriptions? That’s the wonder of women. We don’t fret over small stuffs, we focus on problem-solving to leave our men clear heads to do their jobs without unnecessary distractions, we make sure our family members return to a warm and loving home after a tiring day, we make sure there’s warm food on the dining table, despite having a tough day at work or we are in the midst of handling a huge project/case. For those of you who have to work or run your business and at the same time carrying out your responsibilities as a wife and mother, my hats off to you for your contributions to your family.

To men reading this, please appreciate what your wives have done for the family. They don’t ask for material rewards but, validation and recognition from you will make wonders. Let them know that you appreciate what they have done to provide you with a loving home, caring for your children, being your faithful partner through thick and thin. Be generous with kind words and gestures to the most-deserving partner of yours. Do give them a break sometimes….let them enjoy the companies of their girlfriends or simply to have a day out on their own. This break will actually do more good than harm.

A little note to the homemakers, I haven’t forgotten your contributions to your families. I shall write about it soon. You have done superbly well too.

Well, busy women wearing power suits and apron, keep doing what you enjoy doing most and carry your heads high. You have done well for yourselves and your families. May I say that only a contented and confident woman will breed a happy and respectful family?

Cheers to you!

~ Alice N.


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Holiday Travel

I believe most people if not all, love traveling. I think people prefer to travel for a vacation than for business. Since the day I was old enough to look for a job, I had always wished to get a job which requires me to travel. Back then, the only job I could think of was being an air stewardess. However, due to my height, the job was out of reach. I was short by a couple of inches. Too bad…

Fast forward years, till today, I still haven’t got the chance to travel around the world for work assignment. But, I have the chance to travel to neighboring countries, which I’ve grown to love, like second home. Though we don’t have the luxury of long holidays, I’m good. In fact, I prefer short trips to long ones maybe because I hate to feel lazy. You see, when I get to enjoy a long holiday, I won’t feel like coming back to reality…i.e. back to office, work, running daily chores and the whole package. Besides, I get bored easily.

Just yesterday my dear husband discovered that I truly enjoy short trips; day trips, couple of days’ trips. When I’m away from home, I can sit by the sidewalk cafe watching local activities and people around me, hunting for delicious food and walk around malls (more like looking for anything which I can’t find back home). Travelling criteria have always been a clean and nice hotel, best would be in walking distance to sidewalk cafes or malls (yeah, I like convenience, where whatever I need will be within reach). So, back packing in not my cup of tea, though it sounds adventurous. Guess I’m not the adventurous kind of person.
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Being on vacation is like living a ” fairy tale” life. You’d be pampered big time. No more hurrying from one place to another. Sleep as late as you like. Nothing to worry about, literally. Well, we’ll have to come down to earth, from this “dream-like” life. Back to reality the minute we reach home. But, do enjoy while it last 🙂

If you are on holiday, enjoy the rest of your vacation. Re-charge and go back home to your life with renewed energy and enthusiasm. Enjoy life and make the most of it!

Cheers,
Alice N.

 


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Phone Junkie

When I looked at the main page of my morning papers, the word “PHONE JUNKIE” stared back at me. Hmmm…interesting! It’s about people at large paying more attention to their smart phones than another human being. Doesn’t sound good but it’s true. We can see it around us, restaurants, cafe, malls, homes, literally everywhere!

It was reported that such “addiction” causes declining social skills whereby communication has turned scarce and sadly in some, troubled relationships/marriages. I have witnessed many young couples out for a meal, drink or supposedly a date, but were more engaged to their smart phones or tablets than their partners! No one’s talking much these days. I wonder….do they communicate with each other via these gadgets or are they just minding their own business. Is it good or bad?

Fortunately, my courting days were from another era. Those days, the luxury item we had was a simple and basic mobile phone, to make and take phone calls. Well, at least to me, it was just that. I’m not tech savvy but I still enjoy having gadgets to serve my uncomplicated needs. From a cellphone to PDAs, to BB and iPad, I just used them for tasks and work. Yeah, a techie friend once laughed at me and exclaimed that I under-utilized my intelligent gadgets! It’s fine by me because these gadgets are tools to me and more of an electronic personal assistant. They do not replace the company of another human being.

Now, we are living in a social trend which keeping a smart phone close by at all times, is a norm. Some seem to have the smart phones glued to their hands. If these gadgets are used and treated appropriately, they are in fact great assets. We should not hide our true selves behind the phones/tablets. Through my personal observation and random research, I found that many young adults now are rather shy to speak up, uncomfortable with eye contacts, some don’t even like the sound of their voices, there are those who are afraid to speak for fear of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, that they resort to texting and updating status in the social networks. Having said that, I totally agree with the author in the papers mentioned earlier, that our social and communication skills have declined. Pity.

I fondly call my little family “The Gadget Family” but I do not wish for any of us to stare at our smart phones or iPad each time we’re together. Calls are allowed to be answered so as not to be rude to the callers, but make it brief. We have no-gadgets zones in the house, especially at the dining table. There is no hard or fast rule but we do allow some flexibility if any one of us is expecting an important call.

There are times when we do our own stuffs at coffee table in a cafe, e.g. at Starbucks, when we’re having a leisurely cuppa. I love to write my blogs while enjoying a cup of hot black coffee. My me-time is enjoying my cuppa and I take that time to write as well. Sometimes, we got carried away that my hubby and I would exchange BBMs when we were just sitting across from each other! Silly as it may sound but we just have to be more mindful next time or it’ll become a habit.

What people said about having too much of a good thing is bad, is true. Smart phones are useful as they allow us to multi-tasks and make our lives more orderly while allowing us to keep in touch with family, people we know and whom we do business with. But, if we become too obsessed with the gadgets in hand when we’re in the presence of other fellow human beings (family, friends, colleagues, etc), it’s time to take a good look at ourselves again. Who is the master here? You or your gadgets? Sometimes people would try to avoid discussing sensitive issues or confrontation, with another, by shoving the phones or gadgets in front of their faces to look seriously occupied! I hope I’m wrong, but you get the message…Have you ever done it before?

I think, before the situation gets worse, as it is already out of hands, we’d better act proactively, fast! For parents who have young children, be a good role model. You can’t tell your children to keep the phones away when you are happily chatting away over the phone yourselves! “I can do what I want because I’m your father/mother” doesn’t work anymore. They are quick to mirror our actions, especially the wrong ones. Who to blame, except ourselves, of course.

If you are couples, put that phones/tablets down to start paying attention to your partners. The more you communicate the more you understand each other. How else to spend the rest of your lives together when you don’t understand your other half well enough? When you talk, you will inevitably pay closer attention to body language, eye contact, tone of voice, facial expression, etc. This is what I’d called, real connection! Not the WiFi connection, please. I’m from the old school (but not ancient, mind you)….still prefer to look into people’s eyes when I speak to them. That way, I feel more connected, if you know what I mean.

For those who like the idea of having harmless emotional affairs via texts, BBM, social networks, chats, and think that they are harmless, think again. Affairs are affairs, whether they are physical or over the Net or phone lines. You may think it is harmless as no further action is taken. Do you know that emotional attachment is much stronger than physical attachment? It grows in you and rooted firmly in your heart. Just don’t play with this kind of fire or you’ll get worse than a third degree burn.

So, please be careful with what you have as convenience. Do not let your smart phone(s)come between you and your loved ones. Do not let that phones stop you from facing real situations. Use it as it is…a communication tool when you are apart, so that you can reach one another and to make life simpler for you. Not to complicate it further. That is the main objective of owning a smart phone, isn’t it? And yes, I won’t deny that it is also an important accessory to your overall image, kind of like social status. Whatever it is, just be extra careful not to be carried away with it.

Let’s decide to communicate more face to face, like a friend once said, “eyeball to eyeball” (you may laugh if you like….what an expression!). If you find it uncomfortable, do it more and in due time, the jitters will be replaced with better feelings. Get connected the right way. Trust me, you’ll find that you’ll have a more meaningful relationship with people around you. Start practicing now so that you can enjoy a romantic Valentine’s Day!

Ciao,
Alice N.


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Why Do We Get Married?

There will come a time when we are ready, or rather, feel ready to tie the knot with our partner (boyfriend/girlfriend). Someone once asked me, “What age is right?“. There is no right or wrong age for marriage. More like, are you ready to share your personal life space, which you have enjoyed singly and happily all these years? It will no longer be just you but more like “US” now. That’ll be your new status, which comes with huge responsibilities.

There are people in the world who married for what I’d like to call, for the wrong reasons. Something like, transfer responsibilities to another person, out of loneliness, for wealth or status, for business prospect, for convenience, or simply “because my friends are married, so would I”. Is that good enough reason to get married? Would that form a firm foundation to build a marriage on?

Just couple of weeks ago, I had a lovely chat with a dear friend. She was first my physician then we became good friends, for more than 15 years! She has adult daughters, all are working or studying overseas. This wonderful lady has travelled to most part of the world and knows how to enjoy her life! She is able to balance her career, family and vacations with girlfriends so well.

She told me, as she would her daughters, that marriage is about growing together. About being a better person as you grow together. About being compassionate, unselfish, considerate, patient, ability to compromise, to think of others before ourselves….what she’s getting at is that when we get married, we learn to grow together and live harmoniously. It is a lot of hard work since two people are of different minds and characters. It takes time to achieve a pattern in which both can move together as one, in harmony.

Of course, at first it is all about the lovey dovey stuffs. Reality is, lovey dovey doesn’t last. May I say, usually, from courting time to shortly after marriage. So, don’t get your hopes up or you’ll be in for a great disappointment. The first year is tough for those couples who have not lived together prior to the wedding. That doesn’t mean it’ll be easy for those who have lived together before. After the fairy tale wedding reception and honeymoon are over, you’ll soon return to the real world. Like I said before, it is no longer about YOU but US. US is not confined to just you and your partner but your partner’s family too. True that you married your partner, not his/her family. Fact is, without the parents, you don’t get your partner, right? I’m afraid they come as an extended package. If you draw a thick hard-line to separate them, you’ll soon discover one of the reasons to your near future grievances would be this important issue, the in-laws. So, thread carefully on this sensitive issue. If you are mindful, you can have a pleasant relationship with all concerned. Take a step back and you might win two steps forward.

What about the lovey dovey stuff, you ask? It’ll come back after you’ve learnt to grow your relationship and love for each other. It takes time. To some young couples, during the first year of marriage, there will be new addition to the family. As they grow their little family, couples can’t quite find time for each other. Simply because, a lot of energy and time are spent on caring for their children. At the end of the day, both would be drained. During such time, arguments may break out often, for lack of attention, understanding, disappearing romance, etc. I believe many married couples with young children go through this tough phase. Stick together for support, talk it out and have lots of patience. As the children get older, their level of dependence on you will get lower and thus, you’ll have slightly more time on your side to rekindle the romance.

Next month, we’ll be celebrating our 17th wedding anniversary. These 17 years are not all bed of roses. There were laughter and tears in them, which I cherished. There were ups and rock-bottom down, which I learnt that nothing stays the same forever. The wise person who created the marriage vow knows his/her stuff very well. In health and sickness, for richer and poorer, etc. Just as my wonderful friend said before, marriage is about growing together. It is challenging and adjustments have to be made all the time to keep up with life’s tempo. Challenging because we both come from different backgrounds with different characteristics. We learnt that our upbringing plays an important role on how we think, the way we see and do things.

It took us 16 years to finally really experience the lovey dovey stuffs and understand that marriage is all about growing together. I won’t call it a return of lovey dovey as we had a very short courtship. I had no intention to get married but at that time, it felt right with him (dear hubby). Our first year was almost-hell (sorry Darling, for the description), as we try to find a way to live with each other. Fortunately, we took time to get to know each other before growing a little family of our own. Now, I can happily say that we have come a long long way and we have learnt not only to tango, but to waltz too, to life tunes. We’ve made quite a great team together. Of course, life challenges doesn’t stop here.

It takes time (years) to reach to this phase, which we discovered last year. There is hope for such deep and special love in a marriage after all. Such love and feelings aren’t the same as the young love. It is deeper than that. It makes your heart swell. When you smile it brightens up your inner self which brings a special glow to your face. You feel it deep down in your heart right down to your tingling toes. Whatever action you choose to make, it is out of respect and love for the other half, not fear. It’s difficult to describe…you’ll have to experience it to know it. We have just found it so it’s new to us. I trust we must continue to work on it to make it last.

If you haven’t got to this stage yet, be patient. Keep working on your marriage. Don’t give up on it. Don’t give up on romance. You have to do all the works, like laying the foundation, like planting a tree. It takes years maybe because, as the children grow older, couples will have more and more time for each other. You have to grab the chance as it shows up. Create opportunities for romance. Make your partner feels good/wonderful when in your company. You have to feel good first, of course! Fill you heart with love, compassion and forgiveness. Look at the positive side in everything. When faced with unpleasant things or if you are upset, do speak up to make your partner understand.

It is alright to argue, but not all the times though. Arguments bring couples closer if you know how to compromise at the end of it. Once an issue is settled, erase from the memory. It’s history. Don’t bring it all up again and again. It’s depressing for all and won’t do any good to the relationship anyway. Ego has no place in any marriage. Marriage provides a safe haven for you to be weak without making you feel any less about yourself.

Marriage takes a lot of continuous hard work, compromise and patience. Life is about give and take. It is not about sacrifice. When you do things out of sacrifice, over time, you’ll feel bitter, used and unhappy. It is an irritating thorn to any marriage. I’ve heard many people telling me about their sacrifices in their marriages, spoken with despite and sadness. They felt trapped in their own marriages. It’s not about sacrifices but about making choices which work reasonably well for both of you.

So, if you are planning to get married, make sure you marry for the right reasons. To some, being single is better than married, especially so when you are not willing share your personal space. To those who are into it, may I wish you all the best….don’t give up so easily when you have been doing the right thing all along. Engage your partner on your thoughts and actions. Remember that we are no mind readers. Have common goals to ensure that your marriage works. Communication is as important as compromise. If you “fight”, fight for the marriage to win. Not individual victory.

Here’s to a wonderful life experience!

~ Alice N.


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