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A Time For Everything

A new mother learns about her priorities while juggling the demands of motherhood and work. Here is her story...

I'm so organized and neat, I can tell if somebody has moved the books in my bookshelves by an inch. The house is spick and span, and my home office has a filing system that's so methodically categorized that anyone can pull out any document they need at any time. I always respond to e-mail, phone calls are attended to within three rings and deadlines are always met. 

I can whip up a feast for the family and the kitchen remains tidy while I'm cooking up a storm. I can do all of the above and still have energy to pound the treadmill. But from the moment my baby boy arrived I found myself struggling to play Superwoman. Struggle is a new word in my vocabulary. I'm a perfectionist. My  fastidiousness is so effortless, it's become second nature.

So, when I found myself short of time during the day, I started waking up in the wee hours of the morning to work, bake and clean the house, in order to spend all my waking hours with the new love of my life. He's my all-consuming passion and we're inseparable. But these were all my passions. How could I choose which to let go of? I was greedy. I wanted it all. But I knew I couldn't have it all when one day I looked at my reflection in the mirror and saw a wan woman staring back.

Her skin was tired, her eyes listless, her lips dry and cracked and she badly needed to visit the hair salon. That day, I didn't turn on the computer, didn't check my phone messages and decided to nap when baby did. I stopped poring over recipe books and dreaming of the cakes I would bake. Housework could wait. Instead of rocking baby to bed to gamelan music, I decided we should break the routine and go for a walk.

It was the type of morning you sing about - the birds were chirping, the trees and flowers were still glistening with dew drops and everybody said hello to you. When baby and I returned home, it was obvious that he was delighted with the outing. He babbled incessantly and couldn't stop beaming. I wouldn't have exchanged that moment for anything in the world. I held him close and found the magic word: priority.

Letting go is hard to do. Work - freelance editing and writing was the first to go. I learned to say no when I couldn't cope. It was easier than I thought it would be because everybody seems to understand when you're also a full-time mother. My earning capacity has dropped, but one can't put a price on the time I spend with my child.

Next, I became less obsessive about the state of the house. We hired a part-time cleaner who drops by once a week. Learning to live with imperfection is an art and it's OK if the laundry piles up or the windows aren't sparkling. I'm an avid cook but I've decided to hone my culinary skills when he's a little more independent.

I have an hour of "me time" every day, when my mum comes over and I hit the gym or swimming pool. But at this very moment, I want to watch my boy grow because I know I wouldn't want to have it any other way.

Make Time

There are no shortcuts to parenting teenagers. We need to invest in three things-time, time and time. Family meals are a great opportunity to have good two-way interaction. In many households, the family meal is interrupted by work, study, TV, handphones, etc. Make time a few nights each week to turn off the technology and sit and chat with the family as you enjoy a meal together.

The Thaw Point

In order to save a time heating up expressed breast milk. try putting the frozen milk into the refrigerator overnight to defrost it first, before reheating it as per guidelines. According to Dr Jim Scars, MD, "How long the milk is frozen doesn't really change how it should be thawed. Refrigerator overnight or placing the bag in a pot of w arm water is fine." However, he adds that after thawing, "be sure to use it within 24 hours."


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