19 June 2014

Behind The Scenes of FTWM/FTWP

I am a FTWM (Full Time Working Mother) and a parent to a pair of boys age 3 and 5. Ever wonder what it is like in the daily life of a FTWM? In this post, I will be sharing with you the secrets behind the scenes of my life being a FTWM, Ermmm… Or should I rephrase – the life of us as Full Time Working Parents. 

We are one small family living far away from the grandparents. We do not have a helper as we have decided that it is not the lifestyle which we want. We are very much dependent on full day child care services from Monday to Friday, 7am-7pm. Other time, both Daddy Pok and I are mainly the sole care givers. What made our family pull through each day without additional help is the tag team in between Mummy Mae and Daddy Pok. We are the super FTWP!

Having two boys age 3 and 5 are the most remarkable things which we have done in our lives! Remarkable? Oh yes! It is because the boys are very challenging at this stage but yet super-duper cheeky at times. We just can’t get enough of shouting, running, climbing, teasing, fighting, laughing etc…… Whatever it has got to do with male hormones, we have got it in our household! So, here goes the list of activities on our typical weekdays.

They just can't get more cheeky than ever.........!
Early Morning Roll Call
Mummy Mae wakes around 6.30-6.45am and prepare breakfast for the adults. Our breakfast ranges from overnight oats, homemade muffins or homemade bread. The boys have their breakfast at school. Daddy Pok would wake the kids and change them while Mummy Mae prepares for work. When all are ready, we leave the house together and drop the boys at school. Occasionally, Mummy Mae and Daddy Pok dine out for breakfast, spending some time together before heading for work.

After School Pickup and Dinner
We usually leave work at 5.30pm and pick the boys by 6.15pm. Shhh… I really have to confess that I do dread after office hours every day because it is always a rush for us and our home is often chaotic till the boys wind down in bed.  I have yet to master the skill of preparing a quick meal for dinner. I think I would be scrambling in the kitchen while screaming at the boys from beyond the kitchen walls. In order to maintain our sanity, we have decided to dine out or pack for dinner. It saves us the hassle of preparing for cooking, the cooking and the wash up.

Bath Time
Mummy Mae baths Little Kye while Daddy Pok baths Big Vann. We do swap our roles occasionally upon request by the boys. Sometimes when Little Kye gets out of hand, I would go bursting in the toilet while Daddy Pok comes in for the rescue. Little Kye loves to play water and spend quite some time in the bath. On good days, we would come out quick and safely; on bad days, I would probably be soaked in water while the little one does his cheeky smiles. After bath, Little Kye would do his routine naked run around the house before succumb to putting on his clothes! It takes quite a bit of patience to tame him down.

Play Time
We have taken steps to reduce screen time for our children. We took a drastic step to sell off the iPad and we are now limiting the TV time to only weekends. We are glad to receive feedback from teachers that Big Vann has shown vast improvement on his concentration in class. Last time, I usually create activities for the boys, for example fishing games, alphabet mega blocks, and etc. I soon became a lazy mum and allow the boys to unleash their own creativity. They now have free play time from 8.00pm-9.30pm. They would play with their toys, ranging from Legos, puzzles, cars, train, and etc... They would build houses and shelters using the sofa cushions, or build their imaginative bridge using pillows. At times, they would form a human train and travel around the house picking up passengers and going into tunnels in the rooms. Sometimes, they would cook up a meal or go for grocery shopping. Occasionally, I would be invited to be their customer, passenger or even patient. Otherwise, I would be sitting at a corner monitoring their activities so that they do not get too rough. Often times I need to step in to be the referee in resolving their daily squabbles. Yes! If not daily, it would be hourly!!

Child led play time activities.
The Shift Rotation
While the boys are at play, Daddy Pok will conduct his chores while Mummy Mae monitors them. He would wash the milk and water bottles to prepare for school next day while the laundry is put into the washing machine. Then, Daddy Pok would take his bath. After Daddy Pok has settled his portion of daily chores, he switches duty with Mummy Mae. Mummy Mae would take her bath and continue her portion of household chores. Mummy Mae folds the children’s laundry and packs their school bags. Major cleaning of the house is done on weekends by Daddy Pok while Mummy Mae looks after the boys.

Bed Time
The boys will have their last milk feed at around 9.30pm and settled in bed by 10.00pm. Mummy Mae is co-sleeping with the boys. 8 out of 10 times I would fall asleep together with the boys. If I still have the energy to continue the day, it would be a bonus me-time for me to catch up on blogging, baking, or some precious spouse bonding with Daddy Pok. 

The bad days......
The Secrets Behind The FTWP
All working mothers/parents do know that it is not easy to handle both work stress and family. I have to admit that I have a very hands-on Daddy Pok who is very much committed to our family. The strong team work of FTWP did not come as a gift. When Little Kye was a baby and Big Vann was in his terrible twos, we went through a difficult time. We often have quarrels and we were lashing out our stress on the children. Our lives were nothing else than work stress and family challenges to handle the kids. Our bodies were signaling to us that we are tired but we were too busy to realize it. I often have negative thought and always cry in the night. Our lives took a turn when we started to change our lifestyle.

“Focus on yourself before you focus on the children.”

We started to focus on ourselves. Daddy Pok started to take up photography while I took up baking as a hobby. We enriched our lives with the things we liked and we were much happier. Our mood influences each and every family member. We do believe that happy parents will produce happy children.

“Get enough rest!”

We made sure that we have enough rest and sleep. I started co-sleeping with both kids allowing Daddy Pok to have a good rest at night.  Our mood is much better when we get enough sleep. When we are tired, our minds could not function properly and the only way for us to resolve a matter is to shout! Children do not respond to a “shout” very well. A child is also a human and cooperates better when we respond in a positive manner.

“Be realistic in what you can achieve and what others can achieve.”

Is our house sparkling clean? No. When was the last time we clean our windows? Probably… last year. How do we maintain our wardrobes? Ah, heck cares! Do we cook for the children every day? No, but it is something that we would like to do. Do not set too high expectations for ourselves. We are parents who are working hard to earn a living and give the best to our children. Occasionally, remember to pat ourselves at the back and remind ourselves that we are already doing a good job. Give a hug to our spouses or send a short message for doing a good job. Children need praises, so do parents! 

“Pass the ball on. Get help.”

As a parent, we are often overwhelmed with responsibilities. When the going gets tough, we feel frustrated. We do not have additional help from extended family. Therefore the only way for us to handle this situation is to pass the ball to each other. Whenever we feel stressed and frustrated, we request for each other’s help to handle the kids while we take a breather. A 5 minutes break is essentially useful to cool ourselves down. This is how we get the ball rolling!

“Support each other, avoid opposing.”

When both parents are in-charge of the kids, it can get quite tricky and conflicts do happen. Being brought up in different families, my way of teaching the kids often differs from Daddy Pok’s principal. I prefer to use the soft method whereas Daddy prefers the hard discipline. Ideally, it would be good for a family to use a set of rules. However, in some cases we just could not agree with each other. We went through a hard way, often ended up in a quarrel. Soon after months and years of hardship, we somehow found the equilibrium. When one parent takes control of the children, the other would step back and let him/her finishes the talk. When one parent promises on a reward, the other would have to grant on the wishes. We would feedback to each other after the case if any of the method does not work out. We may have our own techniques but our ultimate goal is to educate our children well and bring them up to be a better person. 

I think I would not have survived without the help of Daddy Pok. We have gone through a lot together and it makes our bond stronger. I am glad we persevere on during the hard times and savor the fruits of hard work as sweet memories. Being a Full Time Working Mother is not that bad after all, but having the pact of Full Time Working Parents is even better! I hope I have shared some tips which were useful to us and hopefully it will be useful to you.

Keep Calm and Stay Parenting! 

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