I find myself standing at the kitchen sink for extended periods throughout the day washing dirty dishes, bottles and cups. "What am I doing?" I often ask myself.
"Shouldn't I be out there making big bucks?"
"Isn't this the woman's duty?"
"I'm doing my wife a favour by HELPING HER with the chores and kids!"
I am sure many men out there have such thoughts. Somehow many of us still have that 19th century mindset stuck in us. Even though men are generally more involved these days, there is still an expectation that domestic and child-rearing duties are primarily the woman's.
I've heard guys proudly declare that they "help" their wives with domestic chores and "help to take care of the child". While it may sound like these guys are being kind and understanding, it highlights a fundamental belief that domestic and child-rearing duties are not part of a man's core responsibilities.
"It is increasingly more difficult to make families work.
The old days where women care for kids/house and the men bring home the bacon are long gone. More than 61% of families in the United States and 65% in Singapore are dual income families. It is no longer feasible to expect one parent to assume all domestic and child-rearing duties. The immense pressure will breed depression, unhappiness and even result in broken families.
In this day and age, how can we make families work?
1. Both parents embrace the children's needs as their core responsibility
2. Both husband and wife embrace the domestic duties as their core responsibility
3. Being a working parent that understands the stay-home parent is not an employee and does not get any annual leave, sick leave or renumeration.
4. Embrace the fact that working does not excuse us from child-rearing/domestic duties.
Why does this work?
When all hands are on deck and everyone works as a team, the burden is shared. When both parents are involved, children grow better and stronger bonds form. It really isn't all gloom and doom being a responsible parent/spouse. I thoroughly enjoyed being personally involved and having first-hand experience of raising my children. These are experiences you'll never get again, so embrace responsibility today!
Different people will tell you a million different ways of how you SHOULD raise your child. When Debra and I first had Matthias our first born, we were often upset by how many conflicting "facts" everyone was throwing at us.
We decided it was too confusing and at times too illogical to listen to these "facts".
We went head with these CONTROVERSIAL parenting choices (and got a lot of stick for it)
#1 We chose to stop breastfeeding the child
Both our little ones were formula fed by the 5th day. We stopped entirely after one month of VERY VERY difficult breastfeeding. Insufficient supply and a very hungry baby meant that we had almost no sleep. Debra was at times in tears and visibly stressed. Don't let people make you feel less of a mom because you are unable to breastfeed for any reason. Both our children are neither sickly nor unintelligent despite being formula fed. They will be fine!
#2 We chose baby led weaning and toilet training
It is very common to hear people go on about how early they managed to get their children off diapers or start eating solids. Let us be reminded that every child is DIFFERENT. Every child grows differently. We allowed our boy to be on diapers through the night until he was close to 4 years old. We took our time and looked out for his readiness. There is no need to rush or feel inferior for nothing getting your child to achieve a milestone.
#3 We chose to let our kids watch tv at 8 months
Yes, we put our kids in front of the TV at 8 months old. We did our due diligence and only allowed them to watch Baby TV and other programmes that are AGE APPROPRIATE. TV time is controlled and determined by us. Our children have no issues with learning or focus. They do get a daily dose of TV but they are NOT given a phone or an iPad to watch whatever they want. You will have to determine what you are comfortable with giving your child. You will have to observe their behaviour and ensure they form healthy habits and relationships around screens/media.
We tried so hard to help him remember the letters and sounds using books and flashcards to no avail. Matthias learnt his phonics entirely from a song played on Baby TV. Good content and monitored usage of screens/media can lead to good outcomes!
#4 We chose to give our kids McDonald's
You can read our full article on giving your child McDonald's HERE
We got quite a bit of stick for giving our children "trash" and "unhealthy" food. We enjoy McDonalds together regularly and we hit the football field to work out the calories as well! It ultimately boils down to a balanced diet and personal choice. ALL of us enjoy a trip to McDonald's and it is an awesome bonding time for us!
#5 We chose to spank our children
Yes you read it right. We SPANK them with a cane. It isn't something we do on a daily basis but we felt that there are times when a child has to be spanked. A child has to learn that a time-out, a lecture, having things taken away, losing a privilege are all part of the discipline package. Spanking is reserved for extraordinarily rebellious "crimes".
Abuse happens when we lose control and want to "get back" at them. Spank responsibly out of love and not out of anger. We believe that spanking for a children between 2 and 6 is effective when used properly. The pain registers the message better than a lecture at that intellectual age. Any older, they should be able to understand a good lecture and learn from other forms of punishment.
We found that the best way to parent your child is to do your own research, trust your gut, experiment and learn from your mistakes!
At the end of the day, all parents want their children to be happy, safe and have a good attitude. As long as our choices are guiding our children towards that, we shouldn't be worried nor guilty!
"Every loving parent would want their children to
Parents instinctively try our very best to protect our children in all possible ways. It is easy to forget that our children are eventually going to be moving out and become independent adults. Being an ex-school teacher myself, I've spoken with countless parents and other school teachers about how children are mollycoddled these days. They grow up with the false sense that they will always be taken care of and will never have to face difficulties as an adult.
Whatever values we want our children to have, we need to nurture it from a young age.
Whatever achievements we want our children to attain, we need to nurture their talents from young. Therefore, every parent who want their children to grow up responsible and accomplished should raise them in a manner that prepares them for that.
It starts with responsibility...
We can all agree that we must be responsible for our own work. If we want our children to be responsible adults who are responsible with money, work, relationships, learning etc...how better to teach them responsibility than to give them some responsibilities. Tell your toddler to put his own cup into the sink and put his dirty clothes into the laundry basket. Teach your teenager to run the wash and transfer the clothes to the dryer when the basket is full. (without having to pay them) Help them understand due diligence/due care from young. How will a child view responsibility if they have never been given any at home?
Teach them how to be responsible, help plan a schedule and teach them to follow it by themselves. Train them to pack their own school bags, keep their toys and teach them how to self-study. The list can go on.
If we want to help our children accomplish great things in life, we will have to teach them the habits that help them achieve that in future. Teach them people skills, engage in activities that encourage creativity, read with them and nurture their talents (Read more about it here). Teach them how to cook wholesome meals for themselves, clean the house and do the laundry. Don't leave your child without the skills to succeed. Teach them how to survive in the real world!
Parents need to let go and let our children learn a lesson on their own. Shielding them all the time may only make it worse for them. It is easier and faster to do everything for our children. When this becomes a habit, they take it as our responsibility instead of theirs. Sometimes, the best way to help our children grow is to let go and let them try, struggle and problem solve on their own.
We are raising children to be adults and our parenting can reflect that preparation for adulthood.
What else can we do as parents?
Read about talking to children about equality and privilege HERE
Kids don't need more toys or a new iPad. Kids need their parents to give them undivided attention. We all know undivided attention sounds very easy but in reality, it isn't. We are all too familiar with that ringing smart phone crying out for our attention to respond to an email.
Sometimes, our heart is willing but our flesh is sleepy. Somehow we feel that planning an activity is far too tiring and time consuming. The stress of finances can make us feel grounded and unable to venture out for family outings.
We have been through all of the above and would like to share 3 FUN and FREE activities you can enjoy with your kids! These activities can take between 15 minutes to 45 minutes depending on your child's attention span. It may seem simple but your kids will be VERY happy if you are giving them full attention and engaging them in the activity.
#1 roll around in bed together
It may sound silly but kids love this! You can wrestle with them, tickle their little feet and tell silly jokes. Use that blanket of yours as a little tent and read story books together with a torch light until the sheets. Gwyn and Matt love rolling around in bed being silly together. Parents get an excuse to stay in bed a little longer!
Grab a few toy cars or soft toys and delve into the imaginary world with your little ones. This could go on for hours!
#2 ART JAM!
Secure some paper on the floor, arm yourselves with crayons/colour pencils and let your creativity take over. Our 1 year old had fun sitting on our art work and emptying the colour pencils from the box. Matt, mama and myself had fun drawing! It is always interesting to get your little one to explain their art work and let them to be imaginative. It doesn't matter if you can't draw to save your life, the point is to do something TOGETHER and give each other undivided attention.
#3 pretend play
Play some nice upbeat music on your radio/sound system and pretend to be Ariana Grande or Eric Clapton. Sing your hearts out and show off your dance move (or lack of, haha!). We always have a good laugh and enjoy nice music. Matthias got his pilot costume for his birthday this year and we have flown with him on his imaginary plane all over the world. He tried his hand at cutting tomatoes, breaking and beating an egg. These are teachable moments I got to teach him about the world map, aviation, cooking and music. He picks up vocabulary, learns logic and asks questions. The best part, it is FUN and FREE.
Fun doesn't always mean tiring, expensive and heading out of the house. Next time you get a free day with your kids, try these activities and make wonderful memories together! (FOR FREE!)
Our travels have brought us to numerous cities of great significance and historical importance. Those were amazing experiences we will never forget but the countryside is something of a different league.
The countryside is good for your soul.
It was one of the best decisions we have made to escape the city just for 2 days in Wales. We had one of the most amazing countryside breaks! We drove 140 miles from Nottingham to Dolgellau. It took us about 3 hours through the motorway for the first part and then the smaller winding country roads. Dolgellau is situated in the Gwynedd county in the north-west of Wales.
We were quite tired from the drive and had a peaceful rest that night at Y Meirionnydd. After decades of living in a city, we do sometimes forget how nice it is to have a quiet night free from the blaring sirens and noisy vehicles. We loved our time at this hotel and the staff were really hospitable. The breakfast was an absolute delight! Take a stroll around this little town and enjoy the beautiful stone buildings.
We checked out in the wee hours on our second night because we were rushing to Duxford for an appointment. The staff was very kind to prepare a breakfast pack for our long drive to Duxford because we had no breakfast the following morning. Amazing!
Our little escape to the country bought us to Cregennan Lakes. We took a 5 mile drive from Dolgellau and had the most surreal time trekking around the awesome place. The clouds were low that day which meant we couldn't really get nice shots of the clear waters and its pebbles below. With no other human in sight, we had the company of the landscape and an occasional sheep.
The ABSOLUTE silence was refreshing. The experience of such magnificent natural beauty brought healing to our souls. In the stillness of this awesome place, we found peace. If you need a place to find inspiration for your new book, painting or blog, we strongly recommend coming here! The place is even more stunning when it is sunny. We hope to visit again when the sun is out!
You can also visit the following from Dolgellau:
The rest of Snowdonia National Park
Hike or walk up Cadair Idris
If you are in the UK for a vacation and need to break from the hustle and bustle of the city, take a drive to Dolgellau and visit the Cregennan Lakes!
Like this post? Check out our travels to:
Small town Gem: Loughborough, UK
The craziest road trip from Singapore to Phuket
Vincent & Debra Kwan, Founders of Hiro & Jack and stay-at-home parents with the odd life.