Holidaying without kids! My experience

So recently we took a holiday without Naomi! I’m such a worrier, so leading up to it, it was completely nerve-wracking!! But we had a fun time and I’m sure Naomi did too. Hope this posts helps you if you’re thinking about it too.

So my twin sister who lives in the States was due back in Australia and because I miss 13245227_10153619000570950_6313904367208286884_nher so much, we decided to plan a trip to see her. We also saw some super cheap fares to Hawaii so we planned it to happen around the same time. I had my heart set on Hawaii for a while, ever since I saw it in a Japanese mommy/kids magazine and thought it could be a nice place to holiday with a young child.

When MIL heard of our plans, she volunteered to babysit for us! I was so surprised. I wasn’t sure whether to say yes or no. I wasn’t expecting it at all. But she loves Naomi and living interstate means she doesn’t get to see her often. Part of me knew I would be very anxious about leaving Naomi (she was just over 2 years old) since she doesn’t see MIL on a regular basis, they live interstate; plus what if we DIED?? but the other part of me knew that these opportunities don’t happen every day.

After some praying and thinking, we decided to go for it!

Here’s some tips that I used to prepare:

  1. Something to open each day: I read on many sites that it can be helpful to leave little presents for kids to open everyday while the parents are away. So I basically wrapped a whole bunch of little gifts (that I had received but had been keeping for her) as well as some smaller items from dollar stores. I numbered them so that she would have one for each day. Examples included: stickers, colouring pages, small snacks, small crafts, a little pony + brush, a soft ball…
  2. Something she can ‘access’ us with: I ordered a customized teddy bear from BIG W where you can put a photo on the bear’s t-shirt. I put our family photo on it, so if she missed us, she could ‘access us’ as it where on her own terms.
    Naomi cuddling 'mummy-daddy bear'

    Naomi cuddling ‘mummy-daddy bear’

  3. Calls: It can be helpful to Skype but we decided not to Skype because a) the time difference was too much b) she hasn’t really responded with interest to Skyping in the past; its too abstract (it’s like watching a video, she doesn’t interact).  We did send photos of ourselves though.
  4. Songs: I think I left a recording of me singing her bedtime song for granny (Twinkle twinkle) to play.
  5. Giving her time to transition in and out: Because she doesn’t see her granny on a regular basis as we live in different states, I decided to allow a few days for her to get used to living with granny in Sydney before we left. Then allow a few days to live with mummy and daddy again before flying back to Brisbane. I was pretty nervous so granny ended up flying over even before that Naomi had basically a whole week to get used to granny in Brisbane, Sydney (with us) then Sydney (without us).
  6. ‘Telling her’ beforehand: how  much can a two year old understand? I thought it’d be too much information to tell her we’d be heading to Sydney, then Hawaii, so 2-3 days before Sydney, I told her about Sydney – and 2-3 days before Hawaii I told her about Hawaii. It went something like: “Naomi, tomorrow-tomorrow, mummy, daddy and Naomi go on plane and go to mah-mah (grandmother’s) house” and, “Naomi, tomorrow-tomorrow, mummy and daddy go away on plane. But we will come back.” After a few goes, if I asked her “Naomi, where are we going?” she could answer what I told her basically. It really helped she had watched a ‘Daniel Tiger’s Neighbourhood’ episode about grown-ups going on dates and definitely coming back so we sang the song attached to it called “Grown-ups come back” often.

How did it go?

  • The anxiety: Most of the anxiety happened the week leading up to it. I kept thinking WHAT IF WE DIE what would happen to her? Sure, a bit irrational but totally possible right? I was with the rest of my family visiting the graves of my grandparents the day before we left for Hawaii and I decided to verbalize my will (briefly) there and then for them to witness it.
  • The actual goodbye: We said our goodbyes as she was going for a nap. I was scared she would wake up and panic about where we had gone. I’m told she was upset when her grandma bathed her (and not mummy as per usual) but granny reminded her we went away on plane and she sang the ‘grown-ups come back song’ and was OK after that.
  • Being apart: Hawaii (or Oahu rather) was AWESOME! when we had our down-time, I would have moments where I’d miss her and ask my husband if MIL sent over any photos / pics.13254479_10153452661625826_7213596587067416582_n
  • Her granny had planned all these activities that we don’t normally do with her, like bus rides, train rides, and play dates with her cousins, so Naomi had a ball while she was there. She also had a lot of treats (that grandparents tend to give) as well as granny’s delicious cooking so I’m told she had a ball!
  • When  we returned, she came in the car to pick us up. I could see her little smile as she saw us and it registering on her face 🙂 we couldn’t stop holding hands as we rode the car home from the airport (more me than her). I also read that it’s good to commit time to play with her as soon as I get back (rather than get busy with unpacking) so we played for a little while before dinner to reconnect.
  • I expected her to want to continue with granny doing the bedtime routine, but Naomi asked that I bathe her and put her to bed that night! so she didn’t hate me yay!

Reflection:

  • Looking back, I probably over-prepared but it meant I could holiday as stress-free as possible knowing I did all within my power to give her a good time without me.
  • Would I do it again? Originally I had planned to be away for just one week, but taking into account flight times, time-differences, it ended up being 10 days! I would do it again but for the first kid-free trip my personal ideal would’ve been a weekend, followed by a week.
  • Naomi took it REALLY WELL. I heard stories from friends of their kids not talking to them for a while after they returned and I planned for this worst case but really I think she was having too much fun to worry about it. She just had this child-like faith that we would come back.

GO FOR IT! It was such a nice time with my husband doing things we couldn’t normally do with a child around. I’m glad she didn’t come in the end, cause Honolulu didn’t end up being that toddler friendly after all (unless you spend a lot of time at the beach/pool). Pray – decide – commit and don’t worry, it’s all in God’s hands 🙂

P.S Comment below if you want a travel blog post on Honolulu!

 

Advertisements

How to break your K-addiction (Part 2)

In my last post, we talked about how we can know whether we are addicted to all things Hallyu and the similarities it actually has to substance abuse. Today we talk about some practical things we as Christians can do to break free from it. I’m talking to my sister and psychologist to get her perspective. Here are her thoughts:

Is your addiction severe?

There is nothing wrong with kpop / culture in itself. But too much of a good thing is not a good thing. Stand back and ask yourself how much kpop/culture consumes your life. Talk to a trusted friend or family member and ask them for their objective opinion.

Don’t buy into the lie

Will engaging in kpop / culture somehow make you more accepted? Does it somehow make your more attractive to others? Does dressing a certain way or listening to certain types of music make you more popular? These may have been true for your for a period of time but it doesn’t last. These can be good things to strive for, but at what cost? Don’t buy into the lie. Striving for these things makes you a slave to them. Be careful that you don’t start to do other more risky behaviours in order to gain popularity or acceptance.

Consider abstaining for a period of time

Having been so consumed in kpop/culture for such a long time, you may have stopped doing healthy, fulfilling non-screen activities. Set a period of abstinence to re-engage nonscreen activities that interest you and who you are without kpop/culture. You may need to abstain from all related devices / media / related activities, or just some.

Rediscover yourself

Figure out your self-image / body image without kpop – what other things are you good at? What is your personality? What other leisure activities do you enjoy? Be a creator rather than a consumer – Don’t just absorb images, music and text…cook something, make something, help somebody, get involved in projects that involve other causes and other people, do some volunteering and have an effect on those around you and in the world.

Know your weakness and have a plan

For example:
  • A time of day: Do you engage in kpop/culture in the evenings mainly? Consider finding a substitute nonscreen activity during this time.
  • A place: Do you engage in kpop/culture mainly in your bedroom? Spend more time in other rooms such as the living room, or get out of the house and spend time with friends face to face.
  • Devices: Do you engage in kpop/culture on your phone? On your laptop? Avoiding use of these devices may be possible for some but for others you may want to consider reducing the amount of time you spend on the phone or the computer. Limiting yourself to a few hours a day (be realistic to start with) will help. If your addiction is severe you may want to stop use of these devices for a period, since even a limited amount of use will be difficult for you as you will easily click on interesting links / photos, etc.
  • Music: Can you listen to other types of music, or cut your kpop playlists from your phone for a period?
  • YouTube: Can you unsubscribe from certain channels for a period of time?

Get support

The strategies outline above can be hard to carry out. You need someone who can give you the hard word when a situation calls for it and you are too weak to say no. Give this person regular updates so they can stay accountable.

Go for something better!

Are you satisfied with being known as someone who consumes kpop / culture, or do you want to be known for greater things? Be someone who is known for being kind, hard working, witty, talented, funny, animated…these are qualities you develop by engaging with others and in the world, not by just being a consumer. While there’s nothing wrong with kpop / culture in itself, it does end up being a very self-centred activity and a very selfish activity. It is about what pleases me and makes me happy. Think about the kind of person you want to be. Think about where you’d like to be in 1 year’s time and ask yourself will your current habits and behaviours get you there. If you are not confident about the answer to these questions, it may be because you’ve disconnected yourself from others and from the world for far too long. Give yourself a chance and rediscover yourself first.

Consider professional help

If the above strategies don’t work for you, consider seeing a professional counsellor.

Ultimate joy is only found in Jesus

Addictions promise satisfaction but never deliver. If only a little more, and then I’ll be happy…but this is never the case for long and very soon we want more. True satisfaction is only found in worshipping Jesus. He loves us and gave Himself up for us. We don’t have to seek acceptance or approval from others when we already have it in Jesus. We don’t have to make ourselves popular and significant when God has already said that we are his precious sons and daughters. If you are not a Christian and this doesn’t make sense to you, check out your local church or ask a Christian friend what this is all about.
Thanks to my sister for giving all this helpful advice and I hope it’s been helpful for people out there!

A PND Story

hakataya

This was probably at the height of the PND. I didn’t mean to portray a fake image of happiness – I was happy to be a mum, but I guess this photo didn’t paint a complete picture of what was actually happening inside.

Since it’s not talked about much, I thought I should speak up. I struggled with Post Natal Depression in my first year of having my daughter. PND affects 1 in 7 women. I can thankfully say that I’ve overcome this stage – Praise God!

My experience might be a bit different to what you have/might go through so I can’t speak for all PND sufferers but here’s a bit of my story. Hopefully it helps you. Although it’s a bit scary please know that I got through it and so if you’re going through it too, you can too. There is HELP available, there is HOPE!

As I may’ve mentioned before in previous posts, I’m really not a motherly kind of person who loves children. God worked on me a lot to show me how much He loves children and wants people to be fruitful and multiply. Because of this I’ve always been rather fearful and worried of having children. Not just the childbirth part, but just raising children – I just felt so clueless. The second thing I feared was the lack of sleep – you guys might know that I’ve struggled with sleep issues as well.

Contributing Factors

You might be aware that the birth was pretty straight-forward. I’m extremely grateful. I guess it all started when I had trouble breastfeeding. I tried ABA, nurse & midwife aunties at church and then eventually lactation consultants…it’ll probably take too long to explain but basically the lactation consultants at the hospital (who are pretty much paid to encourage you to breastfeed) saw my situation and said they fully understand if I chose to formula feed. One of the lactation consultants in training was so shocked at how bad my breasts were she had to apologize. Naomi basically was never able to breastfeed. I had planned to breastfeed so I felt really guilty for resorting to formula – I hadn’t even bought any bottles or formula! Lots of new mums were trying to reach out to me in those early days but I felt so guilty as they were all breastfeeding mums so I didn’t respond well to their attempts to reach out. I didn’t want to imply to them that my breastfeeding attempts were somehow more difficult than theirs (cause theirs were all difficult too).

Secondly, it was the anxiety – which now that I think back was pretty normal. Like the temperature of the room, whether she’s still breathing, whether the milk is too warm/cold, but particularly how I held her. I had NEVER held babies before so I was anxious that I would drop her. That anxiety gradually became paralyzing that I didn’t want to carry her and walk around the house. I was also scared that when my mother-in-law left I couldn’t cope with no other relatives around.

Thirdly, because of the above, my sleep deteriorated. The worst insomnia ever…Naomi was a wonderful sleeper – she eventually slept 12 hours straight without waking up by 3 months – a complete dream for new mothers. However I was unable to sleep for the entire time that she was sleep. I was so exhausted but my body refused to shut down. No previous sleep inducing approach worked (and I have quite a few). It all came to a head when I just thought the agony of being alive was so unbearable that the thought of being dead was appealing as it would end the pain and provide relief.

Naomi was a very easy baby. Slept amazingly, gained weight. Everyone kept saying how easy and what a dream she was. Inside, I felt wrecked. If she’s so easy, why I am I struggling so much? What’s wrong with me – every new mum is struggling, I have no right to complain. I felt burdened with guilt for my husband who was running on 200%, back at work but effectively caring for me 100% and Naomi 100% and working full time. I thought about how much I was a burden to him and that it would be better for both Naomi and him for me to be gone since I was such a useless mother. We also had many loving people at church helping us with cleaning, with meals…I felt guilty for struggling so much.

Now all of these things (or worse) might have happened to you but you might not have struggled with PND. Or it might not be so bad for you but you still struggle with PND. It really depends on the person.

Looking back, these were all very irrational thoughts. I’ve had a milder form of depression before so I recognized that I needed to seek professional help.

The Slow Road to Recovery

pubhol

This was one of the really tough days. I tried to make the most of it by spending it with supportive friends.

I was diagnosed at Naomi’s 6 week check up. They get you to do a simple test. I got psych appointment set up, but it wasn’t happening until 3 more weeks. Also I knew the first session is no silver bullet. In the meantime, I called a few helplines. The people on the other end were good listeners, especially in the middle of the night. Eventually, I called PANDA (Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia). They were probably the most helpful (but not available at night). These kept me afloat (just)…

When the insomnia got unbearable my GP prescribed medication to help me sleep. Soon after  I was prescribed anti-depressants. I was pretty scared to be on both but my GP was really responsible and I saw them regularly to monitor my dose. Contrary to what I thought, the anti-depressants didn’t make me happy all the time or anything weird. They just made me feel like myself again. Thankfully Naomi being on formula enabled me to take all these meds.

I finally got to see a Psychologist who despite discouraging medication, encouraged me to use it temporarily so that I could regain enough physical and mental strength to work on the homework that she would get me to do. I also got onto my local community’s PND group which reinforced a lot of what my Psychologist said and there was several of us journeying through it together which helped.

I also joined my community mother’s group where all the babies were of similar age. I underestimated how much it would help!! Although (to my knowledge) none of them struggled with PND, just knowing other mother’s having similar struggles (or worse) and seeing their perseverance, determination and love encouraged me to keep going.

As you can see, there is SO MUCH HELP AVAILABLE.

One thing to note is that there’s no quick fix. It took some time to work with the medication, to summon the courage to work through the anxiety and many days it is so difficult – but THERE IS HOPE.

For me, by the time my bub was 7-9 months, I was finally feeling and functioning more like a normal new mum (with all its joys and struggles). It would be a couple more months before I would be totally med-free.

Personally one big factor to get through it all was deciding to start doing regular Bible Study again. When Naomi was around 4 months I joined a group of other young mums to read the Bible. God’s word was a refuge and comfort while pushing me to be brave and do things I found overwhelmingly hard because I knew God was with me. My church family rallied around – different people from church also came and prayed with me, and helped with Naomi when it was all too much. People continued to cook and clean and our abundance of health professionals provided advice to us.

So just wanted to encourage you if you are struggling right now – don’t be afraid to speak out and admit you need help. If you’re reading this and you don’t have kids yet, don’t be scared. If it happens, you know there’s a way through and again, it’s 1 in 7. If you’re a Christian you know God walks with you, carries you (even if it doesn’t feel like it). Perhaps these verses will encourage you (especially in those lonely times in the middle of the night)

“Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer.” (Romans 12:12)

“Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:2-4)

“And remember,[I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20b)

“The Lord is near the brokenhearted;
He saves those crushed in spirit.

Many adversities come to the one who is righteous,
but the Lord delivers him from them all.”

(Psalm 34:18-19)

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7)

Please make use of these if needed. I did!

  • Lifeline – 13 11 14
  • Beyond Blue – 1300 22 4636
  • PANDA (Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia) – 1300 726 306 (10am-5pm)

Mummy & Me – Cafe S152

Chris and I were walking along Sunnybank looking to eat at 7-8 or Seoul Bistro when we walked past a shop window with a really pretty corner filled with colourful toys and cushions. ‘Hmm, what’s this?’ we peeked in the window and saw that there was a half-set up cafe with some cafe chairs and coffee paraphernalia set up but unfinished. However, the play corner looked finished. ‘Wow the play pen looks like it must be custom made…looks really promising as a new cafe spot! I really hope that it’ll be good.’

A week or so later, I drove past and noticed the doors were open! Made a quick mental note to visit that week.

So I finally found a time that week to visit. I walked in, noticing they a cold press system thingy set up. I was very happy to see that Green Tea Latte and Sweet Potato Latte was on the menu – that meant Koreans (haha). The menu at the time was mainly coffees and drinks, and they had some baked items in the cabinet.2015-07-09-20-32-44_deco

After giving N her fill of Sultanas, I placed her into the play pen that was filled with really cute cushions that I have been eyeing at Kmart for a while along with many other toys. She got busy exploring as I watched her comfortably. The Green Tea Latte was yum, a lot of the Green Tea Lattes I’ve ordered from Korean run joints have a cinnamon-y taste which I really like.

The owner came and introduced himself – Joseph, and his wife Kate. I commented on how nice their play area set up is and he shared that its cause they have a 4yo daughter themselves, pointing to a photo on the wall. They were really nice to also give a sample of their cold drip (not that I know how to appreciate it).

Pram Access: I’m sure a few double-prams would fit in here!

Baby Change: Sorry I didn’t check but the other restaurants we frequent along this strip offer keys to the back where they have some toilets – which wouldn’t be great for changing.

High Chairs: Yes from what I recall..

After checking their new FB page, I’m quite excited to see that now they seem to be serving churros and honey bread so keen to visit again to try! There are SO many cute Korean cafes in Seoul its nice to see that influence in some cafes in Sydney that I really miss (nice interiors, yummy Asian inspired desserts and drink). Perhaps my dream of having these cafes on the Brissy Southside is coming true?! Being kid-friendly is another HUGE bonus 🙂

Click to add a blog post for Cafe S152 on Zomato

Mummy & Me – Bun and Espresso

Bun and Espresso is a little cafe in a run down looking line of shops in the Sunnybank residential area.

image

 

 

I really liked the setup they had of selling Asian steamed buns while at the same time serving coffee (Toby Estate). A small selection of bubble teas are also available as well as western style baked goods. A really nice Eastern Western mix that suits Asian Australians.

While I was there, Chinese students came to buy their steamed buns in bulk.   At another table, a lady expressed to the waitress/barista how much she enjoyed her coffee then proceeded to ask which days she worked.  So they really have their Buns and Espresso down pat.

Pram Access: Not a lot of space inside, but outside on the footpath is fine

High Chairs: Didn’t really see any, unfortunately

Changing: I didn’t really see anywhere, but it’s probably one of those old places out back that needs a key. If someone knows they can confirm this for me!

It’s a nice concept for Asian Australians who enjoy both their Chinese steamed buns and their coffee. Hopefully they can be more kid friendly in their facilities soon.

 

 

Click to add a blog post for Bun & Expresso on Zomato