Friday, 29 July 2011

Feeling trapped in parenthood

Many parents go through a period when they feel trapped. It could be when they find out they're pregnant, or when they're pregnant for the fourth time, or when they're overwhelmed from juggling work and family.

However, hardly any parent will admit to feeling this way for fear of being judged a bad parent.

The truth is if we think of all our responsibilities and commitments at one go, it can be overwhelming even for the most super of supermums and superdads.

Family counsellor Charis Patrick believes that most people do feel trapped, at one time or another, but they may not verbalise it.

“They may not want to show it. I think the deeper truth is even just thinking of getting pregnant can make them feel trapped. There might be pressure from the family and society and even their biological clock.

“Pregnant people might feel trapped in different ways because there is the fear of how their body will change, whether they will be able to maintain their body shape after pregnancy, if they will carry the baby to full-term, and all the what-ifs. All these questions of the unknown will make them feel trapped mentally, emotionally and psychologically.

“I think this is a very real issue and something that we can prepare ourselves for,” she says.

Patrick believes that nobody is ever 100% prepared for parenthood. It's about having the confidence to take that leap of faith and then taking it one step at a time.

That trapped feeling can happen at any time, not just for those who are pregnant, either. And often, it is because we feel that we don't have choices and that we have to do everything ourselves.

It is perfectly normal to feel this way. The solution comes in several avenues:
- Realising that parenthood comes in seasons;
- Asking for help and delegating the work;
- Creating “me” time and spouse time;
- Creating options;
- Playing to your strengths instead of trying to do it all;
- Sharing your feelings with your spouse and together creating options/solutions;
- Not trying to live up to society's high expectations; and
- Giving yourself a break (you deserve it!).

Seasons of parenthood

Patrick believes that parenthood is seasonal. There is the winter season – when your baby needs you the most and you may have to make more sacrifices on your time. Then there's spring – when they don't need you as much and start growing.

“You have to view it in seasons; if you view it as a life-long commitment, then it feels like a life sentence.

“I think, the beautiful thing is winter will one day end and spring will burst forth and your babies will grow up. Hopefully it's more joy than stress then.

“I think there's a period of endurance and a period of limited freedom but as we move towards bringing up the child responsibly and teaching them to be independent, to do housework, to clean up after themselves, then when they go to school we will have a little bit more free time.

“Eventually you find that you've weaned them off and you have more time to yourself. I think that's one aspect that will help – viewing parenthood as a journey and acknowledging the season that you are in,” says Patrick.

Sandwich generation

Additionally, parents may feel more trapped if they have small children and yet are the sole caregiver to their elderly parents. Then they are part of the sandwich generation – trapped between having to take care of both generations.

Patrick advises parents who form the sandwich generation to ask for help rather than attempt doing everything themselves.

“It is very healthy and mature to ask for help when help is needed. Don't try to do everything by yourself.

“You might need to outsource the caring for the elderly – perhaps send them to a daycare centre. You also need to relieve yourself so that you have some time for yourself.

“For the younger ones, maybe a daycare or childcare centre.”

She points out that it's better to get help rather than to attempt to do everything and burn out. It doesn't even need to be permanent help; it might just be temporary until you regain your momentum.

You might just need help for half a year or just a day every week.

“I think that's fine because in that half a year while somebody else is helping you take care of your child for those extra few hours, you can have some time to yourself and rest a little bit more. Or maybe you can find ways to earn extra income – if that's worth it. All of this will help relief a little stress, so why not?” says Patrick.

'Me' time

She points out that parents need to make time for themselves as well as for their spouse.

Patrick says it is very important that parents prioritise spending time with themselves as that will help them focus.
 
Patrick: 'It is really important to spend time with our spouse.'
“When we take time to reflect on our own life and our family and what's going on inside of us then we can ascertain what are our priorities. When we know what are our priorities, then we can feel less trapped and more in control.

“Secondly, it is really important to spend time with our spouse. Whether you have just one child or many children, they do not know that you are a separate entity, especially when they are young. They will demand for your attention and compete for your time, and they sometimes cannot wait. So, I think you need to intentionally and deliberately set aside time to spend with your spouse.

“If you don't, the children will very easily and subtly soak up all of your time and before you know it, when your children grow up and go to university, you will stare at your spouse and wonder who is this?” says Patrick.

According to her, many retirees seem to face this issue.

Patrick points out that “me” time and “spouse” time should not be “leftover” time. You have to take the prime time for yourselves.

“Otherwise, everyone will take you for granted and your time will not be a priority and you are teaching your own kids that it's okay to take the leftovers. People will treat you like you treat yourself and your children will model what they see you do. When you are able to make a stand because you know what you want, people respect you for that and they will work around your schedule,” says Patrick.

Creating options

She points out that the moment someone says they have no choice in any matter, they will feel trapped.

“The truth is you have a choice. If you sit down and take time to evaluate, there are always options available.

“So what you can do is start to create options. You have the option of sending your child to daycare but the problem is that it may not be good enough. Then you have to further explore and get recommendations for daycare centres. Do your research and find some good ones. It won't be perfect, it might not be ideal, but it will be good enough,” she says.

For example, if a parent can't cope with juggling work and home, then consider flexi-hours, working part-time, freelancing or even starting a small business at home.

If a parent cannot cope with being with the child 24-7, consider getting a nanny or putting the child in daycare. Or the parent could create pockets of “me” time by allowing the child to go for something he or she enjoys like art class or ballet.

“I think it's about being very creative in creating options. Do not believe that you have no choice. If you are willing to create options, then you will feel less trapped,” says Patrick.

Playing to strengths

She also advises parents not to try to do everything themselves. Rather than attempt to be superwoman or superman, Patrick says parents should emphasise and play to their strengths.

“I think it's great wisdom to recognise your strengths. When you do that, there's really no premise for you to want to compare. Your friend might be good at something but you may be good at other things.

“Every parent, like every child, is different so don't compare yourself to the career woman who has work-life balance and has a good income. You must first know who you are and what you can do best, and work around your strengths.

“As with a corporate role, a parent should play to their strengths. If you're not good at nurturing (some women actually aren't good at it), maybe the grandparents can do that and you can do the task-oriented stuff.

“It all boils down to the core question of self-awareness. How much do you know about yourself and your strengths as a parent? This is very important. If you don't know who you are, there's no way you're going to impart what you're best at to the next generation.

“When you know who you are, you can impart what you're good at while refraining from passing on what you're not good at. How do we cultivate that self-awareness? By spending time with ourselves.

“Don't let other very idealistic people tell you what you can and cannot do. If you are not there to watch your child's first step, I think that's okay. I think it's much more important to be there to watch them get married mentally sound,” she adds.

Talking it out

Patrick explains that talking it out with your spouse can be helpful and constructive as long as you have sorted out your own thoughts first.

Once you have identified why you feel trapped, then you will be able to verbalise it.

By talking about it, you can further clear your thoughts and then your spouse can help you create options.

Marching to your own drum

If you are feeling trapped and do nothing about it, the worst case scenario is mental breakdown, depression and burnout.

The feeling of being trapped boils down to expectations – your own and those of your family and society.

Patrick advises parents against suffering in silence.

Importanly, parents should not feel bad or even guilty for outsourcing tasks and getting help. Some even go to the extent of feeling guilty for having “me” time.

Patrick advises parents to give themselves a break now and then. Mothers, especially, don't have to be a super worker at the office, super chef at home and then super tuition teacher later.

“Don't be so hard on yourself. I think it's important for superwomen to know they don't have to do it all. There's no point comparing yourself to someone else. It's very important to be self-secure. You are building a family; you are not the only one building it. You should do it together. So, as much as possible, you need to share the responsibility with your spouse – taking care of the children, the housework, the finances, scheduling and chauffeuring.

“And, as the children grow up, it's very important to teach them to be responsible,” says Patrick.

She advises superwomen who feel their husbands are not sharing the load, to leave a bit of the housework for him to do – such as washing his own dishes. Eventually, he'll get the message and do it. Finding other sources of support will help. But you should also find out why he is so hands-off. Verbalise that you need his help and perhaps give him a small task to handle, to start with.

One mistake a lot of women make is to ask for help but when the husband's response time is not as fast, they take over the task before he can get to it. The other mistake is telling their husband that he's not doing a good job of the task at hand. This discourages the man and he won't want to take on the task again.

Patrick advises women to lower their expectations to “good enough”.

That applies to not only their spouse, but themselves and their family as well. Sometimes, it's okay to be “good enough” rather than aiming for “perfection”.

Buta mata

[1]

"Itulah orang yang buat rawatan homeopati tu. Tak nampak macam buta kan?"
"Tadi dia pergi ambil anaknya di sekolah, ditemani anak keduanya."
"Masa Aida ke kedainya, dia yang bukakan mangga pintu."

"Untung kan dia jadi orang buta."
"Sebab dia tidak perlu melihat dosa-dosa di depan mata."

Bukan tidak mensyukuri nikmat mata. Cuma kadang kala rasa ralat juga melihat mereka yang hilang penglihatan tetapi lebih bertakwa daripada kita yang cukup segala deria.

[2]

"Aduh, budak itu baca Quran Braille"
"Yang budak sebelahnya, membaca tafsiran dalam Braille."

Apa lagi yang diinginkan oleh ibubapa sekiranya anaknya walaupun buta mata, tetapi hatinya tidak buta?

Masya' Allah! Betapa kerdilnya diri kita ini.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Orang tu menangis sebab...

I was switching between TV channels when there is this one drama at TV9 when the heroine, sitting on a sofa at home, was crying.

And Fawwaz asked us a question,

"Orang tu menangis sebab teringat kat atuk dia ke?"

Hahaha.

Fawwaz, awak seorang je kot yang menangis teringat atuk kat kampung. ^_^

Friday, 15 July 2011

I slapped my iphone on my knee and the button works, thanks to Google

My phone home button has not been working last Wednesday. I restart my phone and still there is no improvement to no avail. The button is not functioning, and seemed stuck.

So what I did was I googled for the solution, and I found this link,

And I found this answer from the same page:

Ripple_style 
I have had this issue intermittently (In fact, I just had it a moment ago). I'm not sure what version of iOS I'm running, but I have not updated it in a bit. I was able to get it to work again by slapping the phone against my thigh. This leads me to suspect that this is a hardware issue (loose connection?). I plan to have my phone looked at, so, we'll see... 

OK, so I slapped my phone on my knee, and the button works, hey presto!

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

I am a muslim

Being oversea for a year has changed my perspective for Islam.

I have never been living in another country before, thus I always take for granted on being a Muslim with majority of its people are Muslims. Finding halal foods was easy, it was quite the norm wearing tudung and most of my friends consist of practising Muslims.

And suddenly it was much harder to find abundance of halal foods in foreign land, the Britons/Europeans would always stare at us curiously, especially when we make a stop at the highways. When we first landed in UK, I was cooking on daily basis. Even if we have to go somewhere, like a short trip to the mall or even longer ones, when we went to other countries/states, I would always pack lots of foods. Alhamdulillah, halal meats are easy to be found in Manchester.

I was also grateful that I have to do that sort of stuff, since we were really on tight budget (living on student's allowance with my family).

My first experience in class was quite OK. I came for my first class, and I noticed the Pakistanis were the loudest bunch of students. And they are Muslims. I was not really comfortable when I saw them not practising Islam. And what I meant was, I saw lots of Pakistanis in Manchester, who are already holding British citizenship celebrating Halloween, or drinking beers, and even said that Muslims need not feel obliged to fast in Ramadhan.

Thus, I strive to be a better Muslim in a foreign land. I have 2 close Malaysian friends with me. One girl, who has never wear a tudung, performs solat sunat duha during our morning lecture breaks. I was surprised. Another, who is clad in tudung, was really friendly with all kind of people, that I wish I can be more like her.

And get this, we have another friend, who is actually a guy in past life, but he turns to be a 'she'. I was sad that most Malaysians could not understand how I befriended that girl, that when I complained about this to my other 2 close friends, that I remembers my tudung clad girl friend says,"Islam bukan sahaja melalui perkataan, tetapi melalui perbuatan." Thus, I do agree with her because what is the use of shunning my friend and how can our friend changed for the better without us?

And at this one class, in particular, by the end of our lectures and revisions, the tutor told us that he was delighted that the three of us were in his class. We were keen to be in there and attend every lectures and revisions, even though our class consists of less than 10 people.

Being in another country, I have the opportunity to visit all kind of churches.

I wonder, if I did that in Malaysia, would our people looked at me and whispered behind their back?

I wonder, if the non Muslims enter our mosque, would we welcome them with open arms?

Once, when I was at home, some Christians came knocking at my door and explain about the Bible. But the old gentleman respects me and do not push me towards trying to believe about their religion.

I wonder, if our people do went door to door to promote Islam, would we speak with the person gently or with force?

My friends who are working there, do share their experiences in embodying the Muslim image. They make friends with all sorts of people (most of them are doctors), and they try to be a better Muslim in their daily life. It was hard since Islam is always related to terrorism. And when we were talking about Islam, it always embodies a bad image relating to non practicing Muslims in the UK.

I wonder; Is it because we were born as Muslims, we have always taken for granted on our way of life? Thus, we have never strive to become much better than before.

I have learn now not to judge people with their appearance. Looks can be deceiving. And I do judge people a lot before just from the way they dress. How can I be a better Muslim if I cannot change my perception to other people?

Monday, 11 July 2011

Happy birthday!

Dah tua eh? Hehehehe

Monday, 4 July 2011

Cycling with 2 wheels

Fawwaz berjaya berbasikal dua roda pada hari Sabtu lepas dibantu oleh atuknya :).
Good achievement sayang!

Fateh's first proper hair cut by the aunt and the uncle last 2 Sundays. Siap ada cermin macam kat kedai mamak.. hihihi