I’m loving joining up on blog trains with the other wonderful Mamas in my blogging community, Singapore Mom Bloggers (SMB). They are so interesting, fun to read, and of course, encourage (no, force) me to blog after an entire month of procrastination! Guys, I know there are practically dust motes forming (virtual ones) on my blog now, and I apologise, but I promise I have some really good ones coming up.
For one, my own amazement at having survived three grueling weeks as a full time SAHM, and a lifetime of these weeks to come, lol!
But I digress! This time, I’ve jumped onto Mama Danessa’s blog train, Mummy’s Me Time! And gosh is this topic timely, what with my baptism of fire in SAHM-hood.
If I thought I hardly got me-time as a FTWM (Full-Time Working Mother, I know these acronyms can be so confusing), I didn’t know what I was in for as a SAHM (Stay-At-Home Mother). I could hardly find time to even take a crap (Excuse my French) let alone carve out me-time.
Buuut, after lots of invaluable advice from other SAHMs, I am on my way to equilibrium (kind of) and am forcing myself to take time out, if only to preserve my sanity. Sophie-doll has invaded my complete consciousness, 24/7, and its an actual effort to remove myself from complete Mama immersion to just sit back, take stock, and remember the me before the Mama.
Of course, I consider myself extremely blessed to have started off my SAHM with a huge Me-Time opportunity doing what I love the most in the world – travelling. My wonderful husband K agreed to look after Sophie-doll for 2 weeks, along with my Mama’s helper, while I went gallivanting off in Europe with my parents, sister and one of my younger brothers.
Does it sound irresponsible? I know it might be to some – or many – mothers. But every mother is different, and for me, I desperately felt I needed a “last hurrah” of sorts, a nice good break before plunging into SAHM-hood. I have always suffered from insatiable wanderlust and would feel stifled after just a few months in Singapore, so for me, this was the most meaningful way to mark the end of life as I knew it and the beginning of something both crazily tough and crazily wonderful.
Here are some of my favourite Me-Time moments during our Europe Trip in Paris and London:
Quiet time in the afternoons or early evenings reading at our beautiful little loft apartment in London.
Summer time in Europe means wondrously long days, with the sun only setting slowly around 8-9pm, its golden glow lingering over the horizon. It makes for such beautiful light and such calm. Lying in bed, with an easy read, looking at the rooftops and chimneys across London from my room, in the slightly weak but gorgeously milky last light was surreal. I felt like I was sitting in a cloud-like cocoon and the quiet seemed to nestle itself firmly but gently in my chest, lifting my spirits.
In the Monet Gardens, Giverny.
I’ve been longing to finally see the gardens at Giverny which inspired Monet’s whimsical, classical Impressionist and landscape paintings. To finally see the lilies and lotuses, the weeping willows and Japanese-inspired bridges in his classical work in real life. And when I finally did see it, they were as beautiful as I imagined.
It was a gorgeous, heady summer’s day. The air was heavy with promise, the smell of fresh flowers and mown grass, and everything seemed brighter and more colorful. Here’s one of my favourite photos of myself which captured the moment perfectly (taken by my very patient sister).
For me, being back in the heart of nature always brings peace. It commands some kind of introspection – when we are too caught up in material pursuits, or need to find our place in the world, seeing God’s work manifested in the beauty of Nature and Earth is humbling and so very necessary in the confusion of today’s world.
Another highlight of this trip was visiting the Opera Garnier. I had always gotten distracted by the shopping across the street at Galeries Lafayette and Printemps (I know, I am a shopaholic and I am in the process of ridding myself of this very expensive addiction). This time around, my sister firmly marched me to the Opera, which she was completely bowled over by the last time we were in Paris together earlier this year.
I can see why – Charles Garnier’s Opera is a masterpiece. The amount of effort, work, dedication and the attention to detail is mindblowing – and the result is an age of decadence, rich in history, beauty, and appreciation of the arts immortalized in one building.
For a moment, in those halls full of gold, gilt, and brass with their fantastical carvings and velvet padded stalls, I imagined myself a dancer, twirling and swirling with the world as my oyster (as you can see, I love to dream!)
In that way, I re-discovered a part of myself I thought I had shut away a long time ago – a young, naive girl full of irrepressible dreams who had the gall to believe she could be anything she wanted to be. The feeling was bittersweet, but it was nice to see that version of myself again – like meeting an old friend.
And the view from the Opera – that alone was quite worth the price of the ticket!
And finally, the walks we took in Oxford – we’d avoided the city centre with its multitudes of tourists and decided to explore the quieter parks and woods in Magdalen College instead.
I’ve always wondered what it would be like if I had taken up my parents’ offer to go overseas to study, just like my siblings have. Of course, its far too late now but I’ve always felt a little wistful about it. Sure, the grass is always greener on the other side, but wouldn’t it have been just wonderful in the spring and summertime as a student at Oxbridge, to lie on the grass with the sun in your face, taking a nap or reading a book or having a picnic with your schoolmates on the green – just because you felt like it?
Well I made a choice and that’s not something I got to enjoy, but hey, I had that experience for a day and already feel very blessed for that!
And I’ve also spent about six weeks in London as a student, so I did get to have my cake and eat it, literally, in the end! There was one afternoon when it was just me wandering around London, much like I did five years ago as a summer school student at the LSE. I found myself at a familiar haunt – the Pret along St Martin’s, at the window seat having my cake and tea, people watching and just day dreaming in my head about the lives of all those passing by.
It was oddly difficult, at first, to be zen enough to people watch. I kept feeling like I had things to do, things to achieve, time to spend wisely. I realized I had forgotten what it was like just to sit and watch the world go by. There is a certain freedom and a certain confidence (whether ill-conceived or not) that there will always be enough time to stop and smell the roses. I knew I wouldn’t have many opportunities back in Singapore to do something like that, so instead of setting out things to do, I spent most of my afternoon just sitting there, slowly sipping my chai, enjoying my tart, buttery lemon poppyseed cake and just.. well, just being.
Back in Singapore, I like to spend my Me-Time doing pretty much the same thing – having tea and cake heh 🙂
My Mama, my sister and I are all strong proponents of the opinion that there is no better cure for any problem than a hot, strong milky cup of tea. If there is cake, even better. We’ve been known to while away entire days at the dining table, drinking tea, chatting and just enjoying a cake, cupcake or two. So I find myself reaching for the same remedy when I want to unwind.
As a SAHM, I’ve set aside Thursdays as my Me-Time Day before the hectic weekend starts. I decided to fix a day because I knew if I left it flexible I would end up just pushing my Me-Time right to the bottom of my priorities and wouldn’t get to it at all. And I’ve realized how important it is to me to preserve my sense of self and sanity right now.
From the time I wake up until the time I sleep most days, my only thoughts are focused on Sophie’s needs – if she is hungry, if she is clean, if she is learning right, if she is cranky, if she has slept enough, if she’s having fun. I have discovered at the end of the day sometimes that I’ve barely eaten any food or drank any water and that I am both physically and mentally exhausted and have gotten chided by friends and my husband for not taking care of myself.
So.. I guess institutionalizing a fixed Mama’s Me-Time day is a first step in the right direction!
And I love it extra because its the only time I get to pursue my rather “granny” hobby of collecting tea-time paraphernalia and china.
I’ve always been a little shy about it, but here are some pieces from my very cherished collection which I have collected from vintage markets, high-class departmental stores, bric-a-brac hole in the wall shops, etc all over the world 🙂
My Me-Time on Thursdays are spent going for an hour-long Tui Na session to release all the kinks in my perpetually tensed up back (it is always painful, but the relief after is amazing). I’ve told my therapist that I may end up dead from a brick-hard back if she ever decides to retire. Because of her, I have a good night’s sleep every Thursday!
After that, I either bake or buy myself some baked goods (the calories have to be worth it!). I brew my favourite Earl Grey or Jardin Bleu Tea, select the pot and cups I want to use, and them slowly savour my treat. It’s practically a ritual 🙂
So far, I’ve baked twice and enjoyed both my bakes tremendously although they aren’t perfect and need a lot of improvement. I try to go for really simple recipes because I don’t want to spend too much of my Me-Time slaving over the stove and oven.
Here’s the 3-ingredient Japanese Cotton Cheesecake Souffle, paired with Sencha Peppermint.
And wholegrain buttermilk blueberry muffins, which are sweetened only with honey and could be enjoyed by Sophie-doll for breakfast too!
Of course there are some days when you just need something sinfully rich, beyond decadent, and of course containing copious amounts of CHOCOLATE just to get through the week. Days like that, I rely on my good ole’ Chalk Farm for their luscious Banana Muscovado Loaf with Peanut Butter Frosting or their 24-carat Chocolate Brownie (wink) Mmmm.
So there you have it, that’s how I spend my Me-Time doing my two favourite things in the world – travelling and having tea with cake 🙂 And I find that fixing a date or time for Mama’s Me Time every week works best for us in this hectic household, just like how we pencil in all Sophie’s classes, playdates, check ups, etc 🙂
How do you spend your Mama Me-Time! Comment and share with me, I’d love to know!
Next up on the Blog Train, is the creator of the Train herself:
Last but not least on the blog train, is Danessa Foo from PrayerFull Mum. Danessa is enjoying the new season in her life as a Stay-at-Home Mum in Singapore after being overseas for 2 years. This mama loves reading and playing sports. Read on to find out how Danessa finds pockets of “me-time” now that her girl attends preschool.