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There are countless articles on the Internet about what not to say to new parents, but what if someone you know has had a baby and you’re unsure what to say when you pay them a visit? Bringing a new life into the world is an emotional time for any couple. It also comes with feelings of joy, pride, nervousness and sleep deprivation. Here how you can be more supportive when visiting a new parent in your life:

1. “You look great!”

The new mum is no doubt feeling a bit shell-shocked and overwhelmed after giving birth, so tell her how well she did and how great she’s looking.  You could say something like, “I can’t believe you’ve just had a baby, you look great!” to make her day.

2. “Do you need anything from the shop?”

Venturing out of the house and running errands with a newborn baby can be difficult, so ask the new mum if you could pick up a few things for her or better still, ask for her shopping list.

3. “Can I bring you something to eat?”

Like most new parents, figuring out what to put on the dinner table may be a chore, especially when you’re trying to settle in with a baby. Offering to drop off a meal is a practical way to help new parents transition into their new roles.

4. “You’re doing a great job!”

A new mum or dad might feel a bit nervous about their new role and responsibilities; parenting is a steep learning curve after all. Encouraging words will help them feel good about the job they are doing so keep it coming!

5. “Yes.”

Do what you can to help a new mum out and make things flow more smoothly for her. Nothing means more than a helping hand who would be glad to – for example – hold the baby while the new mum showers or takes a quick nap, or take out the trash, or … well, you get the idea!

Image Credit: Envisioning the American Dream

I’ve never cooked confinement dishes before and as my eldest daughter, January, approached her due date, I agonised over what to cook during her confinement period. I found myself searching for confinement food recipe online, hunting for recipe books at bookstores, consulting some friends and even recalling my own confinement experience. There was so much to consider and I worried over giving January the wrong food.

Once January and her twin babies came home, we found a routine and didn’t have time to worry. As both of us coped with our new roles – January as a new mum and I as a first-time grandparent – we had to learn things quickly. I made her fried rice because that was my favourite dish during my own confinement and it was easy to make. Preparing January’s confinement meals gave me new skills in the kitchen: how to steam fish and double-boiling soup. I also stocked up on a lot of sesame oil and old ginger (tip: the best ginger comes from Bentong, Pahang).

There’s no need to slave over the kitchen stove, really. Complicated confinement food recipe and those that use too many ingredients confuse me. I essentially made dishes that are easy to prepare. In retrospect, preparing my daughter’s confinement meals weren’t as difficult or as daunting as I thought it would be.

Here are three recipes that worked really well for me, and I hope they’ll work well for you too.

 

Menu - Rice

 

Method:

  1. Heat up sesame oil and sauté ginger until fragrant. Add beaten eggs into oil.
  2. When eggs are almost set, add the rice and stir until well heated through.
  3. Add the light soya sauce and stir until well combined. Add spring onion and coriander leaves to garnish the dish.

Note: You can also add minced meat of your choice. Cook before adding the beaten eggs.

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Screen shot 2013-10-14 at 10.06.25 AM

Method:

  1. Fill up a pot with enough water before adding sesame oil, old ginger slices and a dash of black pepper.
  2. When water begins to boil, add the prepared vegetables. Scoop out after three to four minutes.
  3. Serve hot.

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Menu - Steamed Fish

Method:

  1. Heat water in steamer. Once water starts to boil, put fire on medium.
  2. Pat fish dry, inside out. Stuff fish stomach with white end of the spring onion and some of the ginger strips.
  3. Pour the sesame oil and light soya sauce all over the fish.
  4. Place fish in the steamer and steam for 12 to 15 minutes on medium fire.
  5. Remove from steamer and garnish with spring onion and coriander leaves.

Note: You can also use ikan kurau (threadfin) steaks.

What’s your favourite confinement food? Let us know in the comments section below.

Cecilia Low is a mother of three; and more recently, a grandmother of twins. Her heart lies with her family, between Phuket and Kuala Lumpur.

Image credit: Flickr user Martin Cathrae

[This article was originally published October 14th, 2013]

Housewife

For nearly a decade, I lived the corporate life. I was always a go-getter at work and my idea of being a housewife was to be a tai-tai (lady of leisure), which is VERY DIFFERENT from being a stay-at-home mum. Thus, when I finally decided to become a stay-at-home mum, many of my disbelieving colleagues asked me, “No, really, what are you actually planning to do?”

It did seem comical at first, seeing their stunned looks when I replied, “You know, housewife? Stay at home? Look after baby?”, but 4 months down the road, it didn’t seem so comical anymore. I struggled, and still do, with the lack of mental stimulation and a loss of social interaction. In return, I get to witness all of Baby Dozer’s firsts (first sentence, new first words, first time demonstrating funny actions) and have the privilege of being his primary caregiver.

Nevertheless, say what you may, being a stay-at-home mum is not at all easy. Today’s post is not meant to heap praise upon myself because I’m still far from being any of the points below. You can call me a novice housewife, who’s still learning. Instead, today’s post is meant as an honest and sincere tribute to the housewives, who selflessly dedicate their lives to their family, above and beyond what I do.

Reason for Respect #1: Being able to handle monotony

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Being a housewife requires the patience and grit to complete the same tasks, day after day, with hardly any variation. It’s like being a worker on the production line, and even companies these days are recognising the need for job rotation in order to increase staff retention.

It takes a lot of effort to stay chirpy, knowing that your day is going to be pretty much like yesterday, or the day before, or the week before. I recently figured out that to overcome the monotony, it’s important to reward oneself at the end of the day – or even at midday, if the monotony gets too tedious, which leads me to the next point.

Reason for Respect #2: Staying self-motivated

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Nobody’s going to do it for you – motivate you, I mean. At work, we have our colleagues to cheer us up when we’re down. We have our bosses to crack the whip. We have the month-end salary to cheer us up and go shopping. We have the possibility of that year-end promotion as a carrot dangling over our heads.

At home, the housewife has no colleagues, no salary, no promotion. The only thing she has is bosses – the husband, the kid(s), the dog, and oh, how easy it is to be a disgruntled “employee” when you feel like you’re being taken for granted.

Fact #1: You have two ways about it. You can either be a grumpy housewife, or a self-motivated housewife.

Fact #2: Most people wouldn’t enjoy coming back to a grouchy household.

Fact #3: It is actually in the housewife’s own interest to stay motivated and happy.

I mentioned before how my dad actually takes on most of the household duties after his retirement, but if you met him, you’d never imagine that because he’s always so cheerful and inspiring.

Reason for Respect #3: Mind over matter

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I just realised – with some shock – that I haven’t “gone on medical leave” ever since I became a stay-at-home mum in January 2015. That’s 4.5 months of good health, or…is it really good health? 😉

Looking back, I remember days where I felt under the weather. I could do with some rest in bed to counter that pounding headache, or that dizzy spell, or those feverish chills, but if I were down and out, who would tend to Baby Dozer?

It’s amazing what the body can do when the mind wills it so, but I’ll be honest about it – not having to get stuck in an hour long traffic jam to get to work helps tremendously in improving physical health.

Reason for Respect #4: Multi-tasking skills

SAHM

It’s generally accepted that women are better than men at multi-tasking. I think it would be possible that among women, housewives are the ones who have honed the art of multi-tasking, by virtue of needing to practise it on an almost daily basis.

While trying to pacify an irritable toddler, getting a meal out in time for dinner and planning the grocery shopping – all at the same time – may not exactly be affairs of the state, the stress and pressure from needing to complete these tasks accurately and in a timely manner should not be underestimated.

  • Unable to pacify toddler = flustered mother
  • Flustered mother =  delayed grocery shopping planning
  • Delayed grocery shopping planning = late meal
  • Late meal = hungry family
  • Hungry family = botched family routine

Just as each partner has their role and responsibility, the household’s well-being is the responsibility of the housewife.

Reason for Respect #5: Playing second fiddle 

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I wonder if you’ve noticed but sometimes, certain songs or music pieces sound really beautiful and it’s because of the accompanying tune or second melody, which you don’t really notice. But put that accompanying tune together with the main melody and you get a really brilliant composition. Occasionally, the second melody gets to be the solo for a brief minute or two, but eventually, blends into the background to support the main melody.

The housewife really, is the second fiddle in the household. She needs to play her melody to keep the household in harmony; needs to stand up and be at the forefront when required and learn when to fall into the background again.

I am an absolute novice at being second fiddle but I truly admire those who are able to do so really well, and I have met many such admirable women. To be the second fiddle requires grace and maturity.

 

By Grace Ch’ng

Grace Ch’ng is a management consultant turned homemaker. She is also the founder of Gracious Little Things – a blog aimed at helping fellow parents and the owner of Little Baby Grains – a provider of grains suitable for babies from 6 months onwards.

First published on 21 May 2015.

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