Tag Archive | "working mother"

Mothers’ Day. Every Day.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Mothers’ Day. Every Day.

Posted on 10 May 2015 by Kristrun

mothersMy Facebook page is today inundated with messages from everyone around me about Mothers’ Day.  As a result I am reminded of the fact that it is “Mothers’ Day”.  One more time, how annoying.  From the grumpy corner in which I sometimes sit, I cannot help but think, how many mother’s days are there per year? Or how many should there be?  I find this just as annoying as all the Valentine’s Days and whatever else they are called. There seems to be no end to all sorts of special days that actually we should be celebrating every day and not restricting to an annual and public display on social media but rather to actually focus on being nice to each other, wherever we are, with those around us.

Sorry, readers, I actually am nice to people most of the time, although these words do not sound like they come from a nice person.  I just get very annoyed sometimes in between.  A little bit like the character Dr. House, if you know him.  You can interpret it the way you like.

Nevertheless, it is, in fact, Mothers’ Day.

I just sent my own mother a rather difficult email about her flaws.  But that could have been any other day, life goes on you know.  Are we supposed to behave better on these special days?

No – we probably should all try and behave, live and think a little better every day. About ourselves, our mothers, our children, other people around us in general.  Because to be human is also to be nasty, selfish and unkind.  Greed, lust and whatever all the other sins are called…  And sometimes it can be an effort to think kindly of others, or to be grateful for what we have. Not you?  Great, but most of the rest of us could do with a little wake-up call every now and again.

There are people suffering everywhere around the world.  Of course the latest on everyone’s minds is the terrible disaster in Nepal. It makes it hard to celebrate – if you start to think about it too much – your own victories and successes and good life.  But as I said before, life does go on and we carry on the best way we can.  So we can brag about achievements and our own great children and I can tell everyone how I actually ran 5 km in less than 30 minutes (if that ever happens), without feeling too guilty about the mothers in Nepal.

So I am going to tell you about two mothers that I admire.  None of them has had a tough life as such.  But they both deserve admiration for their everyday efforts to make their children happy, to keep the ball rolling and being the ones that carry much weight of the routines and rhythms of their households.  And let’s not forget – and I think us mums all agree in this – that the routines of one’s household can be quite a task to manage.

When I was little, my mother had me, a total nightmare child that was all over the place from day one.  She was 20 years old and had moved from the capital of Iceland where all her family lived, to a very small town of 150 people in the rural north of Iceland, 650km away.  Three to four months of the year there was so much snow there, that the cars were snowed in and could not be moved, but most families did not even have a car so that did not matter anyway.  When we were out playing with our friends in the village, our parents would have a certain light turned on in the house to indicate to the other parents that we were playing at that place, because in those days there were no phones in most homes, so  it was not possible to call and check. The young families of Iceland in those days had little money and none extra, and made do with whatever they could, so my mother and grandmothers hand-made much of our clothes and fixed the ones that broke.  They baked the bread and the cakes at home and there were few days in my youth where there was not freshly baked and yummy food available for our teatime snack.  Because my mother had gone to “Good Housekeeping School” (for the lack of better translation), good housekeeping was definitely important and the standards were not dropped when my three siblings were born, two within a year, in December and January of the same year, and my youngest sister six years later.

My mother annoyed the hell out of me when she was running the household in her very organized way.  I was so pissed off as a child or teenager to have to participate in all the chores and cooking and babysitting, it must have been hard to chain me down to do all of this.  And I think the reason that I like Baby Led Weaning (another concept that pisses me off – why do we have to label everything, so that some greedy person gets royalties every time a child sticks a carrot in its mouth) is because I fed my siblings so often as a kid that I got the overfeeding-others-disease.

But she did a fantastic job in her mummying and housekeeping, my mother.  Despite me being rather un-upbringable, I did learn stuff, and I was well loved.  I learned to be sustainable and take care of myself and others at a young age.  I learned that things don’t get done unless someone (I) does them.  And that playing with your siblings is actually way more fun than playing with anyone else.  I learned to fix things, to bake and to cook, and a lot of other practical household skills that have, even in Hong Kong where everything seems to be done by a specialist, gotten me far.

I also was very much loved, despite me being annoyed by my mother. There was always time for us children, and our parents took extremely good care of us through our hobbies and school, without hovering over our heads all the time, but by supporting our uniqueness and our strengths by nurturing them further. Mostly I did not see all the little things that my mother did for the household, or for me, while I was busy playing in my worry-free world as a child.

While my mother had friends amongst the 30 or so other mothers her age in the village, there were few “me days” like we get nowadays.  There were certainly no mani–pedis and dream on about suggesting that she would go out for a little morning jog before everyone woke up. If not too exhausted by yesterday’s work, there was plenty to be done each day, other than “me” stuff.  And as it was not until I was quite old that my parents got a decent washing machine, the laundry piled up easily in a household of five and later six.  I think that my mother was happy though, and she got her me-times differently; through drop-ins between the mums in the village where they would give each other a cup of coffee and a taste of the latest bakings, gossiping about what had happened in the days before.

Funnily enough, these kind of drop-ins is something that I have often thought that the mums in Hong Kong could so do with.  Casual and non-prepared, just genuine friendship and a check to see that everyone is doing fine, while children play without the mums being in a structured paid playgroup environment.

I can only imagine that sitting down with a friend must have been great after chasing after me, taking care of my one and two year old siblings and managing all the household chores at once without help.  Just going to the shop that was open a few days a week, with snow up to your waist and having to pull and carry all three of us, to buy milk – took two hours.

You are wondering, where was my father?  Just like today, in those days, many fathers were working a full day and in the year 1976, it was more common for dads to have a social life after work than for mums to have it.  They would play Bridge, volleyball and go to a Kiwanis meeting (a mens’ club) in the evenings.  No offence to my father, he is also a great man and did lots of great things with us, but this was the atmosphere of that time.

There are so many things that I could say about my youth and my mother and I am certainly not writing this about our life to have you think that we were very poor and struggling.  This was just the life that the year 1973 in Iceland offered and everyone had to get on with it in the best way.

In 2015 in Hong Kong, we have other battles and joys, quite different ones, us mums here in Hong Kong.  A lot is shared and many feelings are the same, as when my own mother was raising us.   It may be worth it, while we moan about our helpers and complain that we cannot have a shower before lunch with our singleton child in our 100K a month flat, to think a little bit to the year 1973 in a small town in Iceland, and then perhaps moan a little less.

It may not work, again, all our troubles and emotional ups and downs may be very relevant to each one of us as we go through them – and despite all the real sufferers of this world – but it may well make our challenges a tiny bit smaller.

Happy Mothers’ Day my dear mothers in Hong Kong and around the world, I hope my own mother one day realizes how happy I am with her upbringing, love and support for all of the 42 years that I have managed to spring through.  And I so dearly hope that my own children will love me as much as I love her, despite all my flaws and grumpinesses, for another 42.

This blog entry has already gone on far longer than I planned, so I will tell you about the second mother in my next post.

From the very imperfect mum of 4,

Hulda Thorey.

Consultation with the midwives, available on Skype (face time or other platforms), over the phone or in the office. Click here to book. More information about our services on our website.

Comments Off

Screen time and Toddlers

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Screen time and Toddlers

Posted on 07 February 2014 by Kristrun

Most of us are guilty of using Peppa Pig or Thomas the Tank Engine as a pseudo baby sitter. Or these fantastic apps that can keep little ones occupied for indefinite periods. I’m putting up my hand, here – I use screens in my house to buy peace and quiet, some quality time for me and often just that one email or a cup of coffee. I do it despite knowing that when I remove the screen, they will cry, there will be a fight and they will beg for “just one more”. It’s amazing how addictive this screen is to these little creatures and how difficult it can be to balance screen-time and non-screen-time. The very fact that this term “screen-time” has so quickly become a part of our vocabulary is alarming in itself.

How much screen time is safe?

Research has suggested that if you introduce the screen too early, language development may be affected. Some even say that the child can be six times more likely to develop speech problems. Teachers and early childhood educators know that a child’s vocabulary can vary greatly from one child to another, and that can often be linked directly to screen time versus oral interaction with real human beings. People ultimately do not learn language from a TV. Expression, emotion, tone, pitch, and the myriad of subtleties linked with any language comes from human interaction. I recommend less than 1 hour total screen time per day per child from the age of 1-5. None, or as little as possible, for babies younger than 12 months of age.

Screen time and Sleep

We know that screen time close to bedtime will affect sleep. The lights from the screens – especially screens that are kept very close to little faces will have an impact on their sleeping patterns. Try to balance the routine around bedtime so that watching anything on screen is kept as far from the actual sleeping time as possible. Easy way to do it is to use the screens to quiet things down, then switch off, play quietly, have dinner, then bath, read a book and go to sleep.

Screens and meals

As tempting as it may be, we all know it is not a good habit to allow children to be in front of the screen when having a meal. It can affect the amount of food they consume and their overall eating habits. They may eat like robots and completely out of balance with their appetite. Children want to copy everything adults do – including eating. If you have fussy eaters or children not interested in meal times, the best advice is to eat with your children or have your helper eat with them, if it is impossible for you to do so. This will help in making them interested and engaged during feeding times. Eating should be a social time, and it is never too early to instill this association.

Stick with what works

Some will argue that there are many educational apps and TV programs that can be very good for children. That may be right – there are certain programs that are very well designed and can stimulate and teach children all manner of things. But children learn far more from interaction with you, or others around them. Focus on labelling your surroundings – talk about size, shapes, colours, emotions, distances etc. Also focusing on stimulating their senses by allowing them to touch and feel their environment, and make an effort to have them exposed to soil, sand, grass, stones, pebbles – as many different environments as you can. This varying stimulus is so important to a baby’s development. Good old fashioned books, nursery rhymes and songs, always work. One of the biggest problems society will face in the future will be children who have severe problems socializing and they will be hiding behind their computer screens, unable to cope with the world around them in all its unpredictable, messy, disordered, wonderful glory. By focusing on communication, verbal interaction and stimulation, we will help build a foundation for life.

Bear all of this in mind whilst being realistic. Sometimes the screen is a lifesaver for everyone. When travelling with my children in the double buggy- the small screens makes us capable of doing these long haul flights with layovers. And when they are sick – it completely saves everything to have Peppa Pig with us to shorten the day. But let’s make it an exception, rather than a rule. A treat, rather than the norm. A conversation with Mummy or Daddy beats Peppa Pig, hands down, every time.

Kristrun Lind – Mother of two toddlers

B.Ed, M.Ed. (Iceland, HK), C.E.C.E. (HK)

kristrun@annerley.com.hk

Comments Off

bekkabrjostagjof

Tags: , , , , ,

You can do anything you believe in – Til hamingju með daginn!

Posted on 09 November 2012 by hulda

I get inspired by a lot of people. They make me want to continue my work, my life and just simply make it possible for me to see that you really just have to see things from a certain angle, take a certain view and you can do anything you want.
One year ago, I was doing my acupuncture training in Iceland with one of these people, when another one who has been my inspiration for many years, decided to go into labour – in Hong Kong.
Which meant, SKYPE had to be the way of communicating. Hardly the way that a good midwifery care is provided to a first time mother, who is single and having her baby in a government hospital in Hong Kong, far away from family.
But such is life and she successfully squeezed out the beautiful little girl and went onto feeding and taking care of her, then hiring a helper, working and the story continues like for any other new mum.
My absence at the birth, endlessly noted somewhere in my suppressed back of the head, will never be fixed, and surely I will have to try to make up later.
Today I wanted to congratulate this truly amazing woman though. She is by far one of the most powerful figures in my life for many reasons and she is an example and inspiration that many would love to have met earlier in their lives.
“I cannot breastfeed as I must return to work”. Well, this lady, she just arranged so that her helper brings the baby to work once per day. She feeds before going to work, then at lunctime, then pumps once and then feeds once she is home and as often in the evening as needed. Twice each week, the helper comes to us at Annerley, stays with the baby through baby groups and the mum comes and feeds the baby there during her lunchbreak. If she has a hard time pumping at work, she pops into here, borrows one of our pumps and rooms, and squeezes it in between meetings. It only takes 10 minutes and we are in central.
The baby is 1 years old today. One of the most beautiful and healthy little girls you ever see. The mum is a very successful single mother who just makes things work. She travels too. But each time she meets the baby´s eyes in her lunchbreak or comes home to a baby that she alone can feed in such an intimate way, especially after occasionally thinking that perhaps now the baby loves the helper more, afterall she is working such long hours, she knows that she is doing the right thing. The hands grippling onto her skin, scratching her lightly, the look from the baby, the whole lot.
And sometimes, she goes and plays rugby, runs marathons, or meets friends, has wine, skips lunch. She is not “bound” by the baby. She can do everything she wants. But she has set it up in such a way that it suits her and it suits the baby, it does not affect her work and is the best solution for everyone.
And she never moans about it, she is just happy.

As I said, one of the greatest inspiration in my life so far, never fails to impress, I would like to say congratulations and happy birthday to my sister Rebekka, a big thank you to Haymarket and Jon who is of course the best boss in the world and to the rest of you who read this, just remind you, if you want to, you can do anything. Til hamingju með afmælið elsku Bríet.

Comments Off

Pregnant

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

A Breastfeeding at Work: Tips for Working Moms

Posted on 20 April 2012 by hulda

Jennifer Williams returned to her job at a leading financial company after the birth of Gemma and, through thick and thin, has managed to make it to six months breastfeeding at work.

How much maternity leave did you take?

In the end I took 14 weeks maternity leave which I know is good for Hong Kong, but it didn’t seem good for me. It was all too soon and as  Gemma is my first child I wasn’t the most organised in my first weeks  back at work; I missed the network of friends and family who might have forwarned me of how tricky it all would be.

How did you deal with trying to express at work?

I work at an international bank and we are lucky enough to have what they call a nursing room. I imagined a comfortable room with sofas and sterilizers, but in fact is a little cubicle which you reach by walking past a whole row of people.  And it wasn’t that private – One day a workman walked in and got the shock of his life.

But it was very hard, and exhausting. I would do an hour’s work and then go to do some expressing which, with my original single pump, could take as long as an hour. After a while I invested in a double “hands-free” pump which made things so much better, and meant that I could write notes and work while I was expressing. My single biggest tip would be to invest in a double pump at the outset.

Were there any disasters?

Yes – and this is an indication of the level of preparation needed. I was rushing home late one night and left the milk that had been expressed that day in the taxi, and then learned that I was running low with my stock at home.  I was devastated as it meant I had to stay home the next day, and also start Gemma on formula.

Did you make use of the Annerley Working Mother’s Group?

I go when I can; it makes the day so much better.  The group follows on from the Helper & Baby Group so it means that I can slip out and feed Gemma myself. It gives me a much-needed break from expressing it was good to be able to talk to other working mother’s to see how they were coping.

And now?

I did get into the rhythm, and now at six months I am slowly winding down to one breastfeeding session a day. Although “Breast is Best”, I have to say to other mothers that you cannot be hard on yourself. You are doing your best in extremely challenging circumstances.

Comments (0)

013

Tags: , , , ,

Letters from Thailand – my late maternity leave

Posted on 20 March 2012 by hulda

I have always taken on too much.  Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.  My kids suffer, my family suffers, my clients suffer and of course I suffer.  But most of the time all is good and the enthusiasm, the ideas and the usual energy have always been by best friends. 

In the last three years, my life has been rather more hectic than usual though, so much so that the two additional run-arounds-in-the-house (Saga and Vaka)  are almost self raised and Annerley that has been going through it’s growth spurts as well is bursting on it’s seams.  Luckily, there is help everywhere and I am fortunate that my family is big, very loving and helpful and everyone just makes things right.  And with the excellent staff at Annerley things are smooth there too. 

Now, i am writing this as I sit here on a beach in a little cottage in Koh Samui, where I “escaped” to two days ago.  Escaped, as there is so much to do and so little time!  And one of the things I realized that i had not done was to have my maternity leave with little Vaka, who was born almost a year ago.  For all of you mums and mums-to-be out there, i certainly do not recommend this and for sure I did not intend it this way, there were a combination of factors that brought this on, but again, lucky me, I did manage to slow it down for a while and till now always bring Vaka with me to work.  Now that I am here in Thailand, i have a little time for just the two of us to relax and enjoy a quiet time.  And it is absolutely gorgeous here! 

And what happens?  The usual mummy thing.  Guilt.  As soon as the feet step down on the ground from the plane, the massive guilt that the other kids are not here and that i have left them at home.  This is so typical, and although I knew I never would be able to do this type of a relaxed trip where there is just yoga, healthy food, beach, wind, sun, baby, breastfeeding and me – with all the family around, I still feel that I should have.  All mums that I know are the same.  They just cannot enjoy the downtime by themselves, they always start to think about the kids. 

As all working mothers that either choose or need to work, of course I am no different.  Comments from others like “I would never want to leave my kids with a helper, what is the point of having them then” are totally understood by me, I know why people say it and share some of the feeling about it.  But still, at the end of the day, I am a working mum and will continue to be one, so I have long time ago learned to accept that whatever time i DO have with my kids, I must make the most of.  And be happy. 

Hence this trip.  And it is making me VERY happy!

Comments (0)