As followers of popular Facebook support groups here in Singapore, one brave post on Storks Nest Singapore not only recently caught our eye, but seemed to resonate hugely with working mums, stay-at-home mums, new mums and old mums alike. The – not anonymous – post shared the feelings of a mum struggling to enjoy being a parent, and in this world of seemingly constant real life and social media one-upmanship and mummy shaming, we found the admittance of struggle refreshing and relatable. Even more heartwarming was the outpouring of understanding and compassion that the post received. Mothers of Singapore: we salute you ALL.
We’ve all battled feelings of failure and pressure when it comes to this parenting lark, and we’re also well aware that we don’t do enough stuff just for us. But we’re not going to tell you “Just make sure you take some time every day to concentrate on yourself”, because (a) we totally get that it isn’t always possible; and (b) it kind of makes us want to slap the person who says this (usually while we’re weeping into a paint-covered tissue, late for the school run and with no clue what to make for dinner). Instead, we are going to give you a whopping great list of 52 ways you can bring some peace of mind to your life on a daily/weekly/monthly basis (we’re hoping you’ll nail one a week if you can, but no pressure – no one needs more of that). Here are the things the HoneyKids and Honeycombers’ mums have tried (or keep meaning to try) in order to add a little sanity to our lives. Storks Nest Honest Mummy: this one’s dedicated to you…
1. Yoga: either whack on a YouTube vid, make up your moves as you go along or join a class, but however you do it try bending and stretching those tight muscles (aka kids) away for a while.
2. Go have coffee. On your own. In a grown-up kinda cafe where babyccinos aren’t a thing.
3. Palm the kids/husbands off on each other (or a babysitter, helper, or other mum who gets it) and go to the cinema to see a film with zero animation. Take a jumper. Eat M&Ms.
4. Have a nap. You’ve been sleep deprived for years. You deserve it.
5. Download the Headspace app and start with 10 minutes of mindfulness every morning. Try and grab 10 minutes to yourself, even if it means setting the alarm a tad earlier (please don’t hit us).
6. Let yourself just be silly with your kids, with no expectations of trying to entertain them, or educate them, or for them to ‘behave’. Let go of your expectations of yourself – and of your kids – and just enjoy each other’s company with no agenda and no rules. You might rediscover a stress-free side of parenting you really love.
7. Start a book. A real-life book. And let yourself wind down with 30 minutes of reading for pleasure. Better still join a book club to force you to read books! And if you can’t find a club, create your own.
8. Lock yourself up in your bedroom (add aircon for extra decadence), put your earphones in and get stuck into a podcast, great playlist or audio book. Close your eyes and remember tomorrow is a new day…
9. Take a long bath. Breathe deeply and think positive thoughts (like they will be grown up and you will be empty nesters sooner than you know it…).
10. Make sure you take a little bit of total alone time each week. Get your partner on board and demand your own time out (locks on doors make this easier). Remember the safety on board flight messages about putting your own oxygen mask on first? Well, parenting is exactly the same – put yourself first, even if it’s just for a tiny portion of your day. If you’re not happy and healthy, it’s extra tough to look out for your family’s health and happiness.
11. Keep a journal. Write randomly and at whim whenever you get a moment. Vent.
12. Go for a run (or do something else to get your heart pumping and sweaty) – exercise releases healthy endorphins and helps you feel strong. It also helps your bottom fit into new jeans (see below).
13. Go shopping! Not for diapers or dummies or school supplies, for you! Splurge on those jeans you’ve wanted for ages and refuse to feel guilty about it (despite knowing that the kids are bound to expel a body fluid onto them the first time you wear them).
14. Pat a pet. Singapore has an abundance of pet cafes for some furry therapy ops.
15. Gather mum friends (Singapore is pretty easy when it comes to making new mates) and vent! Let the kids entertain themselves (within sight!) while you let it all out. Friends who commiserate are worth keeping.
16. Treat yourself to something decadent. It doesn’t have to bust a hole in your wallet: a big fat ice cream sundae, a pile of truffle fries or a glorious G&T all tick the box.
18. Just because you feel old and knackered doesn’t mean you have to look old and knackered. If you can’t wheedle a facial into your schedule, retreat to the bathroom and slap on a shop-bought face mask. If the kids pound on the door, open it and watch them run screaming away from your masked look…
19. Eat chocolate. Enough said.
20. Online shopping. Also enough said.
21. Reflexology is hugely popular here in Singapore, and for good reason. Sessions start at just 20 mins a go, so take your tired feet to your nearest reflexology centre and have those woes rubbed away.
22. Watch old videos of your kids giggling. Those happy memories are sure to put a smile on your face.
23. Text your mum to thank her for everything she’s ever done for you. Better still, give her a call (you might need to clear the diary entirely for this one: we all know that mums like a chat).
24. Sneak in an express pedicure between school runs and CCAs – or go for the full monty classic pick if you can squeeze the extra time. Pretty feet are an instant uplifter.
25. Take the dog for a walk. And if you don’t have a dog, borrow one (or foster one: there are tons of fur-kids looking for a new home in Singapore!). Dogs are WAY more appreciative than our kids…
26. Clear out your closet! Not only is it pretty cathartic, but you might just find a hidden gem lurking in the back of the wardrobe. There are plenty of places to donate your old threads, or try a clothes swap party!
27. Turn off your phone and treat yourself to a Netflix binge session. The trashier the better.
28. Buy a grown-up colouring book (they’re totally a thing) and break out the pencils. Colouring is not just for kids! Playdough is also therapeutic.
29. Throw off your mood by throwing some shapes: whack on the music and dance, dance, dance. The kids will probably love this too, so it doubles as quality time together.
30. Go to an exhibition, museum or art gallery without the kids. You’ll get to take in the whole thing without having to pause for toilet breaks, snacks, explanations and cries of boredom.
31. Fall down an internet rabbit hole! Browse your way through nonsensical online frivolity and hilarious but pointless vids and memes. Slingshot videos are a must.
32. Take yourself on a retreat. We know that scheduling this could be a bit tricky, but at least explore the possibility…
33. Scream! There’s nothing like a bit of primal therapy to release all those frustrations. Scream into a pillow if you don’t want to wake the baby you just spent four hours rocking to sleep.
34. Yes, we know we spend most of our lives caring for others, but we still think there is a ton of value, perspective, and peace of mind to be found in volunteering your time to a charity or organisation.
35. We don’t know about you, but we certainly spend a lot of our time racing between our kiddos’ after school activities, CCAs and workshops. Did you know that adult workshops are TOTALLY a thing? We’ve recently tried out a sewing course and a jewellery course: kid-free fun for sure!
36. With mostly year-round decent weather, whack on your trainers and go for a walk. There’s plenty of pretty parks and gardens to pick from, and if you don’t have time to stray too far then just stroll around your ‘hood. Night time is best if you fancy a bit of people watching as you pass the houses you’ve always wished you lived in. It’s only creepy if you stop and stare.
37. If you don’t have your own garden to potter in there are some great community gardening projects happening all over Singapore. Flex those green fingers, meet some new friends and grow something that doesn’t whine when you don’t cook its pasta right.
38. Flowers always cheer the soul, and if you haven’t managed to grow your own, go on an expedition to your local wet market to grab some. We’ve given up waiting for the husbands to cheer our day with a surprise bunch of blooms, and actually picking our own is a lot of colourful fun. The wet market aunties and uncles are guaranteed to put a smile on your face too: they do love a cheery chat.
39. Find a friend with a pool if you don’t have your own, or check out a public pool where you can front crawl and back stroke the tensions of the day away. Bonus if there are comfy poolside chairs to lounge in once you’re done: soak up the vit D! Check out our guide to gorgeous swimmers to really make a splash.
40. Gather up the girls and hit the town in your highest heels and brightest lippy: bubbles, dancing and gossip are critical to a woman’s long term good health.
41. Singapore may be small in size, but there are so many pockets of this fair island that we’ve yet to really discover. Look at a map and make a list of the places you’ve never been to – from Seletar to Serangoon, Tampines to Toa Payoh, each ‘hood has its own cool vibes waiting for discovery. We say get on a bus and just hop on and off when somewhere takes your fancy.
42. Itching to catch the latest musical, but hubby is likely to huff and puff his way through every lyric? Leave said hubby at home with the kids and go catch a show or concert by yourself. Most of the theatres serve bubbles…
43. And while you’re at it, after the show is over, book yourself a cheeky little staycation. Singapore is full of great hotels for all budgets and you won’t have to worry a jot whether its got kids’ facilities. Hurrah!
44. Write your memoir. Or come up with a story. Apparently, we all have a novel inside us waiting to bust out. This is clearly a longer-term project, but you can dip in and out of it whenever creativity strikes. We’ve also got a handy article on getting published here in Singapore for when your opus magnum is complete.
45. Paint rocks. No really. It’s utterly and completely soothing – glitter paint really ramps up the fun too. Kids joining in for this one is totally optional (but be warned they will try and steal all the best pebbles and waste the googly eyes).
46. Drink champagne. As with naps and chocolate and online shopping: you’ve earned it.
47. Schedule a regular date night with your partner. Agree not to talk about the kids. Awkward silences can be filled with a good bottle of wine.
48. Whether your bestie lives next door or across the globe, set up a video call to put the world to rights. She (or he) totally gets it.
49. No matter whether it’s an all-singing, all-dancing kinda spa, or a little urban retreat close to home, it should be mandatory for all women to have a spa treatment as often as possible.
50. Book a family holiday – lock yourself away so you can spend time researching your options (kids’ clubs a must) and pick somewhere without any interference from the rest of the gang. You decide.
51. Whether you’re religious or not, there are a ton of beautiful temples, mosques and churches to check out around Singapore. Culture, peace, art and history all in one hit: if that doesn’t make for a calm hour or two then we don’t know what does!
52. Ask for help! Whether it’s from a partner, friend, online group or a counsellor, sharing problems and feelings – or even just asking someone to share the load for an hour or two – definitely makes them weigh less. You’ve got this!
Like this story? Here’s more we think you’ll enjoy:
Juggling motherhood and a career: can women really have it all?
Back to work after maternity leave: 6 tips to stay sane
Help for when you don’t have a helper: babysitters and cleaners to put on speed dial
Six apps you should download right now
14 ways to be a kid for the day