Covid-19 has brought so many changes to our lives. But what about when it coincides with one of the biggest life changes of all – having a baby? Mum-of-one and radio DJ, Jill Lim, gives us her take on raising a baby during the new normal in Singapore.
When I was asked to write about the ‘new normal’ in Singapore, I didn’t think it would apply to me. Lily is my firstborn and was born in the pandemic, and I know nothing different; this is my normal. So, my first thoughts? It might surprise you, but they were actually positive. If anything, I thought the pandemic provided us with a blessing in terms of the amount of time we got with our children. Certainly from a first-time, full-time working mum perspective. But then I started to think about it more: how has having a little one during the pandemic shaped my baby and me as a mum? Here’s my take on the topic…
BEING A NEW MUM IN THE NEW NORMAL IN SINGAPORE
1. Crowds are a new thing for my baby (and she’s not so sure about them)
I gave my daughter Lily the middle name Indie, as in ‘independent’. When meeting new people, she likes to observe them before deciding if she’ll play with them. She’s keen yet cautious. At six months, I first put her in the playground bucket swings. She went mental for it –shrieking and laughing uncontrollably! A couple of weeks later, we went back to the swings. This time it was a weekend, and the playground was more crowded with louder children. I could feel her little hands grip my shirt. She knew what to expect, yet her eyes welled up. I realised she had never really seen a crowd. I suppose all the sound and movement was just too much for her. Was this the effect of the pandemic?
2. But seeing other kids is so exciting!
When she was eight months, we decided to take her to the S.E.A Aquarium. She loved it. She followed fast-swimming fish and was mesmerised by the jellyfish. What captivated her the most, though? Other children. She’d start jumping in her carrier screaming ecstatically for their attention. I thought it was adorable. A friend of mine suggested a playdate with her daughter, who was a couple of months older than Lily. I jumped at the chance!
When Lily met the other little girl, she couldn’t contain herself and screamed in the child’s face and grabbed her shirt, refusing to let go. Almost as if to say, “I’ve found another like me, don’t leave!”. It was a reality I had to accept. Lily hadn’t really had much interaction with other kids due to the pandemic. And who knows how long these new playdates will last. As the saying goes, ‘you only need a handful of friends to depend on in life’. That’s reassuring, as at least for now, Lily might not have a choice in the matter during the new normal.
3. Will I be raising a germaphobe?
While I no longer religiously apply hand sanitiser, I do find myself washing my hands any chance I get! I was at a family member’s house, and there was a child with a runny nose present. Lily was ten months, and by some magic, had never been sick. I caught myself hovering over them while they played to keep track of the toys he touched. After they’d finished, I carried Lily over to the sink and washed her down. I did this four more times during the visit. I know it’s good practice to wash your hands before meals, but doing it mid-way through playtime? It’s the same when we dine out. It weighs on my mind – ‘We took a taxi, she was touching the interior, her dad let her press the button on the lift. She’s sitting in this high chair – who knows when it was last cleaned?’. I don’t want to put this fear on my child. Germs are good! They help build immunity; I am well aware of that. Still, the constant wiping of things and washing of hands is something I have yet to have under control.
4. One silver lining? Scheduling! I love it, and I hope it never goes away
Spontaneity is overrated! Especially when children are involved. I love the fact that we have to make a booking for everything ahead of time! Crowd control? Yes, please! Booking a slot for a show at the zoo and being assured a seat? Sign me up! Selecting a pool time slot? Why haven’t we always done this?! One of my many joys in life is having the power to know exactly what is going to happen. Look, I promise you I like excitement. I have thrown caution to the wind many times. However, being a new mum to a highly unpredictable child, I relish the fact that I get to pick the perfect time slot that works for me. If this is the new normal in Singapore, then I am all here for it!
My verdict on raising a baby in the new normal in Singapore
It’s not all doom and gloom. Yes, there will continue to be uncertainty and ongoing questions, such as, ‘will my child ever be able to socialise normally?’ or ‘will home-based learning be the new default in the future?’. There’s also the bigger questions on the longer-term impact of increased screen time and mask-wearing. I think of the first time Lily saw me – it was with my mask on. How crazy is that?!
Despite these uncertainties, though, there are lots of positives to remember and lessons learned from the new normal in Singapore. My biggest one? The new normal has taught me to be present. I hope this is something I continue to practice for the rest of my life. The pandemic gave us lockdowns, but it also gave us time. It gave us the chance to really focus on a small group of family and friends, and of course our kids. I dare say the pandemic gave us a lesson in what caring for each other really looks like. As a first-time mum, I’m definitely on board with that.
What’s your take on raising kids in the new normal in Singapore? DM us with your thoughts!