Review of Smiggle school bag

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If you ever have to buy a school bag for your toddler, don’t get a Smiggle bag.

When we were hunting for a trolley bag for Liam, we had very few choices for someone his size. When he transferred from infant care to play group class (18 months and above), we wanted him to be independent and carry his own bag to school, or at least pull it along behind him. It had to be fairly sizeable because his bag had to hold 2 changes of clothes, towel, bedsheet, swaddle cloth or blanket, sweater, 4 pieces of diapers, but not too big that it would fall on him.

So we bought a Smiggle. Except for the occasional incident where it falls on its face and I had to pick it up for him, it was treated fairly well. In fact I spent most part carrying it for him because the novelty of a new bag soon wore off, and he was going through a rough 4 weeks adapting to his new class and routine, I found myself carrying both child and bag sometimes. 2 months after we bought the bag, this is the state of it.

The whole in the front pocket was an inch wide 3 weeks ago. Now it’s twice the size.

This morning while packing his bag for school, his zip fell off.

I could probably ninja a new zip but really, for a bag this expensive ($40? $50?), it really shouldn’t be this crappy.

If anyone has suggestions for a trolley bag suitable for a 20 month old about 80cm in height, do let me know!

Baby first hair cut

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For most (Chinese) babies, their first hair cut occurs really early, sometimes almost a month or two after they are born. It is believed that if you were to cut off the fine baby hair early, it will encourage a thicker regrowth of hair. Liam was born with very little hair, something he probably inherited from his father. Not only is his hair sparse, he has a widow’s peak and a bald patch at the back, which his paediatrician said was normal of babies who slept on their backs.

So I let his hair grow and over time, his thin hair was long enough to cover his bald spot. But recently, his hair was starting to reach his eyes and tickle his ears. I thought it was a good time to get hair hair cut before he officially graduates from infant class in his preschool.

I was told that the first cut is important as you don’t want it to be a traumatic experience that leaves a life long memory. Or at least for as long as he’s a toddler. So we went to the newly opened K-cuts at Thomson Plaza as they had 2 seats with kiddy rides that would help distract the child for as long as necessary.

I also tried to prepare Liam by showing him what happens when he’s getting his hair cut by describing what was happening to the 2 boys before him. I then make the buzzing sound of a shaver as I was told this is usually what freaks children out.

Little did I know, the shaver was the least of my worries.

The hairdresser was a little apprehensive when I said it was Liam’s first cut but promised to do his best. Liam was excited to get into the car ride and immediately took to turning the wheel and pressing all the buttons. But that all changed when the hairdresser put the hair bib around him. Liam didn’t like having the plastic sheet cover him so he threw it off. Then he threw off the towel wrapped around his neck. We were left with no choice but to cut his hair without any cover.

The start was okay then he got fidgety, so I whipped out my phone and entertained Liam with Elmo’s World. That worked for a good 4 minutes until his fine hair started flying and landed all over his neck, arms and face. He freaked out at the hair tickling him and started bouncing up and down in his seat. To the hairdresser’s credit he persisted as best as he could. In the end I had to hold Liam’s head firmly while he cried at the injustice of it all. My poor baby!

In the end, he was howling to be carried so I lifted him from the seat and he clung to me firmly. I thanked the hairdresser and apologised profusely for the drama. Liam looked up and shot the hairdresser a cheeky smile. Drama’s over, it seems.

So a tip to all mothers who are going to send their boys for a hair cut, here are a few tips to look out for:

  • Some of them are afraid of the buzz the shaver makes
  • Some of them don’t like to be covered with the plastic cloth. Prepare a smaller handkerchief or face towel instead, to at least keep the hair off their neck.
  • Some of them hate having the hair land on their skin. Liam’s hair was so fine it kinda flew and landed in his mouth coz he was busy wailing. I think that was what did him in.
  • Bring an extra tshirt for moments like this.

Perhaps the next time we cut his hair, we need to suck his flyaway hair while it’s being cut, the way a surgeon asks for suction during an operation.

Mom life

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The minute I got home, a long list of things to do popped up in my head. 

  • Sweep kitchen floor of stray litter 
  • Unpack pump bag
  • Put breastmilk in fridge
  • Keep ice pack
  • Unpack cooler box
  • Pack frozen fish 
  • Pack vegetables in fridge 
  • Charge breast pump
  • Bathe and dress child
  • Play Elmo’s world for child while I poop 
  • Read the Gruffalo
  • Feed child milk
  • Sit with child for an hour until he falls asleep
  • Try not to fall asleep while sitting in darkness
  • Child asleep. Cut his nails. 
  • Put him gently in cot
  • Wash cat bowls
  • Wash child’s food container 
  • Clean cat litter tray
  • Throw trash out at rubbish chute
  • Go back to car to carry the rest of the bags up. That’s one duffel bag, 2 shopping bags and 3 grocery bags
  • Unpack grocery bags
  • Fold grocery bags
  • Wash and sterilize milk bottles and flanges
  • Unpack duffel bag, toss everything into laundry basket
  • Pack child’s school bag for Monday 
  • Pack child’s clothes for Tuesday to Friday
  • Pack child’s clothes for overnight stay at grandparents tomorrow 
  • Pack my work bag
  • Pack a new pack of breastmilk bags in pump bag
  • Open new milk bottle teats 
  • Prepare 2 bottles of milk for child’s school tomorrow 
  • Bathe
  • Take cough syrup 
  • Try to put eye drops in child’s eye while child is sleeping face down. Mentally curse PD and her stupid suggestion 
  • Climb into bed

By the time I was done, there’s was no time for myself. Time to sleep! Another day awaits!

  • Realise humidifier turned itself off coz there’s no water. Get out of bed to top up humidifier
  • Climb back into bed
  • Child wakes up crying. But of course. 

Small parenting victory: brushing teeth

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Today I had a minor victory. Liam has been resisting the toothbrush for awhile and it was starting to bother me. I kept imagining his teeth falling out due to his stubbornness and my unwillingness to start a battle in the bathroom over dental hygiene. 

I introduced the toothbrush to him at a fairly young age and initially he took to it well. He thought it was a toy and enjoyed swishing it around his mouth. A few weeks back, he started refusing the toothbrush. He would scream and wail whenever it’s “time to brush your teeth” so in the end I gave up. At first I thought he was teething so rubbing bristles in his mouth was hurting him. I also thought that maybe because we always did it at the end of bathtime, he hated to brush his teeth because that meant he had to get out of his bath, which sometimes became another battle if he felt like staying in his tub all day. 

Today I decided that I was the parent here in this relationship and I’m not about to let a 15 month old win this one. So when he rejected the toothbrush again, turning his head this way and that to avoid it, I decided to make it fun. 

I started to sing about brushing my teeth. 

You know the song, “this is the way we brush our hair, brush our hair, brush our hair”? I sang it but with “brush our teeth” instead. I sang with an upbeat tone and a lot of excitement, as if my very existence depended on it. Then I switched the words around. 

“Liam, you must brush your teeth, brush your teeth, brush your teeth.”

After singing a few variations of it, he stopped what he was doing (poking the bubbles in the tub), reached out and took the toothbrush from me. He then stuffed it in his mouth and started swishing it around. I continued singing manically while he brushed his teeth.  Even when bath time ended, and I carried him out of the tub to be towelled dry, he was still industriously brushing his teeth, not bothered that bath time had ended for him. 

Any day where bath time doesn’t end in tears, and with clean teeth, is a win for me!

How to handle children in a group on holiday

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This trip, we are discovering the perks of large family holidays. We are in Bali with my husband’s cousins and all their children. The other kids are all older and are having fun minding the younger ones, namely my son and one other. When given specific instructions, they watched my son while I had some time to myself, to eat, to drink and to play. 

Give them responsibility

One of the younger girls has attached herself to my son as she finds him adorable. She has taken it upon herself to be his minder and follows him wherever he goes. This is great because my child is at the age where he loves to walk and explore. Not so great as the villa we are in is rather large and extensive and we didn’t want him to wander off. Also it’s not infant friendly with 2 staircases that lead to the 2 pools, and some parts of the main living area have drop offs that can be dangerous to a wandering child. So this little babysitter practically hooks her hands around his arms and walks behind him as he totters along. I tell her not to go near the stairs or the edges and she takes her job very seriously. 

Team work

One morning during breakfast, one of the children, after watching me feed my child some porridge, asked if she could feed him too. So I passed her the spoon and told her to make sure each mouthful had some rice and a protein. One of the more experienced parents got the rest to chip in; while one was feeding him porridge, another had to pat my child’s back to encourage him to swallow. Another was told to monitor his mouth and if it were empty, to announce it so another mouthful could be fed. The fourth child had to document the entire thing on her iPad with photos and a report. While the fifth child… I forgot what it was he had to do. But for a blissful 15 minutes I could eat my breakfast in peace while the experienced parent sat next to me and enjoyed his coffee. He looked over and said, “this is how you keep all 6 of them quiet and busy.”

I was in awe. 

Giving them something to focus on

I was in a cab with my son, 2 chatty tweens and one of the fathers. The girls were talking a mile a minute while we were trapped in a typical Bali jam. I was trying to keep up with their conversation when the father, who was progressively getting a headache, turned around to the girls and suggested a game. The girls were excited, who wouldn’t want to play a game? He suggested they count the number of motorcyclists that were female. Immediately the chatter of “who likes who more” stopped as the 2 9-year-olds focused on every bike that went by. Even I joined in, “oh look she’s wearing lipstick!” “Oh that one has a flowery bag! Must be female!” 

Selling it

My child Liam took a huge crap and the smell was glorious. The kids were all making peeyeww sounds so I went to change his diaper. Thinking I could con one of them into doing it, I announced, “who wants to change his diaper!” And was met with a chorus of EEWWWWW!! One of the adults laughed and said I made a terrible salesman. He announced instead, “who wants to make Liam happy??” And Liam’s fan club raised their hands and happily chirped, “ME!!!!!!” So suddenly I had a group of 3 little girls following me to our room and entertaining him while I changed his diaper. They were such troopers despite the smell. Although one did overreact and pretended to retch into the decorative vases in the room. 

Children love to help

After changing his diaper, I needed them to watch Liam while I washed my hands so I told them to help put his sandals back on. So 2 of the little girls each took one sandal and put it on his feet. My husband popped his head in and was greeted with the miraculous sight of our little helpers. The other parents may be used to getting the children to help out here and there, but this was a first for me! 

I’m learning something new each day. The children are amazing with one another. The adults have been so supportive. They watched without judgement, they listened without comment. They have no qualms entertaining my child while I eat or take a break. I managed to play half a round of Scrabble while Liam was being entertained by interpretive Balinese dance by one of the uncles. 

I’m already looking forward to Bali 2018.