no shopping goal 2018: Q1 update

hello! hard to believe March has ended which means … time to do a quarterly update on my No Shopping Goal.

oh … i’ve been bad. and good. but mostly bad 🙈

wraps/carriers i bought

⁃ Carry Om Phoenix Fire: i’ve been admiring this purple to orange colourway for a long time. so when the weaver opened a draw for a right to buy this wrap, i entered my name. why? i don’t know. i didn’t think i would win but … i did. omg, panic. ha ha. the consolation is that i looove the wrap: the colours, the weave, and the wrap qualities. and i have been wanting to try her tencel so ok lah, happy jugak.

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staycay at The Residence in Bintan

we did a one night staycay earlier this month at Bintan’s The Residence to celebrate NG’s birthday. the hotel opened in Feb and is still a work in progress: there’s plenty of landscaping that’s not completed, and also the pathways have not been tarred. many activities were also not operating yet.

it was pretty empty when we checked in. most of our the neighbouring units were unoccupied, and we were pretty much the only guests for dinner that night at the “halal” restaurant. by that i mean the restaurant that also offers dishes with wine in it 🤦🏻‍♀️ ok takpe, moving on.

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Watermelon is one!

Watermelon turned one without much fanfare. I was excited in the days leading up to it, but the day came and went, and she was still the Watermelon that we knew.

Chey. With all the hype I’d allowed myself to build, I thought she would transform overnight but no leh, never.

A birthday party was never on the cards because I think they look more stressful than enjoyable for the parents, and my plan is to throw one on her 5th birthday instead. InsyaAllah. I had a 5th birthday party myself and to this day I still remember some details of that day and still think of it as one of my happier childhood memories, alhamdulillah.

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umrah with baby

alhamdulillah, we fulfilled our intention to perform umrah with NG’s parents and Watermelon earlier this month.

i was anxious about what the experience with Watermelon was going to be like, but now that it’s over, i realise i need not have worried so much. alhamdulillah with God’s grace she was easy on us. save for a handful of cranky episodes, she was generally cheerful and slept well. bringing her to the mosque for congregational prayers was not too difficult — though Baby Bites (biscuits) quickly became the standard bribe 🤣

she had plenty of fans (“mashallah mashallah!”) and received a lot of kisses and sweets from strangers. the kisses, i mentally prepared myself that they might happen. so i made plenty of doa that Allah swt protects her from illnesses 😬 the sweet treats, i sacrificed myself and ate them on her behalf. you’re very welcome, Watermelon! mmyum.

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keeping up with this changing life

hola! it’s been 3 months of being a working mum — oh wow, how time flies. it really does get easier with time, though the hard times were genuinely tough at that point in time.

some things have become so natural, like heading home straight. it’s not even a thought anymore about how sad it is that i can’t singgah shops at say, Bedok Mall on the way home. i’ve found a regular grab hitch driver that i engage maybe 1-3x a week. we chat a lot during the drive home, so it’s really nice.

pumping is also a tad better now. i generally have a better yield after a hearty meal although i don’t take chances and have some milk boosters at my desk. for now i’m relying on @mamalait’s brownies and Milo with oats, brown rice wheat and barley. i still have one pack of cookies from my earlier order from another baker but to be honest i’m dreading eating them because they’re bitter 🙊 i also have @bymommadee’s nursing aid and mother’s milk supplements, but i’ve not been actively using these two recently. heh.

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7 months is my favourite month

it’s kinda funny how my state of mind can change drastically over a few weeks. 3-4 weeks ago i was extremely unhappy with life, unmotivated at work, and wishing hard that things were different.

well, i still do. i wish some things are different, but now that i’m in a better mental space, i’m trying to reflect whether these wants are warranted and fair, or me being overly idealistic and/or greedy.

but yes, it feels so good to snap out of a dark phase.

anyhoos, updates. Watermelon is 7 months old and likes to kangkang (spread her legs wide open). good lord. one time we put her in the stroller and her legs immediately bent into an L shape, kind of like a cat. other times she could be waving her legs open, as though to show off her flexibility. well good on ya, girl.

we recently embarked on her solids journey, through baby led weaning (blw). we were off to a late start because until last week or so, Watermelon couldn’t sit well unassisted. now she does better, albeit in tripod position (i.e. hands in front on the floor). BLW requires for babies to be at least 6 months old and be able to sit unassisted. i was tempted to rush into it, but the name is called “baby led weaning” which means i’m supposed to follow her cues and not impose my standards on her. sounds logical on paper but gosh it can be really hard to practise in real life!

also, some babies are real natural at picking up food and feeding themselves.

unfortunately, Watermelon is not. hah.

there’s been some sessions where all the food ends up on the floor. she’s happy to suck on the food if i hold it for her, but that kinda defeats the purpose of getting her to self-feed. BLW groups say this calls for perseverance, so insyaAllah i will tryyy to keep offering food even if all she wants to do is push them around the table or within the plate … y’know, anything but lift them to her mouth 😒

backtrack to the agonising 2-3 weeks around her 6 months mark and slightly after:

i was more anxious that i like to admit about her progress in sitting up. previously she seemed to hit her milestones fairly early or on time, but somehow sitting up was one thing she didn’t seem to progress into. i was imagining that she would only be like 8 or 9 months before she started on solids, which my head says is fine but my heart cannot take the fact that she might be left behind by her peers… chey so young got peers already.

now that she’s passed it, i feel part relieved, part silly for having worried so much. but really at that moment, it mattered so, so much.

on top of this, mama kraken was giving me a LOT of pressure to feed solids to Watermelon. every time we met her, she would bring up the topic on solids: when we were going to start, puree is the way, how pitiful it is that her cucu (grandchild) had only been allowed to try timun (cucumber — sounds more pitiful in Malay, y’know?), if we fed her then she would be more full then maybe she wouldn’t cry so often … yadda yadda yadda. coupled with the unhappy phase i was going through, i intentionally avoided her for two weeks or so cos ugh, i really didn’t need the pressure.

alhamdulillah all is good now. although mama kraken still makes stabs at me, like ohhh so poor thing my grandchild sleeps while sucking on her finger, luckily her finger hasn’t worn out. grandmothers! lovely people but oh so dramatic 🙄

on a more positive note

i think 7 months is my favourite phase so far. as my friend pointed out, Watermelon is starting to look more like a baby and less like a wrinkly tiny unexpressive newborn.

she interacts more with her surroundings. smile and giggles more often. even i can make her laugh now, not just her father! likes to stick out her tongue for fun. can rotate on the mat and do a bit of commando crawling towards objects of interest, such as our handphones or cloth tags on toys/pillows/clothes.

best of all, i have found a rabid fan in her. haha. she starts panting and smiling widely when she sees me, which can be quite heart melting and flattering. some of the time, at least. regardless, lovelovelove! ❤

 

 

 

 

the first month of returning to work

soooo the new working mum life: hectic, hectic, hectic. and a little stressful. i recently found that i didn't have the time to even sit down in front of my PC and sort out my monthly finances, eeps.

some of the biggest changes:

making a beeline for home

when i worked my first full time job at Starhub's call centre back when i was 19, i had SO much energy to go out after work. i remember one week when i was on day shift. i went out almost every night, going home at 10-11pm, and leaving for work again at 7 or 8 plus next morning. crazy or what!

as i got older, i learnt to tone down the going out after work to max 1-2x a week. and now as a new mum? i walk briskly from office to MRT station and again from MRT station to bus stop, and sometimes even cab home so i can fetch Watermelon on time. heh. i don't think i have time to drop by the supermarket or any of the shops in the malls anymore. sigh! what a huge change.

on cabbing, it's part choice part necessity lah. even if i leave work on the dot (which honestly i don't have a habit of doing because i'm usually late in the morning) i have to sprint from bus stop to infantcare doors so that i reach before 7.00pm. such is the life of an eastie working in the CBD. the other factor is about quality of life … i kinda like reaching my neighbourhood when it's still bright and feeling like i have a liiiiittle more time with Watermelon. all this means having to set aside money for a new cab fund 😬

mama kraken tried fetching Watermelon on my behalf once, in my first week. it didn't go very well because even though mama kraken fed her, Watermelon still cried 😐 susah ni. since then, i try not to rely on mama kraken yet. maybe when Watermelon's bigger or more used to this routine, things will be easier.

bedtime prison

speaking of which: babies, being the smart and intuitive creatures that they are, can tell once mum is back at work. i felt that Watermelon suddenly became extra clingy with me. when she's crying and crying at night, and i'm tired ish, a win-win situation is to nurse her to sleep in side lying. except i'd also fall asleep early, which means not much time to do other things.

we've been doing lots of side lying, which i didn't used to do, because i preferred to cradle then place her in the cot. but now sharing our bed with her throughout the night has become our new pattern. i miss having more space! sigh. also she's starting to protest when i move her to my cot. or maybe it's just my poor dynamite transfer skills. hur hur.

deep down, i want to revert back to the cot days, but i know that it's better for Watermelon to drink more during the night so that she won't be so hungry (and demanding) during the day.

pumping

pumping milk used to be a recreational activity at home, but it's now a CCA (co-curricular activity) at work. hah. i started out very stressed about my output — it seemed a lot lower than what i had to pass to IFC every morning. other than pumping at work, i also woke up extra early to pump in the morning. sometimes there would hardly be any letdown, which is …

a let down. haaa punny.

but slowly things stabilised and i realised i don't have to pass them as much milk as i thought i needed to, so that eased my stress a little. also i think my body started responding better to the pump, which helps. so now i do away with morning pumps and instead try to Haakaa, but still squeeze in a pump or more Haakaa time at night. plus still experimenting with pumping times and pump settings, etc. for example, if my last nursing is at 6.00am instead of 7.00am, i can get a little more output during my first pump session in office.

also not getting enough sleep takes a hit on my pumping output. but some nights i like to stay up coz it's the only time i get to do my things? 😢

the other things

i can't remember if it's always been this way, but Watermelon seems crankier at night, even when she's already at home with us. on top of sleeping early, it feels like i can't do my own bedtime routine without leaving her to cry it out. sigh.

then there's also episodes of stress and anxiety over work performance and the new demands of becoming a working mum. and feeling lonely from my little heartbreaks and struggles. and also feeling overwhelmed by the household chores that i need to push on with. and also the resentment when things feel very unfair. sometimes i feel so trapped, because there's no escape, nowhere to run to…

oh well. i don't mean to complain and i'm certainly not looking for suggestions … just wanna get real about how i feel about motherhood these days.

i learn a lot from my friend P who always seems to make the best out of her circumstances. i hope to one day truly love the perks of being a working mum and become a thriving one. until then, there's plenty of inner work i have to do. may Allah swt ease all of our affairs, aamiin.

with difficulty there is ease 2 comfort words

the fifth and final month of maternity leave

homg guys i can’t believe we’re here already … the fifth and final month of my maternity leave. nooooo! on the first night of my maternity leave, i was rolling my hips on my exercise ball, talking to Watermelon inside my bump about how i can’t stand the fact that i didn’t know when she was coming out, but that i’d try to be patient, relaxed, and submit wholeheartedly to Allah swt’s plans. that very night, my waterbag leaked. and 5 months later … here we are. alhamdulillah, and masyaAllah 🙂

i think of maternity leave as a really sweet period in life: when else am i going to get paid while staying at home?! it has been really, REALLY nice being able to sleep in, spend lots of time with Watermelon and NG, and not worry about work. alas, life has to go on, and i’ve to throw myself into a huge series of changes as i experience for myself what it’s really like to be a working mum of one.

anyhoos, highlights for this month:

infantcare (!)

when we toured the infantcare centre last year, the principal mentioned that it’ll be good to enroll our baby early, before she starts recognising faces and/or developing separation anxiety. hence we enrolled Watermelon this month so that she’ll get a gentle transition into infantcare, and can slowly get to know her new caregivers.

on paper, they said that one parent is allowed to accompany the child until 1.00pm on the first two days. it was going to be me, and i was planning to bring her back early. however, they ended up letting both NG and me in on her first day, though NG dragged me out after an hour because he felt that we were imposing on the principal who was layan-ing us, AND that i was starting to ask ngada2 questions like requesting for them not to put Watermelon in their Bumbo seats and asking why almost all the babies had runny noses 🤷🏻‍♀️

the second day, i went again because i wanted to observe the shower process (Ngiao Mother alert!) but i had to rush back due to some unforeseen circumstances, so boo. when i fetched her though, i hung around while they fed her (it happened to be close to her feeding time) and i played with the other kids instead. the older ones were super friendly and fun to play with. hopefully once Watermelon is their age, she’ll be friendly and independent too.

y’know, before infantcare started, i imagined dropping off Watermelon at the centre and then hiding behind one of the pillars to cry. but actually never leh. Watermelon has not cried (yet) when we drop her off. mostly she looks blur/confused, lulz. so what actually happens is that i’ll drop her off and then go home to SLEEP. i love her and everything, but it was also really nice to have a few hours to myself. a part of me wondered whether i’d regret not spending every possible minute with her while i still can, though another part figured out that i’m in a better place when i can have some me-time and then take care of her again in the afternoon when i’m more recharged.

it’s barely been a month but so far it’s been quite good alhamdulillah. i really like the principal — and Watermelon likes her too! — because she’s bubbly, approachable, and engages well. like she’d update me about how Watermelon adapted that day and say some encouraging things like “she’s okay with all the teachers here” or “she can play!” apparently Watermelon gets very angry, like “can shake the earth” when she’s hungry. and refuses to let go of her milk bottle even when it’s empty 😳😂

most importantly, i’m comfortable with our arrangement. although i hate it when people comment “kesian…” (poor thing…) when they find out she’s in infantcare. like please don’t pity my daughter, insyaAllah she’s in good hands.

ramadhan 2017

wow, this year’s ramadhan experience is much better! last year, i was feeling all bluek from morning sickness and prenatal blues. so it’s nice to be thriving again. fasting while breastfeeding was okay for me, alhamdulillah. water parade is a must: i aim to drink close to 3L of water from buka till sahur every night.

i also had to start pumping milk since infantcare started. i often fall short of my own targets, and it’s not like i even aim for much, so i have to squeeze in extra pump sessions 😦 though i read that i should just serve Watermelon how little expressed bm i have, so that she can get the cue to drink more when she’s direct latching. but with the repeated feedback on her hangry-ness, i think i better chiong on my pumping lah eh.

i finally learnt (after all the internet articles!) the importance of the nutrition quality of our sahur and buka. one time we went out to The Ramen Stall at 4.30am for sahur, thinking it was nice to #yolo and enjoy the empty streets. by 9-10am though, i was filled with regret coz the amount of sodium in the ramen was totes dehydrating my body. eeps.

NG and i started the month enthusiastically cooking our own meals, though we soon grew lazier and started getting takeaways or relying on our mums. oh well, it was nice though when we were semangat about meal planning and grocery shopping. don’t know what’s the chances that we can keep it up once work starts.

final reflections

i’m really glad i extended my maternity leave by about 6 weeks, and got to spend ramadhan at home. otherwise i can’t imagine how overwhelming it would be to adapt back to work life + get used to a pumping regime + establish our own sahur and buka routines since moving into our own home, etc etc.

now that this stay-at-home phase is ending, i’m suddenly missing the confinement period. the first month was hard; all the learning, adapting, struggling. but it was also the sweetest, as NG and i started trying to figure out this parenting thing and marvelled at the novelty of having a newborn at home. plus i’m proud of us for mostly managing it on our own, partly thanks to NG’s flexi work hours. otherwise i’m not sure i would have lived on to blog this right now. ok, i exaggerate. 

these days Watermelon’s growing so fast. she’s developing motor skills rapidly, and that unfortunately includes pinching and scratching us owwwwww. it’s going to be a blink of an eye before she starts crawling, walking, and suddenly becoming a toddler with a mind of her own. and i’ll look back at this phase thinking about all the sweet memories we had when she was in the first few months of her life.

just a few months ago, i couldn’t see myself as a person who could gush genuinely about motherhood because it’s no walk in the park. feels more like a boot camp to me, to be honest. only Allah swt knows each of our struggles eh. but today, i look back and think: alhamdulillah, masyaAllah, subhanAllah. thank you Allah for lending us Watermelon. she has truly been a blessing in our lives, from the very beginning ❤

 

krabi with baby

i’ve been dreaming about going to krabi for a long time now (like since before marriage), and thought about it again when i was pregnant. considering that i usually have to seek 2-level clearance before applying for vacation leave at work, i wanted to take the opportunity during maternity leave to squeeze in a trip somewhere. like so shiok to be free to go anywhere i want for as long as i want except … carter’s was right in their latest eDM: baby changes everything.

trip highlights

1. island hopping in our private longtail boat

most of the tour companies offered a 4-island hopping package, but we were hoping to do just 2. with a baby, we thought it would be better to settle down at 2 beaches than move around a lot. the only way to do this is to book a private longtail boat (Thai version of bumboat), which would allow us flexibility to decide on our programme depending on how Watermelon’s doing. however it’s a lot more expensive (THB 2,200/SGD 90) than if we joined group tours (THB 800ish/SGD 32 for two of us?), but we had no other choice since we were not comfortable with group tours. we ended up going to all 4 islands anyway, though we didn’t get down at the last one because it had begun to rain super heavily. the three of us got soaked to the skin, and had to ride back in choppy waters. Watermelon didn’t seem too bothered though, perhaps coz she was exhausted from missing her morning nap due to our constant movements. i wrapped her in a towel and she fell asleep in my arms, like a koala bear alright.

oh and she seemed okay with sand but not the sea. we brought her to the edges and she got all nervy.



2. visiting the night market

we slept in (after returning from island hopping) and missed the bus, which meant we had to book our own private transportation, again! ok lah but this one our fault, lol. the private car worked well in the end because Watermelon started crying about an hour in, so we cut our visit short, comforting ourselves that “there’s nothing else to buy.” plus, i could nurse her comfortably to and fro.

we had really good and really cheap food at the night market though. was fun while it lasted. a pity that it continued to rain, so there weren’t many people out at the market which is great in a way, but also made the atmosphere less merry? and the tables and chairs were wet, so it was a little inconvenient having to eat while standing around.


3. bringing baby for her first swim!

Watermelon’s first swim was supposed to be at a family chalet in April, but back then we didn’t know there were such things as swim diapers and recommendations that swimming pools may not be safe and may be too cold for newborns. fast forward one month later, we smartened up and bought her a Charlie Banana swim diaper from Mothercare, and also rented a wet suit from a mama on Carousell.

verdict: she was alright with the water. not particularly overjoyed but silent enough to entertain us while we took way too many photos of her, and even tried to dunk her once for the sake of an underwater photo. obviously she wasn’t pleased, hehe.

4. going for two massages

during her post-swimming nap (macamlah she swam laps gitu) we went to a massage parlour where they gave us the family room with 3 beds. we swaddled her and left her to sleep on the third bed, while we got our massages done. later that night, we squeezed in leg massages pulak. i haven’t been for massages (i mean, the postnatal one don’t really count yah) since getting pregnant so it was nice to go back to an old activity again 🙂 really glad we managed to do this despite the baby!

what we learnt

in summary, we learnt that travelling with a baby means very likely having to pay  “convenience fees” for the flexibility when booking activities. and perhaps, it also makes us have to isolate ourselves?

for example, at the night market, i caught sight of grilled fish which looked soooo good. however we were already full. so i thought to myself, if only our group of friends were here with us. each person could buy one type of food and we all can share2 to try. but as we left the market early, i wondered, if our friends had been there, does it mean they leave early with us too? or NG and i have to find some corner in the night bazaar to soothe Watermelon while the rest of them continue roaming? bearing in mind there are no easily available seating areas. difficult questions, aye.

all in all, alhamdulillah it was a good trip. the flights were okay too; the trickiest part for us was figuring out the infant seat belt. the stewards didn’t enforce it strictly, so i nursed her during take off and landing both ways with the seat belts pretty loose. and thankfully she didn’t poop while in the plane. would haaate to have to change her diaper in the aeroplane toilet. i’m not that high level yet eh.

p.s. have a blessed Ramadhan, everyone! may Allah swt accept our deeds during this Holy Month, aamiin.

 

the fourth month of maternity leave

helluuuu. once again, the month started out wonderful: Watermelon was smiling and cooing more, and even started to giggle! the first time i heard her giggle, i was like, “what is that sound? is that a new cry?” only to realise that ohhhh, she is laughing lah. (with her abah, who else? 🙄) (he wasn’t even that funny) (all he did was ask where she was) (and she LAUGHED!) (whuuud) (clearly she does not know who the funnier parent is)

also as usual, we ran into a rough patch somewhere in the middle of the month. her beautiful sleep habits got ruined. nooooo! on one bizarre night, she woke up at 3+ am for a feed and remained awake, chatting away. i was like hello??? it’s 3am??? normal people go back to sleep???

on other tough nights, she refuuuused to sleep or cried lots in the wee hours, which is not her usual behaviour. still don’t know what caused that. could have been a vaccination side effect; growth spurt; the infamous 4 month sleep regression; or very likely, all of the above.

but! to have a smiley and occasionally giggly baby is really sweet lah, masyaAllah. so i say this milestone overpowered the fact that she was fighting sleep like an MMA gal. 

things have suddenly improved dramatically and she’s sleeping for longer stretches than before. yay alhamdulillah, what a nice treat 🤗 though they say it ain’t over till it’s over, so who knows when things will change again. plus her next jab is coming up soon, so not looking forward to another regression  😕

also, team work with the spouse and a sense of humour goes a long way during tough times!

other exciting happenings: i’ve been introducing dangling toys to Watermelon (e.g. the baby gym that i bought super early in my pregnancy) and it’s been lovely observing her stare up the toys before tentatively reaching out for them. she still hasn’t been able to grasp or appreciate the (non-dangling) stuffed toys i got her though. hopefully soon!

in spirit of our 2nd wedding anniversary earlier this month (yay!), i signed us up for a family photoshoot. and got myself a make up artist teehee. it rained lots on the scheduled day, though. i was facing the windows as my MUA @cleochangmakeup worked on me, watching as it poured outside. in my heart, i prepared myself for the worst: that the make up would be for nothing; that the money i paid her to doll me up would go to waste; that i would have to pay for a makeover again if we had to reschedule the shoot. but syukur alhamdulillah the weather improved, and so the shoot went on at Coney Island.


her latest thing, playing with saliva bubbles


the weather cleared up and we got to shoot against gorgeous light through the trees!


planting a giant yawn into my tudung. also, i got some babywearing shots done!


NG doing his funny thing to make her laugh 🙄🙄


two little kisses for our daughter!


her toes against the light 💕 so glad i rushed to wash this dress the night before

Mira from Tiny Toes (a spin off from Colossal Weddings) was absolutely lovely to work with. she works hard, she has a good eye for great corners to take photos at, and she gives simple and clear directions to help with the posing. will totes recommend to anyone looking for a maternity shoot.

ya actually her package is for pregnant mamas, but i ownself turned it into a family shoot coz i wanted nice photos of Watermelon while she’s still a tiny squish. and of me and NG while we’re young and healthy. hopefully these will make nice photos to look back on say 10 years from now.

what else … oh yes, i’ve been very anxious about whether i can pump enough milk for Watermelon once i return to work. i believe i have enough supply for her whenever we direct latch, but for some reason my body doesn’t seem to respond well to my breast pump. i mean, i see photos of filled-to-the-brim bottles of expressed milk, usually on those lactation cookie instagram accounts, and think to myself that my current yields are so far from that.

so i spoke to an experienced mummy friend and did some reading on Breastfeeding USA and lactation consultant Nancy Mohrbacher’s blog and learned that research has found that babies aged between 1 to 6 months drink on average 90-120ml of milk per feeding. this is a lot more doable, and means that i don’t need to pump full bottles (~150ml) per session. i guess i’m stressed because i don’t know what i don’t know, and i really hope that everything will balance out and work out perfectly. like maybe she’ll drink more whenever she’s with me to make up for any shortfalls in my pumping. above all, i just don’t want her to cry from being hungry while at infantcare, which would create undue pressure on her caregivers there and eventually, on me. 

as it is, mama kraken keeps giving me the Tepung Talk (milk powder talk) and i have to keep insisting that we’re doing fine. 

as for Korean dramas, earlier this month we watched Signal. omg omg omg it is SO GOOD. a little intense at some parts, the plot twists are riveting, and there’s real good acting everywhere. plus all the main characters are so likeable. so glad our friend recommended it to us. 

NG had a super long 3 week reservist cycle this month. an interesting experience because (i) i practised driving after a long time, (ii) i practised driving with Watermelon alone behind, and (iii) his fixed schedule made me feeling feeling SAHM (coz normally, his work hours are flexi). verdict? i was motivated to be more hardworking and while it did feel nice, i’m not sure i have the sanity to be a full fledged SAHM. i got left behind alone with baby from morning till night for two days in a row and already felt burnt out and was whining 🙊🙊 so here’s a salute to all single and stay at home mums!