I wish I knew….

Motherhood is a journey of life-long learning but no matter how prepared you might be, there are some lessons that you’ll end up learning the hard way.

When you find out that you’re going to be a mother, you’ll probably get lots of advice on how to raise  the baby, as well as what you should do and what you shouldn’t do. However, despite all this advice you’ll discover that there are some things that you wish you knew but no one told you about them! Urban Health speaks to a group of new mums who share some lessons about motherhood that they’ve learned the hard way.

Not every minute is joyful

“I wish I had known that as a mother, you may not necessarily enjoy the ‘newborn phase’. You will probably feel overwhelmed and burdened and may not experience that rosy glow and joy of motherhood that everyone talks about. However, it doesn’t mean you love your baby any less but that you are just struggling with your new role as a mother. To help with this, I sought for help and support from my husband and close family members.”

Shiao Eek, mother of a newborn

Raising a child is not cheap

“I wish I knew how costly it can be to raise a child. In general, items for kids are just so expensive. For example, clothes for children cost the same as those for adults. This includes their shoes too. On top of that, they outgrow them very fast. So, I’ve learned not to spend too much on clothes but on good quality baby goods so that they can last. You should also get as many ‘hand-me-downs’ as you can or purchase pre-loved items from reliable sources.”

Elaine Fortescue, mother of a 3-year-old

I sacrificed my career

“I wish I knew that it would be difficult to find reliable childcare and that I would have to give up a high-paying job to look after my children. Ideally, we should have the option of reliable daycare at work or in the absence of that, then regulated day care centers. I think this is something the government should look into. My advice to parents is to be flexible and adjust according to circumstances, so long as it does not compromise the safety of your child. So, in my case, this meant one parent giving up her job.”

Michelle Wong, mother of an 8-year-old and 3-year-old

Be practical

“I wish I knew that not everything is a necessity for a newborn baby. For example, changing tables and baby monitors are two devices that are not absolutely necessary. I feel secure changing my baby on the bed or floor and having her sleep by my side. My advice to parents is to be practical and only buy what is necessary.”

Melissa Lai, mother of a one-year-old

Turn to the internet for support

“I wish I knew about the possible challenges I would face as a new mother nursing her baby. It took me weeks to get it right. I even had an episode of mastitis (breast infection) whereby I would have episodes of fever and shivers. I turned to support groups on social media which I were really useful. I found out from these groups that it was alright to experience such symptoms. From there, I learned that asking for help doesn’t make me a bad or incompetent mom.”

Premnita Kalananthan, mother of a two-year-old

Don’t buy on impulse

“I wish I knew that I should do some research before buying things for my baby. I went to a mother and baby fair when I was pregnant, hoping to grab the opportunity of enjoying good shopping deals. I ended up buying a list of things that I thought were essentials such as milk bottles, a stroller, baby carrier and some other things. However, when I delivered my baby and through the early months of motherhood, I realised that some of the items I splurged on were unnecessary or were not ideal for my baby. So,  I decided to sell them to other parents who wanted them. I also learned that before splurging on something, be sure to do thorough research on the brand and item to make sure that they are safe and of good quality.”

Emily Goh, mother of a four-month-old

Be vigilant

“I wish I knew about the type of cartoons or kids shows being aired on TV. Parents must be mindful about the TV shows they allow their children to watch. I’ve restricted my toddler to watching just a few of them especially because of the type of words that are used. I do not want my daughter to learn wrong and possibly harsh values. I would like to raise and educate her to do the right things in life.”

Arfah Darwis, mother of a two-year-old toddler.

Pay the price

“I wish I knew about the cost of education. To enroll my child into a respectable and reliable kindergarten is an expensive thing to do. I also need to weigh the options for my child’s primary school. That is another challenge. Currently, questions are arising among some parents about the local education system. International or private schools on the other hand are expensive and as for Chinese schools, it can get rather stressful when studying there as the competition is very high and the schedule is packed. I’ve yet to come to a decision about my child’s education. Currently, my best bet is to work hard for my child’s future and to ensure that she gets the best quality education.”

Karyn Lim, mother of a four-year-old child

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