To Have or Not to Have a Nanny

From a previous post, I enumerated three options expats could choose from with regard to who will take care of a child after the one month maternity leave. These are:

  1. Hiring a nanny
  2. A daycare center that accepts infants
  3. Mom and/or Dad looking after your baby

In our case, the first two options were the most plausible. Option 3 was out of the question. Hiring a nanny may not be the best especially if we take into consideration child psychology 101, fundamentals of education and whatnot but truth be told this is the most convenient, easiest, and practical option there is.  And putting our son in a daycare was the other probable option.

 

How’s the nanny?

Our first born was with a Thai nanny most of her infancy and Filipino nanny during her toddler years. While our second child was with a Thai nanny during his infancy and spent most of his toddler years in a daycare. We could say that we experienced the best or even the worse of both worlds.

We were lucky our kids had caring nannies.  We never had nanny-related problems similar to those horrendous news or videos of babies and kids abused by their nannies. However, the biggest challenge we had, since the Thai nannies we had do not speak our language, was communication gap. Explaining your preferences and the do’s and don’ts is extremely difficult.  This oftentimes lead to miscommunication, misunderstanding, and a possible strain in the relationship.  Another problem that could arise from having a nanny whether communication is a problem or not, is the differences in child-rearing practices. Parents have visions as to how their kids should grow and what values they want to re-enforced. On the other hand, parents and nannies may not be in the same spectrum.

And so, if you have no other recourse than to have a nanny for your dear kiddies and more especially if you are an expat, you have to choose your nanny with utmost care after all you are placing your kid’s safety on her hands.

 

A care from a Daycare

After moving to a new place due to job relocation, we were left with no choice but to send him to a daycare center as we were new to the place and knew no one to take care of him.  A daycare is cheaper but it is crowded. There were 20 sometimes more toddlers in one room with only two adults to look after them.  Due to this, he was sick most of the time. The worst thing he got from there was Foot and Mouth Disease.  It was such a trying time for us.

 

The choice is yours

As parents, we gotta do what we gotta do, right?  Our decisions could either break or make our kids.  It’s hard, but it’s something that comes with parenthood.  Depending on your present circumstance, whether you are an expat, single parent, working mom or dad, the choice is yours.

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Maternity Leave is Over: What Now?

Prior to having kids I had been adamant and vocal about the need for mothers to take care of their babies themselves.  It was my intention and it is an ideal thing to do.  Reality bites though,  I have to work, as the case with many moms and dads out there.

Our kids grew up with nannies.  They spent most hours of the day five days a week with a nanny.  Our first child had a Filipino nanny.  She was loving and motherly.  She took care of the kids very well.  Yes,  she had three toddlers under her care.  Our second child on the other hand had a Thai nanny.  She had two babies to take care of.  She was a grandmother and also motherly.  I say we got to experience the best and the worse of both worlds. Both are similar in some ways yet so different in many ways. I will talk about this in length in my next post.

Anyway,  would we have it in any other way?  Well,  I don’t  think so.  We did not have much choice.  As both of us have to work full time (for the visa) , so looking after our then toddlers was simply out of the question.  I think many expat parents share my view on this.  In as much as we want to be there especially during this stage, we can’t,  and all we can do is choose the best option there is.

For Thai expats there are several options to choose from.

  • One is to ask a relative especially your mom and/or dad to look after your kid (for other culture this might be preposterous but for Asians this is acceptable and practical). They could apply for Non-O visa to be able to stay.  Siblings however are not eligible. This is the kind of set up particularly preferred by those whose parents are retirees or are just not working.
  • Second is sending your child to a day care that accepts infants and very young toddlers.
  • Third is hiring a nanny.

If you would like to know more about our experience regarding this please click here.

For expats out there,  which of the following choices above would you prefer?

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Explore and Experience

It was Visakha Bucha,  a Buddhist holiday where Thais visit temples to pray, when we decided to visit Nakhon Sri Thammarat, the largest city in the South of Thailand. This one day trip had been educational since our kids hadn’t only gotten to experience a Buddhist religious practice, they also explored some ancient artifacts in the temple’s museum dating back to Bangkok period.

This is Wat Phra Mahathat Woramahawihan, the main and oldest buddhist temple in Nakhon Sri Thammarat.  Directly in front of the temple’s right wing entrance is the museum.  Inside, you’ll find three large chambers where ancient artifacts that date back to Bangkok period were exhibited. There were hand painted metal cabinets of varying sizes, brasswares,  copperwares, glasswares, and chinas.  Aside from these, there were weapons,  textiles, a few preserved sea creatures, and numerous sea shells.  It is a great place to explore and a good reinforcement for kids studying history and marine life. Taking of photos are not allowed here.

This was taken just outside the museum.  A row of seating,  golden Buddhas outlined the entire length of this side of the temple. On the same chamber,  were displays of huge whale remains and other marine life.

Summer and Derick offered incense and flowers, and said their prayers.

 

Despite the scorching heat of the sun, exploring Wat Phra Mahathat Woramahawin was a great experience.

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Spelunking Phu Pha Phet Cave

Derick and Summer were the youngest in the group of tourists in Phu Pha Phet cave. I thought they won’t survive the two hour walk inside the cave, well I thought wrong. As a matter of fact they enjoyed it, Summer got so fascinated by the things she saw and Derick, oh well, because it’s so dark and he gets to use a flashlight.

We came as a side trip since the cave is within the vicinity of the waterfalls we went to earlier that day. Although unprepared it turned out successful. They love it and are looking forward to spelunk again.

This time though we have to prepare some things before-hand like.

  • Face mask especially if your kids are asthmatics. It might be dusty inside from loose soil or bat droppings.
  • Tiny backpacks for water bottles, face towel, and the likes
  • Comfortable rubber shoes are definitely better than open loose slippers
  • Long stretchy pants would be comfortable and it would be easy to crawl or duck if there is a need to.
  • Wear mosquito repellent lotion for protection.

For more details about Phu Pha Phet Cave Satun Thailand.

Here’s a slideshow of them in the cave

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Life Starts At 40

There’s some truth in “Life starts at 40”.

A relatively healthy person frequents clinics or hospitals during his 30’s.  Pains and sickness seem to appear out of nowhere during this time. If these symptoms are left unattended could complicate into something serious, as often told by doctors to patients.  Our body is like a car.  After the warranted years, bolts loosen up and parts wore off.  As we near our 40’s, people start thinking of lifestyle change such as quit smoking, limit alcohol in-take, engaging oneself in a regular exercise, and eating healthy.  Reasons vary.

For us, we want to live long enough to see our kids grow and attain stability in life, and if our bodies permit maybe meet our grandchildren.

Among the lifestyle changes mentioned above, the latter two are the most challenging for us.  But since we need to start afresh on our 40’s we have to take on the needed changes.

  • Exercise your way to a healthy you.  We are home buddies and a bit of couch potatoes, sadly.  Up until this time we haven’t settle on a regular exercise routine.  Aside from this, we also found our super structured schedule 24/7 a great hindrance. We hope to get our acts together on this ASAP.
  • You are what you eat, so eat healthy.  We LOVE to eat. The health issues we are facing at the moment is food related. So this is definitely the first thing in the MUST Change List.

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Structured Busy Lifestyle vs. Child’s Play Time

“To a child playing is learning.” ∼ MitchRyan

Play is one of the most important factors for normal developmental growth in any child. It is a child’s world, as a matter of fact it could be the only world for them. In this world a child learns to solve problems, learn things around them like color, shapes, learn to do things like grasp, crawl, balance, and understand the concept of cooperation, negotiation, and give and take.  These in effect lead to the development of more sophisticated cognitive, affective, and psychomotor tasks along the way.
Modern times, however, has curtailed child’s play time to almost nothing. Our lifestyle is so structured towards getting things done that 24 hours is not enough. People are busy making a living leaving no moments for play and relaxation. Why is this? It’s because doing so is a waste of time. It seems like these days are all about competition, profit, and innovation. Although these are excellent goals, these on the other are all result oriented. Hence the process leading to the result is given the least priority which thwarts a child’s normal developmental growth. As parents if we want to see our children grow to become great individuals who have achieved their fullest potential then we must start looking into the process of making great individuals.

Now, here are practices which I think put child’s play time to a minimum.

  • Kids taking up too many after school classes and/or lessons on the weekends
  • Too much screen time
  • Obsession on having high scores (mostly parents)
  • Class ranking and competition especially during the early years
  • Early school years inappropriate curriculum. For example, some schools give emphasis on writing and listening, thus, the series of writing books, long hours of sitting. Kids are reprimanded for not holding pens properly and are branded having ADHD because they could not sit for long hours.
  • Too many homework

Reality bites! The degree may vary from one culture to the other but sadly these are true. These and many other practices run havoc on our child’s play time which, to reiterate, is one sure process for children to engage in a meaningful learning. Play should be treated as a form of lifestyle for children.

Playing is a child’s lifestyle.∼ MitchRyan

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What Happens When Mood Swinger Mom Meets Drama Queen Daughter?

 

The struggle is real, believe me.  The result depends on what side of the mood spectrum is Mom at that moment.

From experience a drama queen is always a drama queen at all times, may she be dealing with simple or complicated things.

The gravity of the impact lies on the mood of the moment.  When Mom is in the mood, circumstances are dealt with calmly, patiently, and even humorously. However when Mom is in a dark mood, a petty circumstance could mushroom into an atomic bomb within seconds.

As a Mom, this is a great parenting concern.  I’ve realized and seen the negative effects of my blurting out and “mismanagement” during those times when I’m in a lighter mood. But like what I’ve mentioned, it is  a tremendous task. It is a struggle that up until now is unresolved.

Moms out there who might be in the same boat as I am or if you happen to know of someone who was able to successfully overcome this, please do share your thoughts below.  It’d be deeply appreciated.

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Flower Girl and Ring Bearer

Being a flower girl is the closest thing to being a fairy, and being a fairy is every little girls’ dream, isn’t it?

Dream, make believe, imagination, whatever you call it is a memorable part of every child’s life.  These prepare children for the real world.  These are significant in the child’s cognitive development and achievement later on in life. These might seem trivial to unaware adults, but all these are important ways with which children effectively learn the basics needed for their future.

I remember getting so excited whenever I get picked up as a flower girl in a wedding. Wearing that kind of dress, make up, holding a basket full of petals, and throwing these as I walk slowly down the aisle felt like I was in fairyland.  I still remember those days, and I love remembering them.

 

The Flower Girl

Now, living away from home, I’m grateful that my daughter had a chance to become a flower girl at a friend’s wedding.  She was thrilled and was without herself with excitement.  She loved her dress and was ecstatic with her colorful flower headdress. Everything went well during the wedding.  There was no complain of itchiness, tightness, or whatsoever.  Great!

The Ring Bearer

He nailed it. ^_^ The wedding was in an island, Koh Lipeh. Although it took almost 4 hours to get there, he had been very patient while in the speedboat. He even enjoyed it, after all, it was his first boat ride. Then he walked down the long rocky, sandy beach aisle without tripping and he held on to the rings with his dear life. Whew!

Overall, the experience was great. They, both, enjoyed the boat ride, the uphill ride to the resort, the hurried manner we had to do things to get there on time, the beach, the lantern, and the whole sunset beach wedding experience.

I had been a flower girl myself when I was young. And up until now I still couldn’t shake off the fairy feel that I have always associate flower girl dresses, headdresses, and flower bouquets with.

Have you ever been a flower girl? How did it feel?

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Old Calendars for Something Educational

Don’t throw old calendars, re-use them for something educational.
Alphabet flashcards may not be that expensive, but then why buy when you can do it yourself, right? Coloring them is fun and relaxing. I enjoyed it. Besides I get to showoff my coloring skills to my daughter who is into drawing. She likes the way I do it and so she’s trying to imitate it.  Now, she’s good at it.
So what I did here was printed out free printable alphabet from the internet (What2Learn.com). Although you can print them out in colored ink, I chose black and white. It’s no fun if all you need to do is print, cut, and paste. Go the extra miles, color them yourselves and bring out the artist in you. Your kids can help out too. It’s a good way to teach coloring techniques and color combination and mixture. Anyway, after that I glued them onto old, hard paper calendars like these.
And voila!
As I was looking at the finish product, I thought, it would have been better if I colored the letters with a similar color. That way, they would have aesthetically “jot” out instead of getting lost in the riot of colors in the background.
What do you think?

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DIY Gift Wrapping
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DIY Gift Wrapping

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My daughter loves to draw. She started to show interest at a very young age.  I saw how her drawings improve through the years.  She is very proud of her drawings, and we have always made sure she gets all the encouragement and praises she needs to go on.  She draws anytime and every time an idea sparks and she does this wherever she is at that moment.

One instance, we have to attend a birthday party of one of her friends. Although we were informed days before, I was too busy that I forgot to prepare for it.  So on the said day, I hurriedly bought a gift for the little girl but forgot to buy a gift wrap.  I was a bit panicking since there were still other things to do. Good thing, my daughter had a great idea, DIY gift wrapping.

On a paper she drew a family, wrote a greeting, and added some designs. She used this to wrap the gift. She recycled a ribbon, and voila.

DIY Gift Wrapping
DIY Gift Wrapping

What do you think?

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