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#AskMummy with Joanne Low

When her sitter comes, she gets some time to exercise and churn out some work. Choosing to breastfeed means that Leon is more or less attached to her while she tries to finish her tasks throughout the day. Leon goes to sleep before they have dinner and some one-on-one time with Noel before he goes to bed too. 

Why did you decide to try Aunty? 

I didn’t want a helper so we went to Aunty and spoke to Amanda because I wanted to see if I could manage. Even having a babysitter twice a week sometimes isn’t enough because it’s a bit difficult to breastfeed and prepare others. You might not have enough energy to give enough attention to your older child too. We don’t expect our sitter to do the chores; I think there are, but we don’t have that expectation! It’s more of just watching over my son because he’s so small still. 

How does work and personal time look like for you now?

We do have some amount of free time. It’s not really me time per se but time for sorting out life stuff, chores. You are able to go out, if one person’s at home. My husband and I try to go for dinner across the road sometimes too if that’s considered me time. Leon has learned to sleep through the night for now, so hopefully we’ll be able to have more time to do other things like read. Work is only possible with the babysitter coming, else it’s impossible to work because Noel is awake all the time, and while he can be left alone for a while he would get bored and want to see something else. 

3-month-old baby and 2-year-old toddler

In your experience, what was the hardest part of motherhood? 

I think giving enough attention to each one, and hoping they – well, you want to raise them well and you want to raise them  to love each other. It’s most hurtful when you feel your child doesn’t like your other child because he doesn’t get enough attention. That’s the hardest part. And the other part is the sleep deprivation, but that’s physical. The emotional difficulty of it is more of not wanting them to feel unloved or forgotten about, which tends to happen when you have too many things going on. After 7, when we put Leon to sleep and it’s just 3 of us, he’s really happy and doesn’t throw tantrums. But in the mornings if he doesn’t feel like he’s getting enough attention, he tends to act out. He’s also two years old so that’s the age where they set their boundaries and learn to assert themselves. 

At the beginning I thought that I should focus on Leon, and my husband would take care of Noel. Now, I let my husband take the baby so that I can play with Noel so that he doesn’t feel that he only gets his dad because I have to be with the baby. Hopefully with the helper she can hold the baby for a bit so that I can go with Noel to do something else, instead of having Leon there all the time. Both the kids need you, regardless of what they do. That’s the hardest part, juggling this. But you also want to be needed in a way – you want to help them and feel relied on. That’s exactly why you want to be a mom, watch them grow. 

Do you have a favourite piece of advice for moms? 

Hmm… The only advice I can give is to sleep train your child. I don’t know if that’s a popular opinion, and my husband also asks me why I say this when I’m struggling with Leon. But I still think it’s the most important thing you can do for your family. It really helps them become more independent sleepers, and you can have time for yourself and your spouse too. When you can rest properly, it’s less likely that you’ll feel tired and take that out on the people around you. I didn’t really think of sleep training or know about it at first but after the first month I was dying. I didn’t think I could do that forever. I follow Eva Chen on Instagram who talked about how her kid was sleep trained by this lady, so I went to read her book and tried it. We weren’t as strict, since you have to tailor it to your kid, but it was so helpful and I really recommend it. 

How did you go about sleep training for Noel? 

Well there was a bit of crying involved, but we put him in bed and let him cry for a bit. We’d go in after and let him know we’re here and once he’s calmed down we’ll leave and let him figure out how to go back to sleep again. Leon didn’t need that, he just goes to sleep by himself. So I think through this we’ve also realised that all kids are different. I do think that one thing we have to do is be kind to ourselves. It’s important to remember that it’s okay, we’re not always going to be thriving and the beginning bits will always be difficult. 

Do you feel more confident with two kids now? 

In terms of caretaking maybe! I don’t feel so worried about everything now, like ‘oh my god, he has a mole what’s wrong’. But you almost forget everything, like how their poo is like when they’re young, how tired you’ll be. Things are always in transition and then they get easier, as everything does. 

I don’t know… You remember the feeling and you can look at photos to remember things. But you’ll almost kind of forget what you went through in the beginning. Maybe that’s why parents choose to have kids again after every 2 years. 

How do you think Aunty has helped so far? 

Oh I think it’s amazing. The app has given me the ability to look for help by bringing people who can provide the service we need. Without it, it would be like two headless chickens running around looking for each other. It’s very difficult to even find each other and establish a transparent routine. The app is very curated, and we can see reviews, so the fact that it even exists is really amazing. I think Singaporeans really need it because we’re really reliant on helpers, but if you want that independence yet sometimes you need that extra support, Aunty is really helpful. It’s filling a huge gap in the market that I can’t really believe it wasn’t done before.