4 Weeks Back!

WELL THAT WAS A GIANT SLAP IN THE FACE.

Whoever said “mamas can have it all, or even try to have it all”, made me laugh evil-y last week. I did not have it all. Any of it. What I did have, was a flu from being run down, boob milk on my suit jacket and a new, special kind of super-exhaustion that made me about as upbeat and positive as Eyeore from Winnie the Pooh (you know, the depressed donkey). No amount of positive trash talk, which usually motivates me, like this or repeat plays of Level Up saved me last week.

I found myself sitting at my desk, thinking “No, I do not want to answer your email immediately” and “No, I cannot jump back into things like nothing has happened.”

The truth is, so much has happened. I have to accept that my weekday cannot revolve around work like it used to. I have another, way cooler job of being a mama that I would like to have enough energy to do well (or well enough, am not weighing myself down with expectation here).

I have to remind myself, this is a transition, and it is hard, and that is ok. I also didn’t factor in getting sick with the flu last week. I know they say in tough times, dig deep. But digging deep when you need to dig deep is, well, tiring, and boy was I tired.

SG Expressing

The joys of the mid day pump…

My attempt to dig deep saw me (unconvincingly) reminding myself “everything is hard when you are unwell, so don’t be so hard on yourself there, mama”. My better half reminded me of this important message, for that I am so grateful. And in my own mama’s words, “just participate, make it through each marathon day one day at a time and give it a red hot go”.

So I had a day off, and then gave it a red hot go. And this week, I am pleased to report, is infinitely better. I am not sick and I am making it through the days, dare I say, well (hoorah!).

But know this, to all of you glorious, ball-juggling-mind-and-time-management- guru-working-mamas out there who have gone down this brutal transition path before me: I salute you. I now join you on the gloriously gruelling journey of WELL-HOW-ON-EARTH-AM-I-GOING-TO-MAKE- THIS-WORK-AND-NOT-GO-INSANE?

Don’t even get me started on pumping – is it not the most laborious, pain staking thing ever?

Please, wish me more luck.

Sxx


Sophia

Sophia is a new mum, slowly adapting to the many changes that a new baby brings to life. She is a keen writer and adventurer who loves to travel, although now considers leaving the house and walking around Kennedy Town, where she lives, an adventure in itself (ah, how times change post baby).

Follow Sophia on Instagram!

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THE BIG RETURN (TO WORK)

As my maternity leave comes to an end, I am a bundle of nerves and fears.

At my worst, I feel like I have just got into the swing of things, Bub and I have our own (loose) routines, plenty of hugs on tap and the odyssey of learning-to-breastfeed has finally been overcome, only to be ruined by the Big Return to Work which will send me back to square one of how-will-I-cope-ever-again.

At my best, I am so proud of how far Bub and I have come, little man is ready and raring to gain more independence and I feel ready to use my mind and to have conversations that aren’t to the tune of a nursery rhyme.

But back to my worst, because I spend more time in that zone at the moment, dreading the Big Return.

The fears are many, and range from: How and why would I want to leave Bub ever, let alone for 8 hours in a row? Will he forget me? Or worse, will he be bitter and hate me for leaving him? Will he cry constantly? Will he take the bottle every day? Can I survive without him in my sight? The wildness of some of these fears as I type does not escape me, yet I feel these things all at once.

My mind turns to the giggles, stories, songs and rocks to sleep I will miss during the day, the looming pain of the breast pump sessions to come at the office. Ugh, sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the mountain ahead.

But then the tiniest voice of encouragement peeps out from behind it all: come on there, mama. No one said it was easy, no one said you won’t feel a million things at once, no one said the season of first time mama hood will be fear free. Don’t quit before you’ve even started, give it a go and try your best, you can’t do any more than that.

In my heart of hearts, more than anything I feel grateful. Grateful that I got the precious gift of spending this time with Bub, bonding in a way I could never explain or understand without going through it.

Everything feels a bit more intense now (thank you hormones), but along with the fears and nerves feeling strong, the moments of joy and wonder are richer than ever before too. Our precious Bub has made my other half and I into a family. He has changed it all for us and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I just have to try to accept that my bundle of emotions are part and parcel of mama hood now, and the right decision will always present itself, and worrying about future ifs and buts help no one.

I came across a brilliant quote from Mamadisrupt’s Instagram that will have to become my mantra for the next few months: She was powerful not because she wasn’t scared, but because she went on so strongly despite the fear.

Wish me luck.


Sophia

Sophia is a new mum, slowly adapting to the many changes that a new baby brings to life. She is a keen writer and adventurer who loves to travel, although now considers leaving the house and walking around Kennedy Town, where she lives, an adventure in itself (ah, how times change post baby).

Follow Sophia on Instagram!

Bub’s Macau Weekender

The Vegas of Asia is hardly the place for a bub you might say, but we made it work this long weekend with a little family jaunt to the City of Dreams. Hard to believe I know, but Macau is actually doable without the promise of the big win at the thousands (ok, hundreds) casinos scattered across the place.

We packed our bags, carrier, pram, spare change of clothes and spare change of everything (Parenthood = So. Much. Stuff. Always.) and headed off to the Macau Ferry. Lesson number one: do not ‘wing it’ when it comes to transport with child. Phrases like “let’s just rock up” and “let’s catch whichever ferry comes” and “let’s play it by ear” used to serve my other half and I well, but it no longer works when you live your life in three hour increments between each feed.

Turns out our ferry wait was 2.5 hours (!) but we took it in our stride and did what any self-respecting expat does with their free time waiting for a ferry, we feasted on dim sum at Maxim’s Palace downstairs. No regrets at all. Delicious.

While we arrived later than we thought, we immediately bee-lined for the hotel pool and got some afternoon sun. Bub was a champion of champions and did some quality napping on the ferry, in the taxi and even by the pool on arrival. Turns out he is better at relaxing than his mama. Way better.

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We stayed in the old town so we could explore the historical sights by foot/stroller, which worked really well. We spent Sunday adventuring through the fantastic Portuguese influenced historical architecture, the ruins of St Paul’s being a real highlight. St Dominic’s Church was absolutely stunning as well, definitely worth taking a look and doable with a stroller.

The summer heat was pretty intense, so intense it turned pretty quickly to epic rain on Saturday afternoon, which was a good excuse to relax at the hotel, enjoy a room bigger than our apartment and generally enjoy precious fam time together.

We adventured with food too, we tried some authentic Macanese food, Chinese meets Portuguese, apparently one of the oldest fusion cuisines there is. If you find yourself in the old town head to Restaurant Litoral for its African Chicken and Minchi (an unusual but tasty spiced mince and potato dish). Portuguese chicken is always a win and we were not disappointed.IMG_7768

Another highlight was a sneaky Spanish Tapas place called Bar Celona, where you could tell the food was authentic Spanish. The drawback was it was on the other side of town from where we were staying and was painful to get a cab there and back with Bub. I had to argue with someone using hand gestures only (the joys of no language skills) to score our cab home. Lesson two (for the public): don’t mess with a mama who wants to go back to her hotel before feed time.

Bub took the changes to his routine in his stride which is quite a win and has inspired us to book the next trip. Its hard to know how much (if anything) he is taking in, but I am hopeful he enjoyed the sights, the bumpy terrain and the new sounds and smells of the old town.

Our little exploration reminded me that adventure, although quite different to what we are used to, is always a good idea.

S xx


Sophia

Sophia is a new mum, slowly adapting to the many changes that a new baby brings to life. She is a keen writer and adventurer who loves to travel, although now considers leaving the house and walking around Kennedy Town, where she lives, an adventure in itself (ah, how times change post baby).

Follow Sophia on Instagram!

Have kids, will travel!

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MalachiMy sweet-little-hunk of love and laughter Malachi, is eight months now. Unlike his older brother Levi, we have yet to take a family trip or getaway with him.

On one hand, I’m thankful, it can be exhausting traveling with a little one. On the other hand, traveling as a family is so rewarding, you’re making memories and having wonderful experiences. So that pesky mama guilt sets in as I flashback to the experiences we gave Levi during his first year.

At four months Levi took his first international trip back home (well, Mama & Baba’s home) USA. By eight months, Levi had traveled to Cyprus, at ten months he’d been to Oman, and by one year he was back to the USA again; enjoying a cross-country road trip from Ohio to California with a little detour: we celebrated his first birthday in Nashville, Tennessee! Over the past 6 years this kid has received more passport stamps than most adult members of my family.

This year my husband and I decided 2018 is the year of NO TRAVEL! We’ll spend our first Summer in Hong Kong this year. We’ve traveled every year since moving abroad in 2009. So for 2018 we said we would do a little adulting and sit still, save money, and enjoy a few local stay-cations. As we’re halfway through the year we’ve been tempted numerous times to book a flight and go! The itch to travel is strong. So far, we’ve stuck to our guns…then enters Villa-Finder.com. I received an email introducing the company and service to our 852 Mamas community thus enticing me once again, to book a flight and go!

Villa-Finder launched in 2012 and has over 1,000 reviewed and inspected villas in their database. From Bali, to PhuketKoh SamuiSri Lanka and Mauritius! Taking a look through their website, the villas are beautiful and picturesque! Villa-Finder’s villas are frequently reinspected to ensure they are well maintained and consistent in their level of service.

Villa-Finder’s customers are usually families, which makes sense why they reached out to 852 Mamas! As Mamas, we know that family needs are significantly different to those traveling without kids. Thinking back to our pre-kids backpacking trip through Europe in 2010, we wouldn’t dare to try that at this stage, we’ll wait until they’re a bit older!

As a parent, our concerns and considerations regarding accommodation include things like pool fences, car seats, convenient transportation, safety, etc.

Depending on your specific concerns, Villa-Finder’s Travel Consultants fits the needs of the family with the villas that best fit their specific requirements.

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Their Guest Relation team can arrange everything for your stay including: airport pick-up, special dinners, day tours, in-villa massage, and so on. This is not just a platform where customers book and pay. Villa-Finder has a team to make sure your needs are met. Villa-Finder’s Guest Relation’s team works on your behalf free of charge. 

Villa-Finder is also planting a tree in Sumatra, Indonesia for every booking made. Allowing families to contribute to the environment in a passive but sustainable way!

I’ve personally stayed in a villa twice since having kids, the Zighy Bay Resort in Oman and Kau Suar Bali Luxury Villas in Bali, we usually choose hotels. Now that our family has grown, the benefits of a private villa are quite attractive, I’ve listed 4 key benefits below:
  1. Privacy: this goes without saying, when you have kids, privacy is key to a stress free family experience. You’re not worrying about who can hear your baby crying in the middle of the night, or the lovely sounds of your two year old refusing to take a bath. In a villa, it’s pretty much the same privacy as our crazy family life at home but with a little luxury!
  2. Space: from personal experience, this is all too true. It’s so helpful to have space when you have kids, they can play and everyone isn’t cramped in a hotel suite. It also helps to have more than one bathroom!
  3. Service: from pool toys, to couples massage, to private chefs there is usually nothing off limits in terms of requesting services.
  4. Value: the price of a villa and a hotel is relatively comparable depending on your family budget, yet when all is said and done, you will likely save more money from food and beverage bills and avoiding those pesky service charges.
I’d like to make an honorary mention of a private kitchen! Because when you have kids, snacks and meals are a big deal.
No matter where you choose to stay as you prepare to venture out this Summer, I’ll be stalking Instagram vacationing in my own little way! You never know, we may give in and try out Villa-Finder for ourselves this Summer, we shall see!

Mallori, known as Mal, is the creator of 852 Mamas. Originally from California, Mal has lived in Hong Kong for close to 3 years. Mal and her husband of 10 years, David have two beautiful boys: Levi, born 2011 in Abu Dhabi and Malachi born 2017 in Hong Kong.

You can follow Mal on Instagram and her personal blog (which she will eventually resurrect) Brown Mom Abroad.