It is peak hour on the MRT and you see a young child dashing along the cabin, inconveniencing the many commuters in the train who have to move out of the way.
Shortly after, a parent chases after the kid, apologising profusely to commuters as they move out of the way once again. Some commuters grow irritated. “Tsk! Tsk!” go the tongues of some annoyed commuters as one remarks: “This parent doesn’t even know how to take care of his child.”
But is the remark fair? Perhaps we could consider how tough it is to be parents of a young child. Here’s a list of what parents of young children wish you’d know.
They have to make sacrifices for their children
Being a parent means that plenty of sacrifices have to been made just so your child is well taken care of. This could mean having your meals at odd timings and having irregular sleeping hours on a daily basis. You also do not have the luxury of having time to yourself.
And that’s what Raymond Lim, 29, and his wife go through every day as they take care of their two sons, aged three and one.
“My wife and I have to send them to childcare early in the morning before going to work, and take them home after that. We also have to cook their dinner, bathe them, take time to bond with them and get them to sleep,” Lim told The Pride.
“After that, we do daily chores like washing clothes and milk bottles. We get time to ourselves only after that and we will have dinner late, too. Our sleeping hours are definitely affected as well.”
Their lives are centred on their children
For Lim and his wife, when their children fall sick, one of them has to take urgent childcare leave.
That may mean that they may not be able to complete their tasks at work, but for them, their children are a priority, no matter what.
Also, only one of them can afford to work overtime as well, as the other parent has to pick their children up from the childcare centre after work.
Yet they can’t spend as much time as they’d like to with their children
Lim also told The Pride that as both him and his wife are working full-time, it is hard for them to carve ample time out to spend with their children. And because of that, they try their best to compensate by spending their time with them during their weekends, although weekends are the only time they can catch up on housework as well.
“I think for now, they are still too young to know about the lack of time that we are giving them,” Lim said.
The stress is real
Imagine having to plan for your own future. Now add in your children’s future while you are at it. For Jun Tan, 37, it can become so stressful that he finds it hard to concentrate at work.
The senior manager, who has a seven-year-old daughter and a four-year-old son, said that he found himself constantly worrying over the childcare and primary school his children could attend after they moved into a new neighbourhood.
“Definitely. Once you can’t settle your kids’ basic education, you can’t concentrate on work. It’s frustrating not knowing if your child will get a slot in their school,” said the 37-year-old senior manager.
He added that his wife, who is a housewife, bore the brunt of those challenges as he couldn’t do much to help because of his full-time job, which contributed to the level of stress as well.
“Technically speaking, my stress is also because of knowing what my wife is facing,” he said.
Don’t judge them or stare at them like criminals
How would you like it when someone stares at you in public for something they think you’ve done wrong? Wouldn’t you feel uncomfortable, even if it really wasn’t your fault?
But that’s what some parents have to put up with when they try to discipline their children in public – stares. Eunice Choo, 28, has certainly felt the impact of those stares when she took her three-year-old daughter out for a meal.
“Sometimes when she doesn’t sit still for her meal, I would be scolding her and when I do so, people would start looking at me with some sort of judgment,” the logistics executive told The Pride. It’s tough enough for them trying to discipline a child. Don’t make things more awkward for them by judging them.
Some onlookers would even make snide remarks, which makes things worse for the parents. Choo has overheard comments from strangers in the public on what she should do and should not do with her daughter, despite them not understanding the reasons behind her methods.
“When I’m babywearing her, some aunties would comment on why I don’t allow her to walk by herself as she’s no longer a toddler. But the reason I do so is because she wants to nap, or the place is too crowded,” she said.
So, the next time you see parents in the public with the young child, refrain from judging them and their actions too quickly, or giving them unsolicited advice. Or better still, if you know of someone with a young child, you could offer them your support.
Even moral support could be useful to struggling parents of a difficult young child.