Looking back, one of the most challenging as a SAHM thus far has to be the initial few months when we had just relocated to the US. Phoebie was 8 months old at that time and was at the height of her separation anxiety.
We moved to Arizona, US, when my husband was posted there for work. Both my husband and I were excited about the adventure ahead of us. Phoebie, on the other hand, probably wasn’t too keen about all the changes.
I remember turning to my trustworthy favourite website of baby-related resources for help and read this article. http://www.babycenter.com/0_separation-anxiety_145.bc
Knowing more about separation anxiety helped to some extent, but it was a whole lot of adapting, both for Phoebie and I.
Shortly after we arrived in Arizona, my husband went for a work trip and Phoebie and I were alone.
With a group of fellow Singaporean wives, we went on a trip while the husbands were away. I thought it would be a great chance to get to know the Singaporean community since I was new. It would also be great since there would be fellow Mummies around and they could probably give me a tip or two about travelling alone with a baby.
Alas, Phoebie didn’t want to be carried by anyone else but me! Even going to the bathroom was an issue. I remember one time, we were at the food court of a mall. One of my friends offered to carry Phoebie while I went to the bathroom. The moment I passed Phoebie over, Phoebie immediately started screaming. My friend gestured me to just walk away and I did. The bathroom was on the other end of the food court, and even with all the noise in the food court, I could hear Phoebie’s screams. I felt so bad, both for Phoebie and for my poor friend who was holding a screaming baby.
I felt rather helpless because Phoebie simply didn’t want to be with anyone else but me. That very first holiday I went on with Phoebie turned out to be super exhausting as a result.
It was only perhaps in the quiet of the night, back in the hotel room, that I got some peace. Even then, I would worry that Phoebie may wake up and disturb whoever was rooming with us. What a trip it was, with a baby who had extremely separation anxiety, and with people i barely knew and wasn’t sure of their tolerance level for crying babies.
Thankfully, all the ladies on the trip were very understanding and assured me they were okay with Phoebie. That really helped me cope much better. It was then I also reminded myself to be surrounded by supportive people during our days in the US. I knew that with a group of supportive friends, not only it help me cope with adjusting to life in the US, but they would also aid me in adjusting to being a SAHM in a foreign land.
During our trip with the ladies, Phoebie learnt to sit in a high chair. This was such a huge relief because it meant that I could put her down when we were having meals and I would be able to eat without worrying that she may wriggle out of my embrace.
The other thing that Phoebie learnt on that trip was to drink water with a straw. I was extremely happy because this meant that I was able to upgrade her sippy cup to a straw one.
Relocating to a different country when your child is very young can certainly be challenging. By God’s Grace, we survived the weeks and months of adaptation. As we adjusted, I got down to starting anew as a SAHM.
When we were in Singapore, I must honestly say that I didn’t cook often. I mean, why should I cook when eating out is cheaper than cooking at home? This is especially true when there’s only 2 adults at home. Phoebie wasn’t really eating yet and she didn’t need me to cook much.
So when we moved to the US, one of the biggest changes was the frequency at which I had to cook.
Even cooking a simple meal required some planning at first. What time i should start defrosting the ingredients, when I should wash and cut them and what time I should start cooking. These were things I really had to plan. On top of all this, Phoebie was crawling all over the place and I had to make sure she was entertained while I was cooking and she wouldn’t crawl into the “hot” zone.
This gate was probably one of the best buys in our apartment. While Phoebie would scream to get to me at first, she was very okay once she got used to it. She could see me busy in the kitchen and she knew she wasn’t allowed in there. This helped me cook faster too, since it meant I didn’t have to keep carrying Phoebie out of the kitchen while trying to stir-fry some vegetables.
Another one of our best buys in the US was our trusty iRobot. Most apartments in the US have carpeted floors and our apartment was no exception. I told my husband that with a young baby crawling around, there was no way i would be able to vacuum the floor daily and keep it clean enough for Phoebie to crawl around. Of course, the iRobot doesn’t make the floor 100% clean, but some cleaning daily is better than no cleaning at all. So there, one of our best investments in the US. It certainly helped that the price of this thing in the US is a lot more affordable than it is in Singapore.
Speaking of pricing, the other perk I certainly enjoyed as a SAHM in the US was shopping for Phoebie. A lot of baby clothes popular in Singapore come from American brands, and I learnt very quickly that the malls in the US offered really good deals for their local brands. Osh Kosh B’Gosh, Carters, Baby Gap, Gymboree, Calvin Klein Kids, Polo Ralph Kids and so many more.
I never really bought a lot of clothes for Phoebie when we were in Singapore because I found things too pricey and as a SAHM, I didn’t want to spend too much. But in the US, I started buying… And buying I did.
Jumpers, skirts, dresses, long sleeves, short sleeves, t-shirts, pants, basically apparels of all kinds. Phoebie’s clothes started to pile up because the sales were way too good to pass. How good are the sales? Let’s just say that, items that are on sale can cost less than UD$5 and on top of that, a lot of shops have coupons that gives you additional discounts off your total purchase. I remember that I once bought 20 items for Phoebie for US$60. That would work out to about US$3 per item.
So… while life as a SAHM in the US didn’t start off very well, once we were adjusted, life was good. ;P