The Chinese New Year period is usually a season of gatherings with family and friends whom you do not meet on a regular basis. It is always a good time to catch up with everyone and find out what everyone is doing. People want to see your children, and you want to meet theirs.
As joyous an occasion as it is, I have found myself to be dreading certain parts of this festive season because it only adds to the already complicated process of parenting.
As much as you want to meet up (or maybe not) with some of these relatives and friends, you slowly realise that because you are a parent, you get affected by more things because as your children grows, people who only see your children a few times a year and do not know your children well can say or do things that shatter all that you have been trying to nurture in your children. After the two weeks of Chinese New Year, you find that you have a lot of “damage control” to do.
1. Nap Time
Whether your child is an infant, a toddler or a preschooler, as long as your child still takes naps, you will find that nap time is basically screwed during Chinese New Year. This is especially true when you have more than one place to visit per day.
When nap time is screwed, you are left with a cranky kid who loses control of his or her emotions easily and is whinier than usual. With that, you also find yourself less patient than usual because you have to handle more tantrums.
It doesn’t help when relatives and friends who do not know your child well start to try and give their two cents or twenty cents worth about what is going on. They do not see that your child is not usually this whiny and end up basically adding to your frustrations.
2. Meal Time
Like nap time, whether your child is an infant, a toddler or a preschooler, as long as your child is at an age where he or she is dependent on you to prepare food for him or her, meal time during Chinese New Year.
Unless your child has special meal requirements and you prepare his or her meal and bring it along during visitation, you are highly likely to be having your meal at whichever relative’s or friend’s home. To make things a little more complicated, “eagle eyes” are watching how your child eats. If your child insists on feeding himself, you worry that he might drop a lot of food and make a mess. If your child is fed by you (more so to avoid messes), you may hear things like “Wah, so big already still need to feed?”. Like seriously.
And then there are the children who are so distracted by the home they are visiting for the first time that they forget about meal time or refuse to eat because they want to keep playing with the new toys at that home. And then you lose control and add to your CNY parenting frustrations.
3. Visiting Homes with No Children
Not every home you visit with your children have other children living there. Some relatives and friends only have adults at home, so obviously, there is no “toys corner” or “play area” for your children.
The challenge of keeping your children entertained while visiting such homes is real. Do you make sure your children pack an activity bag and bring something along to do, like a book to read or paper to draw on? Or do you just entertain your children with a gadget like an ipad or a smart phone?
Even if your children have an activity bag, the activities can only keep them occupied for a certain amount of time. Yet, when you pass a gadget to your children to keep them entertained, you may be met with “expert advice” like “Children shouldn’t play with ipad for so long “.
4. Visiting Homes With Children
While visiting a home with children living there may be having a “toys corner” or a “play area” to keep your children entertained during the visit, the entertainment duration depends on how similar your children’s ages are to the children to live in the home. Similar age groups means appropriate toys and your children have a higher chance of being duly entertained while you make conversation with your relatives and friends.
Then there is the play issue where, if toys are accidentally damaged, or if play time with the owners of the toys does not do well.
5. You Get A Different Child At Different Homes
I do not have a better way of phrasing this and I certainly do not mean it literally. What I am trying to say is that your child can be in a different mood at different homes you visit, and so it feels like you have a different child at different homes.
At the first house you visit, your child may still be in a good mood because it is the start of the day and she is meeting new people and making new friends. She is at the best of her behaviour and shows how sweet and kind she can be.
By the second house of the same day, your child may be a little tired and may not have been able to stay as long as she wanted to at the first home where she was having fun. Also, she may have missed a nap by now, so the mood is building up. She is starting to lose control of her moods, and chances are, your patience is slowly running out too.
After being a parent for more than six years, I start to find myself dreading certain parts of the Chinese New Year. As much as I love meeting up with relatives and friends whom I would otherwise see little of, the “surprises” that my children can spring on, along “advice” and comments with self-appointed experts who obviously do not know your children well, can really making the visiting a big drag.
Yet, these are all part and parcel of parenting and I can only pray as we visit each home that the visit will be a pleasant one.
Now, onward with the rest of the Chinese New Year and (hopefully) to more good visits with zero (or minimum) tantrums.