The Good Life: Protecting the Babbits

Rabbits have long since been considered a pest in Australia. I mean, the longest unbroken fence in the world was built in the country to keep the rabbits out of precious farming territory.


The Greater Bilby, endangered in Queensland.  Photo courtesy of DHP

Besides, there’s well documented evidence that the introduction of rabbits can vastly alter the ecosystem. Heck, the adorable little rabbit is believed to be responsible for the decline of several Australian native species such as the Greater Bilby through habitat destruction.

It is no surprise that the Australian government works to control the feral rabbit population through regular releases of biological agents like the Calicivirus[1] (aka Rabbit Haemorrhagic Diseases). In fact, a planned release of the virus is happening across 1,000 sites across Australia as we speak!

For those of you not in the know, the Calicivirus is a very nasty killer. It basically makes your rabbit bleed out internally, until it finally dies from the stress. BUT! A vaccination for this horrible disease does exist and is available at most local vet clinics! Both Bonnie and Clyde are regularly vaccinated against Calicivirus, so they’re covered in the event of a planned release.


Bonnie and Clyde after being vaccinated.  They’re very upset about the whole situation, but it’s for their own good!

That being said, it doesn’t hurt to take extra precautions to protect the rabbits from the dangers of horrible diseases. Both Calicivirus and Myxamatosis are spread by flies and mosquitoes, so you should take steps to insect-proof any rabbit play areas.

To protect our precious bunnies, The Boobook and I lined Bonnie and Clyde’s outdoor hutch with UV protected mosquito netting. It’s a little bit expensive, but at least it’ll keep them safe.  Plus, we’ve lined the bottom with thick gauge chicken wire so that they can’t dig their way to freedom and get themselves hurt.


Mosquito-proofed babbit home!

So, now our babbits are free to dance and play in the sun and are safe from the virus come rain or shine!  If you’d like more information on how to protect your rabbits during this viral release, RSPCA Australia has some very useful information and advice available.

[1]Calicivirus is pronounced Khaleesi-virus, but doesn’t have anything to do with dragons, unless you count the fact that it kills kinda messily.

Is Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD/ADHD) an illness?

Debs G’s note: This post was originally published in Sunlight Follows Me (my old medical blog) on 20 Sept 2005, and has been revised and updated for publication on Owls Well.

Now, I totally agree that some people, after being diagnosed with an illness, will automatically attribute all their life’s tribulations to the workings of the disease. So many times, I have had patients coming in to see me, expecting to see their social problems disappear with the treatment of their physical problems.

Now, I personally believe that everybody has a brain that is wired in a totally unique way, and that we all have our little insanities. We all perceive the world in a different way from the next person. We all have our personal problems and struggles.

Illness, namely illness resulting from issues in the cognitive, social or psychological realm, results only when the thoughts or beliefs of a person interferes with their lifestyle and from performing very basic functions like eating, sleeping or interacting with other people. That is, these personal problems are only an illness when the person in question isn’t able to manage in society, and may even pose a danger to themselves or to the people around them.

I think there is a case for identifying people who need assistance from a professional outside of one’s own family, and sometimes it helps to have a diagnosis, a label, because that gives an answer to the question “What is wrong with me or my child?”. Knowing the answer to that question is often the first step to recovery. People who come to see doctors often don’t have an adequate social network that has the strength, knowledge or the resources to cope with their afflictions.

ADD, or Attention Deficit Disorder, and its variant, ADHD (Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder) is one of these medical diagnoses that draws a lot of negative publicity. As awareness for this disorder grows, we are currently seeing a lot more children being labelled as having ADD/ADHD.

I actually have a very deep personal interest in children with ADD, having had the opportunity to followup several children with this disorder over a minimum period of 5 years, as well as having grown up with a little sister who was formally identified as an ADHD child at the age of 10.

ADD defined as a triad of hyperactivity, impulsivity and distractability. It is only diagnosed in children of school-going age (ie. after the age of 5), which is why most teachers tend to view this disorder with rather a jaundiced eye. There are still alot of people out there who are very skeptical about the existence of ADD – but I can assure you that ADD is very real and children who have it do need help.

ADD is a developmental disorder, much like autism. Unlike autism and other developmental disorders like dyslexia, ADD is still not widely understood. Autism when reduced to bare bones, is a failure of development of emotional centres – which is why children with autism often are unable to socially interact. ADD, however, is the failure of development of concentration.

The failure to develop adequate concentration skills means that the ADD child has learning difficulties. This does not only apply to learning from books, but also learning from observation and deduction. ‘Behavioural influences’ will not teach this child anything because they won’t be able to pick up the subtle cues. Thus, the ADD child does not learn important and very basic social skills, and this leads to inappropriate behaviour.

Now, one of the differences between the ADD child and the ‘ill-behaved’ child is that no amount of good parenting or discipline will change the ADD child. This is a key problem that many parents and teachers fail to understand.

An ‘ill-behaved’ child will eventually respond to a change in social environment or consistent and firm discipline. For example, if an ‘ill-behaved child’ is placed in a structured and orderly environment with positive reinforcement for good behaviour, he or she will fall in line by the sheer force of peer pressure and the desire to be rewarded.

The ADD child does not understand when they have done a bad thing (common example: Repeatedly getting up and walking around the class whilst the teacher is still talking and everyone else is still seated) because they have not learned what is considered socially appropriate. They simply have not observed that nobody else behaves the same way they do because it is unacceptable to do so. Disciplining an ADD child often has little or no effect, because they have not fully understood why they have been naughty – so instead of feeling sorry or guilty, they feel incredibly maligned. Worst of all, because they still haven’t learned what they did wrong, they are likely to repeat the ‘bad’ behaviours time and again.

The ADD child is an exasperating child. They fiddle and fidget. They often do incredibly stupid things for no reason. They are easily provoked. They get into trouble. They don’t know the difference between ‘silly’ and ‘irritating’. Exasperated parents will say “Grow up!” or “When will you ever learn?”, exasperated teachers will say “Apply yourself!”, exasperated peers will say “I hate you, go away!”.

The ADD child often does poorly in school and has no friends to speak of (it’s difficult to tolerate their inept and awkward behaviour – especially their lack of respect for personal space, and their bizarre multi-conversations about several topics at once). Everyone around them appears to dislike them and yell at them alot. You can understand how the ADD child will have really low self-esteem. It’s a pretty sad situation to be in for a small kid.

The second difference between the ADD child and the ‘incorrigible’ child is the effect of pharmaceutical treatment. The drugs used to treat ADD will only work on ADD children – in a normal person, the medication (which is similar to amphetamines or ‘speed’) will only worsen hyperactivity and impede concentration, but paradoxically, it works to calm down a person with ADD.

In calming the child, it gives them a greater ability to focus their minds so that learning can take place. I am always amazed at the efficacy of ADD treatment – results can be seen in less than a month (Fewer phone calls from angry teachers, fewer accidents in the household, grades at school seem to be picking up, child actually seems to be absorbing what you say).

This, of course, does not mean that all the changes can be solely credited to the effects of medication. It is up to parents and teachers to encourage the child’s newfound focus in the right direction. It is totally up to the child to motivate themselves to work hard in order to change. The medication is used to ‘buy time’ whilst the child’s concentration ability develops to a more age appropriate level.  

It is probably true that ADD kids, if left to their own devices, may eventually develop enough concentration skills to be able to cope socially. Indeed, there are many who have managed to get by with ADD, only for the issues to surface during their working adult life, when they are required to focus during long boardroom meetings or spend many hours beavering at a desk.

However, naturally developing the strategies to cope with ADD could take years, and a kid with a poor school record will be greatly disadvantaged – especially in an unforgiving society like Singapore, where performance first few years of schooling has a great impact on the sort of educational opportunity a child will have in the future. Additionally, the social isolation that is associated with ADD children can be psychologically damaging.

The idea of medical treatment for ADD is that it is used as a stepping stone, to bring a person to a level when they can begin to deal with the difficulties that they are facing. The medical profession is often used as a resource to access other services – counselling, behavioural therapy, support groups, social workers and health visitors – that can be helpful to the patients. But it is the patient who is ultimately responsible for their own personal trials. Doctors are only helpers; it is the patient who must battle their own demons.

It is also useful for a person to be able to name their afflictions. Naming it means that you have power over it. Having a diagnosis gives the person something more tangible that they can deal with. It gives a family hope that there is something that can be done and shows them what sort of special needs a person may have, and how to manage them. It also brings awareness to other people who can in turn respond with understanding, and maybe even a little forgiveness.

Living with Adult ADHD: A Becky Lee’s Top Tips to Coping with ADHD

It is no secret that I have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).  I was diagnosed when I was about 10 years old and was on Ritalin from 14 years old until I started attending University.

After starting University, I gradually stopped taking medication, as I had developed enough coping strategies to get by.

A few weeks ago, Debs G put me in contact with a woman who had recently been diagnosed with ADHD and wanted to know more about living with it. Since we at Owls Well believe in sharing information, I’ve decided to share with everyone what I told her about how I manage my ADHD behaviour as an adult.

That being said, while the tips below work extremely well for myself, they may not necessarily apply to everyone with ADHD.  What I do works well for me because of various factors including personality, learning style and what I can get away with at the office.

I would recommend using these tips as a vague guide for a starting baseline.  How you eventually manage your ADHD will evolve over time and depends strongly on what you feel comfortable with.

Debs G’s Note: The tips below are not a guide to behaving “normally”, they are methods used in order to focus the mind and function at an optimal level in order to improve work performance. If you do not have ADHD, these tips will not help you in the slightest.

1. Practise Careful Medication Management

If you are taking medication, I would strongly urge you to take it regularly as per your prescription and NOT as and when it is needed.  It takes a while for your body to get used to the medicine, so taking it randomly tends to leave you with weird moodswings and periods of highs and lows.  Set an alarm on your phone or a reminder in your Outlook or fancy gadget watch to make sure that you take it on time everyday.

On the flip side, if you miss ONE dose, don’t be tempted to “make it up” by taking it outside of the normal time you would take it, especially if it’s afternoon or evening.  I once took a Ritalin pill in the afternoon instead of the morning and became unable to sleep for the whole night!

Also, don’t cut the pills, even if you have a fancy pill cutter.  The ADHD medications often have slow-release coatings that prevent your body from metabolising the medicine too quickly.  When I was in boarding school, I had difficulty swallowing one of my Ritalin pills due to a sore throat.  The nurse cut the pill in half to help me get it down.  I then spent the rest of the day in the sick bay high as a kite, with a splitting migrane as my body processed 20mg of Ritalin in one go.  I could have ended up in the hospital.

2. If Your Mind Wanders, Do Something with Your Hands

Let’s face it, meetings are the bane of people with ADHD.  The very thought of having to sit still for more than 5 minutes is enough to drive me up the wall.  Unfortunately, Meetings are a necessary part of the corporate world and there aren’t many workplaces that won’t have some.

If you find your mind wandering during a meeting, give your hands something to do.  I find that if you’ve got something tactile to deal with, you’ll often focus a little better.  I live in Australia, where strange behaviour at meetings is pretty much the norm, so my boss doesn’t care if I’m knitting during meetings.  However, if you have a stricter boss, consider bringing a notepad to doodle on, or one of those squishy stress ball things to squeeze (and possibly destroy).

3.  Whistle While You Work

Okay, don’t literally whistle while you work.  I used to whistle during Secondary School when I did Math.  It disrupted everyone else’s work, but helped me focus on the task at hand.

That being said, Snow White is correct in one aspect.  Having a song helps you set the pace, especially when you’re doing something mundane or boring.  I find that listening to something like a podcast, audio book or even some good music helps to engage any extra mental energy I have and helps distract me from the mundanity of what I’m doing.

4.  Post-it Notes and Stickers are Your Best Friend

I have post-it notes EVERYWHERE in my office.  They’re on my desk, on my drawers, on my paperwork and on my monitors.  I use bright coloured notes to help me keep track of what I have and don’t have to do.  And when tasks are done, I simply toss them into the wastepaper basket.  Easy peasy.

Little animal stickers work well for me to.  I put them on things that need daily attention, like my toothbrush.

5.  E-Numbers are NOT your Friend

I once wrote about how red cordial makes you crazy.  Well, it does and so will all sorts of artificial food colourings.  This goes double if you’re on medication.  I don’t know why this is, but every time I ate or drank something that had food colouring in it, I became crazy hyperactive.  Don’t do it.  Don’t drink the cordial.

6.  Eat What You Want, but Live Healthy

That being said, there’s a lot of dietary guides out there claiming that one food or another can help with your ADHD.  With the exception of artificial food colourings (as documented above), I’ve found that my attention span is the same whether I eat chocolates, sweets, fatty or fried foods, or anything classified as junk, or whether I eat healthy salads and low-fat foods.

It’s the same with fish oils.  People used to give me all sorts of fish oil or vitamin supplements to help me with my “concentration issues” and honestly, I didn’t see any difference between my behaviour when I was taking them regularly and when I didn’t.  The only vitamin supplement that I do take regularly is Vitamin D, which is for reasons entirely unrelated to my ADHD.  But hey, if you feel that there’s a difference, by all means, go ahead and take them, it’s unlikely to do any harm.

One thing I do highly recommend is regular exercise, though.  Keeping healthy is always important and exercising works off extra energy.  If you have difficulty concentrating at the gym, I find that doing unconventional exercises and sports like pole dancing, yoga, trapeze, ballroom dancing or fencing tends to be more interesting!

7.  You do You!  Confidence is Key!

One of the most important things to remember with ADHD is not to let yourself feel shame for anything that’s unimportant to the overall quality of your work.  I used to feel super-bad about my messy desk at work, which caused me no end of distress.

However, over time, I’ve realised that having a messy desk is more useful to me than having a neat one, since everything I need is within arm’s reach.  As long as my desk never gets unhygenic and the overall quality of my work is good, then I’m fine.

Don’t sweat the small things.  When you make mistakes, look into how you can deal with the mistake immediately, and prevent it in the future.  If you beat yourself up over every careless mistake, you’ll end up so distracted looking for mistakes that you’ll overcompensate for them and end up in a worse situation than the one you began with.  Go easy on yourself.  Everyone makes mistakes.

Be proud of who you are.  ADHD is not a failure on your part.  It’s just a part of you.

8.  If You’re Good at What You Do, You can Get Away with ANYTHING.

A lot of things in ADHD come down to discipline and feeling comfortable in your own skin.  In many ways, it’s easier once you have your diagnosis because knowing that you have ADHD allows you can build tools to deal with your problems.  I’ve found that the most irritating aspects of the condition lessened a lot as I became more confident and comfortable with myself.

At the end of the day, if you consistently produce good work at work, you’ll find that your managers and coworkers will give you more space to practise your coping mechanisms.  Heck, when I was doing my Masters, my lecturers and tutors turned a blind eye to the fact that I was constantly playing video games during class because I was always well prepared and actively participated in discussions!

Baby-friendly recipe: Chicken and squash risotto (with a twist)

Okay, so most babies in Singapore will begin their weaning journey with iron-enriched rice cereal and proceed on towards rice porridge.

I like to switch things up a little and introduce my weaning baby to a variety of different cereals like barley, oats and quinoa. This is partially because rice – even in its baby cereal form –  is a natural source of arsenic (and I want to avoid too much of it), but mostly because I like my children to become accustomed to a wide variety of tastes and textures in their diet.


J at 15 months old enjoying some breakfast oats

As soon as my weaning tots are well established on an iron-rich diet1, with plenty of meat and green leafy veggies, I like to start them on wholegrain cereals which are higher in protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals than their refined counterparts.

Now, I normally associate oat cereal with a hearty breakfast porridge, but another way to include some wholegrain goodness in the diet is to add it to the rice cooker!

Here’s a great recipe that my entire family has enjoyed – and it’s suitable for weaning babies from 9-12 months of age too!


Debs G’s Chicken and Squash Risotto (with a twist)


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • one brown onion – diced
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breast fillets – diced
  • 500g pumpkin or butternut squash – diced
  • 200g courgette – diced
  • 2 cups washed rice
  • 2/3 cup wholegrain rolled oats (I used Quaker Oats For Rice)
  • 800mls water or unsalted stock (I used homemade chicken and vegetable stock)
  • Optional: grated parmesan or cheddar cheese


  1. Heat olive oil in a saucepan on medium heat
  2. Add chicken, pumpkin and onion. Cover the saucepan and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft and translucent.
  3. Pour into a rice cooker, adding the courgette, rice and oats as well as the water or stock
  4. Cook for 20 minutes (or until rice is done)
  5. Fluff up and serve (with grated cheese topping) for the family or blend to the desired consistency for your weaning tot!
  6. Enjoy!

Update: For those of you with a Thermomix, here’s how to do it

  1. Place onion in Themomix, chop 3 seconds on speed 5
  2. Scrape down bowl, add olive oil and saute onion 3 minutes/varoma/speed 2
  3. Scrape down bowl, add diced chicken and pumpkin/squash, sauté 3 minutes on 100C/reverse/speed soft
  4. Insert butterfly attachment (optional)
  5. Add stock/water, courgette, rice and oats, cook 20 minutes/100C/reverse/speed soft
  6. Pour all into thermoserver and leave to stand for 5-10 minutes to allow risotto to thicken
  7. Blend to the desired consistency for baby or serve with parmesan cheese

(This post is sponsored by Quaker Oats, which has been a staple in the Owls Well household for 10 years and has been favoured by our families for generations. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Owls Well.)

P.S. Quaker is having a promotion at NTUC Fairprice supermarkets till 12 Mar 2016. Stand a chance to with a Tiger Induction Ricer Cooker worth more than $700 with every $5 worth of Quaker products purchased.  Check in stores for details. T&C applies.

1. Wholegrain cereals are high in phytates, naturally found chemicals in the bran of the cereal, which bind to iron during digestion and inhibit absorption. If your baby is not receiving iron from other sources, and you are counting on cereals as the main source of iron, either choose refined cereals to improve iron-absorption from the gut or consider using home-processing methods (such as soaking) to reduce the phytate levels in your chosen wholegrain cereal.

Broken Arms and Monkey Bites (A New Years in the A&E)

Hey Debs, I figured I’d update you on the whole hand situation from New Year’s Day.

I know that before we went to the hospital, you warned me about going to the Accident and Emergency department on New Year’s.

“People are stupid on New Year’s Day,” you said, “The emergency room will be packed.  You won’t get a good quality of care.”

But I had to break my hand on New Years Eve, so there we are.  The emergency department wasn’t too busy, but I still ended up with a jury-rigged hand brace to prevent my thumb from moving too much.


She’ll be right, mate!

It was about lunchtime when we returned home from the hospital.

As I couldn’t use my hand, I asked The Boobook to help me prepare lunch.  Lo and behold, if he didn’t end up slicing a good 2mm off his fingertip with the mandolin slicer.


So we ended up in the hospital again, this time for 4 hours.  The waiting room was still pretty empty, so we were ushered right through.

The Boobook had his hand seen to pretty quickly, but the hospital took a while longer readjusting my brace, so we were stuck there for some time.  While we were in the hospital, however, I got to see some really interesting stuff as people are indeed quite stupid on New Years!

So, here are my observations from within the A&E.

Item 1:  Man with Monkey Bite being treated with a mixture of adrenalin and antibiotics.

But A Becky Lee, I hear you ask, how on earth did this man find a monkey to bite him?  Monkeys are not indigenous to Australia and there certainly aren’t many wild monkeys about.  To which I say, the determined fool can get anything done.

From what I could understand of the man’s story (and he wasn’t being particularly candid about this), a circus was in town and he had gone to visit.  The monkey was not paying any attention to him, so he offered it a banana to entice it to come closer.  Being mindful of the common rule “don’t feed the animals”, he withdrew the banana from the confines of the monkey cage once the animal had come closer.  The monkey, taking offense at the sudden withdrawal of the banana, then bit him.

He had to get a rabies shot, which I (thankfully) did not see.

Item 2:  Man with large cut on arm

This man broke a large mirror and threw away the shards.  He then put more garbage into his garbage bin and used his hands to further compact the trash when he couldn’t close the garbage bin lid.

I believe he was treated to a tetanus shot and a large bandage.

Item 3:  Very stupid Boobook with missing fingertip

FullSizeRender (1)

If blood is spurting out, cover with a clean kitchen towel, elevate the arm and apply steady pressure to encourage clotting.

The Boobook decided that the guard on the mandolin slicer was too fancy for the likes of him and decided to slice cucumbers without it.  I expect that he has since learned his lesson.

The doctors cleaned it up with saline then bandaged it nice and tight.

Item 4:  Child with broken arm

From what I’ve been given to understand, this is a fairly common sight in the A&E.  What made this particularly unique was her family’s first aid attempt, which actually wasn’t a bad idea.  They put her arm into one of those cardboard poster tubes and tied it to her waist so that she didn’t wave it around.

She got a Despicable Me Minions plaster cast.  She was really proud of it and showed it off to everyone (myself included).

Item 5:  Unknown Wailing Child

This child did NOT want to be at the doctors.  From the moment I stepped into the Emergency Ward, I could hear the s/he screaming.  And s/he didn’t let up.

At all.

For an hour.

I have no idea what was ailing this child, but I suspect that s/he will grow up to be an opera singer.

And that, my friends, sums up my second hospital adventure!  I sincerely hope that I’ve used up all my hospital visits for the year.

Preparing for Baby: Washing Up Matters (With Ecover Zero)

I have written before about how I like to choose eco-friendly household cleaning products and that I am always on the look out for products that are kind to sensitive skin. When Thumper came along, I had to switch my laundry products to something that is not only powerful and effective enough to cleanse dirty cloth nappies but also gentle enough on baby skin.

This is why, when Ecover Singapore contacted me and asked if I would like to try out their new Ecover Zero range, I was very excited! This range of washing products are derived from plants and minerals, and are free of phosphates, fragrances, colouring and optical brighteners, so it is great for sensitive skin, whilst being completely biodegradable (septic-tank safe). Additionally, Ecover tests all their washing products for aquatic toxicity to ensure that whatever goes down the drain will have the least impact on the ecological balance of our waterways. I like knowing that I’m not poisoning our fish in the name of fresh laundry and sparkling tableware!

Great for delicate baby skin and our delicate ecosystem

Great for delicate baby skin and our delicate ecosystem

I have been using Ecover Zero Non-Bio Laundry Liquid and Fabric Conditioner for the last couple of months and I have to say that I love the way that my clothes feel when they have dried! I have not used fabric conditioner on my laundry for the last 7 years because of my family’s sensitive skin, but we have had no problems at all with the Ecover Zero Fabric Conditioner. It is so fantastic for all the baby clothes and it leaves our line-dried clothes feeling wonderfully soft and fluffy. Despite Ecover Zero being a non-fragranced product, our laundry does not give off a musty, damp smell when it comes out of the wash, which is great!

I have also been using the Ecover Zero Non-Bio Laundry Liquid on my cloth nappy stash and it is FANTASTIC. I have had no problems at all with residue build-up on the microfibre inserts or the fleece and suede cloth lining of my cloth diapers. As this is a Non-Bio liquid, there are no enzymes present at all, so it is safe to use on cloth nappies! This is a step-up from Ecover’s regular laundry liquid range which has not been recommended for use on cloth nappies because they contain plant-derived enzymes which eat the waterproof PUL-lining of synthetic nappy covers.

Owls Well Recommends: I use a front-loading washing machine at home and I recommend reducing the dose of laundry liquid for front-loading washing machines and other high-efficiency machines that do not require a lot of soap suds for a thorough clean. I found that using half the recommended dose on my regular laundry load is enough to leave my laundry thoroughly clean – even J’s grubby P.E. uniform (covered in grime and the occasional bloodstain) will come out looking bright and fresh. For my cloth nappies, I use a quarter of the recommended dose and add a extra rinse cycle, which seems to do the trick of keeping them beautifully clean and stain-free!

As for the Ecover Zero Washing-Up Liquid, it does a really good job of cleaning greasy dishpans and I find that a very little bit will go a long way. I have been using the washing-up liquid for two months now and there is still more than half a bottle left to go. The Outlaws, including my new brother-in-law on the Barn Owl’s side, are big fans of Ecover washing-up liquid as it cleans well and lasts a very long time, making it a better value than a similar-sized bottle of the ubiquitous Fairy liquid (although the Father Outlaw says that he misses the smell of Fairy liquid).

(You can find Ecover Zero washing products online at the Ecover Singapore website which offers free shipping within Singapore for orders over SGD$30!)

Basic First Aid for Anxious Parents: Managing a cut at home and when to seek help

We’re guest-posting over at Getgo Parents today!

As your child becomes more active in and out of the house, accidents causing cuts, scrapes and other abrasions are likely to be more common. Most skin injuries are superficial and will not present any danger to kids but large or deep cuts may require immediate treatment by a medical professional – so here’s a basic guide on how to manage a small cut at home and when to seek help.

To read the rest of the post click here

Motherhood Hacks! : The first month

The first few weeks of motherhood can be really tough, even if it’s your second, third or sixth child. This is because everybody in your family is adjusting to this new little addition and the new little addition is adjusting to everybody. Needless to say, everything feels just a little bit topsy-turvy!

Thumper say "Relaaaaax"

Thumper say “Relaaaaax”

Here are some Motherhood Hacks that have help me maintain my sanity and stay positive in the first month of motherhood.

Motherhood Hack #1: Enjoy the feeling of Not Being Pregnant

Stretch luxuriously. Take a deep breath. You are no longer pregnant

Bring your knees to your chest. Touch your toes. You are no longer pregnant.

Sleep prone like a starfish or curl up into a ball like a hedgehog. You are no longer pregnant.


Motherhood Hack #2: The Need For a Feed (ie. When in doubt, feed your baby)

Whether you intend to feed on demand or practice parent-led scheduling, it will still take a few weeks for your milk flow to be fully established, and the baby will not have figured out how to feed efficiently yet. This means, that when the baby cries in the first month, you don’t have to freak out and wonder about what it all means – the most likely reason is that baby is hungry!

(By the way, check out my Breastfeeding Motherhood Hacks here)

Motherhood Hack #3: Channel the Red Hot Chili Peppers

By this I mean that you give it away give it away give it away now and then rehydrate yourself thusly:

What you got you’ve got to give it to your daughter
You do a little dance and then you drink a little water

By the way, the whole song takes on a whole new meaning if you think about it in terms of breastfeeding. Heh heh heh.

Motherhood Hack #4: All Hail the Milk Coma

Babies in their first month are hardly ever awake. They spend most of their short one hour waketime feeding, and at the end of it they are just one big, happy, sleepy bag of milk, exhausted from the effort of feeding, and they go right back to sleep again.

If you think that your baby at this stage is super boring, you are SO wrong. The best part of the Milk Coma in the first month is that hardly anything phases them at this stage, as baby photographers like Anne Geddes know. You can dress them up, pose them in all sorts of positions for your own amusement.

Of course, you could also take advantage of the milk coma to catch up on sleep yourself, but where’s the fun in that?

Motherhood Hack #5: Let the brainwashing begin

This is the time where babies are very susceptible to some brainwashing! Whenever my baby is feeding or sleeping during the daytime, I make sure the room where they are is light and bright and there’s always some noise or music playing. At night time, the room should be kept dark and there should be as little movement as possible – I don’t even talk or hum to the baby at night. This is to reinforce the diurnal rhythms of the day and night. Day = Everyone is awake and playing, Night = Everything is quiet and sleeping.

Pro tip: Play music during their sleep and during feedtime. Choose a specific album of music that you enjoy listening to repeatedly. This album of music will eventually serve as a portable baby whisperer during your infant’s fussiest moments when they are older!

Motherhood Hacks! : Breastfeeding

Here’s the deal about breastfeeding in the first few weeks: It takes practice and patience. And you’re not the only one learning on the job here – the baby is learning how to breastfeed too. It is unsurprising that breastfeeding is a challenge!

Breastfeeding Fist Bump! Booyah!

Breastfeeding Fist Bump! Booyah!

These are the Motherhood Hacks that have helped me stay positive during my breastfeeding journey.

Motherhood Hack #1: Embrace the Fear (or act as helpless as you feel)

I think women always push themselves far too hard trying to prove themselves, and this really shows when women try to take control and assert their independance as soon as the baby is out. I say forget all that bravado and embrace the anxiety and fear that you feel as a new mum! Act helpless as you feel because this is the time when nobody expects you to know how to manage and will be more than happy to jump in to help you out!

This is especially important in the first few days after giving birth. Take advantage of the nurses and breastfeeding consultants in the postnatal ward. Don’t be shy! You will be surprised at what you can learn.

Every time I wanted to feed the baby during the day or night, I asked one of the nurses on the ward to come and help. They helped me with everything from positioning to latching on and off, and I would ask them to come again if I wanted to switch sides. Each nurse I came across had a slightly different technique for getting the job done and different advice as well. This helped me figure out what worked best for me and for each baby.

By the time I left the hospital I knew how to do the following:

  • prepare my breasts for feeding via breast massage
  • hand express breastmilk
  • encourage my baby to latch or nurse
  • visually check a baby’s latch
  • gently break the baby’s latch
  • visually check my nipples after feeding to identify a suboptimal latch that might lead to unnecessary nipple soreness or pain
  • check my breast for blocked milk ducts
  • self-massage during feeding to relieve blocked milk ducts
  • feed the baby using different positions (cradle hold, football hold, reclining)

I doubt I would have been able to learn as much if I’d put up a brave front and tried to do everything independently from day one.

Motherhood Hack #2: Fight boredom breastfeeding fatigue with portable entertainment devices

Okay, I know that breastfeeding is supposed to be the time when you bond with your baby, but when baby is really really tiny, especially in the first few weeks before your milk flow really kicks in, chances are that he or she takes a really long time to feed. Maybe 40 minutes, maybe even a whole hour. And they’ll have their eyes closed most of the time as well so it’s not like you can stare deeply into their eyes and attempt to communicate telepathically with them.

You are going to be bored and tired, especially during the night when all the world is asleep except you and the baby. I had to resist the urge to unceremoniously call an end to feed time after 20 minutes of crushing boredom.

Portable entertainment devices like a portable DVD player (with headphones) or an e-reader will be your path to maintaining sanity. With J, I watched the whole series of Battlestar Galactica and with Little E, I watched The West Wing!

With Thumper, I decided to Expand My Mind Through Reading. I’ve installed a free e-reader app on my phone which allows me to borrow e-books from the library. The National Library Board in Singapore has a great range of reads in their electronic catalogue, including newspapers and magazines. This way, I have already read over a dozen books in the last couple of months since Thumper was born! Yay, me!

Motherhood Hack #3: Let your husband sleep at night.

Seriously, if you’re breastfeeding, what do you need him awake for? You have your e-reader to keep you company, and the less activity there is at night, the better. There’s no sense in the both of you being awake, especially if you have other kids who will need attention during the day.

Let the husband sleep at night and during the day, he will be the one who has that spare energy to look after the kids and manage the household chores when you are exhausted from lack of nighttime sleep and need a nap. (And, he will have no excuse to complain about being tired!)

Motherhood Hack #4: Cleopatra say Relaaaaax

Learn to nurse in a reclining or semi-reclining position, or what I like to call, Cleopatra-style (extra points if you can do it whilst looking like this). This really helps me if I need to power nap during the day or risk turning into a Giant Squid of Anger at the slightest provocation.

The only danger about doing this at night is that you’ll probably fall asleep with baby still latched on. Not necessarily a bad thing, as baby will eventually latch off, but if you’re anything like me, you might forget to change sides. Never forget to change sides.

Motherhood Hack #5: Built-in bra shelves are your breastfeeding friends

As much as I love my nursing bras, I always found the clips and drop down cups a total pain…and nursing bras can be so expensive as well! I used to hate fiddling about with clips on straps and the fact that my breast pads kept falling out from the drop-down cups. Additionally, readjusting everything back to the way it was is nigh impossible to do one-handed, in public, with a squalling infant. It was all so inelegant.

So, I have done away with nursing bras altogether, instead I am currently using tank tops or camisoles that come with built-in bra shelves with cups and are not necessarily sold as ‘nursingwear’. Instead of fiddling around with clips and drop down cups, I just pull the neckline of the tank top or camisole down on the side that I’m planning to feed on – quick and simple.

The best tops I found for this purpose are the Airism Bratop range from Uniqlo. They are comfortable, look good, support the girls, maintain their shape well and are great for layering under clothes. Best of all, they are designed to wick moisture away from the body, so you can keep cool and dry whilst breastfeeding, which is a sweaty business. I have a whole bunch of these that I bought when they went on sale (they cost under SGD$30 at full price but when they go on sale you can get them for SGD$15-20), and I can see myself continuing to love them even after I’ve stopped nursing!

Have you got a great breastfeeding Motherhood Hack? Share it with me in the comments!