This week, we speak with Ms Nichol Ng, mother of 4, about her experience as a first-time parent and advice for new first-time parents!
Ms Nichol Ng is a member of Focal Area ‘Parenting Together’, under the Alliance for Action to Strengthen Marriages and Family Relationships, and Co-Founder of Food Bank Singapore. As a mom of 4 kids, she shares her experience when she was a first-time parent and her advice for other parents.
*This article is done in collaboration with the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF)
- May you share when you had your first child and how many children you currently have (Please share their ages and names, if possible)?
My first child was born in 2012 and I have 4 children. I was a first-time parent in 2012 with the birth of my oldest girl, Sascha. This was followed by Shaia in 2014, Xander in 2016 and my youngest, Skylar in 2019.
I have 1 boy, Xander, and 3 girls.
- Tell us more about your experience as a first-time mum and what your greatest challenge and joy was during that season of your life.
Since I was 14, I knew that I wanted to be a mum. My dream was actually having 6 kids but I started out too late. For me, conceiving was difficult as I suffered from an eating disorder since I was 11. So when I finally got pregnant in my 2nd year of marriage, it was such a joy. Pregnancy was a breeze – I stayed active till the last moment and indulged in my confinement. As I was active, the delivery was also very swift and all my 4 deliveries were natural without epidural.
The stress started to set in when the breastfeeding began. As a first-time mum, you would be concerned about whether you’re producing enough milk for your baby, along with many other questions. However, with the right support and mindset, you can overcome it.
For me, I thrive in the sleepless nights and I look forward to nursing my child.
While I enjoyed the bonding process, I also told my confinement aunty that we can include more formula milk if the baby is still hungry. If the baby is well fed, the baby sleeps well and therefore develops well. I will not let myself be judged whether I have sufficient breastmilk to feed, despite it being stressful at times.
Motherhood is another journey and milestone in my life, and I enjoyed being a slightly older mum.
- Looking back, what was one thing that you felt you needed the most guidance on, and how did you eventually overcome it?
Personally, I was relatively well prepared for the ups and downs of motherhood, but what I didn’t realise was how disturbed I can be with external comments on how I was as a mum. Every one seems to have their own advice, their own style, and their own dos and don’ts.
Honestly, it was my mum who told me trust my own instincts because mums know best. The child is yours, bring her up your way. I respect my mum because she didn’t enforce her own style of parenting on me, despite her nagging of how I can be too much of an ‘avant garde’ mum sometimes. But even my mum had to learn to trust her daughter that she knows what she’s doing.
We must understand and believe that bringing up a child is a journey and just like any journey, expect the unexpected and plan for the ups and downs. In all bad and challenging situations, they too shall pass.
- Many parents struggle with ‘mum/dad guilt’ when they feel they’re not adequately providing for their kids. In your opinion, what are some factors that help boost a parent’s confidence in this aspect?
Let’s be real – in these days of social media exposure, many children are more well versed and tend to compare what they have or don’t have with other kids. Sometimes, it adds stress on the parents. For example, during this school holiday, many have rushed to bring their families on overseas trips, but I have not booked one for a multitude of reasons.
The fear of losing out could have eaten me up, but I explained to the kids that we have a relatively big family and travelling now can be an expensive affair. Furthermore, with my youngest child being only 2 plus, her falling sick overseas will be another concern.
Instead of making myself feel guilty, I decided to use the opportunity to explain the struggles that I was facing on the business front and how we should not take every luxury or trip for granted. I feel that children should know the realities, and we should not shield them from everything.
Nonetheless, mum guilt is very real as I spend a lot of time juggling the business, the charities and social causes that I help. But I try to make every minute matter for my children and show them affection in their unique love languages. It’s not about how often but the way we express the love that resonates with them.
Parents also should take time out for self-love and self-indulgence, although I am guilty myself for not doing this enough. Only by caring for ourselves, will we have the capacity to look after the children.
Guilt in this circumstance is really all a mental state. If we can use the way of the court – “Innocent Till Proven Guilty”, then let the children be the best jury.
More about Alliance for Action to Strengthen Marriages and Family Relationships
In August last year, The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) had launched the Alliance for Action to Strengthen Marriages and Family Relationships, which brings together stakeholders, community partners and Singaporeans together to co-create solutions and implement them to strengthen marriages and families. There are 6 focal areas and I’m a member of Focal Area 3, Parenting Together. Through these efforts, we hope to inspire and support parents in their parenting journey. In order to cope with key transitions and better support their children’s development, parents can access various parenting resources such as just-in-time tips and topics as well as bite-sized parenting information.
Parents may also turn to Families for Life 365, which offers a suite of parenting and marriage programmes available in workplaces and community touchpoints e.g., the Positive Parenting Programme (Triple P), available as webinars or self-directed learning Triple P online. You may visit https://go.gov.sg/ffl-parenting-programmes for more information.
MSF has also designated 2022 as the Year of Celebrating SG Families (YCF). Led by the Families for Life (FFL) Council with support from the Ministry of Social and Family Development and the Alliance for Action to Strengthen Marriages and Family Relationships (AFAM), YCF is a whole-of-society movement which celebrates the importance of our families.
For more information, please visit https://go.gov.sg/CelebratingSGFamilies. Make your Celebrating SG Families Pledge online today at https://go.gov.sg/ycf-pledge and commit to simple acts that can strengthen family relationships.