Motherhood around the world

This is a post I wrote way back in December 2015 on my previous blog. But I still love reading it even now so I took it with me here.

“As a new mom I feel compelled to read every piece baby literature I can get my hands on, in order to try (emphasis on try) better understand what’s going on with the newest resident of my household: my three months and a half Levi. I guess this is a new fear present in my head around the clock nowadays: what if I miss doing something my little one would need in order to evolve into the best version of himself? And what if years and years from now he’ll come back to me asking “Why? But why..?!”. Insert big gulp from my part and smell of brain on fire while …nothing eloquent comes out of my mouth. Nightmarish scenario, I’m telling you. I know I pulled this one out with my folks…so I kinda feel I have it coming. 🙂

As you can probably guess from the introduction, I’m following (maybe even virtual stalking a little bit) a lot of people more in-the-know than I am for information. One of these people I very much like to read from is Joanna Goddard&team aka cupofjo.com. I follow her posts via bloglovin.com (think of it as blog heaven for the lazy – where you can read all the new stuff from your fav blogs).

She posted a most wonderful series called “Motherhood around the world” where mothers from everywhere share their experience on how it is to live, give birth, raise a child, etc in the country they currently live in. I found it very fascinating and refreshing. And even more than that, I found it comforting, which was exactly what I needed. While reading post after post after post I had some “A-haa!” moments from time to time seeing that there is no unique right way to care for kids – people do it so differently starting from education to food, to play time, to… well everything actually.

Of course all those fears I have will never ever be completely brought to silence (and someday maybe I’ll come to better terms with that) but, on the bright side of things (which was about time to make an appearance) I think spending time getting informed and reading such materials help me keep them more in control, which is a totally awesome thing for me to accomplish.

Back to the motherhood series I was just telling you about, some of the opinions were in line with my own beliefs, other less so – I am still a product of the way I was raised to see things, but some items are definitely keepers. I’ve posted below some parts that I’d like to revisit in the future.

Enjoy!

Note: The excerpts and pictures below have been taken from cupofjo.com

EXCERPT FROM 14 SURPRISING THINGS ABOUT PARENTING IN SWEDEN

“On napping outdoors: Even in the thick of winter when temperatures are below zero, many Swedish parents put their kids, bundled up in their strollers, outside to nap. They say children sleep longer and better this way and believe the cold and that fresh air is good for a child’s immune system. And here, if you’re sick your doctor will say, open the window when you go to bed at night, fresh air cures all! When I first moved here, I went to meet a friend for coffee in the pouring rain. She told me her baby was asleep outside in the stroller, like it was the most natural thing in the world. His stroller had a waterproof cover, and she could see his stroller outside the window. I realized that it was not actually that crazy when I compared that approach to bringing a wet stroller with a sleeping baby, all bundled up in winter gear, inside a crowded, stuffy cafe, full of germs, trying to find a place to park the stroller, then risking waking him by undressing him so he doesn’t overheat. All of a sudden, leaving him outside seemed like a pretty great option!”

EXCERPT FROM 20 SURPRISING THING ABOUT PARENTING IN GERMANY

“On teaching self-reliance: Hugo is two, and we recently had a parent/teacher conference with his daycare. The teacher said, “I’m concerned about his coming into the group of older kids.” I asked why, and she said, “He needs to learn to stand up for himself more. When other kids come up and take toys away from him, he just lets it happen.” I was like, well, isn’t that just sharing? And she said, “He needs to either take the toy back or fight. We teachers can’t fight all his battles for him!” I was laughing inside, because it was SO different from how we were socialized as children. In the U.S., we were taught that you have to share, you have to compromise. In Germany, it’s all about self-sufficiency and standing up for your rights. When German friends come over, and Hugo wants to play with something the other kids are playing with, my German friends will say to their kids, “Come on, take it back! Did you not want him to play with it? Go take it back.” It’s not meant to be confrontational or mean in any way. But their emphasis is teaching the child to stand up for himself.”

On non-helicopter parenting: Childhood is a time of freedom and happiness. I see little kids walking or biking to or from school alone all the time. Sometimes on weekends, I’ll see kids in the neighborhood all alone, buying breakfast rolls for their families. Once a kid is around seven or eight years old, parents really encourage more autonomous behavior (that is controlled, obviously). Germans prize independence in children, which can feel a little strange to someone brought up in an American-Italian home (I think my parents would still like to hold my hand while crossing the street and I’m 36). The non-helicopter parenting totally extends into teenagerhood. I remember all my German friends having co-ed sleepovers. When you have a boyfriend or girlfriend, from basically fourteen on, you sleep over at their house in their room, unsupervised. Parents are so much more permissive and trusting—there’s a whole groundwork being laid of self-sufficiency and trust.”

EXCERPT FROM 16 SURPRISING THINGS ABOUT PARENTING IN CHINA

“On a diaper-free culture: Babies wear split pants, and they’ll pee and poop on the ground. My American friends say, “I’m so jealous that they potty train sooner,” but the definition of potty training is completely different here. Back home potty training means going on a toilet, whereas here potty training means going on command. It’s more laid back. Chinese moms will hold their baby and whistle, and then the child will go potty on the ground. The other day, while I was walking my daughter to school, we saw two older boys pooping on egg cartons. They’re potty trained to go anywhere—not to wait to hold it and go a toilet. One big bonus: When our kid has to go, we’re not scrambling to find a public restroom.”

EXCERPT FROM 12 SURPRISING THINGS ABOUT PARENTING IN ABU DHABI

“On hiring help: I’d never hired a nanny before moving to Abu Dhabi, but now we have full-time help. Our nanny, Tsega, is Ethiopian, and she helps cook, clean and take care of the kids six days a week.

Most domestic help comes from outside the country—Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, the Philippines or Bangladesh—and it’s extremely affordable. People here say “nanny” or “housemaid.” Everyone—both locals and expats—has a housemaid, and often a driver. I’ve seen everyday Emiratis with a maid for each child!

I realize this is a controversial subject for some American women. Among the women I knew in Utah, it was common to have five or six kids and take care of them full-time, with no help. I felt real pressure to have a beautiful meal prepared every night, vacuum lines on the carpet, kids looking like they stepped out of Crewcuts—all while having perky breasts and wearing size 6 skinny jeans. For me, that was impossible. I felt like I was constantly failing. Soon after we moved to Abu Dhabi, our middle child, Asher, was diagnosed with autism, and we hired Tsega because I just couldn’t keep up. She swept in, with her soft gentle voice and impeccable cooking and cleaning skills, and saved us. She gave me TIME! Time to focus on my kids individually; time to actually have date nights with my husband; time to start my own business. Having full-time help has been a huge benefit to living in this city, and it’s something I’ll be sad to give up.

It’s worth mentioning that there has been some local controversy here about housemaids being worked too hard. For example, the Ethiopian government recently stopped allowing the UAE to recruit Ethiopian maids because of reports that they’re literally being asked to work day and night, seven days a week, by local families. I can only speak to my own experience, but we talk often to Tsega about her hours and pay and are very careful to make sure feels she is being treated fairly. I truly feel like she is part of our family and I adore her. Right now we’re paying for her to take computer and English classes so that when we leave, she’ll be in a position to move forward with her career and send more money to her family back home.”

EXCERPT FROM 13 SURPRISING THINGS ABOUT PARENTING IN CONGO

On hiring nannies and housekeepers: Jill: We had never hired people to work in our homes before moving to Congo. But it’s expected here for families who are relatively well off to use some of that income to provide work for others.[…]

[…]In Congo, all women are called “Mama So-and-So” out of respect, whether you’re a mother or not. I thought I would be uncomfortable sharing my mama title, but I’m not. It’s a strange relationship—that of nanny and parent and child—but one that is less threatening and more loving than I expected. Now it’s hard to imagine raising children without so many mamas.[…]

“On weight: Jill: There’s no need to step on a scale on the continent of Africa. I know I’m gaining weight when I start getting compliments on my appearance. More specifically, my butt. I’ve been told, with great kindness, that I looked “nice and fat” after returning from a vacation. The tailor who recently made me a dress looked at my lackluster curves and reassured me that she could figure out how to add in boobs and a butt via some magical seams.

Sarah: Recently I took some photos of some of the Mamas in my children’s lives, and Mama Youyou gently brought me Mamitsho’s photo saying, “Madame, umm, hmm, well…Have you seen this photo of Mamitsho? Well, hmm, has she seen it? Is she okay with this?” I told her I thought it was a lovely picture of Mamitsho, and in fact everyone who has seen it comments on how nice she looks. (In retrospect, I guess it was only Americans giving the compliments.)

“Well, Madame, it’s not a good photo,” said Mama Youyou. “She looks skinny. It must be embarrassing for her. You can see her”—and then she yell-whispered—”collarbone!” Body fat is a precious thing here; a sign of nutrition, comfort and a good life.

Jill: The different perspectives on bodies and beauty are something that comes up fairly often. I just read an article in a local magazine about tia foin, the dangerous trend of women using prescription medications to fatten up a bit. It’s the same discussion as we might see in the pages of Marie Claire or Elle about weight-loss drug use among women, but with a completely different spin.”

EXCERPT FROM 10 SURPRISING THINGS ABOUT PARENTING IN JAPAN

On food: Kids here eat mostly very healthy…tons of rice! Lunch boxes are mainly rice balls—sometimes wrapped in seaweed—with a little egg omelet, sausage and broccoli. The tricky part is that there isn’t labeling like in the U.S. So when you buy eggs or vegetables, you don’t know if they’re organic or not. My husband thinks it’s because all the food is good quality, but it frustrates me not to know. In Brooklyn I was part of a food coop and I bought all organic…Here I just have to close my eyes and buy it!

10 SURPRISING THINGS ABOUT PARENTING IN NORWAY

On marriage: People work a lot fewer hours in Norway than they do in the U.S. For example, my husband works for the government for 37.5 hours per week (8am to 3:45pm, five days a week). That’s typical. Since both parents work, marriage partnerships feel much more equal here. Families tend to eat dinner together around 5pm. The housework is mostly divided, and I don’t know any husband who doesn’t help cook dinner and take care of the kids. I see just as many dads picking up their kids from Barnehage as I do moms.

For the whole series check them on Joanna blog here: Motherhood around the world

I would really love to see a series about Romania too. Thank you cupofjo.com for all this wonderful information!

How does the future look like to you?

This is a post I wrote back on 24 February 2016 on my previous blog. I love it even now and wanted to bring it with me here.

Have you ever wondered how will the world look like in some decades from now? I think about that quite often, with mixed feelings: with awe because I’m a very curious person and I love how new discoveries in all science areas improve our lives, and with a lil bit of fear (ok insert a little bit more fear here) because well…I’m gonna have many more years behind me. I do imagine myself as a sexy (yup yup), witty, elegant old lady but…the fear feeling is still there. Now…brushing off melancholy, I’m gonna go to the more fun part of this story. I’m gonna tell ya all boys and girls, what I imagine we’ll find in this mysterious future of ours: In about 20 years from now…

CARS WILL BE DRIVING THEMSELVES

1. The first that comes to mind is actually a classic one: I think all cars will be able to drive themselves (the option exists nowadays but it is not widespread) and people will be allowed less and less to take manual control of their vehicles. I thought about this ever since I saw this cool 2004 Will Smith movie I,robot (a must see if you’re asking me) where this very concept was introduced. It would definately solve a lot of issues, like having to get a driver’s license, saying no that beer with friends because well…you need to drive home afterwards.

However, like with all things, I like the idea of having a choice over what you want to do. There are many people around me that truly enjoy driving as a way to relax. For me, my car means only a means of transportation (a really nice one though): I really appreciate the protection it offer in rainy or snowy days or when I’m just running late, but…driving it not one of the areas I’m most passionate about. I prefer when someone else does it (like with public transport) because I get a little bit more time to read, chat with my lady friends, read the news or check my Facebook account. 🙂

KNOWING HOW TO CODE WILL BE ESSENTIAL TO EVERYDAY LIFE

Knowing how to code in some language will be as important as it is right now being able to do basic operations on a computer. Since we use technology more and more in our everyday lives (most of our work day is spent in front of a computer), I think it will be just as normal (and expected) to be able to communicate with that technology in a way it can understand and respond. For many folks, the thought is totally scary. But, try thinking of it as learning a new foreign language. If you get past the idea that coding is just for geeky geniuses that live in a totally different universe, it might even get a little bit fun. (don’t start throwing with those eggs at me just yet :p)
I admit, this is something still on my goal list so I’m not quite there either. But…still on the list.

MORE REALISTIC(AND SF) TV SHOWS

We could be able to see TV shows like 3d holograms. Imagine how it could be to be virtually in the first row at a designer presentation or if you’re a guy, to be able to actually be in the middle of a football game with the players running all around you. Crazy!

If that sounds totally like chinese to you (assuming you don’t know Chinese, that is) you can get a grasp of what I’m talking about here.

Fun game idea for you or to play with the little ones: Did you know you can create a basic 3d hologram with your phone? If you’re curious, you can find the how-tos here.

WE’LL BE ABLE TO 3D PRINT ALMOST EVERYTHING

3D printed organs will be used as mass market solution to a very wide range of purposes: from printing our clothes based on a file sent by the online shops you like (instead of waiting for days in a row to be shipped that hopefully perfect fit dress), to solve the issues caused by long transplant lists, as all organs will be created to be compatible with one’s DNA (which, to be honest, is such an awesome thing).
Even building and decorating a house will be “affected”. Imagine how awesome it will be to see that perfect coffee table “being born” in your living room and under your eyes. Honestly, I can’t wait for this stuff to become more affordable and commonly used. My wardrobe is waaaaaiting 🙂
Note: 3d printing (for objects, medical purposes, etc) exists nowadays but it is not mass affordable or mass known.

MY KIDDO WILL BE A GROWN-UP

Last but not least on the list:my son Levi will be 20 years old… A cool guy just finishing college, going to Uni and heading to his very own path in life. Sigh! OMG! This thought makes me go fill myself a glass of good wine. Cheers to that!

9 ways to take better care of yourself

I have this book I’ve bought a couple of years ago and red about 4 times I think, written by a lady that moved from France to Japan because she felt the simplicity culture and uncomplicated way of living deeply resonated with her. And it’s a really great read.

More to the point, she talks about how to simplify the daily chores to have more time for yourself and the things you enjoy. It seems that Japanese people make it their ritual and discipline to take a care of their bodies and minds every day.

However, given the crazy pace of our lives it sounds like science fiction to have more time to put into something else when we finish everything that needs to be done.  Nothing would sound better than crashing on the couch with a glass of wine or just a pillow. Heh! 🙂

how to live more with less Continue reading

3 effective budgeting tips to save more money each month

radu

After giving birth to my son Levi, I felt more and more that even though I didn’t do too much shopping or made much savings, my money just…well kinda mysteriously disappeared.

I believe it’s a feeling most of the people have, but especially the ones having children. And well… it’s terribly frustrating.

As I didn’t want to give up all the things I like, I started looking for ways to better manage my money. I need to mention: I’m the laziest person I know when it comes to things I don’t like or don’t have to really but really have to do.

This meant I had to search for something that was simple, effective and resonate me and the things I like to do.

So I just started by laying down a list of stuff I would (in theory) like to do. (Almost) everything that crossed my mind as a solution. I came back to it a couple of days later, took a deep breath and started thinking: Ok… now, knowing me, which of those things I would actually put in practice in reality?

It turned out that many ideas SOUNDED good or very good, but the truth was that they didn’t resonate with my way of being. Or were things that I would never ever find the energy or time or will (the little that’s left of it) to make them happening.

So I crossed them from my list. And crossed again and again until I remained with only the three items below that sounded true to me: keep track of your expenses, increase your value, be persistent in your actions.

So let me tell my thoughts on each one:

1. Keep track of your expenses

The first step to get in charge of your finances is knowing where your money go each month. I had the surprise to see after doing this little exercise that I was spending much, much more money than I initially thought I did. 😐

I also noticed I was spending a lot of money on things I didn’t really need, but bought anyway (marketing victim anyone?) So what to do?

I created an excel file (you can use the same or just any app that helps tracking finances – for me after testing several of apps, the plain old excel was the best) and I created a sheet for each month. Then, inside the sheet, I’d put the day, and list below all expenses made that day. At the end of the month I’ll just create a filter a see how much I’ve spent on each of my categories: food, Levi, home expenses, personal development, beauty, clothing, outings, travel, unexpected payments.

This gave me a great (and also kinda uncomfortable) vision of my expenses each month. It’s scary each time you draw the line and make the math for the last 30 days. And it’s also uncomfortable to put every little something you buy in the excel.

For example, I noticed I generally spend most money on food, Levi and going out.

What are your biggest expenses?

If you would like to put in place a money tracking system like mine, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll try to help you get started. Taking on this challenge it’s totally worth it: You’ll see where you spend most, where you could spend less and how much money you actually need to survive. It’s one of the first steps to financial independence in my opinion.

2. Increase your value

The first step above helps you create a financial discipline. With better money tracking you should be able to have more for the things that you need and like. But as we will always have some bills to pay, having  more money also means to increase your value to be able to push those financial limits.

Increasing your value means to me learning new things and improving your knowledge in some areas. But what should you learn? Not every knowledge you obtain is knowledge that you can monetize. So what would actually bring more money? A few examples:

  • Look for ways to better do your job and put them in practice so you could qualify for a raise. Then ask for the raise.
  • Look for a better position in your company and try learning the necessary skills to get there
  • Try looking for a better position outside your company – going to interviews shows you what people are looking for and what you could learn to be better paid
  • Start blogging about your passion – there are a lot of people out there that can sustain themselves through blogging
  • Meet with people. People bring with them new opportunities to do business
  • Read, read and read some more. Be connected to what is happening in this world and to the domains where you want to earn more money from. Knowledge is power – always true.

I like to sign up for feeds on the subjects I’m interested in so whenever I have a free moment I go check what’s new. My favorite is bloglovin. I choose my interests and I receive news daily from blogs that write about subjects I want to hear about.

Also, I have started learning french (1 hour a week because of lack of time). It’s not much, but it’s a little something that in time will add up to a bigger something. I am also reading each day on ways to improve my blogging knowledge, because my plan is to be able to earn money from it in the future. I do that every time I have a little break. But it adds up to an hour or two (made up from 5 minutes now, 10 minutes later, and so on).

Just like you I don’t have much time. Most days I feel I have no time. But as long as each day or week I know with at least 10 minutes more things than I did the day before, it’s the step forward to meeting my goals.

3. Be persistent in your actions

After you’ve chosen a thing or two to improve on, even if you have only 5/10 minute a day, or every 2 days, don’t stop. The first thing to succeed in something is to start. The second thing is to not stop. Don’t beat yourself up if you didn’t do what you planned sometimes or several times. Just don’t stop. Whenever you can, continue where you left and keep going.

If you put 10 minutes a day into something…in 7 days you will have put an hour and a half

In a month it would be like 6 hours (like…almost a working day)

In two months it might be about 10 hours

In 6 months that would be about 3 whole days you would have spend doing your thing.

When you look at it this way, it changes your perspective a bit 🙂

Persistence always pays off. Wink 🙂

 

You can also check:  Heaven is for real