How Daddy can bring out your kid by yourself
Updated: Nov 22
There is a rather established, stereotypical view, which some may even describe as sexist, that women are inherently better at taking care of kids, for all things A to Z.
This may be true for certain endeavors. For example, unlike our fellow mammalians the dayak fruit bats, men remain biologically incapable of producing milk, meaning we cannot partake in the burden of direct breastfeeding with our wives.
However, for myriad other activities with kiddos, daddies are getting better and better at them, pouring our heart, sweat and guts into nurturing, cajoling, taking care of our Mini Mes.
Not that we are competing with mummy; it's just the right thing to do to share in this almighty endeavor with our wives, embrace our newfound responsibility, and double the dose of love and TLC for our little one.
After all, anyone would struggle to fathom how a tired, burnt out, frustrated mummy could possibly translate to a happy daddy, a happy kiddo, and a happy family.
So one of the more deceptively benign, innocuous things you can help mummy out is to simply bring kiddo out.
Why deceptively? Well, if you are a new daddy, you will have spent some time hunting for baby paraphernalia such as strollers, carriers and car seats. And come across blissful, rainbow tinted marketing images of daddy and mummy bringing kiddo out in whatever baby gear is being advertised. Heck, it even looks more blissful and relaxing than your courtship days with just the 2 of you.
You would think, bringing baby out is a piece of cake. Right?
That is, until you come across a scene in real life - bawling baby, flailing arms and legs, and poor daddy or mummy (sometimes both) looking as if they would struggle to cope even with octopus arms. This is not a stereotypical scene, but not too uncommon nonetheless.
Another question you may have is, how is bringing my child out helping mummy? Why can't I just help take care of my child at home?
Well, there are certain specific scenarios, albeit relatively rare, where keeping junior AWAY from mummy at home will actually do her some good. As parents of 2 children or more will attest to, one such scenario is the period straight after the birth of the younger one, AKA the confinement period. Or other times when mummy needs to rest e.g. from illness, overwork.
And the best way to allow mummy to rest well at home, if only for a few hours and preferably without cries echoing off the walls or a little human pining for her every 10 minutes, is to simply bring your child out.
I found myself in such a situation 3 years ago, when my wife was going through her confinement after the birth of our second child. Our older one was 30 months old at the time, and one fine Sunday, in order to let mummy and our newborn rest better at home, I decided to take my older one on an outdoor odyssey.
By myself, for the first time (the playground downstairs didn't count).
Was I dreading the trip, especially given that my older one was at an age where unpredictability and tantrums were the norm?
A little, yes, even though I was not exactly a new daddy.
Was the trip anywhere as blissful and rainbow tinted as that depicted in the aforementioned marketing images?
Seriously, no (these are called marketing images for a reason). I wasn't exactly beaming and whispering sweet nothings to my girl throughout the trip, but it was still a serene, fulfilling half day out.
We went to the train-themed playground at Tiong Bahru Park, followed by a visit to Tiong Bahru Plaza and a quick snack. By the time I started my way home, she had just snoozed off in the baby carrier. There were more smiles, giggles and laughter than frowns, sighs and crying. And I proudly reported back to my wife that, yeah, we enjoyed our very first father-kiddo trip out.
So how did I survive my maiden solo outdoor "adventure" with kiddo? Here are some good ol' tried and tested tips that worked for me and other daddies. Nothing fanciful, sophisticated or Einsteinian. Just simple, practical steps and preparation you can do, and you may even find yourself not only enjoying the trip, but planning for many more to come.
Planning of trip duration and itinerary
You can start by planning how long you need to bring your kid out, which will then determine the kind of activities and venues.
If you are bringing your child out on a longer trip by yourself for the very first time, you can take the safer option by catering for a shorter trip duration at somewhere relatively nearby e.g. 1 to 2 hours.
After all, sometimes in spite of all our fatherly love, separation anxiety with mummy is very real. If your child starts wailing for mummy 20 or 30 minutes into the trip, and inexplicably (or inevitably) you find your stress or panic levels shooting through the roof, hopefully a U-turn back home is still a survivable distance away.
So what can you do with your child for those 1 to 2 hours? Singapore may be small, but there are multiple places, seemingly nondescript, where children can be preoccupied, contented, or even enthralled.
The obvious starting places include the parks, playgrounds and shopping malls. And even within the malls, exploring the supermarket with your kiddo on a trolley can stimulate their senses (and sense of fun). Just try to make sure that your child does not fling the fruits onto the floor as part of their exploration!
If you are feeling more gung-ho and planning for a trip of half day or more, then obviously the range of venue possibilities widens quite considerably.
There are specific tot-friendly places and activities that different parts of our little red dot can take pride in, from the Science Centre, Singapore Discovery Centre and ice skating rink (outside rather than inside the rink, unless you are really so gung-ho) in the West, to plane or dino gazing in the Changi Airport area.
Other less bespoke, but no less interesting options for kiddo include:
Public libraries e.g. check out the newly-reopened Choa Chu Kang Library with its indoor garden and hydroponics display.
Pet shops e.g. while many such shops in malls nowadays only feature a very limited number of animals, Pet Lovers Centre's mega store at VivoCity showcases a much larger range such as dogs and birds.
Relatively hidden large open spaces for kiddo to simply burn off those limitless energy e.g. the rooftop deck of the National Gallery.
Preparation of essentials
Probably only when you become a parent do you come to appreciate that the word "essentials" is utterly subjective, depending on wh