I never thought in a million years that I would have moved to Hong Kong, nevermind getting married, having children and raising them in Hong Kong. I don’t regret for a minute that I moved here, met and fell in love with my husband. Now we have 2 beautiful kids that remind me that it’s better to keep things simple and be happy. I had no idea what it would be like to be pregnant or give birth in another country. In my naive mind, I thought I’d be in Canada, have a midwife and doula and be ideally in a birthing centre. Things are a little different here. You choose public or private. There is a midwife here that will do home births but it’s not really encouraged and requires a bit more work to register your baby, etc. We chose the public route with supplementary appointments with the private obstetrician.
Once you have children, most people think about schooling, some even put their embryos on waitlists. My husband and I don’t agree with that. We both want our kids to be kids first. I was also lucky that I would be able to take some extra time from work after having a baby. The average mom here gets 10 full weeks maternity leave, usually 4 weeks before the due date and 6 weeks after. I took about 5 months in total. We decided that we wouldn’t need a helper with our first baby. When I would be going back to work, my mom agreed to help us 2 days a week and my hubby would take care of our daughter on Saturdays when I worked. I was really lucky to be able to arrange to work 3 days a week.
However, when we got pregnant the second time around, we knew that a helper would probably be best and that I wouldn’t be rushing back to work. My mom wouldn’t be able to help as much regularly and 2 young ones so close together I would need some help with the domestic chores so I could have the maximum time with the kids. I feel really fortunate that I have been able to stay at home with the kids and have a helper here.
It is hard though at the same time. You feel guilty that you are able to have extra help and even with extra help I feel I don’t get enough done. Now that Sophie is in school for a few hours a day, I finally feel I can take some time to myself and do exercise. Parenting here can get complicated though. Parents get so consumed by all the classes their babies, yes babies as young as 4 months can do different classes to stimulate their senses, music, swimming, etc. However, all this costs money and with one income, that makes extra classes difficult. Instead we chose to meet with moms in my area or baby groups I had joined so that the babies get the socializing without the class pressures. We did try soccertots for S and now that she’s 3, we signed her up for a dance movement class in the area. There’s sometimes peer pressure to put your kids in lots of classes which is difficult. I try to stimulate S and A at home with different things that don’t necessarily cost a lot of money.
Hong Kong is great for kids too. They get exposed to lots of different people, the kids get to see lots of Asia, like our recent trip to Thailand and luckily, in our part of Hong Kong there is a bit of nature so that they aren’t totally city kids:) I like being a parent here but I definitely miss aspects of my home country that I think could enhance parenting but right now, we got make it work for us and our kids in Hong Kong.