Planning Your First Holiday as a Parent

As a new parent, each and every day holds an exciting experience. From the first time your baby clasps onto your finger, to their very first Christmas, each day adds to the wonder of being a mom or dad. Clearly, you want to make your first holiday season as a parent run as smoothly as possible.

Follow the tips below to plan your first holiday as a new family without a hitch:

1. Intimate or traditional? As a new parent, it’s well within your rights to want to spend your first holidays as a new family alone. If you plan to go this route, be prepared to explain to the grandparents why you’re choosing to exclude them from your holiday plans this year.

* Keep in mind that this holiday is special for others in your family, too. If you’re planning to spend a holiday alone with your new family, consider spending a few days before the actual holiday with both sets of grandparents to satisfy their wishes.

* If you’re being pushed into attending your parents’ traditional dinner, firmly stand your ground. Be as respectful as possible, but lovingly remind your family that this holiday is about you, your spouse, and your baby making your mark as a family.

2. Religious differences. Even if you’re already married, cultural and religious differences can often come into play for the very first time when the baby’s first holiday is near. If you and your spouse are clearly on the same page, this is much easier. However, if you believe differently, have a sit-down chat about what compromises you’re both willing to make.

* If you’re aware that your family and spouse’s family have differences in cultural and religious beliefs, consider incorporating both traditions into the holiday as much as you can.

3. Banish guilt. You are now a parent. And, as a parent, you make the decisions as to what is considered best for your child.

* Avoid feeling guilty for wanting to start your own holiday tradition this year. As a family, your own special traditions are a wonderful part of your family’s story. If people are truly upset that you are marching to your own drum, continue to keep your focus on the bigger picture.

* Remember that every member of your family that has children has dealt with family guilt when they attempt to start their own holiday traditions. Ask others for advice. You’ll ease your guilt and gain support at the same time.

4. Relieve the stress. Your new baby is too young to care whether you hung the garland correctly, burned the ham, or put too much mayonnaise in the potato salad. Stop stressing over the small details and just enjoy your first holiday as a parent.

* Many new parents feel as if they must do everything themselves in order to appear put together. But you’ll enjoy your holiday more if you ask for help!

* Chances are that your parents needed the help of their parents in your early childhood. And they’re likely waiting to blissfully lend a helping hand in your early stages of parenthood. Ask and you shall receive!

Clearly, your first holiday season as a parent is important. But if it’s laden with stress, it’s also important to take a step back, analyze the situation, and tame the source of your stress. This is a time for joy, love, and family. And, most importantly, it’s a time for snuggling with your little peanut!

Enjoy this holiday season as a new parent. After all, you only get to experience this once in a lifetime.

Shopping Trip – Ho Chi Minh City

I’ve just returned from a 3 days shopping trip from Ho Chi Minh City.  Here’s my review of the trip:

Airlines – Tiger Airways (  SGD 220 for return tickets. No frills flight and seats were not in good condition and rather uncomfortable.  Little leg space too.   Acceptable as a budget airline.   However, may not be suitable if you bring along small children.

Budget Terminal at Singapore – I like the fast clearance when I returned to Singapore.  As compared to Terminals 1, 2 & 3, took less than half hour to collect luggage and check out from the custom.

Hotel at HCM City – Liberty Central Hotel ( at District 1.  Relatively new 4 start hotel.  3 minutes to Benh Then Market.  Lots of perks like free transfer to hotel from airport, free laundry, free welcome fruit basket.  The staff are very helpful and polite.  Room is very comfortable and cosy.  For triple sharing, it costs USD105++

Shopping – Benh Thanh Market, west end of Le Loi, is like Chinatown Market in Singapore.  Lots of small shops selling similar products.  Bargain needed, prices are usually marked up by the stall owner.  The market is closed at around 5 pm.  After which, there will be night market around the market which sell similar products.

Another shopping hit spot is Saigon Square (not Saigon Centre) at 77 – 89, Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street, District 1.  It’s less cramp than Benh Than Market and ventilation is better.  Varity is lesser as compared to Benh Thanh Market. However, worth the visit.  Some of the stuff there, you can’t find at Benh Thanh Market.

Tax Department Store at Tax Shopping Centre – get your regular local products at the supermarket. It’s much cheaper than those small store near the hotels.

Le Loi Street – lots of small shops.  Tailored made clothes are cheap as compared to Singapore.  A dinner dress costs about USD55 (100% silk).  The tailor usually needs a day to make the dress, you can go for fitting the next day and they would do alteration for you, thereafter deliver the dress to your hotel free of charge the very same day or the day after.

Some recommendation:

1) Embroidery Shop – Ninh Khuong Embroidery at 44 Le Loi Ave, District 1 (  Good quality of embroidery cloths (though some designs can be found at Benh Thanh Market / Saigon Square but quality is definitely different!)

2) Tailor – Anh Silk Boutique at 151 Dong Khoi Street, District 1. 

3) Food –  (1) Quan Nam Giao at 136-15 Le Thanh Ton, District 1 (small alley – opposite Liberty Central Hotel); (2) Ngon, 138 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia (near the Reunification Palace); and (3) Pho 24.  23-25 Tran Nhat Duat St | Tan Dinh Ward, District 1 (must try – beef noodles).

Some tips:

1) Taxi – Go for those company registered taxi with metered-fare (the drivers wear uniform and tie).  If you are leaving from hotel to airport, get the concierge to help hail a taxi and pre-negotiate the price for you.

2) Safety – The traffic is chaotic there.  Lots and lots of motorcycles!  When you cross the road, be care of your belongings, hold them close to you.  Cross the road one step at a time, maintain eye contact and move forward slowly.  Don’t move backwards.

3) Currency – accept both Dong & US dollars.  If you want to change Dong, you can do so at the airport or at the money changer near Liberty Central Hotel.  The rates are pretty good! Remember to compare rates.