Bored Singaporean Homemaker Starts Talking To Herself

Hello, this is The Modern Homemaker again.

Ordinary Woman In An Extraordinary Situation

I hope you now know a bit more about me after having read my first blog entry here. I am a rather ordinary woman who now find myself in a rather extraordinary situation. Haha, what do I mean by that?

I drew this on my chalkboard at home. It is from a Yoshitomo Nara painting. 
Previously, when I was working, life was all about work, work and work. However, since I stopped work to follow my husband to Beijing, life is now all about household chores and projects I love. Why do I then say I am in an extraordinary situation? Well, this is because I suddenly find myself in the privileged situation of having lots of free time to do all the things I have always wanted to do. I should be happy right? Yes I am now. But I wasn't doing so well initially...

The Nightmares

I started having nightmares every single night (almost) for nearly 3 months since I stopped work. I would often dream of ghost(s)/monster(s)/murderer(s) chasing me and would often wake up in a cold sweat. According to my husband, I would also talk gibberish and scream in my sleep and would swing my limbs all over the place. He claimed I had hit him many times in my sleep. But he couldn't procure any form of evidence so I didn't believe him. He had then threatened to film me whilst I was sleeping. A bit like what the pesky boyfriend did in the movie "Paranormal Activity" when the evil spirits harassed his girlfriend. My husband postulated that the service apartment that we had stayed in in Beijing was haunted and was the cause of my nightmares. What rubbish. I had never encountered anything spooky in the service apartment apart from my obsessions with household chores.

My Famous Grandmother And Mother From Muar

Yes, I was very obsessed with household chores. I wanted to become super homemakers like my grandmother and mother. When my grandmother was alive, she was famous in Muar (her hometown) for her "otak-otak" and other local yummy kuehs like "ang ku kueh". My mother is also often praised for her famous curry chicken and "ngor hiang". Oooo, I am starting to salivate just thinking about yummy food. So you see, I wanted to become super homemakers like them because I wanted to be praised as well for my yummy food. I was also hoping that I could become a famous chef like Chef Wan! Haha, that was me during the period of March 2011 to June 2011.

 My sundried tomatoes, basil, cheese and olive scones
My yoghurt blueberry muffins 
My sugar cranberry muffins 
Please don't start thinking that I really enjoyed doing household chores and wanted to stay a homemaker for the rest of my life. Although I had secret ambitions to become a super homemaker and a famous chef during the period of March 2011 to June 2011, I had actually hated doing household chores and found it boring. However, I convinced myself that if I was going to be a homemaker, I was going to become the best homemaker ever!

However, the boredom started to wear me down and suffocated me so much that I slowly started to lose grip on my ambitions to become a super homemaker and a famous chef. Sometimes, I would talk to myself at home when I got bored and missed human interaction. I would say out loud things like "oh, I should do the laundry now" or "shouldn't I be prepping the food now for cooking later". Seriously, I felt like this was it. My life. Nothing more. Nothing less. Not unhappy. Not happy. This was it. I felt that I was slowly drowning in my sea of misery.

Putting An End To The Suffocating Boredom Between June 2011 To Mid-August 2011

At the beginning of June 2011, I finally had enough of the suffocating boredom and my life as a bored homemaker. I decided to engage in other projects other than just household chores:

(1) June 2011 to mid August 2011 - I helped out as a librarian at a non-governmental organisation in Beijing twice a week; and

(2) June 2011 to mid August 2011 - attempting (/pretending) to study my online self-guided art course with The Museum of Modern Art. I was so unmotivated about it that my husband had to lock me up in the study so that I could concentrate on my course!

No use - I was still wrapped up in boredom and I couldn't breathe. I started to consider going back to work.

Self-diagnosis Of The “Intelligent Housewife Syndrome” in Mid-August 2011

In the middle of August 2011, I came across this amazing article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal called "The Intelligent Housewife Syndrome" written by M. Lattey, M.D. M. Lattey, M.D.'s learned opinion was that “The Intelligent Housewife Syndrome” could affect a housewife who has the following qualities:

(1) she is of above average intelligence and ability;

(2) she had performed well at school; and

(3) she did interesting work prior to getting married and she did it not just to pass time but actually enjoyed it and derived satisfaction from it.

Hmmmm. I am of above average intellect on most days. I did reasonably well in school and was taught to be the best that I could be and to think out of the box. I derived a lot of satisfaction from my previous job as a lawyer and strangely I did enjoy it (but I could only say it now with hindsight).

"Unfortunately for her, this woman has a good brain, and an education; and the demands of caring for a home, and small children, may satisfy her reproductive instincts but fail to satisfy the requirements of her intellectual abilities. She becomes frustrated and bored, and eventually presents the symptoms which I wish to describe.”

"It is no use trying to make these women accept the role of being “only a housewife”; they have already attempted this and found it wanting. They find housework, and the sole company of small children, lonely and boring."

"It also does not help them to palliate their problem with “busy” work or hobbies, unless the hobby is so absorbing that it becomes an occupation in itself. These women need work to challenge their abilities. They need to know that they are doing something worth while, and that they are using the brain which they developed when they were younger.”

“In addition to this, the patient has been out of touch with her work for some time. She may need encouragement to overcome her lack of confidence in her rusty abilities, so that some retraining may be needed.”

“I believe that such frustrations can be potent sources of emotional illness. Unless we recognize this development in our patients, some of the best women in our society will fail to develop to the full, and will become casualties to outmoded ideas.”

Symptoms Of "The Intelligent Housewife Syndrome"

It is specified in the article that an "intelligent housewife" may display various symptoms such as the following (although symptoms may vary from "intelligent housewife" to "intelligent housewife"):

(i) headaches;

(ii) anxiety attacks;

(iii) nervousness;

(iv) digestive upsets;

(v) depression with weeping spells;

(vi) complain they are bored and that life is passing them by while they are doing nothing worthwhile with it; and

(vii) feelings of guilt because they think should be satisfied with their happy families instead of feeling unhappy.

Well, I was displaying symptoms (i) to (iv) above but it could very well be due to the fact that my body was trying to adapt to a new country. No, I was not showing symptom (v) but I seldom cry. No, I was not feeling guilty as per (vii) above. But I was definitely complaining and complaining non-stop as per (vi) above. I managed to somehow convince myself that I was suffering from “The Intelligent Housewife Syndrome” based on such observations. I was also convinced that having daily nightmares was also one of the atypical symptoms of “The Intelligent Housewife Syndrome”. I was thus self-diagnosed in mid-August 2011 as suffering from “The Intelligent Housewife Syndrome”.

Cure for “The Intelligent Housewife Syndrome”

I felt that I had to find a cure quickly. I needed more intellectual stimulations quickly. So this was what I did:

(1) August 2011 and continuing - researching ideas for blogs/sites/businesses;

(2) September 2011 and continuing - learning all the techie stuff about setting up a blog and setting up my first blog "The Modern Homemakers" and then my second blog "The Modern Homemakers @ NaNoWriMo 2011" (you can see both blogs by clicking on their names under my name in my sign-off below); 

(3) September 2011 and continuing - I intend to devote my time to studying methods of advertising through social media and bringing traffic to my blogs and I also intend to read all the self-help, motivational and business e-books that I have downloaded;

(4) September 2011 to October 2011 - researching and coming up with a business plan (this is going to be tough) for Project Secret (ssssshhhh, don't tell anyone, this is a secret); and

(5) October 2011 and continuing - executing my business plan for Project Secret (if approved) or if not approved to continue to fine tweak it and brainstorm for other ideas.

Symptoms of “The Intelligent Housewife Syndrome” have subsided

I don't really feel the effects of "The Intelligent Housewife Syndrome" these days although I still have self-doubts about my life sometimes. But I am not worried. I know I will recover eventually. I know that if I continue to engage myself intellectually by reading and learning, I will get better. I hope that if you ever find yourself to be in the same situation as me, you will not despair. You just need to constantly apply yourself intellectually by reading and learning new things. After you have read and learnt these new things, please don't forget to apply your knowledge in what you are doing in your life. Knowledge is king and when you have so much knowledge you can apply, you will soon feel like a King (ok ok Queen if you are a lady) too.

Let's keep learning, thinking and creating and be happy Modern Homemakers! 
Thank You Very Much

I have now come to the end of my case study on myself with regards to "The Intelligent Housewife Syndrome".

Thank you very much for listening to me. I appreciate it very much. The next time we speak, hopefully I will have recovered.

Yours truly,

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  1. Your scones look pretty awesome though!

  2. Hello Mynn! Haha, thanks! I was baking so much I had to give everything away because my husband hates to eat sweet stuff :)

  3. Nice to know you ;) and your blog too!

  4. Hi I-ping,
    I have an ambition to be a homemaker (more flexibility for myself and more time with my 3 kids), but I know that I would need to be doing something - freelance projects, part-time businesses, hobbies. I'm still not able to quit my job at the moment though.

    All the best with your writing and Project Secret and studies :)

  5. Aloha Molly ;)

    Nice to know you too! Your profile picture is so cute! Your kids?

  6. Hiya Siti

    Yes, it is really nice to have more time for the family :)

    So far, I am really enjoying staying at home and working from home. I am trying to set up a small online business which will hopefully be successful so that I will be able to work from home permanently!

    What kind of freelance projects or part time businesses do you wish to do? There are loads of ideas online!

    Thanks for your well wishes :)


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