Today afterninemonths hosts a guest post from Multiple Mama with ‘A Day in the Life of a Expat Twin Mum in Hong Kong’.
It’s 6.30am and squeals of laughter are coming through the baby monitor that’s on the nightstand. Not that the monitor is totally necessary given the lack of sound insulation in Hong Kong apartments. Multiple Mama’s boy/girl twins are awake and playing peekaboo with each other through the bars of their cots. Another day in the life of a multiple mummy in Hong Kong begins.
Multiple Mama’s first order of the day is to get everyone fed, changed, washed and dressed. Daddy helps with the first 15 minutes then he’s off to work. The once-minimalist living room is now effectively a playroom so the children play happily while Multiple Mama gets breakfast ready. As Mama and twins rise from the breakfast table leaving the debris from twin toddler breakfast behind, Mama thanks her lucky stars that she has a domestic helper (very common in Hong Kong) who will magically make the floor reappear.
Limited living space and toddling twins is not a recipe for a peaceful morning, so it’s time to get out of the apartment.
Visiting places within walking distance is easy thanks the huge double stroller, which required Mama to carefully measure the doors and lifts in her building before purchasing. Once out, Mama is greeted by a barrage of questions and comments. From experience, she is prepared to answer for the hundredth time, ‘Are they twins? Two boys? Two girls?’ She resists the urge to reply along the lines of: ‘No, I just borrowed the second baby for the day’.
If there is a cloud in the sky or a drizzle of rain, there is the added bonus of doormen, supermarket staff and other random passers-by reminding her that ‘It’s cold’ or ‘It’s raining’ while casting a dubious eye over what she’s chosen to dress her children in today. Mama grits her teeth and nods.
For places beyond walking distance, a private car is by far and away the easiest way to travel. But if there is no car, it’s time to run the gauntlet of getting a taxi with twins. A multitude of options await Multiple Mama in this situation:
- take the double stroller and both twins by herself, securing one on her lap and one beside her in the car (very difficult)
- take a single stroller for one twin and carry the second in a baby carrier, securing the twin in the stroller beside her in the taxi (difficult but possible if the single stroller can be folded and lifted with one hand)
- take one twin in a baby carrier and have Mama’s helper / nanny / friend take the other in another baby carrier (by far the easiest option).
Mama knows that if she takes a stroller(s), she will most likely have to wait in vain for the taxi driver to help her wrestle these essential pieces of equipment into the trunk. But hey, at least no-one tried to jump in her cab while she maneuvered everyone from the pavement to the cab. As the taxi driver unleashes his inner rally driver, she tries to calm her nerves as she recalls that ‘It is illegal in [insert most countries apart from HK] to travel without car seats….’
Hong Kong is a crowded place, but once Mama has made it to places like Central and Causeway Bay with her double stroller, she knows congratulations are in order. She is now queen of the sidewalk! She announces her presence by calling out ‘excuse me’ to the people ahead. They might not understand her, but no-one’s going to argue with that machine coming towards their ankles…
Back home, the day is broken up by the most wonderful of times, naptime. Mama represses an inward groan at the thought that even as both kids snooze, she cannot have the house to herself as her helper lives-in. She then rediscovers the advantages of full-time help as lunch appears without her having to so much as set foot in the kitchen…
The afternoon is a good time for a trip to a park, playroom or one of the multitude of classes available in Hong Kong for even the youngest child. With twins, however, the ‘one adult per child’ rule for many classes and playrooms means that a second adult usually needs to be present. Few parks are gated, even those close to main roads, so with young toddlers a second adult is again usually required. Mama thanks her stars once more that help is readily available. On days when some mummy-and-me-and-me time is needed, the beach or country parks are good options – everything is within easy driving distance and a huge advantage of living in a small territory.
Dinnertime and the lovely thing about HK is that the vast majority of people are very tolerant of kids in even the nicest restaurants. As a toddler yet again drops a morsel of food on the floor, Mama knows that an understanding waiter will tell her that it is not a problem. They’ll even let her come back! And if she’s lucky, they’ll help entertain a baby or two by waving at them and bringing other staff to have a look at ‘the twins’.
Back home, the bath is done, the final feed complete, and the kids are asleep. Multiple Mama puts her feet up as dinner magically appears on the table. There are plenty of times when Hong Kong feels like the best place to be a multiple mama.