What do families do in Malaysia?

I have been in the UK for over 15 years now. That’s almost half my life spent here. It is only through holiday in Malaysia that I get to have a feel of what families generally do in Malaysia. Particularly ever since my siblings started having children.

Bringing up children in Malaysia is very different from bringing up children in the UK. If both parents have full time job, it is not uncommon to send their babies to be care for by carer or nanny. And I don’t mean sending them to day care. The babies in fact don’t even sleep with their parents at night. So parents only get to see their babies for a couple of hours a day at most on weekdays. This also means that babies in Malaysia stay up later than those in the UK. And that is again very common in Malaysia. I find this kind of arrangement fascinating. Is it in the knowledge that babies don’t have much memory at such age that parents do not mind staying away from their babies? Or that they just don’t want their babies to affect their sleeps and disrupt their life style etc. Some families get their stay-at-home maids to care for their babies as well. But increasingly it seems, at least for those who can afford to do so, that they will hire a separate nanny for caring the little ones, on top of the maids they hire to do house chores. In so doing the parents can continue to live the lifestyle like before they have any children. This to many can only be afforded by at least the upper middle class in the UK. Whether this is really an affordability issue I’m not very sure. But from what I can see is parents in the UK tend to or are more willing to spend more time with their children than those in Malaysia. At least that seems to be the case among my circle of friends and acquaintances anyway.

Ok so the Malaysians get to live their life on weekdays in particular. But what about weekends? On weekends they still like to spend time doing what they like to do. And shopping is one of their favourite pass time. It’s difficult to blame them because Malaysia is very hot in the day. Apart from air conditioned shopping malls there are not many other places for families to hang out. They may go to parks in the morning or evening. But parks in Malaysia are not as well equipped with children play items as in the UK. And they often look jaded due to the scorching sun in Malaysia all year round. Since public funding is scarcer than in the UK, these play items are also less well looked after or maintained.

Eating is another national pass time. Malaysia has plenty of choices when it comes to food. You can eat in hawker stalls or fine dining type restaurants. Speaking for Malaysians of Chinese ethic origin, they normally go to Chinese restaurants which are typically not children friendly. Everyone sits together at the big round table and tuck in. Kids menu is unheard of. And children will play with whatever they find and normally that means plates, bowls, chopsticks and what have you. This is fine if you do this once in a while, and go somewhere more children friendly occasionally. But no it is almost always adults oriented on where families go.

In addition, when parents want to go out, to meet friends, or just more private time for themselves, they can conveniently leave their children with their grannies, because family is tighter in the Far East. Whereas here the Brits don’t often live close together, let alone in the same house when they have their own family! When they go on a vacation, they leave their children behind too. This is tempting no doubt if given that kind of option. But it can be so much fun if the whole family can travel together.

Some parents don’t seem to appreciate that children grow very quickly. Once they get older they may not want to travel with you or to be too close to you any more even if you threaten them. And children are most innocent when they are young. So so much fun just to be around them. Ok not all the time as they can be a pain sometimes too, throwing tantrums, selfish and stubborn. But often the joy you get outweighs the pain you endure. If I were you I will treasure the moments the best I can. No one knows what life can throw at you next.

Avoid Berkshire Appliances for repair work

Okay think I’ve given Berkshire Appliances enough time to get back to me to explain why he stood me up yesterday. I left voice mail, called couple of times, both his mobile as well as the landline number on his website. Nope, he didn’t bother. I’m not going to bother and post this negative review of the service I received too. To be fair he sounded like he’s quite competent when I phoned him up. But it is of no use if you are not reliable and waste customers’ time. Not everyone can afford to sit at home and wait for you to turn up to do a job. I had to wake up real early in the morning so I could get off work early to make the appointment. It would have been nice he phoned and be apologetic about his absence, for whatever reason. But nope, absolutely nothing from him since. All these talks of economic recession and unemployment, don’t seem to affect these repairmen. With attitude like this I really don’t mind him going out of work.

Indoor soft play

Indoor soft play is a type of children play centre that we only recently found out about. There are loads of them in the UK, over a thousand of them, but somehow we are just unaware of their presence after living in the UK for over 15 years. My English friend has not been into one before, and probably has not even heard about it before! To be fair he has not got any kids yet.

In the UK these play centres are located away from busy areas like the high streets or city center. Rates at these locations are understandably higher. But they also don’t often have large and/or tall enough premises to house climbing frames which are normally found in every indoor soft play. So these play centres are often located at light industrial estates, in warehouses for example. This explains why we have not come across of them before. And the fact that we have few friends who have kids did not help too.

So in the UK many parents will make effort to bring children to these places like play ground and indoor soft play, where children can have a fun time (I think the parents enjoy having fun with their children too). In Malaysia, there are indoor play centres too (also known as play gyms in Malaysia). They are relatively small, when compared to those in the UK. But most importantly most if not all of them are located in shopping malls. How successful these play centres are I can’t tell. What I can say is families are charged more as a result of the premium location to get in in return for a poorer indoor soft play experience. Does not mean that there is not a business case for such model, as Malaysians like to visit shopping malls for whatever reasons and that means a one-stop location for the family to do everything. Parents are happy because they can shop and children also happy as they get to have fun in the soft play (of course provided the parents are happy to bring them in!). But from what I understand, these play centres seem purely for the children to play. There are often not a lot of space like seating area where the parents can sit down, relax and possibly catch up with friends if they go in a group. This is another interesting phenomenon in Malaysia. Often children are taken to wherever the parents want to go. And the places they go are often not children friendly. Children get bored quickly and make life difficult for the parents. Children friendly places on the other hand are not very parents or adults friendly. This is probably a big reason why parents are reluctant to bring their children into the play centres, as it is awkward for them to be there for long period of time.

I just hope that there will be more young family friendly places in Malaysia. Family should stay tight as a unit, whatever the circumstances. It is all too easy to leave children at home with their grannies and leave them to play on their own.