Tag Archives: zuo yuezi

Three months living with Mother-in-law

Our daily life changed a lot during the past months. For one, our little baby was born and second, mother-in-law came to “help” us for three months. Those three months will end next week, so it is time to go through it all and see how life was with her.

I heard from other people all kinds of stories regarding the time when their mother/ mother-in-law came for three months to help out with their child (many stories would easily pass as horror stories!). They all had something in common; they had enough space in their house or apartment to get some peace from all the happenings. For us this was not so much the case, our current apartment is 40m² (~430ft²) without any door between the bedroom and living room, in which is also the kitchen. Three people plus a baby in such a small space will always lead to tension.


Well then, let me start with my experience during these three months:


The all too common problem with zuo yuezi 坐月子and how mothers/ mother-in-laws trying to enforce it upon the poor woman who just gave birth. The two weeks after my MIL arrived was a time full of discussions, shouting, cursing, crying and so forth between my wife and her mother. First MIL was more or less fine that her daughter decided against zuo yuezi however this changed more and more each day. In the end she was terrified that her daughter would suffer the fate of a bad health because of not following the traditions. It took much effort by my wife to get it through the (often) thick skull of her mother that she would follow modern medicine and do it the “Finnish Way”. As you can guess, MIL was still not convinced about it as she believes that Chinese are different people, who need special things to survive and stay healthy…

Only after she saw other Chinese women who recently gave birth and followed zuo yuezi she slowly changed her opinion. Why? Because all of these women had not enough milk for their babies evenDSC01803 with all those nice oily soups and they felt weak and unhealthy even 8 months after giving birth while my wife had enough milk and was back to normal within few weeks. I don’t want to go too far here but I would say that the zuo yuezi should go through an update to adjust to modern life more, the lack of hygiene especially is a dangerous matter for the baby. But then again, it is most of the time either the MIL’s or own mothers enforcing it and/or the fear of going against such tradition even knowing that it has barely any backup from modern medicine.



I always need special ingredients for my lunch

The trouble of preparing food (which also suits the gourmet taste of son-in-law). Yes, I can be pretty difficult at times when it comes to food but not in a way you might expect. The problem in the beginning with MIL was that all her food tasted the same. No matter if she prepared chicken, potatoes, tofu and all kinds of vegetables, it always tasted the same and this taste was close to nothing. I expect paper to have more taste than that. My wife got also very upset within short time and the result was that she gave her mother a cooking crash course which involved in actually using salt and other spices. Mother-in-law had refused in using them as it is all so very bad for the health but at the same time she is making a liter (~0.26gallon) of ice cream disappearing in no time each night!

These days I am no longer afraid of eating her food as it tastes rather good, not as good as my wife’s food (that is just unreachable for my mother-in-law) but still good enough that I don’t have the feeling to eat out each other day.


Nathan approves

The practice of taking pictures or videos of everything. I am not exaggerating when I say that mother-in-law is trying to record her stay here in Finland entirely. Whatever and whenever something happens, actually nothing really has to happen, her phone is in her hands and she takes pictures or videos. This is occurring especially when our little baby is doing something. I don’t know how often she filmed how we changed his diapers or bathed him. It is pretty much common that her head appears out of nowhere, over our shoulders, between our arms and and and, I guess you get it…

Now to the problem which is actually only bad for herself as she is recording everything on her old mobile phone the quality is very poor but besides that, the phone has not nearly enough space so she has to delete all the time material. After a while I was checking why there is so little space, well, everything is being saved on a micro SD card with only 256 mb space. After that I offered to buy a new one with 8 or 16 gb which are incredibly cheap, but no, she is refusing as she will buy a new phone soon but then there is the trouble again that she will still have her old micro SD card. I don’t want to force her so she will have to stick with the little space until she gets her new phone and with it lose a lot of pictures and videos of her grandson.



The need to go shopping. This is actually not that bad, as she barely buys anything thanks to my wife as she refuses most of the ideas her mother has about purchasing clothes and other stuff such as kitchen equipment. But now comes the kicker: she always wants to buy new things for herself and buy little souvenirs for all her friends from the dancing class. However she never ever wants to buy anything for her husband. Whenever we say that father-in-law might like this chocolate or those clothes her answer is the same “He doesn’t need this” or “He has already enough of this” or “He eats too much chocolate” and finally “Why should we buy something for him?”

Father-in-law taking picture of his wife with his phone camera…

As you can see she is pretty much focused on only her own needs/ desires when it comes to shopping and of course in saving face in buying stuff for her friends. Much to her dislike we bought last week in Germany a new camera for father-in-law as he first of all wanted one already since last summer and second because we could no longer stand them taking terrible quality pictures with their phones. MIL tried to convince us against buying the camera till the end but we succeeded! (Father-in-law will be so happy)



The three months with mother-in-law living with us went better than I expected. Sure, we had some troubles but it went pretty smooth towards the end. The whole thing went so well most likely due to the fact that I am a guy and lets face it, most guys can pretty much ignore annoying things around them at least for a while whereas in case my own mother would have been here there would be much drama after a short time between her and my wife. In case of another three-month visit I just pray it will happen when we already live in our bigger apartment as this little space right now also brings the problem of everything being too “stuffed” with everything, not just people.


What my mother-in-law learned

Yet another article about my mother-in-law, hope it is not taking over soon!

Today I am writing about what she learned since arriving here and how it changed her perception towards much of the traditional Chinese art of taking care of newborns. As any other Chinese grandma 奶奶 she came to help us out when the baby was born. This would usually mean a lot of forcing the daughter to stay in bed for about a month, much soups and other food which in theory, should improve the mothers well-being after giving birth and of course all sorts of cuddling, singing, swinging and spoiling the little newborn baby prince. But instead she encountered a daughter who was strictly against any kind of zuo yuezi 坐月子and especially against the Chinese art of taking care of newborns. There were many battles between my wife and her mother which a lot of shouting and tears but in the end my wife won!

For endless weeks mother-in-law was frustrated, saying always how much her daughter will suffer because of not doing the resting month, that the baby won’t have enough milk because of it and how much the baby will suffer because she can’t cuddle him. But much to her surprise, my wife showed no trouble thus far, there is more than enough milk for the baby and besides our little son is a peaceful little thing who barely cries. Now, here is the kicker, according to mother-in-law her daughter is just a special case that she has enough milk, she also doesn’t believe our doctor who says that 98% of all women produce enough milk for their babies. Somehow she is able to twist it around  and says things like “Chinese are different!”, so Chinese are the only human beings who needs to drink oily soups to produce milk for their babies? I don’t think so…

Now the real learning started when we visited other Chinese couples who just had babies or they came by at our place. All of them followed the zuo yuezi and all of the felt still miserably weak, they had not enough milk and all of them were exhausted of taking care of their babies as since their mothers or MIL’s left, no one had the energy to take care of the baby on such a high degree as all of those babies needed now 24/7 carrying around, swinging and whatsoever. My wife told them to try to stop drinking for example those soups and 4 out of 5 had weeks later enough milk for their babies! Now I don’t want to suggest that all the food during zuo  yuezi is bad but there are things which are not really useful such as the soups. We asked our midwife and doctor about it and they recommended not to eat any oily food as it might reduce the milk production (nearly all soups I have seen thus far were pretty damn oily).

After meeting these different Chinese with their experiences my mother-in-law was suddenly very happy that she didn’t do all these things and how much easier our life appears now compared to others. Of course it also depends on the baby, every baby is different, but we learned here from the midwives that we should try to avoid carrying the baby around the house as much as possible and just should try to calm it down when it is in its own crib etc. otherwise the baby would somehow develop this “must have to be” feeling towards being soothed down through cuddling etc.


Please note: We let mother-in-law hold her grandson and sing to him but not on such level as we have experienced at other families, so no worries there.


Living with mother-in-law

Today I present you a new story of my crazy Chinese mother-in-law. In the past seven weeks she has been both a big help and a nightmare for us. Big help when it comes to supplying us with food (though there were some issues in the beginning) and nightmare for my wife when it comes to zuo yuezi 坐月, how to take care of the baby and in my special case due to cleaning.

I am not saying that my mother-in-law is not trying to clean up but it is the matter of how she does it and how she leaves her marks in our apartment, car and other places. First of all, it seems she uses the same oily cloth to clean the tables, ceramic cooking field and our glossy kitchen cabinets. Because she uses this same cloth everywhere, it kind of just smears the dirt all around rather than cleaning something. Now, no problem because I am responsible for cleaning the apartment which is usually a pretty easy job and furthermore because my wife told her not to try to clean anymore.

Now we come to the second point, the main issue. It used to be easy to clean the apartment, such as once a year cleaning the windows, once a month making the kitchen cabinets shiny again and basic cleaning all around once a week. In the past seven weeks I have cleaned the windows seven times, I cleaned every second day the kitchen cabinets and I am busy trying to clean everything else nearly every single day!

It basically seems she has an issue with using door knobs and handles, thus leaving rather oily hand prints everywhere, really everywhere. Have you ever watched a child pressing its face on a window to see something outside and leaving a nice facial print on the glass? Well, mother-in-law is the same, each window has on a daily basis new hand and face prints, the window where she sits in the car is one big mess, each door is full of oily hand prints. At first I did not know how every door and window can have so many hand prints each day until I went to the super market with her. There we searched for some ice cream for her and those were behind sliding doors made of glass. Now the average person uses the handle to open those doors (I know, full of nasty stuff) but she pressed her hands on the glass and opened them (looked kind of hard to do so). Well, I guess I have to just deal with it, six more weeks she will stay with us, I should be able to cope with that. Untill then I will have many more doors, windows and cabinets to clean.


Oh, before I forget, my wife can be really cruel/ mean sometimes. After I told her about my “observations” she asked her mother if her dad had already back in the day his OCD (cleaning everything three times etc.). She told her that in the first few years he was still normal but it changed shortly after they got married and moved together. My wife answered then “Now I know at least the reason why dad became so obsessed with cleaning the apartment!”. Both true and mean at the same time but apparently her mother didn’t get it…