It’s been a while since any of us have seen the inside of a club. But for influencer Naomi Neo, it’s not just because of the pandemic.
Believe it or not, the self-confessed party animal tells us over a Zoom interview that she’d much rather be hanging with her two-year-old son Kyzo and three-month-old daughter Zyla these days.
“No life lah,” she laughs. “Apart from the kids and work, I don’t have a social life.”
While her elder son was unplanned and things were “very rushed” with her first pregnancy, Naomi seems to have settled perfectly into life as a young mum of two.
Admitting that parenthood has turned her into a “completely different person”, she adds that even when she and her husband are out with friends, she’s constantly checking on the kids and monitoring the security cameras at home.
Turning to online ‘mummy friends’ for solidarity
She jokingly gripes about how boring her life is, but it’s apparent from the glow on her face as she gushes about her kids that the 25-year-old is perfectly content to forgo the parties and spend her days at home with the little ones instead.
With more choosing to delay marriage and kids — the median age at which Singaporean women have their first child clocked in at 30.8 years in 2019 — it’s probably not something that most people her age can relate to.
“In fact, most of my friends are not even married yet, so it’s a little hard to share these things with them,” she says. “I prefer to find mummy friends online where they can resonate with my situation.”
And her 651,000 Instagram followers have proven to be a great resource for day-to-day parenting advice.
“I tend to share a lot of my personal experience with my followers, and then they share in return and that’s when I learn a lot of things as well,” says Naomi.
“Sometimes, it’s not even about getting the right advice, but it’s just knowing that you’re not going through something alone.”
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‘Nothing they say is true’: Naomi on judgy keyboard warriors
Of course, because it’s social media and keyboard warriors never seem to take a day off, there are no shortage of judgemental comments.
Case in point: just a couple months back, Naomi was accused of photoshopping her body and “catfishing” after she’d shared an image where her stomach appeared to be flat. She later revealed it was just the magic of high-waisted shorts and a good angle.
But between unfiltered pictures of her post-delivery belly and candid confessions about her other parenting struggles, Naomi isn’t letting the haters stop her from keeping it real on social media.
“I accept constructive comments, but there are people who are just straight up like, ‘Oh no, you shouldn’t be doing this. You’re a bad mum.'”
She explains that while she used to get defensive responding to such negative comments, it’s all water off a duck’s back now.
“I feel there’s no need to really care about them because I know myself. I know how I’m dealing with the kids. And I know that nothing they say is true.”
She’s no tiger mum
When it comes to parenting style, Naomi admits frankly that she’s actually the more lenient one compared to her husband. The reason? Her conservative and strict upbringing.
“Because I know how it feels to be in that position, I always try to remind myself not to be too harsh with the kids or just try to be more understanding,” she explains.
As a teenager attending a mixed school, she was prohibited from fraternising with the boys — a source of great frustration for her as she was a tomboy and naturally got along better with them, she says.
And while most of her friends were allowed to make their own way home after school, her mother would pick her up daily, accompanying her on the bus ride back home.
“I would be on the bus with all my other friends and they wouldn’t dare to talk to me,” Naomi shares, laughing as she recalls the awkwardness.
“Of course, it’s really sweet of her, but back then, I felt like my parents didn’t understand me.”
Now, as a parent herself, she says she always tries to see things from her kids’ perspective.
“I think communication is very important. It’s not just about saying, ‘I’m the parent, you’re the kid. You have to listen to me all the time.’
“I think it’s really about understanding what they’re going through.”
This article was first published in AsiaOne.