It’s been a hectic, but blissful 6 months for celeb couple Andie Chen and Kate Pang, since their baby girl Avery joined their brood in June this year. The couple also have a 2-year-old son, Aden.
How is life for you now, as a father of two?
It is very different! Thankfully, we are a bit more settled now. When we had Aden we were still moving around, because I was still based in Taiwan. Thankfully, by the time Avery arrived, we are more or less settled and have moved into our new house.
You know, it’s almost five times tougher than just having one kid – you’d think it was two times tougher because it’s one more but no, it doesn’t work that way. It’s a lot more work. There’s only just this amount of time you can spend. And once I start filming, I find that I just don’t have enough time. That’s why we have been discussing, and trying to come to an arrangement, to cut down my workload.
I think Avery being a girl is a big difference, too. She definitely seems a lot more interested in me than Aden was (laughs).
How do you split your time between Aden and Avery?
Avery is now almost 6 months, and in the first year of having a baby, there are just so many changes. For Aden it’s not so bad, because every day it’s the same routine now. But for a baby, the first two months are different from the next two months, and the next two. It’s almost like you cannot get into a pattern. And you certainly don’t want to miss anything.
I think Avery being a girl is a big difference, too. She’s definitely seems a lot more interested in me than Aden was (laughs). Aden is like, daddy play with me! Then, he’ll throw me aside when he’s done and stick to mummy most of the time. Avery, on the other hand, is always very happy to see me. Like if I lie on one side of the bed, she will do her best to roll over because she wants to be close to me. And that’s something I had never really felt from Aden when he was younger.
So, you have a softer spot for her?
(Sighs), I guess… you just have a soft spot for a girl, you know. When she cries, I know I’m not supposed to carry her right away, but… (laughs and pretends to carry a baby away hurriedly). Avery at this point is becoming quite lively and a very girly girl. She likes human contact, she will smile at every one, especially, ahem, guys. (laughs)
There was some friction between Andie and Kate at one point because of their parenting duties… find out why, next!
What’s it like parenting a toddler… Aden is now 2?
His personality is clearer than Avery’s for now, even though it’s still changing every day. He’s like a clone of Kate – very stubborn (oops, she’s right there!), but very determined, always thinking out of the box and doesn’t want to follow rules. He has a mind of his own and if you manage to convince him, he’s turns into an angel. You can’t force him to do anything – you need to make him agree with you!
He sounds like quite a character!
Yes, he’s able to negotiate and ask for things now. Like if I say, we can watch a bit of TV before bed, say 5 minutes. He will say, “I want 10 minutes!” You have to have adult conversations with him. He spends a lot of time with his mum and it rubs off on him. The worst thing – he will not apologise until he is really convinced that he is not right. That’s not the easiest thing to do… we can sit there for an hour discussing who is right and who is wrong!
How do you split parenting duties with Kate?
When I’m doing a Channel 8 production and if I’m the lead role, it’s almost impossible for me to chip in a lot. I wake up at 5.30am in the morning, and I reach home at 7.30pm or even midnight and I’m exhausted. And then I have to start again the next morning at 7. But of course, before the filming started, we would split up the duties, like I would help by showering Aden. If Kate is breastfeeding, then I will entertain Aden and I will read to him, stuff like that.
I put Avery to sleep first, then Aden. By the time she came back, both of them were asleep. I think she was pretty impressed.
There was a time when I had just started production, and there was some friction between me and Kate. She used to scream at me: “Why are you not helping?” I’m like I can’t, I have to work, I have to study my script and I have to deliver a certain standard of work!
So, at this point, Kate is handling most of it, but when I get back, I will take care of Aden while she’s taking care of Avery. When I finish this production, I will take a break from shooting and it’ll be my turn to be the nanny, so that she can go back to work. At that point in time, it will be a better split, like 50-50.
Are you comfortable taking the two kids on your own for an extended period of time?
Yeah, it’s quite alright. Avery is breastfed and she can’t leave her mum for too long. Once Kate went for a classical concert for 4 hours and I had to look after the two of them. It wasn’t too bad because I know how to handle Aden, and I know most of the stuff about looking after a baby – I know how to warm milk, change diaper and so on. Kate kept calling to check on us, but everything went pretty well that night. I put Avery to sleep first, then Aden. By the time Kate came back, both of them were asleep. I think she was pretty impressed. I had previously taken care of Aden on my own for some time in Taiwan, so I’ve had some experience!
What does Andie feel he’s better than Kate at when it comes to parenting? Read on to find out!
What’s the most shocking thing about parenthood?
The more tangible thing is the amount of time and effort it takes. People always say, oh, it’s very tiring, but you’re like I’m sure I can still do other stuff… but, no. It doesn’t work that way. If you want to be hands-on with your kids and build a bond with them, you have to give up at least 50 per cent of your work, energy and time to your family. That’s one thing parents-to-be need to be prepared for.
I have friends who are preparing for a second kid and ask me how it is, and the first thing I say is, reduce your workload, now! And be sure to talk about how you’re going to handle it. If you can get help, get help. Try to soften the blow, don’t go in thinking you can handle everything yourself.
What’s the biggest thing you take away from being a dad?
Basically, you get to live life again. I get to see and experience rain for the first time again. I get to smell a flower for the first time again. I get to touch sand for the first time again. To me, that’s like learning everything all over again. You know how you don’t remember things from you were a kid? Now, you get to understand it better, and discover more about yourself.
I think that “harder” part of a personality is important, regardless of whether you have a son or a daughter.
What is one thing dads can do better than mums?
Definitely the manlier stuff (laughs)… Like running around and playing at the playground. Aden likes Pokemon and comics now. He’s not playing video games yet, but I’m an avid gamer, so I’m sure he will start gaming as well.
There are different elements that each parent is good at and I think dads get to be a bit rougher with them. For example, I train for muay thai and when Aden sees me training he will mimic me. I think that “harder” part of a personality is important, regardless of whether you have a son or a daughter.
Let’s give you a simple test – you have no help, you’re alone with the kids, you have half an hour to give them and yourself dinner. What do you do?
I can warm up breastmilk right? Is that counted? (laughs) If it’s really an emergency, we do have cereal and instant porridge that we can heat up right away. Otherwise, I will cook something simple, as Aden eats about the same stuff as us these days. I will probably steam some vegetables and try to eat that (chuckles). And it’s fine because Aden can now eat on his own, and I can carry Avery and give her a bottle. It is possible – not conducive but possible.
What was the last thing Aden did that made you laugh out loud?
Aden talks a lot now and he likes to correct me. Like if sees something, he will ask me in Mandarin – “daddy, what is that?” I will say, “na shi che zi” (that’s a car). And he will correct me saying, “bu shi, na shi xiang xing che,” (no, that’s a van!).
Are dads today different from those in the past?
Definitely. More so with my grandfather, who was the typical “Clint Eastwood” type, all tough and manly and you cannot shed a tear. My own dad – not as much, but also not as hands-on. He’s more like ok, I will bring back the money and mum takes care of the kids. But at this point in time – other than the fact that men can’t breastfeed – it should be a 50-50 split of the workload. And that means we have to learn a lot of stuff that is supposedly “girly” or “not manly”. Dads have to learn that now there’s just no excuse.
Photography: Ealbert Ho
Art Direction: Lim Jae-Lynn
Styling: Keith Png, assisted by Angela Chu
Hair: Junz Loke @ Passion Hair Salon
Make up: Clarence Lee, using IT Cosmetic @Sephora
Andie wears sweater, pants and shoes from Salvatore Ferragamo.
Aden wears jacket, polo tee shirt and shorts from Ralph Lauren. Shoes from Salvatore Ferragamo.
Avery wears romper, Model’s own.
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