Thankful for… our helper

After finding out that we have 6 kids, most people ask me “how many maids do you have?” We have only 1 helper and we like to keep it this way. I know of friends who have fewer kids yet they have 2 or 3 helpers and they usually end up having more problems. One of my neighbours even has 5 helpers in their house and they have little gangs! For us, we feel that the kids shouldn’t be too spoilt and sometimes when they complain and compare with their friend’s helpers who wait on them, I tell them that Aunty Mary is already so busy, why don’t you help her.

We’re lucky that she’s a great cook

As you can imagine, she has her hands full cleaning the house, doing the laundry, cooking our meals, ironing, and taking care of Kate. I am thankful that she has a good attitude and genuinely loves Kate. Sometimes the work doesn’t get done all that well, but hey, who can fault her.

“Do I look becoming?”

Kate is at a phase where she’s learning to self-feed and you can imagine the mess made at every meal! Our helper doesn’t get frustrated but will try and teach her to get more neatly.

We were also really lucky that our previous helper stayed with us for 14 years and saw us through the first 5 kids. When Kate was born, she finally surrendered and decided it was time for her to go home and retire. It would have had been a much more tiring journey if we didn’t have a helper. I am extremely thankful that we are in a country where we can afford to hire live-in helpers to ease our household chores.

Thankful Tuesdays:

“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has” – Epictetus


Thankful… for the hub’s cooking
Thankful… for #5’s cooking and caring of Kate
Thankful… for #3 in so many ways
Thankful… for sister-in-law #1

Thankful… for our helper
Thankful… for my family
Thankful… for my mum-in-law

~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Discipline #4: 6 common sleep mistakes for babies

One of the biggest parenting mistakes we made was not knowing anything about babies and their sleep. I did read a few books such as Babywise and What to Expect in the First year and knew about routines and bedtimes. However, I didn’t know just how absolutely important this whole business of sleep is. It was only after I had #5 and a close friend pointed out a very good book to me that I was enlightened.

I went on to read a few more books on the subject, and have come to thoroughly respect a child’s need for good, proper sleep. There is a lot of information to digest, so I’ll start with the 6 most common sleep mistakes for babies that parents unintentionally make.

1. Keeping them awake for too long

Babies can only tolerate a very short amount of awake time when they are young. Once you pass this time, they will start to get cranky and it will be harder to get them to sleep. There is a ‘magic’ window of opportunity when it is easiest for baby to sleep. You have to catch that window before they get over-tired. You know how it is that sometimes we feel drowsy, and suddenly our eyelids start to droop and we really feel like sleeping? That’s the window period where baby will easily fall asleep. If you ignore this time frame and keep baby up, she will start to fuss and get cranky. If you continue to ignore it and baby is not put to sleep, hormones will kick in and it becomes even harder for baby to get to sleep because the hormones drive her into a hyperactive state.


So how long should babies be awake for? Here is a general guide, but observe your own baby for their sleepy signs.

Birth – 6 weeks  : 45 mins
2 – 3 months     : 1 hour
4 – 5 months     : 1.5 hours
6 – 7 months     : 2 hours
8 – 9 months     : 2.5 hours
10 – 12 months  : 3 hours


2. Not watching out for sleepy signs e.g. yawning

I didn’t know about these signs to watch for until I had #5. Well, nobody told me, so how was I supposed to know right? All babies have a signal that it’s time to hit the cot. It could be rubbing their eyes, swiping their ear or pulling at their hair. Watch your baby. You will notice a pattern they display just before they are ready to sleep. Once you identify it, put them straight to bed when you see it displayed.

3. Going to them between sleep cycles

Babies’ sleep cycles last for one and a half hours with a little break at 45 minutes. They will stir, cry or make a bit of noise at this juncture. DO NOT go in to your baby. Give them the opportunity to fall back asleep by themselves. If you go in, they will be disturbed by your presence and will not want to go back to sleep. And it will likely result in a bad habit of wanting you to go in and carry or rock them back to sleep. After about 5 – 10 minutes of fussing, they will fall asleep again for the next cycle.
Kate woke up very early to send us off
4. Too late bedtime

Most people think that by keeping the baby awake later, she will sleep better at night. We thought that too, and our babies used to go to bed around 8 or 9pm. When they were waking up in the middle of the night or waking up too early, the hubs suggested putting them to bed even later so that they would be so tired they would sleep properly. What happened was that they woke up even earlier! I remember #4 used to sleep at 10pm and began her day at 5.30am. It seems like an illogical explanation, but sleep begets sleep, and the later the baby sleeps at night, the earlier she will wake up. After I read about sleep, I shared the information with friends who had babies the same age, and all our babies (from the time they were 6 months to around 4 or 5 years old) went to bed at 7pm and woke up slightly before 7am! We are now firm believers of giving our kids adequate sleep.

5. Sleeping in motion during naps

Sleeping while in the stroller when you are shopping, or in a carrier does not allow the baby to have the necessary deep sleep she needs. Babies have to be placed in the cot or bed to sleep properly. It is akin to us sleeping on the public bus vs sleeping on our own beds. Having said that, we have to balance this with living our lives. We shouldn’t be a ‘slave’ to their schedule and end up being stuck at home all the time and being resentful of it. It’s just to have an awareness of what is happening. I didn’t know all this in the early years and I deliberately took the baby out in the stroller at nap time as it was easiest to put them to sleep that way.
Sleeping like a baby
6. Attributing the crying to colic or other reasons

Many people simply attribute their baby’s constant crying to having colic, being night owls, or that their baby is very naughty. I suggest you try your very best to implement the strategies and allow your baby the opportunity to have adequate sleep before you come to such a conclusion. In most cases, your baby will surprise you. And you’ll have your nights back! 🙂

Do read Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Dr Marc Weissbluth for a better understanding and some case studies of babies. 



~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

An interview after my talk

A big thank you to all of you who came down to attend my ‘Parenting 6 kids without going mad or broke’ talk last weekend. For those who didn’t manage to make it down, I will try to summarise as best I can and break it down into digestible posts. Do give me some time to get that done.

A blogger mum who attended my talk interviewed me to find out more about how I parent my kids. She was also keen on getting my views on being a stay-at-home-mum as many of her readers are faced with the dilemma of choosing to work or being at home for the children. We were lamenting that sadly, Singapore is still far from being a place where permanent part-time positions are available for mums in most industries.

Don’t you just love the graphics

More than 10 years ago, when I requested for a permanent part-time position as an occupational therapist at the end of my work attachment, my supervisor widened her eyes in disbelief and flatly informed me that there were no such positions available. I pressed her for a valid reason, because in the hospitals where I was attached to in Australia, it was a norm for 2 therapists to share 1 person’s workload and the arrangement worked well. She asserted that no, it would not work here, it would be too challenging administratively, and besides, you would be looked down upon as not being ‘serious’ about your job. I was baffled, and further enquired about the marital status of all the OTs there. She told me that 14 out of 15 of the OTs were female and not married. The last one was the director in his 50s, and he was married.

Fast forward a decade, and I do see a minute improvement in the mindset of employers with regards to hiring females on a permanent part-time position (although hearing from friends, the reality is that on paper, you are on a half position, but over time, the workload creeps back to a full workload!) We need to do much better than that. We are losing a lot of valuable contribution from professional women because of this all or nothing employment situation. Studies overseas have shown that over the course of decades, the highest percentage of women who state that they are satisfied and happy with their life and family situation are those who are gainfully employed in a permanent part-time position. I can understand why. I don’t want to work full time so that I can spend time with the kids yet I need to keep my mind occupied and to find satisfaction in my own achievements and passions. I guess that’s also why there are now more and more mumpreuneurs sprouting up.

For the full interview of my thoughts on life, parenting, being a SAHM and even living with in-laws, click here.

Ruth’s blog


As Ruth is a first time mummy to her 8-month old son Noah, her blog: The Pacifier Diaries has great information for first time mums such as choosing a suitable gynae, what to expect from a confinement lady, and reviews of baby carriers and breast pumps.

After chatting with her, I realised how far I’ve come in my parenting journey. The days are long, but the years seem to fly by much too quickly. My best advice? Enjoy your kids while they are young 🙂



~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Happy Easter!

This year, I decided to tone things down in the week leading up to Good Friday and Easter Sunday, and tried to focus on the real significance of Holy week. As with Christmas, where the commercial world has over-shadowed the true meaning of Christ’s birth, Easter has also started to become more about eggs and bunnies.

#4 came home with this beautiful floral arrangement which she made in school, and it was an apt reminder of the spirit of Easter, symbolising the miracle of life, new beginnings, beauty, celebration and immense joy.

#4 got an ‘A’ for her floral art!

HAVE A VERY BLESSED EASTER, EVERYONE!




~ mummy wee – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Kate’s Schedule at 18 months

This is Kate’s daily schedule at 18 months.

6.45 am: Wakes up and has her morning milk (180ml)
7.00 am: Tags along to send her gor gor to school
7.30 am: Breakfast
8.00 am: Plays by herself in the room while I shower

Playing her gor gor’s snap game

8.30 am: Goes to the park or playground
9.30 am: Heads home for a shower

Sidewalk chalk from Typo

10.30 am: Milk feed before nap (180ml). By right, babies should not be drinking milk before sleeping, however she has been used to doing this so I haven’t stopped it.

10.30 – 12.30: Naps for 2 hours in her crib

Sleeping like a baby

12.30 pm: Lunchtime!

She loves drinking soup

1.00 pm: Plays by herself if I’m cooking

Sorting toy

Currently Kate is still not able to fit the shapes correctly and I have to point it out to her. She gets a sense of satisfaction when she manages to get the shape to drop into the box. This is a suitable toy for 18 months because it can grow with the child and gradually she can match the correct shape.

Another suitable toy at this age are Mega blocks or the larger Lego blocks. A few months ago, Kate could pull them apart. Now she has no problems fitting them together. Great for their fine motor skills.

Concentrating hard on building her tower

1.30 pm: Tags along to pick the other kids up from school or CCA, or if everyone is back, they’ll be playing with her.

Waiting for her gor gor

2.30 pm: Afternoon milk feed (150ml)
Occupies herself with the other kids for the rest of the afternoon

5.00 pm: Goes to the playground as there are many other kids at the playground at this time. But sometimes I’m too lazy to take her and she’ll just play in our garden.

Loves nature

She loves the trips to the playground in the evenings as there are lots of other children’s skate scooters for her to ‘borrow’.

“Wow, that’s one neat looking scooter”
“This one doesn’t seem to have an owner”
6.00 pm: Dinnertime!
Our daily family dinner
She is daddy’s little girl and if she doesn’t hang out with her daddy for a while, she will be calling for him later when it’s time for bed.
Cuddles before bedtime

7.00 pm: Shower, night milk (180ml), brush teeth.

I know babies past the age of 1 should start to drink from a cup. Oh well, it’s just easier this way. I’ll probably do that when she turns 2!

The other kids will come in to cuddle and kiss her before she goes to sleep.

7.30 pm: Lights out and someone will lie with her (usually me, but the hubs or any of the other kids are able to put her to sleep when I’m not around). When she was younger, she would sleep in her crib. However, ever since around 15 months, she will only sleep in the crib for her naps, and will ask to sleep in our room for the night.

“Yummy warm milk”

~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Easy Sun-dried tomato pasta

Found this super easy pasta recipe which I whipped up for #1 when she got home from school.

Simple yet looks good!

INGREDIENTS:

Pasta of your choice
Sun-dried tomatoes (straight from a jar)
Black olives (from most supermarkets or speciality stores)
Feta cheese
Balsamic vinegar
Flaxseed oil (I got a bottle of flaxseed oil as it has more anti-oxidants than olive oil. #1 and #3 need to keep their immunity up these next few months before their PSLE & ‘O’s)

Gourmet lunch from a jar

Boil the pasta as per normal, top with tomatoes, olives and cheese. Drizzle with vinegar and oil. Ready to serve!

#1 loves such atas food… but not the other kids. They prefer the usual tomato or cream based ones. So I do this for her on days when she’s back at an odd hour of lunch at 4pm when the rest have already eaten.

Sane tip: Really easy to make.

Save tip: The cost of the ingredients is equivalent to one plate at a restaurant, but here I can make her 4 servings!


~ mummy wee – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

CINQ Salon @ Scotts Square

My friends and even my kids have been telling me for the longest time that I need to do something about my hair. Maybe they’re right as I’ve had the same boring hairstyle for the past 10 years. The impetus finally came when I had to take a photo for my talk and yes, I have to admit that my hair needs some sprucing up. I approached the chichi CINQ salon helmed by local celebrity Andrea De Cruz and they generously offered me a makeover.

I was put in the good hands of McPhee and he asked me what preference I had. To be honest, I had no idea what I wanted but I told him I wanted a nice hairstyle which suits my face and please don’t make me look like an ‘auntie’. And don’t give me a short hair-do because I never looked nice in one. He explained that my neck was quite long so a short length would not fit me. He also said that my hair is rather flat on top and the long straight hair makes my oval face look ‘draggy’.

He suggested I get a light perm to give it more overall body and he would add some highlights to accentuate the perm. I used to have an amazing hairstylist in Australia who did great cuts and highlights to make the hair come alive, but have been so disappointed in the stylists I have tried here that I’ve given up and stuck to my ‘just let it grow and cut once a year’ hairstyle. So hopefully McPhee can weave some magic into my lifeless hair.
Pretty cool heating station
I got my hair washed and McPhee proceeded to cut my hair with some layering. Thereafter, he got started on the digital perm. After he got all the rollers in place, I had to sit and wait it out for about 20-30 minutes. To tell you the truth, I have always hated the giant helmet thing over my head. I was pleasantly surprised that technology has advanced, and now the heating appliance was just some bars which they placed behind me.

After the perm was done, they gave my hair a rinse and then it was time to get the highlights done. McPhee explained that to do a proper highlight, you need a minimum of 2 colours to bring out the contrast of the layering. He chose Mahogany Red and Light Brown for me. Ah, somehow, he can read my mind. I’m at a point in my life where I would like the highlights to enhance the cut, not make any sort of statement, and would be alarmed if he had suggested some bright strange highlights (and yes, I’m also a really boring person when it comes to style).
Heating appliance for the highlights

Another round of waiting for the highlights to be done. McPhee popped over occasionally to check on the colour. The longer you leave it, the more intense the colour. So the experience of the stylist does come into play here as well. It was around lunchtime and the place was bustling. Most of their clients seemed to be well-dressed professionals and people from the media industry… plus one hot-mama-wannabe (haha). There were also a fair number of men coming in for haircuts. There are no junior stylists here and hence the pricing is consistent, and all the stylists here have at least 10 years of experience.

Highlights done!

My hair was blow-dried and viola… My new look!

Love, love, love it!
Bright and spacious salon

McPhee recommended that I apply Aveda’s Be Curly after every wash to tame the frizz and prolong the perm. He also taught me how to blow dry my hair using the finger dry method to get a more natural result.

Be Curly $46 (200ml)

The real test came when I got home. The last 3 times I returned from the hairdresser, #4 burst into tears. She gets very upset when her mummy doesn’t look like her mummy, or when her mummy looks very “not nice”. This time, as I walked through the door, the teenagers practically shouted, “Mum, I love your hair! Gosh, you look awesome!” (ok, I’m starting to feel like I had probably looked really terrible for so many years that now they are overjoyed). And when #4 came down, she broke into a wide smile and said approvingly, “Mummy, your hair is very very nice!”

Wow, what a difference a great hairstyle can do. My confidence in having highlights has also been restored. Thanks again, McPhee 🙂

Sane tip: Do allocate ample time to get your tresses in tip top shape. All in all, it took me more than 3 hours. I’m glad the kids are having their CCAs today so I have a few extra hours to myself.

Save tip: CINQ is offering an exclusive 15% discount to mummywee readers for any colour or perm services between Mondays and Wednesdays from now till 30 June 2014. Grab the chance and pamper yourself with a lovely makeover for mother’s day! (Dads, are you listening?) Digital perm starts at $300, highlights at $228 for 2 colours. Ladies’ haircut starts from $90.

CINQ Salon
Scotts Square
6 Scotts Road
#03-16
Singapore 228209
Tel: 6636 0100 / 6636 0200

Disclaimer: CINQ sponsored my hair makeover. All opinions are my own

~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Stress-Free Parenting workshop

I’ll be conducting small group workshops on how to go about parenting with less stress. We will delve into the common areas which causes stress:

  • Rushing around and feeling stressed with daily routines
  • Feeling like there’s not enough time in a day
  • Being needed by your kids all the time
  • Dealing with unexpected things that crop up
  • Handling their schoolwork, tuition and revision

There will be lots of opportunity for questions and discussion, as well as hands on relaxation techniques to induce relaxation and reduce stress.

Cost per person is $40 for a 2.5 hour session. Email: mummyweedotcom@gmail.com or give us a call at 98159789.

Do enquire about other available dates. Private/corporate groups can be arranged.

I’ll also be giving a free talk this Saturday at 4pm on ‘Parenting 6 kids without going mad or broke’.

Will be sharing on these areas:

  • How to tackle school and exams with minimum stress and money spent
  • How to raise independent children
  • How to have fun and hassle-free holidays without costing a bomb
  • How to teach your child to save instead of always asking to buy toys
Details:

Date:12 April 2014 (Saturday)

Time: 4-5pm

Venue: Brahm Centre @ Ren Ci Hospital
(Next to Novena MRT)

71 Irrawaddy Road
#02-06 Singapore 329562


Do come early as parking is quite limited. Early bird entitled to itsy bitsy door gift 🙂 See you there!


~ mummy wee –  a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~