Mummy Wee turns 2!

In a blink of an eye, 2 years have past.

Things are definitely getting more exciting around here, all thanks to blogging. I was invited to write a chapter in a parenting book Keep Calm and Mother On, appeared on Channel 5’s The 5 Show hosted by Yasminne Cheng and Chua Enlai, shared about blogging as a possible career with students, started my interview series 101 Paths to Success, been invited to lots of fun media launches, been sponsored wonderful products and even getting paid to write advertorials! What a dream. The kids are stoked and are fully supportive of my choice of ‘job’.

I love this ‘job’ too, and one of the most enjoyable aspect of this blogging journey is getting to know like-minded and inspiring individuals who are all doing their part to contribute back to society in one way or another.

For us, a time of celebration also signals a time to give. We have been blessed with much, and I always remind the kids to give back. So this round, they have each happily contributed an item towards our {Family Giveaway}. The items are all brand new with the exception of Kate’s DVD, but not to worry, it is still in mint condition 🙂

Our gifts to you

#1’s gift: CLOTH POUCH

She bought this beautiful old-school pouch from a fair but has never gotten round to using it and has graciously decided to give it up. It measures 20cm (across) by 15cm and is great for either mummy or baby!


#2’s gift: PICK-UP STICKS

She opened her drawer of things I haven’t touched since I placed it there and decided this Pick-Up Sticks should find a new owner. Brings us back to the good ol’ days, doesn’t it? Great family bonding fun.



She was into the smiggle craze and requested for their items for her birthday and christmas presents. She still has a whole collection of untouched items to pass down to Kate. This measures (22cm x 10cm x 5cm) and is convenient as you can see the contents inside.

Pencil case

#4’s gift: PURPLE WALLET

She received this as a prize from her teacher last year for her awesome ‘stars’! She already has a wallet and had no qualms about giving it up. I’m glad she’s not a hoarder!



I bought this cute luggage tag for #5 but he doesn’t want it. Guess another little child might like it 🙂

Luggage tag

Kate’s gift: SING TO LEARN DVD

Kate is done with this educational DVD and it is still in perfect condition. I did a review on Sing to Learn English previously. Great to get the kids singing and moving along! Songs include “London Bridge is Falling Down”, “Pat a Cake” and “Incy Wincy Spider”.


Mummy’s gift: KEEP CALM and MOTHER ON BOOK

Many of you had hoped to win this book the last round, so here’s another chance! Here’s a brief review of Keep Calm and Mother On, which is a compilation of stories from mothers with children aged 1-21. I contributed a chapter entitled “Navigating the Wild Wicked Web”.


The hub’s gift: PHONE CLIP

And last but not least, the hubs is contributing this handy mobile phone holder. Extremely useful for taking videos, watching videos, or taking photos using the timer without worrying about your hand shaking. The ‘neck’ can be bended to suit different heights/positions.

Phone clip

3 easy steps to join our {Family Giveaway!}

All you have to do is:

1) Hop over to Mummy Wee’s Facebook page

2) Leave a comment on the post Mummy Wee turns 2! stating which item you would like eg. Pouch

3) Leave your email

Here are the items again:
#1: Pouch
#2: Toy
#3: Pencil case
#4: Wallet
#5: Luggage tag
#6: DVD
#7: Book
#8: Phone clip

{Giveaway} ends 7 August 2015. Winners will be notified on our Facebook page and via email.

As usual, Kate will randomly pick a name, and if the item is already taken, we will go on to pick another name until all the items are given out. Good luck!

Once again, we would like to sincerely thank each and everyone of you, old friends, new friends, online friends, and especially our community of mummy bloggers for being with us on this remarkable journey.

Peace and love, from our family to yours.

~ – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Lesson #17: The tragedy of our society

I read about the double tragedy of a straight ‘A’s student committing suicide after hours of receiving her O level results because she had 2 ‘B’s, and of her heart-broken mother following suit 3 months later.

The pressure seems to be getting worse and worse for our children. On all fronts.

Just last week, some mums were talking about how a student from a top school had committed suicide.

We were very heavy-hearted and in an attempt to make sense of the situation, generalisations started surfacing. 

“Grades are not everything. Better not put our kids in top schools. So stressful. Neighbourhood schools better.”

“But in mixed school will have BGR problems. Also headache.”

The common reasons for suicide in our children and youths seem to be disappointing parents with poor grades, family problems and relationship/bullying issues.

As we were quiet and letting it sink in, a friend shared something even more disturbing.

Her daughter was in the same school as the child who committed suicide and she was very concerned about how she has been affected. She raised the issue with her daughter and this was the reply.

“I’m ok mum. Like that lor. She committed suicide.”

Have our young people been numbed?

In this rush of life, of me, myself and I, of gadgets in our faces. Have we lost our connectedness with one another? 

That scares me plenty.

As our country turns 50, we have a lot to ponder.

Yes, our country is prosperous.

Yes, we have a lot to be thankful for.

But dig deeper. What do we find inside ourselves? Inside our youths?

We need to put a stop to the endless and mindless pursuit of more. Of one-upmanship. When will it end?

We need to come back to a life of contentment.

Maybe it’s time we stop thinking about bigger and better.

Maybe it’s time we start thinking about what really, really matters.

Other lessons (which I’ve learnt the hard way):

Lesson #15: What are we worth, mums?
Lesson #16: What do you do when you get sick of parenting?

~ – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Photos that tell a story – #1’s unusual perception

After I shared some of the photos #1 took at her first photography workshop, many commented that she has an eye for it and we encouraged her to  keep practicing and see where it leads her.

Coincidentally, she did a colour test in school and scored way above her peers in her ability to differentiate colours, even when it is just a minute shade darker than the rest. Things are beginning to click. Thinking back, I realise that #1 would always point out details with regards to colour first, before noticing other aspects.

One of my close friends made an effort to meet with her and these were some of the photos she snapped on their walkabout. I really like how she is starting to show her preference in shooting from angles slightly out of the ordinary, which results in images with more character.

Foreign workers doing an honest day’s work, with multi-national companies in the background. It is on the back of their hard labour which our shiny buildings are built on.

The viewer pauses to take another look at a scene which has been photographed a thousand times. We learn to look at life and problems from a different perspective.

There’s something uncanny about the way MBS is framed from this angle. A structure so stunning emerging from the rawness.

You get sucked into the photo, like how sometimes you get sucked into things without intending to.

The water. Doesn’t it look more like the gravelled road? Things may not be what they seem to be.

I told #1 I was very impressed with her shots this time round too. They are different. They get me thinking.

She replied, “Yeah. I like them. But it might not please everyone. You either like them or not.”

I love how my kids dare to be themselves.

~ – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Discipline #10: 6 tips to stop tantrums in toddlers

It is common for toddlers to throw tantrums, but can be quite embarrassing for parents when done in public. How do I keep my kids from throwing tantrums without giving in and handing over an iPhone to keep them quiet?

I believe in being prepared and setting the stage right to pre-empt the eruptions from happening. Here are 6 simple tips to minimise tantrums in young children.

How to deal with temper tantrums

1) Ensure their basic needs are met

First things first. Have we done our part to keep them happy and comfortable? Have they had their nap? Have they been fed? Are they feeling under the weather? You can pretty much expect hungry and cranky kids to kick up a big fuss. Keep an eye on the clock and have some snacks on hand if there’s a chance of the schedule running way past their mealtimes.

2) Don’t let your boundaries shift

Kids whine and throw tantrums because they know they will win in the end. If your boundaries are constantly shifting, your child will be confused and the very determined ones would keep up the fight until you give in, whether it is to buy a toy or to get whatever demands met.

When we are tired or in a rush, it is easier to give in to keep them quiet. However, it doesn’t help in the long run. I have learnt to stick to my guns and am able to say ‘no’ with consistency – sometimes with help from my teens. (They can tell when I’m about to be soft and will say, “No mum, no. It’s for her own good”).

3) View the day as a whole

If the kids are expected to sit through a long event or ceremony (weddings etc), I would get them to expand their energy in the morning by taking them to the park for some cycling or free play. Or if we are going to have a hectic day, I will plan it properly so that Kate will have time for a short nap in between. If we have to stay out past her bedtime, I will let her have her nap slightly later that day.

4) Bring a busy bag

I have a drawer in the living room where I dump miscellaneous stickers and freebies accumulated by the older kids & grandparents. When we go out with Kate, I simply grab a few items and throw it in the bag to keep her entertained during times like waiting for food to be served.

5) Acknowledge their feelings

In the past, when our kids cried, we used to say things like, “Ok, that’s enough. Stop crying.” It never works. In fact, the crying usually escalates. Over the years, I have learnt about validating their feelings, and have been using it with Kate. It works! Try it.

When she is emotionally or physically wounded, she will cry and fold her arms. I go close to her, bend down to her level and say something soothing like, “Are you angry?” She would nod her head and say what she is feeling and why. After she is able to express herself, she feels understood, and quietens down very quickly.

6) Have realistic expectations

It is futile to expect all your kids to be able to sit through a 2-hour meal just because the eldest could. Once you know what each child can comfortably tolerate at that particular age, work around that. Look at activities from their perspective. It may be boring, tiring, or too restrictive.

Also be mindful of the environment. Don’t bring toddlers to posh restaurants and expect them not to touch the glassware. Either acknowledge that the days of leisurely window shopping and long relaxing brunches are over, or leave the kids at home with the in-laws while you take a break and enjoy yourself.

Save tip: I prefer to put ‘unwanted’ stuff in Kate’s busy bag so I don’t have to watch her closely and won’t be perturbed if the items get lost or damaged.

Sane tip: I’m glad that none of my kids has ever thrown a fit in public (the lying on the floor and screaming at the top of their lungs type), but at times when they did throw tantrums, I used to raise my voice as well. I have since learnt that shouting at them does not help, and am now able to control myself and speak to them in a low and firm voice.

I do what I have to do quickly and leave the place as soon as possible, without giving in to their demands. We have to show them who’s boss when they are little because as they get older and heavier we can’t tuck them under our arm for a quick escape!

Other discipline tips (which I’ve learnt after having 5 kids):

Tip #8: What do you do when your 2-year old lies?
Tip #9: When the gramps can’t say ‘no’

~ – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

School Stories #12: DSA. Yet another initiative parents have warped

The extent that parents would go to try and secure a place for their child in the school of their choice via DSA seems to have reached new heights. Some parents start serious training for their kids from the time they are in primary 1 while others sign their kids up for DSA-related enrichment courses to equip them with skills to ace the interviews.

I first heard about it 8 years ago when #1 was in P4. A group of us parents were sharing how worried we were that the cut-off aggregate for the schools we were keen on were out of reach for our kids with their mediocre grades.

A more experienced mum shed light on us ignorant newbie parents that there was this route called DSA which had recently been implemented. Our eyes lit up as this seemingly whole new opportunity opened up before us and we started to consider what sporting prowess our kids had.

MOE website

For the uninitiated, the Direct School Admission (DSA) scheme was introduced by MOE in 2004. The rationale being:

Schools with distinctive programmes can participate in the DSA-Sec Exercise, to admit up to 5% of their Secondary One intake on a discretionary basis to benefit students with strong interests or aptitude in these distinctive areas. This gives schools with distinctive programmes greater flexibility in student admission so as to allow a more diverse range of student achievements and talents to be recognised. It also gives due consideration to abilities not fully assessed in the PSLE.

Seemed like a fair initiative. However, as with most policies, kiasu parents manage to turn it the other way around. Got loophole to get into the school? Let’s go all out and try!

The group of us continued our very animated conversation and ‘helped’ one another to narrow down some possible CCAs. For #1, it seemed like squash would be her best bet. She has good ball sense, squash courts are available in our condo, the school that I was hoping she could get into offered squash via DSA, and their coach happened to be giving private lessons at our condo. 

Sounds like a plan!

I contacted the coach to arrange for a trial. He agreed that she had good ball sense and was agile. What she lacked was stamina, which could be built up. #1 enjoyed the game and looked forward to the weekly lessons.

After a few months, she improved by leaps and bounds and I asked the coach for his assessment. He said that she had the potential, and if we wanted a shot at DSA, she would need more intensive training and we would have to increase the lessons to 3 times a week, for 1.5 hours each. In addition, she had to run 2.4km on her own on the other non-training days. And that was for starters.

Was he trying to groom an Olympian? Not only did it sound like a financially draining plan, but where would she find time for all of that? There was so much more I wanted for them in their childhood years.

I gave the issue some serious thought. What were our priorities? Would we allow this to take precedence over other activities if things clash? Would the rest of the family have to work around her schedule? What about financial considerations? Is it justifiable? Would she be able to cope with both the academic and sporting demands during her P6 year? What do we do if she starts to crack under the pressure? Allow her to give it up?

So many questions came to mind and try as I did, I could not align myself with this strategy. I could foresee the possibility of reaching a stage where we would be at the mercy of this sport because of the effort and money which had been thrown behind it, and it would be too late. I didn’t want to embark on something I could not sustain comfortably for the whole family.

I am happy for our kids to pursue any interest with no strings attached, but I didn’t want to be held ransom to a choice I allowed to be made. With a big family, I had to be very focused on our priorities. I was also very aware of the underlying values being taught to the kids through our decisions. I didn’t think ‘spending excessive time and money through sport to gain entry into a school’ made the cut. If she was extremely gifted in it, that would be different.

Moreover, I didn’t want her to face a day where she would feel that she was a failure because she didn’t perform well enough to gain entry into the school. Because that is not what sport is about.

Before I decided to write this whole idea off, I wanted to get the complete picture. I called up the school we were eyeing on, and asked them how many places were they offering via squash DSA. The officer couldn’t give me an answer, but when I kept pressing her, she said probably 1 or 2.

Great. Thanks for making the choice easier for us.

Over the next 8 years, I watched as friends put their kids in competitive CCAs and ferried them around for extra ‘outside’ lessons and competitions to boost their skills.

The kids could sense that their parents are very stressed about their performance, and sometimes, it seems like all that matters to their parents are their achievements. If you hang around elite coaching centres, the atmosphere is tense.

It is no wonder that some kids start to feel that life seems to be one big competition. Everyone is fighting for limited opportunities. We have to win, win, win. Childhood is tough. Life is stressful.

Over the years, as I listen to some of my close mummy friends discuss the intricacies of DSA and plot their strategies, I did question if I was not trying hard enough to support my kids. However, what stops me from joining in the fray is that I have made my decisions based on our priorities and values.

I watched on as some of my friends’ kids managed to get into top schools via DSA. The stress doesn’t end there. In fact, it worsens. They find it hard to cope with the pressure and their self-esteem may be affected. It is not easy for students with an aggregate of 210 to keep up with classmates with aggregates of 260. They end up needing a lot of tuition to catch up, and with training days, there is not enough time to fit everything in. These poor kids are exhausted.

When friends ask me for advice if they should try the DSA route, I point out another angle which they usually miss. At the end of Secondary 2, the students have to choose their subject combinations (in almost all schools). If your child is at the bottom band, he may not be able to select the subjects he wants because those with better grades get first pick.

You would think the story ends here. But there’s a twist.

Never would I imagine a day where one of my kids would gain entry into a school via DSA.

But #3 did!
I wanted her to get into #2’s school as I like many things about the school. However, she missed the cut-off by 2 points and was posted to the school of her 2nd choice. We filled in an application for appeal, and as #3 has some background in sports, she was called in for the selection process for the school’s niche sport as they had vacancies under DSA. We were quite bewildered as #3 had never played the sport, but they were selecting based on general sporting abilities.

Before we went for the try-outs, we had a long discussion about whether she would enjoy the sport as she would have to participate in it for 4 years. She was hesitant as she had never tried it in primary school before, but I have always known that she would love team sports, given her sociable and cooperative nature. She also enjoys most ball games and my instincts told me that it would be a suitable sport for her.

I wasn’t too worried that she would have to stick to it for 4 years even if she didn’t like it because I knew from the older girls that things have changed and you are not allowed to change CCA for 4 years irregardless of DSA or not.

Both #1 and #2 chose CCAs which were new to them and have learnt to embrace and excel in it over the 4 years, so I was all for them persevering in one CCA. I also discovered that all CCAs have stand-down periods before the exams so I wasn’t too concerned about her having insufficient time for revision.

#3 got selected into the school’s niche sport and as I predicted, she loves it.

Do I think DSA is a good initiative? Yes, but not the way it has evolved.

Am I thankful the MOE came up with DSA?

You bet I am.

Sane tip: Once you get admitted into a school via DSA, a place has already been reserved for you and you can’t change your mind after the PSLE results are released. Your child is also NOT allowed to transfer to another school for the entire duration of the course.

Save tip: Sometimes we make parenting way more stressful and expensive than it should be. I am quite certain that when the MOE mapped out this initiative, they never intended it to benefit the sports vendors, but our children.

Related posts:

6 tips to Really prepare your child for P1

How #2 topped her level in English

School Stories:

#1 – When your son gets into fights in school
#2 – My son the loan shark
#3 – So kids can’t play once they start school?

#11 – How #2 topped her level in English

~ – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

MacRitchie Nature Trail

These days, the weather is so hot that although we want the kids to spend more time in nature, they would rather be in air-conditioned environments.

We have found the perfect place to go, where the trail is easy and very much shaded. We were there at 10.30 am and it was nice and cool.

Happily hopping along

Soon after we walked in, we came to a fork and decided not to take the TreeTop walk as there wasn’t enough time. This path is wonderful for children, with the marvels of nature waiting to be discovered by the young minds.

“Looks pretty amazing.”

The hubs spotted an intricate spider web and was pointing it out to the kids. It did look very much like a trampoline!

“Gor gor will protect you”

We came across this gigantic fallen tree and were awed by it. The hubs thought it would make a fantastic photo, but #5 was afraid it was going to topple and he didn’t quite dare to go on it until he saw that Kate was fine.

Daddy’s girl

The pathway is flat and easy even for the kids and erm, me. We had a leisurely stroll and they kept stopping to pick things up to study closely.

MacRitchie Nature Reserve

We spotted some monkeys and Kate wanted to feed them leaves. We told her the monkeys could get very fierce and we had better not go too near. She kept insisting that they were hungry and didn’t want to leave. #5 managed to convince her that if she threw the leaves with all her might, the monkeys would be able to get it.

She was way tired after almost an hour of walking and daddy had to piggy-back her out.

It was a surprisingly lovely place to spend a morning. We will be back the next time with the older kids when we have more time to explore the Treetop Walk, and perhaps try kayaking at the reservoir during the school holidays.

~ – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Lesson #16: What do you do when you get sick of parenting?

I came across this on social media which read, “Best books to help you recharge when you’re sick of parenting”.

I was just feeling that way, but never did it cross my mind that I could be sick of parenting.

I was nudging Kate upstairs to take a shower, and after getting her in and hearing her whines of “bathe myself!“, I gave up the fight and sat on the bed while allowing her to shower herself. I was tired of these daily struggles. The battles fluctuate with her moods. One time it was no want to bathe! Another was no want to wash hair! Yet another was I don’t want to come out!

Why oh why do kids not behave like robots and sweetly do whatever you ask of them?

I was getting tired of parenting, but I dared not even admit that to myself. It was my job, naturally. My life. My duty. How could I be feeling that way?

To see those words in print, normalising it, actually liberated me in some way. Others felt the same way too! And I could acknowledge it. I am sick of attending to her calls of being taken to the potty, sick of having to wrestle the toothbrush from her every day and night to finish the job properly, sick of having to nag at #5 to stop annoying her. Sick of the mundane bits of parenting.

So what should I do?

I think I would go on a nice, long holiday. Alone. To a faraway place. Amidst the beautiful mountains.

Or I should just go and eat a big slice of cake. Make that really big.

Or perhaps I will get onto Amazon and grab one of those books mentioned. This one sounds good, “The Parent’s Tao Te Ching: Ancient Advice for Modern Parents”. Synopsis reads, “speaks directly and clearly about the most difficult of modern tasks – parenting.

Oh well, Happy Friday everyone!

Other lessons (which I’ve learnt the hard way):

Lesson #15: What are we worth, mums?

~ – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

{Interview #4} Chong Ee Jay – Cyber Wellness Educator

Chong Ee Jay, 36, is the Manager of TOUCH Cyber Wellness and Head of Volunteer Management of TOUCH community Services. He has conducted more than 300 cyber wellness workshops since 2007, reaching out to more than 15,000 parents, educators and youth workers in schools, corporations and the community.

He represented TOUCH Cyber Wellness as recipient of the Singapore Youth Award in 2011 – the highest accolade for youth achievement awards in Singapore. He is a highly sought-after speaker and trainer in the area of cyber wellness. He is married to a fellow counsellor working with children, youths and parents in tackling cyber related concerns. She is currently studying her Masters in Counselling and they are expecting their first child.

This initiative is part of our 101 Paths to Success series of interviews to gain insight into how successful people came to do what they are doing, and enlighten parents that there is a vast array of occupations for our children to discover. Hopefully it might spark an interest in our children and youths to start their journey of discerning their life’s path.

Your qualifications:

Bachelor in Engineering (NUS)
Masters in Engineering (Bioengineering) NUS
Certifications in Social work and Counselling

Workshop for parents
Describe your job: 

I oversee the cyber wellness department in TOUCH, comprising of 12 full time staff which provides a holistic suite of programmes and services for children, youths, parents, practitioners, professionals and educators. 

I conduct parents’ cyber wellness workshops to help parents be more aware of the current cyber trends as well as to impart practical tips and teach them how to manage and engage their children more effectively in this fast changing digital age.

I also run training courses for educators and social service practitioners to empower them with practical diagnostic and intervention skill sets and domain knowledge as they work frontline in tackling cyber related issues such as gaming addiction and cyber bullying.

Besides that, I’m involved in para-counselling and counsultation, working closely with individuals and families in overcoming challenges at the home front – such as parent–child relationship issues and young parents’ parenting concerns.
How did you find your passion?

Honestly, I never thought I would join the social service sector. It all started more than 12 years ago when I got “dragged” by my university friends to do volunteer work in Mendaki by providing tuition support for low income families’ children. After a few weeks I really enjoyed my time there interacting with their children and being able to encourage them and help them succeed in their studies.

Back then, I already noticed that kids were punching away on their parents’ mobile phones (non smartphones) monochrome screen playing the then-popular game – Snake! I was very intrigued because such a simple game could keep them glued to the phone… what more in the future when phones become more high tech? That’s when the notion of cyber safety came to my mind. 

After I graduated from university, I decided to follow my passion instead of what I had studied. My parents were initially hesitant about my career path because they felt that I would be “wasting” my Masters degree and considering too that my Masters project had secured me a patent. However upon several discussions, they were agreeable to having me pursue my passion. 

I had a good friend already working in TOUCH Cyber Wellness and I volunteered for 2 months as a programme assistant in the cyber wellness enrichment holiday camp. Those two months were really eye-opening and allowed me the opportunity to work closely in mentoring the youths who had excessive gaming behaviours, as well as connecting with parents to help them better empathize and understand their children’ habits and how to manage them.

Since then, I came on board as a full time staff with TOUCH Cyber Wellness and have no regrets looking back at these past 9 fruitful years!
Which aspect of your job gives you the most satisfaction?

To be able to speak hope and encouragement to many parents who are struggling and feeling hopeless in dealing with their children. I also enjoy mentoring the children and teenagers, spending time with them and educating them on positive online behaviours. 
What does success mean to you?

Success in life to me means to be able to be a blessing to someone else. This is a fundamental belief that I have held on to since my university days when I started taking my life more seriously.

Are you involved in any charity / voluntary work?

Yes, I am currently actively volunteering as a life coach to a group of young adults. I also volunteer together with my wife in mentoring a few young adult dating couples and preparing them towards marriage. 
One advice to parents

The best way you can love your children is to love your spouse. And love is spelt TIME.
One advice to teens

YOLO – You Only Live Once… So make your life count for goodness and greatness!
To be a good youth worker (or youth coach), it takes someone… who is passionate and convicted about the importance of the next generation.

{Interviews} 101 Paths to Success

#1 – Dr Karen Crasta Scientist Associate Prof at the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine

#2 – Jeremiah Choy Creative Director Sing50 Concert at the National Stadium

#3 – Elaine Yeo Musician Singapore Symphony Orchestra

~ – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~