Thankful… for my mum-in-law

We live with my in-laws and my mum-in-law wakes up the earliest. When the kids were young, we didn’t know much about children and their sleep patterns. We used to let them sleep around 9pm and they would wake up at 6am. The hubs thought why not let them sleep later so they would wake up later. We allowed them to fall asleep naturally at around 10pm but they woke up even earlier, sometimes at 5 or 5.30am! Now I know that sleep begets sleep and I’ve learnt so much more about proper sleep patterns. My MIL would put the child in the stroller and push her around our condo at that early hour so that the rest of us can continue sleeping for a bit longer.

Kate and her cousin on their morning walk

Even till now, my MIL would take Kate for a stroll every morning. That frees up some time for me and I can have my breakfast and read the newspaper in peace. Something simple like that allows me to start my day nice and slow, and I would be ready to tackle the long day ahead. Now that my sis-in-law has a child the same age as Kate, they would play together and my MIL would watch over them.

There’s also another thing I’m really thankful to her for. My own parents seriously spoil my kids by buying them too many toys and giving them whatever they ask for. When the 5 of them were younger, my dad used to buy 5 of the same toy just to prevent any disagreements! He gets very stressed when they start to bicker and that was his way of handling the situation. My MIL on the other hand, frowns on waste and excessive consumption. She does not buy them any toys and instead puts a sum of money each month into their bank accounts from the time they enter primary 1, for their future tertiary education. Extremely practical and wise. Well I guess both sets of grandparents balances things out. One makes them feel loved and doted on, while the other teaches them thrift and planning for their future. Aren’t they lucky.

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

Linking up with:

~ – 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”

~ – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

A day in the life of a stay-at-home-mum of 6

When people hear that I have 6 kids, they always ask me how I manage them, after which they want to know what my days are like. Here’s a peek at what a typical school day looks like for me.

7.00 am: Send 2 of them to school with Kate along for the ride. The other 3 are either on school bus or public bus.

7.30 am: Feed Kate her breakfast and have a quick bite as well (usually her leftovers).

8.30 am: Take Kate to the playground. We rotate the playgrounds in our neighbourhood, if not she gets bored of them.

She loves sand play.. who doesn’t?

9.30 am: Take Kate home for a shower and our helper settles her down for her nap at 10.30.

10.00 am: Either breakfast with the hubs and running of errands, brunch with friends or yoga.

12.30 pm: Feed Kate her lunch and play with her before the rest comes back.

1.00 pm: Cook lunch for the kids if helper is busy with housework or if the kids have specially requested for something e.g. #4 will say “Mummy, can you make me baked rice tomorrow for my lunch when I’m back from school”.

1.30 pm: Pick 2 of them up from school if they are not staying back.

2.00 pm: Have lunch with whoever is home while keeping an eye on Kate. We’ll chat about their school day and it’s usually this time straight after school when they are bursting with things to share with you.

3.00 pm: Pick #1 from the bus-stop, fix her a salad and sit and chat with her about her day. The rest of the kids will either be doing their homework, playing with Kate, reading, or wasting time doing what-not. We have a no TV, no computer/ipad rule on school days.

#1’s salad: Tomatoes with baby mozerella

4.00 pm: Off to pick #4 from school after her CCA (the 3 youngest have their CCAs on different days so it works out perfect for picking them up). If Kate follows me, she will play with #4 and her friends in school for awhile before we head home. But if #3 is free, she will take care of Kate and I’ll go alone to pick her. I’ll take the opportunity to take #4 for one-on-one time somewhere nearby where we’ll grab a bite and chat while she does her homework. On days where no one stays back and I’m home with them, we’ll either be hanging around the kitchen making some snacks like ice lollies or their own culinary creations (read: peanut butter and cheese sandwich with blueberries squashed in between), going over to my sister-in-law’s place for tea, or the kids will jump into the bathtub and have some water fun with Kate if the weather is really hot (which is most of the time!).

5.00 pm: Watch Kate while the helper prepares dinner. The younger ones usually play in the garden with her or sometimes we all head off to the playground. If anyone has school stuff for me to sign or requests for supplies or other issues for the next day, I’ll get it settled.

6.00 pm: Dinner time! The older 2 come back late twice a week on CCA days, so they’ll eat by themselves later.

Dinner is at 6pm everyday

7.00 pm: See that everyone has their shower and are settling down to prepare for school the next day.

7.30 pm: Remind #5 to brush his teeth and get into bed. (Yes, I have to remind him everyday, if not he’ll read past his bedtime).

7.45 pm: Pick #2 from the bus stop as it’s dark and she’s tired after a long day at school, and it gives me a few minutes to chat with her about her day. Warm up her dinner and sit with her for 5 minutes to finish our conversation.

8.00 pm: Read to #4 before she goes to bed.

8.30 pm: Read to #3 before she goes to bed (they are in separate rooms and have different bedtimes).

(Nowadays, Kate doesn’t want the helper to settle her to sleep so I have to do it. Some days, I fall asleep while doing that so the bedtime stories for #3 and #4 doesn’t happen)

9.00 pm: Check if #1 or #2 have any other things they need me to settle or discuss.

9.30 pm: Exhausted. Unwind and relax by blogging. In. Peace. I have never liked watching TV or surfing the Net, so previously, I used to read or sleep. Now, by blogging, I am able to sieve through all the thoughts swirling in my head and by putting it all down, somehow it clears my mind and I know what to focus on.

So, this is what I do everyday, day in day out. Honestly, it is quite enjoyable as the 5 older kids are between the ages of 7 and 15 and we can have proper conversations about things they learn in school or issues they are facing. When they were younger, a typical day revolved around feeding them, showering them, changing diapers, putting them to bed, cleaning up spills, breaking up squabbles, carrying them when they are cranky, disciplining them, yelling at them. Sounds chaotic? Imagine doing all of that on 4 hours of sleep every night, and being pregnant half the time. Sometimes, I don’t know how I did all of that without running away. Hmm, I think there WERE many times I wanted to run away! So yes, life is great now. Well, if I didn’t know the bitter, I wouldn’t be able to appreciate the sweet right?

Here’s what a typical Saturday of ours looks like.

To read how having 6 kids has changed my life, click here.

~ – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Coarser Textures

food journey (9 months)

This week’s menu: Japanese pumpkin, broccoli, carrot, potato, sweet potato

I’m going to start making Kate’s purees lumpier so that she can slowly progress to eating the same foods as us. Fruits like apples and pears can now be eaten without steaming. I either give them a quick blend to add them into her purees (especially to thin some dryer vegetables like sweet potatoes or carrots) or I just use a metal teaspoon to scrap directly from the fruit to feed her.

Just a quick blend for a lumpier texture

Every Sunday I will make a whole week’s supply of food for Kate, which takes me roughly an hour. Our freezer is always chock-a-block with so many mouths to feed, but if you have plenty of freezer space, it would save time to make a fortnight or a month’s supply at a go. I got these cute little food containers from Robinsons a couple of years ago. They were very handy for the kids’ snacks and even for making jelly. They come in a set of 8 (either hearts or cars) and cost $14, and they are BPA free. They are the perfect size for Kate’s portion at the moment. When we take Kate out, I just grab one container from the fridge and I’m ready to go (with so many kids, everything is usually grab-and-go).

I had been eyeing the Beaba babycook while I was pregnant as it seemed very convenient and was just so adorable. When my ex-colleagues mentioned they were polling to get her a huge baby hamper, I asked for vouchers instead. I remember after #5’s full month party, I had more than 20 boxes of clothes hampers! It was rather impractical (who needs 20 hooded towels) so this time I requested the guests not to buy any gifts. Since I didn’t need to purchase a  breast pump, sterilizer or clothes as I had plenty of hand-me-downs, I splurged the vouchers on the Babycook. I have to admit it’s rather expensive at $279 (occasionally Takashimaya sells it for $189 at their baby fair) but the great thing is that it steams and blends all in one machine and turns off automatically when it’s done steaming.

With the other kids, I used the traditional method of steaming in a pot and more often than not I end up over-steaming the food or burning the pot. I figured that it cost more money in wasted food and in replacing the pot, not to mention the frustration (with myself!) and stress level when that happens. I consider it one of the handiest appliance at the moment, and I foresee using it for many years to come. I still do steam and blend vegetables for the older kids when I need to thicken their sauces. However, I’m sure there are other steamer/blender options on the market which are cheaper. Just be sure to get a steamer which shuts off automatically. I find that helped tremendously.

Food / Milk warmer

Every night I would take down 3 containers of food to defrost for the next day. Just before a meal I would warm it up in this food/milk warmer. It takes about 10 minutes to warm up. Once ready, it will let out a little ‘beep’.

I started giving her some finger food but I don’t think she’s ready for it. If I cut the pieces too big she chokes, and if I cut them too small she can’t pick them up. Or she squishes them too tightly until they turn to mush. The only thing she manages to pick up well is shredded chicken in tiny pieces. Guess I’ll wait a couple of weeks before trying again.

Sane tip: I used to do everything the traditional way – steaming food in a pot, sterilising their milk bottles in a huge pot of boiling water, heating up their food by warming up in a bowl. I realise appliances really do save a lot of time and hassle.

Save tip: For your baby’s full month party, tell your good friends or state in the invite: No gifts please. We’re happy for them to just come and celebrate our joy with us. But if they feel they have to buy something, they will either give you vouchers or red packets. More practical.

Read about an Allergy that almost killed #1

6 easy peasy tips to make your baby smarter

~ – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore  ~