5 Survival Tips of a Mum Boss

I was running on adrenaline last year which I documented in “A week in the life of a blogging mum”. I started The Little Executive with my partner and as with any new start-up, there is a never-ending list of things to look into.

I worked in the mornings when Kate was at school and was home by 1 pm to see to the kids as they streamed home. Although there is flexibility as your own boss, it is in a sense worse, because with no clear demarcation, I ended up working round the clock. Many a night, I crashed at 9 pm only to wake at 2 am to start the day.

It came to a point where Kate hid my phone because she had to fight with it for my attention on a daily basis. It is worse to be physically present but mentally absent as it sends the message that whatever I’m doing on the phone is more important than her.

I also fell sick a couple of times and I knew I couldn’t sustain that level of energy. I needed a better strategy.

This year, I changed my routine. After dropping Kate off at school, I work until about 4 or 5 pm, depending on which kid I need to pick on the way home. I take one day a week off to go for yoga and spend the day catching up on household admin, fixing a good lunch for the kids and taking Kate for class. Of course, I end up doing sporadic work on the computer as emails or texts come in requiring my attention.

With this new arrangement, my working hours are more structured but it is physically exhausting. When I was a SAHM, it felt like running a marathon with no finishing line. Now, as a full-time working mum, it feels like I am walking in quick sand. I wish I had a remote control where I could press the PAUSE button.

To be honest, I do enjoy the part where I drop Kate off at school and head in to work. I can do my thing in peace, have adult conversations and dream up ideas to implement.

But when I get home, I can’t kick off my shoes and lounge on the sofa as my second shift begins! Kate will be running to me with open arms exclaiming “Mummy you are home!” and starts regaling me with her day’s escapades. She could go on and on, if not for #5 who would be dragging me to see yet another of his creations. Soon enough, our helper sets dinner and it’s full on action until bedtime.

The thing with 6 school-going kids is that the clock doesn’t stop. I was a FTWM yonks ago when the 3 of them were below the age of 6 and it was different. There was no agenda and no urgency. Now, I have #1 coming to me to discuss her Poly assignments (which I actually enjoy), #5 to nag at when he realises at 7 pm that homework is still not completed, and the rest of them to sort out issues arising from school.

The weekend rolls around and as we all know, it’s not like we can lie in bed and rest our weary bodies and minds.

I wondered how working mums do it. By the second week of January, I was so exhausted I wrote a post “Are we killing ourselves?”

I have since put in place these 5 simple strategies to keep things in balance before I lose my sanity or end up neglecting the kids.

Rooftop picnic

1. Simple Bonding Time

When Kate sees me at home, she will look at me expectantly with a bright smile and say, “Mum, shall we have a picnic?”

Thoughts of where to take her zip through my mind – Botanic Gardens? Chinese Garden? “No, another day ok. I have too much to do.” She doesn’t give up. “Don’t worry mummy, I will prepare the food. We can have a picnic at home!

Dawned on me that we don’t need to come up with grand plans or constantly take them to new places. To us, it may seem simple, but these moments are special in their eyes. And because it became doable for me, the bonding time happened. I just had to follow her up to the rooftop patio and give her my full attention for 20 minutes, and she was pleased as punch.

The hubs used to ride her to market on the weekends and I’m sure that would remain a precious memory to her.

These moments of connection are important for their emotional growth as they feel they are important to us and because it fulfils their need, they don’t play up so much just to get our attention.

Family Command Centre

2. Stay organised

I have a Family Command Centre right smack between our kitchen and dining room which I blogged about 4 years ago, and had to make changes since starting work. I had a mountain of paperwork piled on my desk which put me in a frenzy because I couldn’t find things I needed, and I didn’t have time to waste digging through the mess.

The 1st tray is Urgent, so nothing important is missed, and I look at it every morning. Things I’m working on currently at work go into TLE and I slot accounting receipts separately so it’s easy when I pull it all out once a fortnight to get that filed.

I teach the little kids at church once a week, and notes for that go into the CGS slot. I also handle the GST filing for the hubs’ company, so that goes there. These are the areas I have to tackle on a regular basis and the rest of the documents will get moved upstairs to our home office. The black tray on top is for the kids to put papers they need me to sign so nothing gets misplaced.

3. Schedule in breaks

Since working 2 jobs (as I call it now) I have felt my stress levels rising. I’m running non-stop and there’s no breather. The only way is to factor in de-stressing activities into the week.

My teens are such darlings. They’ve been noticing how hard I’m working “hey mum, you actually go to work!” and surprised me on Mother’s Day by drawing up a nice warm bath and making a lovely moisturising bath bomb. They asked me to “relax and take your time, dad is fixing dinner.” It was the first time soaking in my own bathtub after so many years.

Instead of taking Kate to busy places, we go to quiet parks. She roams around on her bicycle while I get to clear my mind and refresh my soul.

#2 and I started drum classes on Sundays for some mummy-daughter bonding time and found it quite relaxing. More than that, by taking an hour out to do something for myself, it changes my overall frame of mind from scarcity to abundance and by allowing myself permission to do something fun, I feel better overall. The last time I took any classes was before I had kids!

I used to turn friends down for tea or lunch as it takes up too much time, but now allocate 1 day a week to allow myself to chill, talk about things of leisure, have a heart to heart chat with close friends.

4. Cut myself some slack

As though I don’t have enough on my plate, I have an added duty of preparing 4 lunchboxes every night after dinner. It started because of #2. Her JC releases the whole cohort for recess at the same time, so it is a 30-40 minute queue for food. She would rather not waste time queueing and buys a cookie or pie from the cafe.

I offered to pack her a salad (thinking she might say, “No thanks mum, who brings a lunchbox to school at 16?) But she loved it, and so did her friends! Since I started doing that, the other 2 teens reasoned that I might as well pack them healthy salads as well.

Near the end of the week, I was really tired and instead of pushing myself to do it, declared “Kitchen Closed – due to mum fatigue”. Glad the kids took it in their stride, and now they don’t take my lunch box for granted!
5. Enjoy the little things

It’s all too easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of life with kids and end up feeling frustrated and defeated a lot of the time. I have learnt to be present in the moment and to savour the little things.

After a challenging Thursday night where I scolded the 2 younger ones, I went to work and didn’t see them on Friday. I had dinner out with the hubs and when we returned, I saw a note stuck to the bedroom door, which read: 

Dear Mummy, Kate and I are sleeping happily. Love, #5 & Kate. 

And to see them fast asleep, arms wrapped around each other, was just the best thing.

Being a mum, however way you spin it, is tough. I’m grateful to Debs for initiating this very meaningful series, to give us mothers a chance to learn from one another and know that we are not alone.

I’m finally getting into the rhythm of this FTWM gig and finding my balance.

No matter the demands, mothers make it work.


This post is part of the “Mothers Make it Work! Blog Train hosted by Owls Well. To read other inspiring stories, please click here.

If you would like to travel to the previous stops on this Blog Train and read more interesting stories, you can start with this one here by Debs G over at Owls Well as she considers the challenges that her Aged P faced as a stay-at-home-parent. Debs is a Sunda Scoops Owl who married a nice British Barn owl and is raising a trio of hungry young owlets in a highrise tree in Singapore. Debs is a trained medical professional who is currently training to be A Parent.

At next week’s stop, we will be visiting June at MamaWearPapaShirt. June is a work-at-home mum to 3 kids. She is a writer and trainee educational therapist who is passionate about helping kids with learning needs. Her idea of self-care is drinking a good cuppa and enjoying a good book. She is constantly exploring calm and positive ways to parent her children.

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

A Day in the Life of a Mum with 6 kids

For the past 4 years, I was a stay-at-home-mum, and prior to that, I worked from home for a decade so that I could be around for my kids as they were growing up.

Now that #1 is turning 18 and not-so little Kate is in school for 4 hours a day, I can finally pursue my own work without feeling bad that I have left so many kids at home to be cared for by the helper and a hubs whose eyes are focused on the computer screen most of the day.

The funny thing is, the kids are so used to the hubs and I both being at home that they find it a novelty that mum goes to work!

When they see me coming down all dressed (instead of being in home attire most of the time), the teenagers will ask, “Mum, where are you going?”

“To work.”

“Oh wow, you have work to go to.” They are amused, and I’m sure they are (secretly) proud of me. Well, I hope.

Our Brady bunch

So how do I juggle my days now that I am a working mum?

As my own boss of an enrichment centre, I am fortunate to have the flexibility of time and can choose to work partly from home. The flip side however, is that even when I’m home, I tend to be on the computer (there is always more to do!) and Kate has pleaded with me on several occasions, “Mummy, can you stop your computer and play with me?” I need more self-restraint to block out time meant for the kids!

My weekday schedule hasn’t changed all that much as I try to fit my work schedule around the kids’ school day. In the mornings while the kids are in school, I go to my centre for training, brainstorming sessions or to touch base with my staff. I leave at 12noon to pick Kate up and spend the afternoons with the kids as they return home from school. After the younger kids have gone to bed, I get some work done before calling it a night at 12 or 1am, although some nights I’m exhausted and fall asleep while putting Kate to bed.

My weekend. The day which has changed the most for me is Saturday. I documented our Saturday a year ago, where it was a balance between seeing to the younger and older kids’ different needs while making time for simple activities as a family.

Now, I work almost every Saturday, to personally run our weekly trial classes as our concept is new to parents and many do not understand what we do even after browsing our website. I have come to enjoy these sessions as we are on this parenting journey together, and it is always nice to get to know the parents of the kids whom we are working with.

Our Little Executives

Saturday mornings: I take Kate along with me, and she attends her class while I speak to the parents. Some days she stays the whole day with me, and keeps herself entertained by playing with the other kids at our centre, or simply playing by herself.

Meanwhile at home, the 4 older kids sleep in on weekends to make up for the sore lack of sleep on school days. My dad has learnt to Whatsapp them directly to see who is at home, and my parents will detour to the market to buy brunch over so that our helper doesn’t have to cook.

My mum will see to the needs of the kids and ensure everything is ok. She usually spends time chatting with the teens and takes an afternoon nap in their rooms. My parents have been such a life saver for the past 18 years, and even though they are in their 70s, they enjoy their role and the company of the kids.

Afternoons: Some days, the hubs might come by to my centre with #4 and #5  to pick Kate up. He has stepped up to the plate knowing that I am busy with work. Wish I had done this earlier!

There are times when I can’t figure out what they get up to when he sends across such pictures, but I’m glad he is spending more time bonding with them. Now that I’m at home much less to supervise him, #5 spends too much time watching TV and playing on the computer, so the more time in nature, the better.

Dad.. we are exhausted

This Saturday arrangement has been working well and occasionally, I get time in between my sessions to meet up with old friends for lunch to celebrate birthdays.

Initially, when I started to work on Saturdays, I was apprehensive about being away on a weekend when everyone else was at home, but it has turned out really well and Kate has been enjoying her Saturdays tremendously. Time alone with mummy. Fun times with daddy and siblings. Friends to play with or going out for nice meals. What more can she ask for?!

Evenings: I return home in the late afternoon or evening, depending on how many sessions I run, and the hubs would be fixing a nice dinner for the kids. We sit with them for an early dinner (around 6pm) and have a few small bites while seeing that they are all fed.

Once everything is settled, we prepare to head out to meet with friends for dinner, leaving the older girls in charge.

Although we have been going out much less as a family these past 2 months due to me working on Saturdays and preferring to stay in on Sundays to rest and recharge, the timing couldn’t be better as #4 has been busy with PSLE preparations and #2 has been spending the weekends catching up on sleep and studying for her O level exams which commences next week.

Occasionally, the hubs will cook up a storm or start a little BBQ and roast some nice meats, and my parents and brother’s family will join us for dinner or we might head out nearby to have dinner together.

Slow roasted BBQ ribs

Night out: It’s nice to relax and unwind from a long week over a nice dinner with 1 or 2 other couples, and there’s usually some interesting event going on somewhere.

Late night: After a heavy meal, I find it hard to sleep so what’s the best thing to do when the kids are asleep and the house is dead quiet? Besides the hottest topic everyone is heated up over these past few days..

I work. My work is akin to a hobby. I turn to it every spare moment I have, and it brings me great joy and satisfaction.

If my brain cells are buzzing, I’ll put in some heavy work like reading research papers, writing up rationales of our curriculum or doing some bookkeeping. But if I’m brain-fried, I’ll do relaxing work like blogging or sorting the kids/family admin, which is another never-ending task!

Wine pairing dinner

It may be unimaginable, but I’m happiest now than I have ever been since having kids.

I don’t know if anyone can relate to this, but there was a period of more than 5 years when I did not have time to meet with friends nor go out with the hubs. It was routine, routine, routine. So much so that now as I make time to re-connect with old friends, my kids are surprised. “Mum, we didn’t know you had so many friends!” Yup, I’m accustomed to such bluntness. Is it just my teens?

Getting the 5 young kids to eat, sleep, and bathe took up my entire day and every ounce of energy. The focus was more like 95% kids, 5% work (to hang on to my sanity), 0% me, 0% fun. I didn’t know any better, but oh well, I survived and emerged stronger.

After 18 years, I finally have balance.

Family time with the children, yet ample time away from them which is just as important.

Work which I enjoy; both meaningful and mentally stimulating, and working with passionate, like-minded educators who bring energy to my days.

Time with the hubs, good friends, and adult conversations where we chat and laugh ourselves silly, as I have almost forgotten how it feels to enjoy the company of friends without my thoughts constantly revolving around the kids.

I become more ready to take on the new week.

I am in a good place now.

For that, I am thankful.

For more glimpses into our days, this is how my week looks like. It does get pretty crazy around here! The last time I documented my weekday was 2 years ago when Kate was 2, and looking back, things have changed significantly.

Next up on this blog train is Dorothea, a mum of two boys, aged 6 and 4. She writes about life, love, parenting and faith at A Pancake Princess, and is also a regular contributor to The New Age Parents, an online magazine. These days, she also enjoys crafting customised artwork and holding watercolour / calligraphy workshops, and goes by the name of Dottishop. Meanwhile, most of her time is spent chasing make-believe dinosaurs, making messy art, breaking up fights and picking crumbs off the floor – and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

Thank you for hopping on board this blog train hosted by the inspirational Justina of Mum in the Making. Click on Day in a Life blog train to take a peek into a day in the life of other mummies!

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

A week in the life of a Blogging Mum

When people hear that I have 6 kids, they want to know how I manage.

I’ve heard that question so many times that I simply smile.

They look at me expectantly, almost demanding an answer, like “Tell me the secret, now!”

I ask them to read my blog because, where do I begin?

“You still have time to blog?!” comes the incredulous reply.

“Yes, and I am also working on 2 start-up businesses!” My excitement can hardly be concealed.

That is when they give me a look of utter incomprehension.

3 years ago, I gave birth to my youngest child, Kate, after a break of 6 years.

Close friends were joking that they can’t imagine what it is like to raise so many kids, having to start all over again, and the financial obligations we were putting ourselves through.

They suggested that since people are always coming to me for advice on parenting, I should start a blog and put it all down without needing to repeat myself.

They enticed me into the world of blogging by saying, “Bloggers get a lot of free things! Who knows, you may be sponsored diapers and milk powder.”

That was how I became a mummy blogger, and for the record, we still haven’t been sponsored diapers nor milk powder, although the journey has been nothing short of amazing.

The community of blogging mothers I have met, the people I have interviewed for my {101 Paths to Success} series, being on TV and radio, giving talks, being invited to pen a chapter in a parenting book and of course not forgetting the exclusive events we get to attend!

Our slightly large family

Last year when Kate started preschool, I finally had freedom after devoting 17 years of my life to my kids.

Having not had a ‘proper’ job for that long, I prayed that opportunities would open up and I might find meaningful work which I would enjoy doing.

Things couldn’t have turned out better and I met people whom I connected with immediately, bringing synergy to ideas we had individually.

I am in the midst of setting up an enrichment centre with a speech pathologist. In all my years, I have never seen an approach like hers.

With my background as an occupational therapist, one main concern I always have is that the programme must be developmentally sound for the child.

Readers who have been following my blog would know that I don’t subscribe to the drilling-and-pumping-kids-with-more-tuition path, but believe in the acquisition of fundamental skills and real learning that stays with them.

In her work with children over the past decade, she has successfully crafted a curriculum to bridge our educational gaps and we are so excited to share that with other children and impact the way they learn.

I have also been roped in as Editor for a crowd-funding social enterprise start-up which hopes to rally and inspire the community one story and one campaign at a time.

After hanging around little people for so many years, it is refreshing to sit with adults and brainstorm new and creative ideas, and have the time to actually work on them.

Cosy catch-ups at home

Even though I have taken on paid jobs, my priority is still the children and I work everything around them.

This is what a typical day looks like for me.

#1 is in a polytechnic and runs on her own schedule. The subsequent 4 kids are in primary and secondary school and they get themselves ready to board their respective school buses at 6am.

Kate wakes up automatically at 7am and gives me a peck on the cheek as my cue to get up and start the day with her.

She goes off to school at 8.30am which leaves me with 4 hours to do as I please.

My precious mornings. My mornings are all specifically allocated. I find that working on a strict routine helps me to be more productive.

Mondays are reserved for meetings for my enrichment centre, Tuesdays for the social enterprise, mid-week is Yin yoga with a group of mummies, Thursdays are for breakfast with the hubs, and Fridays are for catching up with other mummy friends.

These regular gatherings with other mummies help to keep me sane as we discuss issues our kids are facing and give one another support. That is also where I get inspiration for my blogging!

In a week, I usually get 2 mornings free when the hubs is away or when a meeting is cancelled and that is allocated to working on my enrichment centre or social enterprise.

12.30pm Already? I run off to pick Kate and my niece up from school.

Kate has lunch with her cousin who lives right next door (yup, the convenience is unbelievable) and that buys me time to prepare lunch for the other kids.

I try to accede to their requests and cook their favourite food as usually only 2 or 3 come back for lunch each day. Some days, everyone is back only at 4pm and that gives me 3 extra hours to work on the computer.

Best pals

2pm #4 and #5 come back on the school bus if they have no CCAs or supplementary classes and I make it a point to be home for them everyday after school as that is the best time to chat as they unload the events of the day.

Meanwhile, Kate is shooed off to shower and the hubs will settle her for her nap.

She is at the age of resisting her naps and daddy is way more successful than I am in managing that. His bait? 15 minutes of TV followed by “just a small nap”.

Some days, #2 or #3 might bring their classmates or CCA mates home and will let me know a day in advance so I can prepare something special for them, usually Tacos or Mac & cheese bake.

I enjoy sitting down and chatting with the teenagers, to get a sense of what is happening in their world. These chats give me new perspectives and also spark new ideas for my posts.

Simple lunch

Kate usually has a 1 – 2 hour nap and if the older girls have friends over, I get a break as they love to entertain her when she wakes up.

The smartest thing I have done was to set up my work station in the living room so that when I get pockets of free time with no one needing me, I can work on my blog, creating content or writing reviews.

After lunch, the older kids will retreat to their rooms to tackle their homework, while I get one-on-one time with my youngest.

I either arrange a playdate for her at home, at a friend’s house, or we simply paint or do craft together, followed by playground time.

On Friday afternoons, I take her to church where she attends faith formation class while I volunteer as a cathechist. The quiet, spirit-filled environment not only grounds her, but is a weekly reminder for me to slow things down.
Faith formation session
Everyone sits down for dinner at 6pm, except for those not back from CCA.

7pm Time to wind down. I get #5 to shower and into bed and he falls asleep within 15 minutes as he is totally exhausted from waking up at 5.30am to catch the school bus.

I used to get both Kate and her gor gor to prepare for bed together, but they would end up laughing and playing for the next 1 hour which drove me up the wall.

It’s one of those parenting mysteries why kids seem to get along the best just before bedtime, while they can’t even get through 30 minutes without squabbling during the day.

My strategy is to stagger their bedtime and conquer them one by one.

1 down, 5 to go.

I fly through the corridors, doing a quick check to see that all mobile phones are at the charging docks and pop into the teenagers’ rooms (for those who were back late) to ask if there are any urgent issues, signing of forms, which require my attention.

The hubs will keep an eye on the Sec 2 and Sec 4 girls to ensure they are in bed by 10pm.

I get Kate into the room and do some simple tidying while she goes through her very prolonged bedtime routine of pyjamas, brushing teeth, putting oils for bruises or bites, arranging bears and doggies under the blanket, story time, prayers, and hugs and kisses, before finally turning the lights out.

I lie with her, and usually end up falling asleep as well.

I struggled with this sort of haywire sleeping pattern for the longest time, sometimes being jolted awake at 1am to continue the day’s unfinished work.

However, my yoga instructor told us that according to the TCM body clock system, it is healthy to go to bed early, at around 9pm, as that is the optimal time for our bodies to detoxify and rejuvenate.

Now, I sleep a good uninterrupted 7 hours of sleep and when my body is rested I automatically wake up, and if the clock shows that it is 3 or 4am, I jump for joy!

I make myself a hot mug of milo, get organised by writing my list (ok, I have not 1, but 3 to-do lists) and settle down to joyfully tackle the items one at a time.

It’s unbelievable how 17 years of motherhood has changed my perception of bliss.

Working on the computer in the dead of night without anyone interrupting my thoughts is something I look forward to. And ticking off those to-do lists one by one… Ah!

That is on a good day.
Silent nights…

On a crazy day…

While I am trying to get ready, Kate decides to get cranky.

Much whining and tears later, I drop her at school and head off for a 9am meeting. The day has barely started and I’m already feeling drained.

Thank goodness we decided to have our discussion over a proper breakfast instead of eating on the run.

Serious multi-tasking. As #1 is on term break, I take her along as she is studying a relevant course and I like to make learning alive for my kids as much as possible. Her schedule is very tight with school and part-time work, so this is another way of squeezing time in with her.

Besides, I love to try new cafes so that I can share them on my blog with fellow mums who are also looking for early breakfast places.

Casual business meetings

Our meetings are very energising and lots of new ideas are thrown up. We have to wrap it up by 12 noon so I can go and pick Kate up.

We get home and I am all prepared to make a nice lunch for the kids.

Somedays, I start with grand plans to make a fantastic meal, but the cooking just goes downhill.

I am stationed in the kitchen for hours as they stream in every half hour or so, but somehow the starving kids are grumpy because they were expecting something nice for lunch but have to eat what they term “Mummy’s sometimes yucky food.”

(Yes, improving my culinary skills is on my bucket list.)

That really gets to me.

You know those days?

The ones where you have envisioned something nice for your family, tried your best, but the results are disappointing and you just want to throw in the towel and head upstairs for a good soak in the bathtub or a good sleep to escape from it all.

As if it couldn’t get any worse, Kate is getting really whiny and going on and on like a broken record saying, “But nap is so hard.”

Some days, I have more patience but on other days, I would be yelling at her by now.

The hubs is away and I have no energy to deal with it. Our helper takes her upstairs kicking and screaming while I try to regain my sanity.

Deep breath.

I make myself a hot cup of tea and guess what do I do to relax?

I blog.

Yup, it de-stresses me and I am calm once more.

Kate wakes up all too soon and insists on a cookie baking session, for her “picnic”.

An assortment of cookies

I am always for hands-on learning and try not to turn them down. Afterall, there is so much math concepts and fine motor skills going on there. And who can resist the smell of freshly baked cookies?

Halfway through, I have to head out to pick #5 after his CCA.

My brain is constantly buzzing like that. What day? What time? Who? Where? When? Someone I need to pick? Everyone accounted for?

Thank goodness I have a trusty wall calendar with 6 slots and that has been my life-saver for the past few years. Everything goes there and I never miss any event or activity. Well, except for the one tiny time when I forgot to pick my son up from school…

I rope #3 in to carry on supervising Kate.

Uh-oh. Looks like somebody got flour in her eye.

It’s only 4.30pm? I can’t believe only half a day has gone by. The cookies are in the oven, and Kate starts preparing her picnic. She wipes the table, fills up the tumbler with water and lays everything nicely.

We bought this adorable little set from Tupperware and the little one has been setting up her picnic every day for the past 2 weeks and ‘forcing’ everyone in sight to sit and join her.

Her picnic is over as quickly as it started, and Kate starts wringing her hands asking, “What do I do now? You tell me?”

#5, ever ready for some action, declares that he has no homework.

Like a movie, at this point in time, #4 trots down the stairs on cue, announcing to anyone who bothers to listen that all her homework is done, done, done!

Kate’s picnic

Suddenly someone shouts, “Let’s go swimming!” Followed by a chorus of “Woohoo! Swimming!”

Before I can utter a word, Kate runs to our helper and tells her, “Auntie Mary, quick get my costume! We are going swimming!”

And just like that, the agenda is sealed.

Again, I am ever an advocate for fresh air and physical activity, especially after a long day of school.

I give instructions to our helper to push dinner back by half an hour and off to the pool we go for some splashing fun.

While the older kids take care of Kate in the pool, I take out my notepad and scribble down ideas for work. The outdoors is always a great place for me to think and come up with fresh perspectives.

We get home and everyone has a quick shower, which leaves me with 10 minutes to sit with them for dinner as I have another meeting to attend.

Before I head out for our parents’ support group meeting in my girls’ school, I put the older girls in charge and remind them to get the younger ones in bed at the right time.
Evenings at home
Everything under control. It is always heartening to see the kids rise to the occasion if you give them the responsibility and trust that they will do a good job. No fights between them and no calls to me!

I reach home at 10pm and check in on the kids, and see the 5 of them asleep, huddled together all in 1 room.

I pause at the doorway.

It’s simple things like that which gives me a deep sense of contentment.

The hubs is away and I stay up to wait for #1 to come back from her waitressing job.
The house is quiet and I love this special time all to myself.

It might sound strange, but I reflect and sieve through the day’s events by blogging.

It’s cathartic.

I usually get carried away and continue to put in 2 or 3 hours of work and have to remind myself to call it a night.
Stand-Up Paddling
Unhurried Weekends. Gone are the days when I try to squeeze too many activities into our weekends.

Now that the kids are older, their school week is very hectic and they need the weekend to rest, recharge and decompress.

Blogging events mean family time. I have come to love media invites and sponsored activities simply because with the fixed dates, everyone is booked in advance and we get to spend time doing unforgettable things like Stand-Up Paddling or having a good meal with fantastic views.

As the events are usually exclusive or something i wouldn’t normally pay for, even the older kids are keen to join in, like the recent Disney on Ice show where we were given VIP tickets.

Our weekends are rather disorganised as it is hard to get everyone free at the same time.

One way we try to make things work is to get creative with how we can fit our activities in.

For example, Kate had a birthday party to attend in the evening, so we cycled together, with the treat of getting frozen yoghurt to entice the older kids, and Kate and I attended the party while the rest cycled home.

Extended family support. My folks come over every weekend and while Kate is occupied with her baby cousin and grandma, I have time to plan the week, settle the bills or just relax.

Grandpa is on hand to ferry them to their classes or to send them to run their errands.

Every Sunday morning, I look forward to going to church as that is where I draw strength from, and we would visit the homebound in our community after church.

With our weekends free and easy, I have time to nip out with the kids individually or in pairs to spend time with them doing simple things like shopping for their friend’s birthday present, while the hubs whips up delicious meals.

Jacob Ballas Garden

The paradox is that the more I work on things I am passionate about, the more energised and alive I feel, and that’s the engine that keeps me going.

One thing’s for sure, there’s never a dull moment around here!

This post is part of a blog train hosted by Singapore Parent Bloggers and everyday throughout the month of April, you will get to peek into the life of a mummy or daddy blogger.

Next up is Diana Ruth, a wonderful mum of 4 who blogs at Mum Craft. Hop over and see what a typical week looks like for her.

Related posts:

Here’s what a day in the life of a stay-at-home-mum looks like on a typical school day in our household.

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

Birth stories of my 6 children

My first 5 kids were all born 2 years apart, and their birth stories went almost exactly the same way.

No Braxton Hicks, no water bag bursting beforehand, no pre-labour signs. They were all natural, with no epidural, and lasted approximately 3 to 4 hours long (or short. Thankfully!)

The height of the pain, where I remember uttering to the hubs through gritted teeth “I-am-go-ing-to-die” probably lasted no more than 20 minutes. I’m sure I would have begged for pain relief if it was any longer.

And after all that agony, I would declare to the hubs that I am NOT going to go through this again.

But I did. Again, and again. It’s funny how we forget the pain just as quickly.

Kate’s birth, on the other hand, was totally different. She was breeched and needed a caesarean.

Here’s their birth stories condensed into one post.

Kate, our 6th child

#1’s birth story

With #1, I was studying overseas and the norm there was “natural births”. So I went along with it. No epidural, no doctor.

We were given material to read, where I learnt that labour pains should be seen as helpful and productive, and the imagery of our pregnant body as a lotus flower, with the contractions aiding us to push the baby out. Pain is our friend, not foe.

Ok, I was brainwashed.

At 39.5 weeks, I was getting a little worried that there was no sign of impending labour.

I chanced upon a magazine which had an article “10 ways to bring on labour”.

I decided on the easiest, which was to go for a long walk.

I accompanied the hubs on the golf course and walked for a few hours. A day or two later, labour started.
I felt the first contraction in the morning. It increased in intensity very quickly and I timed it. Very soon, they were less than 5 minutes apart, consistently.

This was it!

The hospital was a 15-minute drive away and by the time I walked into the lobby, I was in such pain that someone quickly approached me with a wheelchair.

I was wheeled to the labour room without even registering.

The room was huge and cosy, and even had a jacuzzi!

I started having an excruciating backache and the 2 midwives filled the jacuzzi with warm water to try and ease the pain. I was barely in for a couple of minutes before I told them that the pain was unbearable. In fact, the pain in my back was worse than the contractions.

They got me out and guided me to the bed to check my progress and I was fully dilated! They immediately helped me onto the birthing stool, to give birth in a kneeling position.

Everything happened so quickly and I don’t even remember pushing.


She was bundled up and placed on me, and the midwives helped her to establish some sucking. Apparently, if you do that as soon as possible after birth, it would improve the chances of successful breastfeeding.

We were encouraged to room in with our babies, and that night, I slept with her right beside me on my bed. It was such a surreal night.

Looking at this tiny living, breathing baby was a defining moment I will never forget.

The wonderment of having created a new life was at the same time incredible yet humbling.

#2’s birth story…

With #2, since my labour was so fast, I decided not to use the birthing stool.

Instead, I read that I should give birth lying sideways, and should let the baby crown for a few seconds to stretch the perineum before pushing baby out to minimise tearing.

Round 2.

The same sequence happened, but I was more prepared. 

When I felt the first contractions, I calmly fetched my hospital bag and told the hubs we had to go.

I informed the midwives that I wanted to give birth lying on the bed, on my side, instead of using the birthing stool.

I settled in nicely on the hospital bed, enjoying my favourite CD which I had brought along.

As the contractions became intolerable, I started screaming.

It must have been a hilarious sight.

Me lying on the bed, hubs on one side, 2 midwives at the foot of the bed.

Dead silence, then 3 seconds of agonised screams, and dead silence again.

This went on for what felt like 15 minutes until one of the midwives calmly said, “If you stop screaming and conserve your energy to push, the baby might come out sooner.”

She was right, of course. I stopped screaming, pushed a few times, and #2 was out. Done.

The hubs asked the nurse when was the earliest we could be discharged. As he had to cook the confinement food and ferry them to me 3 times a day, he was keen on having me home asap.

The nurse replied, “If mum and baby are well, you could leave after 4 hours.”

Beg your pardon? 4 hours?? Yippee!!

My mum was shocked to see us walk through the door that evening with baby in hand, and commented wryly, “You 2 look like you went shopping.”

For the next 5 days, midwives came out to our house to check on us, weigh the baby, and assisted with breastfeeding and other issues I had. It was marvelous.

#3’s birth story…

We were back in Singapore by then. After dinner, we took the 2 kids to a mini fun fair in our neighbourhood.

After walking there and back, carrying them up and down the rides, I told the hubs that I had over-exerted myself and my contractions would start that night.

I had come to understand my body well and could feel the subtle changes of impending labour.

I tried to get as best a sleep as I could, but it’s not easy with a huge belly and constant urge to go to the toilet!
In the wee hours of the morning, I felt the first pang of contractions. I had a nice warm shower and we got into the car.

The hubs assessed my condition, saw that I could still have a conversation, and knew that he had enough time to make a detour to the market to buy some black chicken. Yeah, the hubs is chill like that.

He drove home and quickly started boiling the soup. We then made our way to the hospital.

I decided not to have an epidural, and to go through it the same way I had done the previous times.

The environment here is a little different, and the doctor and nurses did not seem to be pro-natural birth. (Or maybe it was just my gynae)

I had discussed it earlier with him and he said their philosophy was to provide a “pleasant birth”.
As the contractions went into full swing, the hubs held my hand and tried to soothe me.

When I finally released it, his palm was bleeding. Oh well, they have to share some of our pain, don’t they?

#4’s birth story…

With #4, I was sick of entering the hospital with everyone staring.

I wanted to walk in, register properly, and settle in. Besides, with every subsequent birth, the labour was getting shorter and shorter.

No going to the market!
Bad move.

Once I was changed and the nurses strapped me down to monitor the contractions, it started slowing down.

For the previous 3 times, because I was moving, the contractions continued to get stronger.

This time, as I had not passed the ‘point of no return’, by lying down and relaxing, the contractions diminished in intensity.

My gynae had already been called and he gave me an oxytocin jab to hasten the contraction as he did not have time to wait around.

I was a little thrown off by the change of events, and with the lack of support for a completely natural birth.

The labour pains came on much stronger, and in the end, I took the gas that was offered and thank goodness baby came out very quickly, because I felt so horribly nauseous.

#4 cuddled by #3 (day 3)

#5’s birth story…

Finally. I was pregnant with a boy. To me, children are God’s gifts, and it didn’t matter if it was a girl or boy.

My dad-in-law and the hubs, on the other hand, were eager for a boy.

I decided to change a gynae, partly because he was not pro-natural, and partly because he was so popular that we had to wait for close to 2 hours for every check-up.
A nurse friend recommended a lovely gynae and he was supportive of my decisions throughout the pregnancy and delivery.

Everyone seemed thrilled, and asked about his EDD. (I guess the anticipation of finally having a boy after 4 girls was exciting. Or perhaps, they were all excited for me that I could finally close shop.)

His EDD was on the 17th, but I told them I would have him out on the 8th. Not only was it a nice number, but the pattern of his birthday would be easy to remember.

Caesarean? They enquired. Nope, natural birth. I was so seasoned that I could “tell” my body to go into labour.
Upon reaching the hospital, I informed them that the doctor’s instructions was to call him immediately as he knew my labours were very quick.

He arrived at 7.45am, and was disappointed that I was so far from being fully dilated.

I saw his crest-fallen face and told him, Doc, don’t worry, I promise you can go home by 9.30am.

Well, I was a few minutes late. My boy came out at 9.33am, on the 8th, as I had predicted.

With #5, the hubs and I were done.

My one and only son

As the kids entered their teens, they started retreating behind closed doors.

The hubs was less involved as the girls became more independent and wanted their space, and I got annoyed that he spent more time playing golf than spending time with the kids.

Everyone was drawing apart.

I kept praying for more unity in the family. My parents were feeling the void very sharply as they looked forwards to spending their weekends taking the kids on outings, which they were reluctant to go on anymore.

I also didn’t like the way I had become. I have been scolding them so much that I had unknowingly morphed into this mean mummy monster. I prayed for humility.

God works in mysterious ways. He answered all my prayers by giving us Kate. She was born 6 years after #5.

This last pregnancy was more difficult than all the previous 5 combined. I had a nasty rash all over my body which itched so badly I couldn’t sleep. My gynae could only give me steroids, which I refused to take.

I turned to TCM and he explained that my body had shifted from a Yin consistency to a Yang. I had to avoid all deep fried foods, dairy, seafood, beef, and chicken.

I was miserable. No desserts, no snacks, no fried foods. Every meal was steamed fish, veggies and fruits. The rash also left rough, dark patches on my limbs.

I was bedridden for the last 3 months because my scaitic nerve was pinched and the kids had to push me to the toilet in a study chair. I had to rely on everyone around me for help. I learnt humility and compassion for the sick and elderly. 

For the first time, I became aware and grateful for every little thing, which I had taken for granted. Being able to walk, being able to eat whatever I wished, being able to go out of the house.

In my helpless and dependent state, I saw my children through different eyes, and witnessed the beauty in #3, who never wavered in assisting me through those 9 months.

You know what was so astonishing?

The birth dates of the 4 older girls ran consecutively, with a gap in the middle.

10, 11, 13, 14. We were missing the 12th.

The birth months of the 5 kids each coincided with 1 adult. Me, my parents and my in-laws. Only the hubs had no child born in the same month.

We were joking that if the baby was born on the 12th of October, the puzzle would fit perfectly.

Kate’s EDD was on the 21st, but as I got nearer to term, my gynae broke the news that the baby was breeched, and I would need a caesarean.

He had to schedule the date very carefully because it couldn’t be too late as I might go into labour. It also couldn’t be too early because my babies were all small, weighing between 2.6 – 2.9 kg, and this baby looked to be about that same range. He wanted her to pass the 2.5kg mark.

He did the calculations and said, “We’ll schedule the caesarean for the 12th of October.”

We were stunned.

On the morning of the 12th, we checked in for the scheduled caesarean.

I changed and was pushed into the operating theatre. The nurses asked me to please move over to the OT bed.

I told them that I can’t quite do that.

They looked at each other in bewilderment and must have thought this was a very uncooperative patient!

I was given general anaesthesia and off I went into dreamland.

I’m so done
Later on, my gynae told me excitedly, “Did you know that you had already gone into labour? Thank goodness we had scheduled you in for a C-section!”

How do Singaporeans say it?

Double confirm.

Guess her birth was really meant to be.

I woke up after the caesarean feeling terrible, in pain, and not able to move. The hubs put Kate next to me and whispered, “Look, she’s perfect.”

Just like that, everything I had gone through and suffered was worth it.

Kate will be celebrating her 3rd birthday soon.

I never knew a little child can effortlessly draw a family together, and bring so much joy to those around her.

I am also extremely thankful that I have this chance to finally enjoy every moment with this little one.


This post is part of the “Birth Stories” Blog Train hosted by Owls Well. To read other exciting stories, please click here.

Owls Well “Birth Stories” Blog train

If you would like to travel to the previous stops on this Blog Train and read more interesting stories, you can start with this one here by Vera. She is a don’t-stay-at-home mum of 2, who loves exploring new places with her kids in tow, cooking up a storm and planning theme parties. During her downtime, she writes at Life is in the Small Things, sharing little adventures, parenting misadventures and everything in between.

At next week’s stop, we will be visiting Karen, a mum to 2 wonderful children who muses over at Mum’s Calling. She believes it is almost every woman’s calling to be a Mum. While fulfilling hers, she finds the journey truly rewarding and enjoyable. She is convinced that Motherhood is life changing and full of surprises. Over on her blog next week, she shares the birth story of her firstborn girl.

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

6 simple tips for better photos

I have never taken any photos in my life. That is, before I started blogging. Given my pathetic state of almost non-existent photography skill, one of the things on my agenda was to attend a basic photography course. However, I could never find time to get round to doing it (like the many other hope to do things on my KIV list).

Finally, the opportunity came knocking on my door when Canon Imaging Academy invited me to their bespoke Fast Track workshop held at MBS. I took #1 along as she has an interest in photography. For me? I was there for the 4-course lunch at HY California, and to do something fun with my 16-year old. (not easy these days to find cool things which teens are keen to attend!)

While the rest of them got acquainted with rudimentary knowledge of the technicalities of their cameras such as ISO, apertures, shutter speed, all of which was Greek to me, I was delighted that I still managed to pick up several simple yet effective general tips which I can put into practice even while using my phone to take pictures. Here’s some of what I learnt.

1. Tell a story

I never really thought about why I took photos. Well, it was definitely to keep as memories. And now as a blogger, I have to include some photos in my posts because who wants to read a whole text without any pictures to break up the monotony, right? However, to discover that a photo is used to tell a story changed my perspective instantly on what shot I wanted to capture, and what I was trying to convey. Because as they say, a picture paints a thousand words.

#1 in action

2. Patience

Being a novice photographer, I will take many shots so that hopefully 1 or 2 will turn out nice. The instructor Alvin shared with us that it takes patience to wait for the right moment, the right expression, the right lighting even, and to be ready with your camera to snap that 1 excellent shot.

3. Remove distractions

As much as possible, try to subtract distractions in the photo. While on the Helix bridge, I simply took photos with other people walking by. Nugene, the instructor, suggested I wait till there was a break and to take the photo with no other subjects in it. It makes the photo more focused, and the viewer would not have to guess what I am trying to say.

Helix bridge adjoining MBS
4. Food photography

I learnt lots of useful tips on taking food shots. I asked Nugene what to do when the food presented doesn’t look so appealing? For example, in the beef dish below, it was 2 square pieces served side to side. He suggested we turned it around and focus on the first one and use the other one as background. Looks so much better!

Panfried beef on mash

Another question I had was what if the whole dish looks rather dull (as was the chicken dish). He suggested zooming in and focusing on a specific ingredient or colour.

Grilled chicken

5. Jump shots

People these days seem to like taking jump shots. I still haven’t figured out why. Nugene taught us how to capture them jumping all at the same time without having to jump so many times that they get tired and it shows in their expressions. He said that we should give the cue to jump, but only click when we see them lifting off, not when we say ‘jump’. Haha. Worked!

Photo credit: Canon Imaging Academy

6. Find your own style

Photography is subjective. There is no right or wrong way to go about it. Some like the rule of 3s, some like the Bokeh (blur background) effect, some like it over-exposed while others like it under-exposed. He encouraged us to experiment with our cameras and to keep on practicing.

Nugene left us with the sage advice that we should not be so intent on capturing it all on camera without pausing to enjoy the moment. That is so, so, true. Especially on holidays, we are busy snapping the beautiful scenery, and when we get back, we can’t quite recall the surreal experience of being there.

#1 and I enjoyed ourselves immensely at this very unique photography course. We gained new techniques and tricks, had ample opportunity for hands-on practice with the very approachable instructors and learnt tips on food photography while sharing a delectable meal. What a great way to spend a Saturday morning.

These tips are just scratching the surface of what we learnt that day. Stay tuned for the follow-up post where I will showcase #1’s photographs taken at this class. I was blown away. I think I’ve found #1’s hidden talent.

Here are some upcoming sessions Canon will be holding in June. The Zoo outing sounds really good and is not too expensive, whereby you will get hands-on tips in taking photos of your child. (note: not limited to Canon users)

Family Photo Walk at Singapore Zoo

Date: 18 June 2015, Thursday
Time: 2 – 5pm
Fee: $38/pax, inclusive of 1 adult + 1 child below 15 years old (excludes Zoo entrance fee)

Compact Camera Outing

Date: 11 or 12 June 2015
Time: 2 – 4pm
Venue: Around Vivacity
Fee: $28/pax

Fast Track Workshop

Date: 27 June 2015
Time: 10am – 1pm
Fee: $88 (inclusive of 4-course lunch)

We made friends with the other bloggers and here’s a look at their posts of the event:

Claudia of The Loving Mum

Soon Koon of Lemon Film

Phoebe of BPDG Travels

Estella of So Oddly Dreamlike

Serene of xavvy-licious

Disclaimer: We were sponsored the Fast Track program. All opinions are my own.

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

Inspiring youths – Life of a blogger

I spent a lovely evening with a group of 14-year olds, sharing with them what the job of a blogger entails. This is part of their school’s leadership program, to allow the students an opportunity to chat with a working adult about their career.

It is heartening to discover that schools take the initiative to plan and organise such relevant enriching sessions for their students and I was more than happy to volunteer my time.

Sec 2 students
It was nice to see teenagers sitting through 2 hours of a meal, asking pertinent questions and listening attentively. These were some of the things they wanted to know about blogging:

How do you gain readers?

You have to write things that people would want to read, that they would find value in. Be it informative, interesting, thought-provoking, humorous or sharing the ‘in thing‘. As friends start to support and spread your posts via social media, it will grow from there.

There are many blogs around, so it is important that you find your niche. (I went round the table asking them about their interests and gave suggestions from there.)

Do you run out of things to write about?

I don’t! Probably because I love to talk so much that I have lots of things I want to say and share. And the fact that I have 6 kids ranging from 2 to 16, gives me lots to write about – from discipline, to fun activities, to tackling our education system and much more. In fact, I was so busy replying texts from friends asking all sorts of questions with regards to their children that they suggested I put it all down in a blog, and that was how I got started.

However, I’ve heard that bloggers, like other writers, do get into a rut and run out of things to write about. If you are passionate about an area, you will naturally want to read, explore and discover more about it and the more you get into it, the more angles you have to talk about. And to constantly get inspired through reading other people’s writing to ponder and come up with refreshing ideas.

Are your husband and children supportive of your blogging?

Initially the hubs was sceptical, wondering what sort of a job that was, but now he is supportive and also provides me with photos I can use (as my photography skills leave a lot to be desired!) As for my kids, they are totally behind me in this because of the free things we are sponsored and the wonderful opportunities we get invited to like media launches. When my previous domain name disappeared and I was considering if I should stop blogging, it was the children who encouraged me to carry on.

Do you do vlog? (I had to clarify this, and they asked if I walk around my house videoing my kids and putting it up on my blog)

Definitely not. I am vigilant in maintaining their privacy as there may be stalkers out there. As all of you are young, you should also be wary of maintaining your privacy, as what you put up on social media will stay there forever and who knows what people could do with your personal information or photos.

If we don’t like the service or product we are reviewing, are we supposed to lie?

I shared with them that such issues on morals and what we stand for will surface not only as bloggers, but also in other jobs as well, and it is important that we uphold our integrity and reputation. What I do is to be direct with my clients and usually they are understanding enough to respect my stand as a blogger with integrity. If I am uncomfortable with a client who wants me to write things which I don’t believe to be true, I would rather drop the collaboration.

As we rounded up the discussion, I asked them if there were other careers besides blogging that they were considering and one said, “My parents want me to be a doctor. For my future.”

Ah, typical. I shared with them my 101 Paths to Success series and told them that in today’s career landscape, there are many other viable paths for young people to pursue, and they should start asking themselves what they enjoy and what they are good at, and not be limited only by the “doctor/lawyer/engineer” mindset.

Before you think I have anything against these professions, I better clarify that I do not, and am in fact going to include them in my success series. I just feel that it is sad if parents don’t do enough research and and are not open to the endless opportunities out there for our current generation of children and simply dictate their career choices based on outmoded notions. How many times have I seen people who finally quit their professions and “do what they have always wanted to do”.

I guess they could sense my enthusiasm about this series and commented that “you are so kind to want to help other people, why do you spend so much time doing it”. I shared with them that when you reach a certain age, your focus changes and you tend to find joy in giving back. And when you find things which excite you, it will spur you into taking action.

At the end of the dinner, they asked if I was going to blog about the event, and I said I wasn’t intending to. Then I realized that they were keen for me to do so. Such dears.

It is very refreshing to speak with young people and hear their viewpoints. Their energy and vigour also rubs off on you and I feel years younger! 😉

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