A new phase of my life

As I perch on the cusp of a new chapter of my life, I stop to pause, reflect and give thanks.

It feels surreal.

Something that has been brewing for so long has finally come to fruition.

It has been more than a year since I had my first discussion with a speech pathologist about this new initiative, and our enrichment centre is opening it’s doors tomorrow!

Not only do we share the same name, we share the same vision and can almost read each other’s minds from the first meeting we had. I couldn’t have asked for a better partner to start a venture with.

I have been running at breakneck speed the past few weeks.

Starting the day at 7am, dropping Kate off at school and going in to work with my team for half the day, picking the kids up after supplementary classes and dealing with their issues, sitting down together for dinner at 6.30pm and getting them ready for bed at 8pm. After that it’s back to the computer until around 2am when my brain stops functioning effectively.

On top of that, just this past 2 weeks, I had to deal with one sprained ankle, taking one to investigate her allergies, and taking two of them to extract their teeth and fix braces.

My essentials

To allocate more time for work, I had to sacrifice time with the kids. Thankfully the hubs wasn’t away much and he took over the lunch prep and taxi duties.

Kate has been spending more time with her older siblings which was great bonding for them.

On Hari Raya, #3 was going ice-skating with her friend and she offered to take Kate along. She helped her don her skates, take her in and out of the rink when she needed the toilet or wanted a drink of water and even graded her learning from pushing her around on the seal to holding her hands and skating with her without the aid after she gained more confidence.

There were days when I didn’t dare put Kate to bed for fear of falling asleep and not finishing things I needed to get done before going in to work. She has been really accommodating and would go off and find some jie jie to bunk in with.

It was quite amusing to search the rooms on my way up to bed and see her tucked in different beds depending on which sis it was.

One night, I found her sleeping inside a wardrobe! With the sliding doors open.

#3 had padded it nicely and made it into a secret hideout for Kate. We all had a good laugh the next morning when Kate said so matter-of-factly, “Yesterday I slept in the cupboard.” Oh well, these are the things fond memories are made of.

I really salute all the full time mums who have been doing this for years. It is not easy working a full day and coming home having to deal with the kids and running the household.

There were moments when I was working on the computer in the wee hours of the morning and wondering how I got myself into this busy state.

I guess once the cogwheel starts turning, there is no looking back.
Our signage is up!

I had to be really focused. No luxury of having a conducive environment or being in the ‘mood’ to work.

I’ve picked up a handy skill of being able to whip up my trusty notebook and carry on where I’ve left off.

I’ve worked at the BBQ pit of a condo while waiting for a kid to finish surprising her bff, at the car repair shop waiting to get the tyres fixed, I’ve even worked at mall seats while waiting for the girls to pick up their stuff.

It may sound strange but I am enjoying myself. I have been physically and mentally exhausted raising the kids for the past 18 years, dealing with teenagers and toddlers. At the same time.

Now that most of them are occupied with long school days, I can finally take a break from child-rearing and focus my attention on something I find meaningful.

When term 3 started, the kids asked if I could pick them up from school and I told them they had to take the MRT as I needed to work.

They were more amused than disappointed. “Mum! You actually have work?!”

I’m glad they are proud of me.

They have been seeing me as a stay-at-home-mum and never imagined I had the capabilities to go out and work, much less start a business.

#4 recently exclaimed, “Mum, you actually own nice clothes?”

Talk about tactless kids. I’ll console myself that they are just being direct.

My partner and I are taking this slowly and steadily, not over taxing ourselves or neglecting our families.

The hubs and I opened a spa 14 years ago and we failed miserably. Sars hit us in our 3rd month and hardly any customers came in and we did not have the cash flow to ride it out.

I teach my kids that there is a lesson to be learnt in our failures, but for the longest time, I myself couldn’t see the silver lining in our failed business and sorry state.

We went through a rough patch then, having lost a huge sum of money and with 3 young kids in tow. That time has passed, and the lessons learnt are invaluable to me today as I embark on this new endeavour.

No big capital expenses on rental and renovations but starting small, and focusing our energies on a solid curriculum and the children whose learning and lives we will be impacting.

And one of the most important lessons I learnt was to have a product that we believe in one hundred and one percent and finding the right team to journey with.


We have formed an amazing team which we have chosen carefully based on much more than their resumes. We are aligned with a shared sense of purpose which shows in the great camaraderie and respect we have for one another.

Who says hard work can’t be fun

This is the start of a refreshing and beautiful journey, of us discovering our passions, putting our hearts together to touch children and educate them in a meaningful way, which they can take away with them for life.

One thing I do miss is writing in this space. But now I have a new baby to tend to.


Exciting times ahead!

~ www.mummyweeblog.com – 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’

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

Lesson #25: Do our kids even know we love them?

A reader wrote in telling me that she was inspired by my Lesson #23: To measure our lives in love. She said that it was inspiring but hard to do and asked if I could write about how to handle stressful situations, and how to lovingly set firm boundaries for her 2 kids.

I won’t go into details on how to do that as there are too many scenarios. I’m sure as mums, setting boundaries is something we all know how to do. The question is how to do it lovingly.


I will attempt to answer her question by sharing 2 things I think of to calm myself down whenever I am starting to get really angry with them.

One is to imagine them as teenagers. Well, I don’t have to imagine, as my 3 older girls are firmly ensconced in the ‘teenage phase’. I can tell you that this is the real litmus test of whether you have done your job well as a parent. They will be faced with peer pressures and negative influences and have to make many choices. What do you want them to be able to draw from? Many happy memories with the family? Being able to easily remember times when you loved them, cuddled them, showed them that you care? Or will they find it hard to picture such memories, and instead only remember that you were constantly shouting at them or barking orders and instructions to them?

When you are able to stop yourself in your tracks and picture your teen desperately needing to draw from a fountain of your loving relationship with them to navigate through the tough adolescent years, you will naturally know how to handle the situation in a more loving manner.

The second thing I think of is being on my death bed. No, I’m not being morbid but after volunteering at a hospice and seeing the realities of life at the end of our days, it has become very real to me. When I am close to death, do I want my kids to be there with me simply because it is their duty to do so? Or do I want to celebrate a life where we had a very close relationship. The older I get, the more I see that it is not a given that parent-child relationships are automatically warm and fuzzy. How will my kids see me? Will they see me as a mother who was only concerned that they went to bed on time, ate their veggies or scored good marks? Or will they see me as a mother who was patient and kind with them, who disciplined them firmly but with love?

There will definitely be days when you can’t find it within yourself to show them love. Days when you yourself are so depleted. Be gentle on yourself. If today was a bad day, leave it behind. Tomorrow will be a brand new day. Kids are such amazing beings. They forget. They forgive so easily. They have such a great capacity to love. Sometimes, we have to soften our own hearts to allow them to teach us. To teach us how to love so purely. Not to love them only after they have done what we told them to do. Not to love them only when they have achieved something great. Not to love them only when we are in a good mood.

Many times, we do things because we love them. We scold them, punish them, make them do things they don’t want to do all because we want the best for them. We tell them that one day when they are adults, they will understand that we are doing all of this precisely because we love them.

But while they are growing up, do they feel our love? Perhaps we should find ways and space to bring back love into all that we are doing with them and for them every step of the way. Let us strive to learn to love them in ways they understand. Let us not wait until they are parents themselves to realise how much we love them, but let them feel our love accompany them along their journey of life.


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

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

Lesson #23: To measure our lives in love

Last weekend, I went for a semi-silent retreat. I finally found the answer to a question that had been bugging me for a while now. After volunteering at the hospice, I knew that at the end of the day, all that mattered in life was people, not wealth, nor status. But how to go about my day loving those around me? With Kate entering the very (and that’s an understatement) challenging ‘terrible two’s and #1 moving full swing into the unchartered teenage years, I found myself living in compartments of ‘loving them’ and ‘not loving them’ moments. I was only able to love them when they were well-behaved, showing love to one another or being really cute/looking angelic while fast asleep (that applied to Kate). And for the past few weeks, it seemed like the ‘not loving them’ moments greatly outnumbered the times when I could really look at them and feel great love for them. And our house definitely didn’t feel like a haven of love and peace.

Beautiful quiet grounds

At the retreat, I learnt to ‘measure our lives in love’. That sentence spoke to me immensely. I realised that I was measuring my life by all sorts of yardsticks, so it was no wonder that at the end of the day, I was frustrated and felt like I had been a horrible mum. Especially if the siblings fought a lot that day, or if the whole day had been ‘wasted’ and we didn’t do anything productive. And I was really drained at the end of most days.

As I was writing this post, #4 came and wanted to show me how she braided her hair in a new style which she just learnt. Normally I would be annoyed because I was interrupted, and even though I would talk to her, deep inside I wished she would hurry so that I could go back to what I was doing. However, this time, I gladly stopped what I was doing because now I saw it as another opportunity I had in that day to love. So I turned to her and gave her my full attention. She gayly demonstrated her new technique, gave me a kiss then skipped away.

Just a tiny paradigm shift, but it has transformed the way I relate to the children and to everyone around me. With this sentence as my guiding principle, everything became crystal clear to me. If I could love them with all my heart each moment of the day, in all the good AND the bad, then those moments would become days, and the days become years and the years would become a life lived with love and in love.


Life is made up, not of great sacrifices or duties, but of little things in which smiles and kindness, and small obligations given habitually, are what preserve the heart and secure comfort.    –Humphry Davy



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

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

School Stories #4: Things teachers say

I wrote a post last week about #5 getting complained by his teacher almost daily, and her suggestion that I should limit his play time and start him on tuition since he is already in P2. I didn’t expect all the negative comments I received on my Facebook page regarding the teacher.

Before you think she is some mean monster, I have to say this in her defense. In the 2 years that she has been teaching #5, she has never treated him maliciously and I believe she said all those things in his best interest (even though her views may be wrong). The reality is that the majority of his classmates do have tuition (I guess it’s because he’s in one of the top schools and the parents are generally wealthy AND ultra kiasu) thus the teacher was quick to suggest engaging a tutor.

Photo Credit: Sheknows/JGI/JamieGrill

If you think her comments were shocking, my other kids have come back with worse things their teachers have said to the class:

“There is no way I will ever like anyone of you.”

“You are all not of normal stupidity. Your stupidity is extreme.” 

(translated from Mandarin)

“I don’t care what you all do, I will get my salary anyway.”

And things some of their teachers did…

One teacher made the whole class sit on their textbooks on the floor, and if you refuse to do so, she will fling your textbook out the door and chase you out along with it.

And finally, this one takes the cake.

#3 was in P1, and she was day-dreaming during Chinese lesson. The teacher must have told her to pay attention, but she did not hear (she was day-dreaming, remember?) The teacher stormed over, and with herculean strength, she flipped the entire desk over and it crashed to the floor with a loud thud that shocked the entire class. (I reported it to the form teacher and she told me that this was not the first case and the teacher was being counselled).

Sometimes I really wonder what do teachers expect from these P1s. Just 2 months prior, they were still little kids in kindergarten. Almost overnight, they are expected to morph into mature, sensible, silent little robots who will obediently pay attention during 6 hours of school. Poor kids. Especially the active boys.

I must admit that the first time I heard about such unexemplary actions from the teachers, I wanted to storm straight into the principal’s office to sort it out.  Thankfully I’m not a hot-headed person. However, after having 5 of my kids go through this stressful, competitive rat-chase-rat education system, and after speaking to so many teachers, I can see that it is not easy being a teacher.

So why am I writing this post?

For the parents, so that when your darling child comes home and tells you what bad things her teacher said or did in class, you won’t jump out of your chair and head straight to the principal’s office. Take a deep breath, try to get the whole story from your child, and imagine yourself in the same situation.

Now that I have desensitised you, you can gently and gradually prepare your child that sometimes the teacher might say mean things out of frustration, but tell her not to take it personally. Kids do look up to their teachers, and they might hold what their teachers say in their hearts for years (both the positive and negative things). It might be good to let your children know that if there is anything bothering them which the teacher had said, they can discuss it with you.

And to all the dear teachers out there, most times, I can totally understand why you say what you say or do what you do (except the flipping of the table). Already with 6 kids I yell at them things which I regret later. Don’t ask me what I will do with 40. However, may I humbly remind you that your words are powerful, and they can either be uplifting or demoralising to the children.

Having said that, I am still utterly grateful to all the teachers who have taught my kids over the years (especially those who have touched them in one way or another), and to all teachers out there. Because being a teacher these days is no walk in the park. For you to do what you do year in, year out, I salute you.


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?

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




It’s hard not to get angry

I have this problem. When I get mad at one child and any other child happens to come by, I will lash out at them too. Just now, I got really angry at #5 for not bothering about his homework the entire weekend until just before bedtime. I had finished scolding him and was fuming. Then #4 walked past and I scolded her for spending so much time on her iPad instead of studying for her exams. Later on when I went into her room to see if she was preparing for bed, she was in tears and reading her book of children’s prayers to herself. She’s the most sensitive one amongst all of them. Poor girl. All she did was walk by at the wrong time. I was heartbroken.

You would think that after 6 kids, I’ve got it all down pat. Well, there’s a lot I have learnt, but it’s still hard to control my anger. The strange thing is that people often remark that I must be a very patient person to have so many kids, and I realise that I was a very patient person, until I had kids.

Many times, it’s really us who have a lot to learn. Tomorrow is a new day. I will make an effort to be a better mummy.

Linking up with:
www.ajugglingmom.com



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

Tip #7: 10 House Rules for Gadget Use

Recently, I was very disturbed by the issue of smartphones and iPad usage with my teens. I attended the Singapore Parenting Congress and learnt a lot from the speaker Chong Ee Jay. Mr Chong has been working with youths for the past 10 years and is currently the assistant manager of TOUCH Cyber Wellness. He shared with us many of his experiences where youths become so addicted to gaming and their gadgets that they can’t focus in school and even stop communicating with their parents entirely. There was a lot he touched on, which I will detail in another post.

One thing he mentioned was having house rules for gadget usage. He went as far as advising us that when we give our children their first phone, we should tell them that the phone is OURS, so we have the right to take it back if need be. Personally, I think that is very wise (especially if the child is still in primary school) because otherwise, if the child feels the phone is his, he will be very resentful if you take it away from him. For my kids, we give them a phone when they are in P6. Most parents tell me that their kids start asking for a phone from the time they are in P2. Well, they can ask, but it doesn’t mean that we need to give! #4 is in P4 and she has been asking for a phone as almost all her classmates own a phone. I told her there is no need for her to have a phone now as she takes the school bus home.

I had our own rules for gadget usage, but it was verbally communicated and never written down. I guess to be clear, before you hand over a phone or iPad to your child, sit down and discuss the rules and the reasons behind it with him. And don’t forget to be consistent in enforcing the rules. Here’s a sample of our house rules, and you can adapt it to fit your own family circumstances.

1. No watching TV, playing computer or iPad on weekdays.

Last time, I did allow them to watch TV for 1 hour, but when it was time to turn it off they were unhappy. I found it easier to have a complete ban on school days.

2. On weekends, homework must be completed first.

Once they are done with homework, they can use it for 1 hour on Saturdays and 1 hour on Sundays, but it is very hard to enforce especially when I am not at home. Sigh. Haven’t figured a solution for this one.

3. Phones and ipads to be at the charging station by 8.30pm every night.

When I just gave birth to Kate and was too exhausted to check on the older ones, they kept their phones by their bedsides and it constantly beeped with texts or tweets from their friends even at midnight! It is hard for teens to regulate themselves, and they end up not having proper rest for school the next day. For my older girls who are in secondary school, I get them to leave their gadgets to charge near the front door so they can pick it up when they leave for school in the mornings.

4. No gadgets during mealtimes.

What happened with this rule was that the older ones would quickly eat then return to their rooms. When I was describing this scenario halfway to Mr Chong, he already knew what was coming and told me that’s what all teens will do! His suggestion was to set a blanket ban of 1 hour during mealtimes.


5. No gadgets in the toilets.

I heard this one from friends, where for the longest time, they thought their girls just took a long time to bathe. Finally they realised that they were hiding in the bathroom using their phones, and some kids even left the water running as a camouflage.

6. No using gadgets in the car unless urgent.

I realised that as they are sitting behind me, they could be using their phones without us noticing. Not only is it bad for the eyes as the screen is so small and the car is constantly moving, but it also ends up giving some of them a headache.

7. Stop playing within 5 minutes when asked to do so.

Without this rule, the kids will always tell you they are in the middle of a game or some other important job like harvesting fruits etc.

8. Never chat with anyone you do not know online and do not disclose personal information.

You have to constantly teach and remind the kids about internet safety as that is of utmost importance.

9. No gaming during exam periods.

The time should be used for revision or relaxing the mind with outdoor activities.

10. Gadget usage is not a MUST. It is a privilege given by parents and can be taken away.

This one I picked up from Mr Chong, which I think is very important to let the kids know so they don’t think it’s a natural entitlement, especially when almost all their friends seem to have a smartphone.

And of course with rules, there need to be consequences. The most logical consequence of breaking any of the rules is:

 CONFISCATION OF GADGET

Sane tip: Before you give your child a phone, I seriously advice you to sit down and have a long discussion with your child about rules, limits, privacy, not believing everything they read on twitter, the internet or whatever else, and to always come back to us parents if they have any questions at all. Try to keep communication lines open with your children. That is your best bet in helping them to navigate the whole scary digital world out there.

Save tip: For their first phones, I used to give them the old type of flip phones. It is hard to get them these days, so the next best thing is to pass down your old phones to them. I see a lot of kids these days with the latest smartphones. I don’t think it is necessary at all and should be saved as an extremely valuable reward to give your child as motivation if they do well for their ‘O’ levels. If you give your kids things too easily, not only will they get a sense of entitlement, but you will have nothing left to motivate them for their major exams.

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

School Stories #2: My son the loanshark

Last week, I got a call from #5’s teacher. Again. This time, it was not for fighting nor for disturbing his classmates. He was being an ah long in school. Apparently, he had lent his classmate 20 cents. The boy returned him $2 the next day and #5 told him, “You give me $2, I’m not giving you change”, and he promptly pocketed the money. The boy related the incident to his mum who called up their form teacher. His teacher told him to return the $1.80 the next day, and that even loansharks don’t charge such exorbitant interest.

The hubs and I talked to him about it but as usual, he clammed up and refused to tell us why he did it. The only thing I could think of to explain his actions was a discussion I had with the girls about CCAs in secondary school. The younger ones were asking what “Entrepreneur club” was all about and I explained something about entrepreneurship being “You buy some items from someone who makes them and you sell it at a higher price to others”. His eyes opened wide and he said firmly, “I’m going to be a businessman like my ah gong”. Perhaps he thought he could ‘charge’ his friend a higher price. I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt this time. Hopefully, he really wasn’t intentionally trying to cheat his friend.

We explained to him that we don’t make money from friends and that he was to give or receive the exact amount if he borrowed or lent money from his friends. I decided that this simple explanation would suffice for now so that there was no room for misinterpretation. And as a punishment, the hubs made him return his friend the full $2 so that he would feel the pinch. Ah well, I would never really know what he was thinking. All I know is that with this boy, I have to be constantly on my toes.