10 tips to manage Sibling Rivalry

Does this seem to be a daily struggle in your household? It sure was in ours! The kids would squabble over toys, who has more of this or that (not fair!), who sat here first (this spot was mine!) and other seemingly ridiculous issues, both big and small.

If you are at your wits ends, try these 10 pointers and see if it helps. We made so many mistakes in parenting them, but have learnt and gotten better over the years. And despite having some nasty fights when they were younger, my kids have grown to love and care for one another.

1. Expect and Accept

There was an article by a psychologist which changed my perspective. He gave 6 reasons “Why siblings squabble all the time.” The first reason:

Because they can.

We think our children should naturally get along beautifully.

I used to get annoyed when they started quarrelling, and sometimes I would yell at them in anger. Again! Why can’t you all just get along?

Children are not born having the skills to resolve conflict and the family is where they learn how to get along with others peacefully.

After I realised that, I stopped fuming and got to work helping them learn the skills to get along. This would also help them deal with friends and with their future spouses or flatmates.

2. Make it a Family goal

This is a great place to start.

If you haven’t already done it, sit your children down when everyone is in a happy mood (definitely not when they are in the midst of a quarrel) and make your expectations explicit, explain why it is important for them to have a good relationship and give them examples of what it looks like. Decide as a family on something fun to do on the weekend if they have tried hard to get along during the week.

3. Don’t be the referee

When a quarrel erupts, we typically jump in with What happened? Who started it? The stories from both sides will come fast and furious and sometimes it’s hard to know who to believe.

If you take sides, there will be a child who ends up thinking you are not being fair. This fair/not fair business is something we need to be mindful of. Some adults continue to harbour unhappiness at their parents for favouring another sibling (despite it being true or not).

An older sibling might use language to make it sound like he is not the one at fault, while the younger one may use tears and play victim. Either way, by going in to be the referee, you may end up siding with the wrong party and someone (usually the older sibling) may feel wronged and resentful (and may lash out at the younger one when parents are not around).

Instead, tell them that you expect them to settle it themselves. They are to stay in a designated room together (without toys) and are free to come out after they have worked it out.

4. Use “I feel” not “you did this”

Teach them positive communication skills, using “I feel” sentences instead of “You did this or you were mean”. This enables their sibling to understand how that made them feel which they may not be aware of.

Eg. “I felt embarrassed when you called me a loser in front of my friends” instead of “He was such a horrible, mean brother for calling me names.”

5. Sharing is caring

Allow them lots of opportunities to share. My dad, the doting grandpa used to buy them 5 of each toy because he couldn’t bear to hear them quarrel. I explained to him that they had to learn to share. Even though they were 2 years apart, they would pass down their toys to the next sibling and were used to receiving hand-me-downs. In fact, the younger girls looked forward to having the “cool” clothes from their older sister and sharing became a normal part of life.

6. Welcoming a new baby

Start by acknowledging their emotions, that it is tough that mummy has to give her attention to someone else. Shift the focus from why is the baby getting all the attention to wow, you are such a caring brother/sister and instead of feeding the jealousy, help them be aware of all the “big things” they can do with mummy and daddy that baby can’t, such as playing on the swing, cycling or going out for ice cream.

My kids were allowed to help with baby chores such as holding the milk bottle for the baby, changing the diapers and their favourite was to be given the great responsibility in carrying the baby.

7. One-on-one time

Make an effort to spend 1-on-1 time with each child. They need your attention, and are fighting to get it. When you allocate a specific time which they can look forward to, it helps to give them a sense of security.

It doesn’t have to be a huge effort. We used to take walks to the nearest petrol station and would get an ice cream and walk back. Depending on how many kids you have and their ages, you could allocate 1 day per week for each child. The important thing is to stick to your promise to keep this time special just for that child.

This is easier said than done, and I have learnt not be too quick to promise so much if I know that my schedule at work may be unpredictable. It is better to promise something small which you can commit to 100% than to promise them too much and they end up getting disappointed and lose their trust in your word.

During the 1-on-1 time, don’t focus on homework or grades. Talk about their interests, or each other’s day and let them know that they can open up to you if there is anything bugging them. What you don’t see doesn’t mean it’s not happening.

Besides one-on-one time, have different permutations of family time. Dad and the kids, mum and the kids, dad with one kid while mum with the other. I noticed that some siblings are naturally closer to another, and when the group dynamics are mixed up, different bonds are given the space to form.

8. Don’t discourage them from being a “big brother” or “big sister”

So long as it is within safe limits, encourage them in their older sibling role and they will develop a sense of responsibility and joy from being of real help to their little brother or sister.

#5 wanted Kate to share in his great delight of riding the bicycle and begged me to allow him to “tompang” her. As he was steady on the bike, I allowed it. I supervised by walking next to them as they went round and round our garden. He was a proud big brother that day!

Find a comfortable balance between being over-protective and ensuring the safety of the kids.

9. Find challenges to bond them

Our kids have too comfortable a life. It’s no wonder that they bicker a lot! My aunt used to tell me that even with 11 siblings in their family, they hardly fought because the older siblings were busy taking care of the younger ones and in their free time they made up their own games from pretty much nothing.

What I do is to set up bonding activities for them, like our Family OBS where I took the 6 of them by myself (without the hubs!) to experience climbing real cliffs. They learnt to rely on each other and everyone had to pitch in.

10. Take sibling concerns seriously

Sometimes the younger child may be tormented regularly by an older sibling and tries to speak up but if the parent doesn’t seem to be listening or thinks it’s a minor issue, the child will stop trying to tell you. Some siblings bully each other quite badly when parents are not around.

Don’t let things escalate. If physical acts like hitting, scratching, spitting or throwing objects at one another are not stopped quickly, it will get worse. Make it known that such is not acceptable in your household, and punishments have to be meted out.

Sibling rivalry may be the one thing that is driving you almost insane right now, but hang in there, take a deep breath, know that you can turn this around and never for once feel guilty. We all make mistakes. We all started at a place where we didn’t know better.

Take it one step at a time, and celebrate small wins. You can do it!

Learn from the million mistakes we made along our parenting journey so you don’t make the same!


About MummyWee

Michelle is an Occupational Therapist by day and mum of 6 by night. Besides the already very demanding job of managing 5 teenagers and one 6-turning-16 tween, she is also Founder of The Little Executive, a nurturing centre to develop children in their 4Qs to survive today’s volatile world. She also makes time to volunteer with children and the elderly in her community.

My teen in a Neighbourhood school

One reason many parents worry for their children and push them towards excessive tuition is to cross the first academic hurdle – the PSLE. I hear parents lamenting that despite MOE scrapping some exams, it makes no difference if at the end of the day, students still have to sit for the PSLE.

When I ask them what are they worried about? The majority tell me that they are concerned about their children ending up in a neighbourhood school because of the negative influence.

I had that perception too. I guided my 3 older girls towards mission schools for their character development.

When #4 did not do well enough to enter a mission school, we pored over the grey book and narrowed down 2 neighbourhood schools which had interesting niche programmes. We checked out the open house, spoke to the HODs, asked around if friends knew of any friends with children from that school and made our decision.

The first year was a culture shock for her. Coming from an elite school, she was used to chatting with classmates about their overseas vacations, which air pods to buy and the movies they are planning to watch together. With her new classmates, the topics of common interest were limited and she wasn’t able to make any close friends.

I did feel her sadness, especially when her older sisters brought groups of friends home and she wished that she had classmates she could bond with.

However, 3 years on, she tells me that she is happy in school.

At her recent PTM, I was glad to see her chatting with friends of all races, some from her class, some from CCA and others from previous classes. Her form teacher is a lovely experienced teacher and she had good things to say about #4. She’s not academically strong, but she tries her best and is always polite and cheerful.

My birthday present

She’s been writing me cards for Mother’s Day and for my birthday and I am so pleased to see that she has become such a sensible child. She wrote:

Thank you for everything that you do for us, it must be so so hard to raise 6 children! I really appreciate all the encouragement you give me too! And how much you believe in me! I am also super proud of you and you living your dream makes me see that I can too.


She took much time and effort to knit me a beautiful bag dotted with pearls and made me a set of jewelry. Look at the bracelet! She moulded each piece from clay, baked them carefully in the oven and strung them into a bracelet. She designed earrings in my favourite colour and completed the set with a pearl ring.

So impresssed!

I admit I was worried about this child, being a teenager in a neighbourhood school. What negative influence will she pick up? Who will she mix with? I heard horror stories of kids in Sec 1 who stayed out for weeks playing Lan gaming with their classmates and skipped school and their parents could not control them.

My other kids went through the dreaded teenage phase. Of rolling eyes, bad attitude and monosyllabic responses. Some came out of the phase quickly but some were difficult to handle for years.

My fears of her being influenced by “bad company” has been unfounded. Instead, we have seen the silver lining of her being in this school. Because of what she witnessed around her, she is more appreciative of everything she has. She thanks me for every little thing. For making her a healthy dinner, for buying her a special art pen from the bookshop or for buying back flour so she can make cookies. She has also developed great empathy for those around her who are struggling.

I remember during one dinner conversation, the older girls were discussing their grad night and problems in finding the right dress.

In the midst of the conversation, she shared what was on her mind and said, “Miram’s dad is going to jail tonight. He told her to take care of herself and her mum.”

All of us froze. We didn’t know what to say. What to think. Finally, one of the girls blurted out, “Why is her dad going to jail?”

#4 said, “I didn’t ask. And I don’t want to know. But Miram must be feeling really sad. I didn’t know what to say to her when she told me that.”

On another occasion, #4 asked me for money to buy a calculator for Math. It cost more than $100 and she felt bad that I had to fork out the money. She shared with us that she had a classmate who is feeling the pinch of this extra expense as she has been taking care of herself since Sec 1 and who works during the weekends and pays for her own needs.

She doesn’t take anything for granted anymore and when she askes me for her weekly allowance, she gives me a discount and says “Mum, this week I won’t be spending so much so give me less.” Although she finds school work very hard to understand, she is good with her hands and dreams of the day she can have her own accessory line and is able to provide for us.

Having this one child in a neighbourhood school with friends who have real struggles have opened the eyes of all the other siblings.

I’ve also heard from teachers that it is not only in the neighbourhood schools that children end up with bad company. Even in the so-called “better” schools, students do get into trouble, be it in boys schools, mixed schools and even in all-girls schools.

The stories that surround our teenagers can get pretty chilling. As parents, we should aim to build our children up with good moral values, which provides them a strong foundation to know right from wrong and be able to make wise decisions and stand by the values they believe in, instead of trying to shield them too much.

We can only do our best as parents. Sometimes, despite trying very hard to raise them well, they still end up giving us endless nights of worry. All we can do is to ride out the storm with patience and love.

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


A Mother’s Day Letter from my 6-year old

My teens have been writing me lovely heartful letters on Mother’s Day. I can’t quite recall when the childish drawings evolved to long letters and elaborate handmade gifts, but it must have been around the age of 12 or later.

For the past week, Kate has been showering me with her little doodly Mother’s Day cards, gifts bought from her school bookshop, and cut flowers beautifully arranged in vases. But what surprised me on Mother’s Day itself was a letter of gratitude.

Dear Mom,

Thank you for: putting me to sleep.

Thank you for: making me dinner.

Thank you for: trying to earn more money to go on a holiday just for me.

Thank you for: playing with me.

Thank you for: staying at home and making me lunch.

Thank you for: paying a lot of attention to me when I was a baby.

Thank you for: being my mom from a baby until now.

And have a Happy Mother’s day!!!

I’m surprised that it comes so naturally for Kate to be aware and able to articulate the things she is grateful for at such a young age. 

Years ago, when one of my older girls finished her O levels, they wrote a letter of gratitude to their parents which was presented on graduation day.

My daughter was going through a rebellious phase then, and she found the whole exercise extremely superficial because they were given a template to follow and she felt ‘forced’ to write it and had to hand in the letters to the teachers to be checked before they were given out.

I remember that it was awkward for her to write that letter, and it took her a long time to reflect on what she was grateful for.

Another one of Kate’s letters read:

Dear mom,

Thank you for being my mom. I know it’s hard to be a mother for 5 children and me. And trying hard to earn money.

Have a Happy Mother’s Day!

At the age of 6, she is able to see another person’s perspective and acknowledge how tough it must be for me. Wow!

I gave her a gigantic hug, thanked her for her cards and letters and told her that no matter how hard being a mum is, it is all so worth it.

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

Our helper has gone home

Jane has been with us since Kate was born and it was time for her to return to her own 2 children. Our family was sad to see her go, and the girls made gifts for her and drew beautiful pictures in a keepsake book telling her how much they appreciated all that she has done for us.

Handmade necklace

5 weeks before our new helper arrives, and we have survived 2 weeks! It was pretty fun the first couple of days, with everyone chipping in and being enthusiastic about doing the dishes, laundry and throwing out the trash. Kate even invited some church friends over and she made lunch – her signature quesadillas.

Little chef at work

#2 has been such a darling and knowing that I have so much on my plate, she volunteered to wake Kate up in the mornings to fix her breakfast and wave her up the bus. She did that for the first week, but as she finishes her cafe shift at 10.30pm it was tiring to wake up at 5.30 when she only gets to bed at 1am. So now I do 3 mornings and she does 2.

Because everyone is on a different schedule, with one at work, one in Uni, one in poly and 3 in school, we have a tag team going, depending on who is home at what time. Someone will load the washing machine at 6am, another will hang it to dry at 8am and one will bring in the dry clothes in the afternoon.

Lunch and dinner duty is split between me and 2 of the older girls. One evening, #3 realised that it was only Kate who was having lunch the next day after school. She tried her luck:

#3: Kate, you love watermelon right? How about watermelon for lunch?
Kate: No thanks.
#3: Hmm.. then what should I make for your lunch?
Kate: Oh, Auntie Merz said that if I don’t have lunch, I can go next door for lunch.
#3: Ha that’s settled! You go over for lunch tomorrow.

But to be fair, for dinner duty, she did make an effort to do a good meatball pasta, and customized it for those who didn’t want cheese toppings.

One evening, I returned home from work and was busy preparing dinner and ensuring that there were clean uniforms for the 3 younger ones. Kate said, “I can help to do the ironing.”

I thought that was too dangerous, and re-directed her to other chores. She finished folding the clothes, sweeping the garden, tidying the shoes in a row and helped to wash the dishes left in the sink. She saw the pile of clothes and kept repeating that she can do the ironing.

Finally I thought to myself, is it really possible for a 6-year old to do ironing? As an occupational therapist, we assess people on their activities of daily living (ADLs) and we guide them towards independence. I thought, ok, I’m going to assess how she does it, without turning the iron on.

I was surprised at her motor skills, and she ironed like a pro, knowing how to turn the clothes over and doing each section bit by bit. “Where did you learn to iron like that?”

Kate: I didn’t learn. I just watch auntie Jane everyday.

My oh my. In our society where we have helpers and it is easier for us to get things done ourselves, much quicker and cleaner, we have stopped giving our children the opportunities to pick up so many life skills. We tend to be over-protective and shield them from all potential dangers when this is the age where they naturally want to help out. She finished ironing all her siblings’ clothes and uniforms and even her daddy’s pants.

I explained the dangers of the hot iron and that she had to be extremely careful when using it. I also told her that she is not to use the iron when I am not around, and she can only do ironing under my watchful supervision. (and no, we did not run out of clothes and have to wear CNY clothes, this was on international friendship day. We are on top of our laundry woohoo!). I don’t want to encourage her to do the ironing as she is still very young, but I’m glad to know that in future, she will be able to handle household chores independently.

It’s been 2 weeks, and I’ve reached my threshold. It’s really not easy to work, tend to the kids, cook, clean, ferry elderly parents around and run errands. I’ve been very busy at work, with several preschools approaching us to run our program in their centres.

My Sunday was crazy, with church in the morning, visiting an elderly, conducting a parents’ workshop and helping my team to prep for one of our student’s birthday party, and coming home to do chores before cooking dinner.

Kate saw her food and said, “I don’t want to eat this.”

I would have expected it from my son who has always been a picky eater, but coming from Kate, I got really mad. I snapped at her, “If you don’t want to eat, go up and shower and go to bed!”

I stomped around the kitchen trying to prep for tomorrow, thinking about what to put into her lunch box for recess, her snack box for class break, and what to give her for breakfast. I didn’t have time for a supermarket run this weekend and there wasn’t many options.

I took out a pack of “wang wang” japanese biscuits, put 2 into her snack bag and said, “Since you like to buy these for recess, you can bring these to school tomorrow.” For good measure, I threw the whole big packet on the kitchen counter and said, “You know what, you can have all you want for breakfast.”

Such a bad mummy moment.

What happened last week was that on Friday, I was running out of food for her lunch box and she said that she will buy food from the canteen. When we asked her what she bought, she said too cheerfully, “I bought a bowl of fishball noodles and also roti prata.”

Immediately, we knew she was telling a lie. She confessed and admitted that she bought a wang wang biscuit from the snack stall.

I was still snap-pish at the older kids but told myself to take 3 d-e-e-p breaths. Kate finished her dinner (with her sister’s help) and washed her utensils. I took her up to shower and she said, “Mummy, I’m sorry.” I gave her a big hug and asked her what was she sorry about. “I’m sorry that I didn’t want to eat your food.”

I asked if she knew why I was upset? “Because you cook for me.” I explained to her how it took me effort to make a healthy dinner for her, and was sad that without even trying a bite she refused to eat it. I apologized for my harsh words and we talked about what happened and both of us felt much better. She went to bed happy and me? I went back down to the kitchen to find something wholesome for her breakfast tomorrow.

2 down, 3 more weeks to go!

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




Have we lost ourselves to LIFE?

My life has been transformed, in 11 days.

The past 12 months have been the hardest in my 20 years of parenting. I was running at full speed but struggling to keep all the balls in the air.

People assume that because we have a big brood and they generally look happy, we are awesome mums and are naturally nailing it. So not.

It is a huge challenge finding enough time to see to the individual needs of the kids. And I can’t say it enough, but the teenage years are a very trying time and we are back to square one, figuring out how to parent them. Add to that the stress of their PSLE, Os and As coming up, along with emotional crises and the daily squabbles of the 2 younger ones and my hands are full ensuring everyone stays sane.

It doesn’t help that with your own business, your mind is never switched off and the work doesn’t end. I’ve been fighting fires at work, at home, and dealing with family conflicts. I was exhausted and heavy-hearted.

Silence in the wee hours of the morning

Heal Ourself

I went on a pilgrimage to Italy where we traced the footsteps of St Francis of Assisi and his mission of peace. He was the son of a wealthy merchant but was disillusioned with a rich superficial lifestyle and yearned for something deeper. He gave up everything to dedicate his life in the service of the poor and needy, following the example of Jesus Christ.

I woke up at 5am and went for a morning stroll. No kids to tend to, no work to rush off to. I do so love the early mornings! The unbroken silence and stillness in the air. I walked out of my hotel to find a beautiful sight before me. Green grass stretching freely on both sides and the majestic basilica in the distance. As I sung hymns, something stirred in my soul and the tears flowed freely. I could feel God’s presence intensely and knew that for the past months, I have been so burdened that I was unable to let go and trust in God to provide.

Contemplative silence

Time in nature

Our lives are fast-paced and noisy and we need to detox our mind and spirit from all that clutter. Wish I could spend more time in solitude, to reflect and recharge.

As I pondered our lives, I wondered why we have allowed ourselves to buy into this Bigger and Better rat race. We have moved away from leading authentic fulfilled lives and it doesn’t seem wrong anymore to live superficial glossy lives for the world to see.

What has life become for us? We are so distracted by LIFE itself and have lost the courage to go deep within ourselves to search for its meaning. It scares me to think that I am running at breakneck speed, but at the end of it all, what kind of a life do I have to show for it?

Was it real enough? Have I touched people along the way? What legacy am I leaving to my children? Have they learned how to love, give and serve? These were the ideals I held on to, but have I been waylaid by the busyness of life and things that don’t matter?

St Francis’ bare room

Simplicity

St Francis’ message of peace, love and poverty is still so relevant today. Coming face to face with his bare room, and how he and his brothers lived in extreme poverty yet were ever joyful, it was stark how far we have come in this material world that when things are taken away from us, we feel upset. Though we may begrudge not having enough, we already have too much. Yet we chase after more, but at what cost?

I’ve always had this dilemma at the back of my mind, wanting to live a simple and minimalist life yet finding it hard to give up material comforts and excesses. The past few months have been very rocky for us and I feared the uncertainties of the future, but I’m not worried anymore.

Hermitage caves

Who am I?

We had time to sit in the caves where St Francis and his brothers spent days in prayer and contemplation. I used to seek out secluded spots to spend time alone when we take the kids to beach resorts and now I know it’s not an odd thing to do, but precisely what my soul needed!

As we did our Camino walk in silence, I contemplated the question “Who am I?” Surrounded by bare nature, nothing of our modern lives mattered. Not our titles, where we lived, what car we drove, what bling we wore.

I was reminded of my time volunteering at Assisi hospice where witnessing the experience of those close to death helped me to put life into perspective. Yet we forget easily and need constant reminders about what life is really about.

It was a tough trek on our long walk, and just as I was feeling tired and wishing I was back on the bus, I came to a fork and a fellow pilgrim was waiting for me with a bright smile and a flourish of her hand to wave me down the right path before hurrying off to catch up with her friends.

The uphill walk was a mirror of life. We are pilgrims on this journey and as we face the vicissitudes of life, we are here to make that journey that much easier for one another. Be gentle. Be kind. Be helpful. If we may be blessed with abundance, extend a helping hand to those in need.

Camino walk

Our response is Love

On the last day, my kids texted me an SOS! I called them and they told me what had transpired with a neighbour’s dog. Our dog saw a passing dog and ran out of the gate. She must have been excited and nibbled too hard, drawing a bit of blood. The neighbour went home and brought her mum back and they had a row with my kids. A few hours had passed since the incident, but my girls were still riled up about it. #1’s response was anger, and she argued back when the lady shouted at them. #2 attempted to use logic to win the argument while my mum was trying to keep everyone calm, saying that my kids were just kids and the dog was just a dog.

I listened and was surprised that I felt no anger towards the mum and did not feel the urge to take sides or retaliate. I simply repeated, “Peace be with you, girls.”

I told them that instead of responding in anger or making excuses, let our first response be love. They were stunned into silence hearing something so radical.

I was sharing the stories of my pilgrimage with my staff and they said, “Wow, even for us adults that would be hard!”

We try.

Keep praying

Back to Reality

The hubs took good care of Kate and the older kids left me alone for the entire trip and did not bug me with any problems except to ask if I was enjoying myself.

But it seemed like they had saved all their troubles till I returned and on my first evening back, one swallowed a fish bone, one had her wisdom tooth pushing out and her gums had split, one came down with a fever and my helper cut her finger.

Instead of going into a frenzy, I was surprised how calm I was. It was as though I was wrapped in a bubble of peace. I got them to say a prayer, then walked them through the steps. And in my heart, I knew that everything will be alright.

Daily Mass

For 11 days, time stood still. I am going to take a long hard look at our lives and eliminate everything which is unnecessary. I have decided not to continue looking for tutors for #5 as he has been showing improvement this year in a smaller banded class and whatever PSLE score he will get, we are prepared for it. The time saved rushing him to and fro will be used to live life at a more leisurely pace.

I will be guided with a different compass, and though life will continue to be messy and problems will arise, more so in a huge family like ours, I have found renewed strength to walk this path. The world as we know it could crash but we will be fine.

Wonderful lunch stop

Our Camino walk ended at La Verna, where an extraordinary event happened. St Francis had followed his calling closely and at the end of his life, he prayed that he would experience the same immense love that Jesus felt when he suffered and died on the cross. He received the stigmata – the same wounds pierced in his hands, feet and side.

As mothers, from the time of labour, we go through pain and suffering for the love of our children. And through the lifetime of our children, their pain will be our pain multiplied manyfold in our hearts. My whole perception of pain has been reshaped.

Mount Alvernia

Finding our Calling

Not many of us have found our calling, but as long as we do something about it and start moving towards it, clarity will come.

I get lots of emails from mums telling me how inspired they are but I don’t usually get much encouragement. I have been blessed by many on this trip who have shared their words of advice and stories of similar adversities and I am uplifted.

I now know how much my sharing could mean to another new mum struggling to make sense of this parenting journey or be the beacon of hope that there is light at the end of the very long tunnel.

Let us support one another in this journey of life.

Rainbow in a bright sky

It is so good to get away every year or so to rest our body, mind and spirit.

This sense of deep peace.

With stress lifted from your shoulders.

Of feeling connected with people around you.

With joy replacing worries.

Contented with what you have.

Your mind completely free to be present in every moment.

It is so elusive but I’ve found it.

And I hope you will find your peace too.

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

Lesson #15: What are we worth, mums?
Lesson #16: What do you do when you get sick of parenting?
Lesson #17: The tragedy of our society


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

Are we prepared for the teenage years?

We all know about the dreadful teenage years. Of raging hormones and irrational behavior.

But do we really know what to expect? Are we prepared for it?

Just as we start to enjoy the freedom of independent kids who can function without us, the next phase descends without warning.

As I started to navigate my way around unchartered waters, I reached out to those with teenage kids/young adults for advice.

What a vast difference from when the kids were little. We could relate to one another with similar rants of bedtime battles and sibling quarrels. Bonds were formed with fellow mums as we shared tips and supported one another through those long and tiring days. We could rope our other halves in, the helper plus grandparents to ease our load. We were not alone.

But this. This was entirely different.

Nobody talks about the worrying problems facing our teens. No two situations are alike, and there are no easy solutions.

As I spoke to other mums, the conversations were done in hushed tones. The seriousness of the issues poured out gripped me with fear. They were too real. Not something you read about in the newspapers. Some were lucky that their kids did not give them sleepless nights. But many others shared personal tales of a time shrouded in darkness.

There were stories of eating disorders, self-mutilation (sometimes in groups), being the victim of cyber bullying, peer pressure, depression, obsession with their looks and self-perceived inadequacies, inhaling harmful substances to get a high to escape from reality, relationship issues, negative influence from classmates, staying away from home for days, attempted suicide and other sombre tales.

Having to face just one of these issues can wreck havoc in a teen’s (and their family’s) life.

In some cases, it can be to the most heartbreaking extent where as a parent, you have to turn your own child over to the police after discovering something like drug abuse.

The tough decisions parents have to make.

It really is the most difficult job in the world. Nurturing children to walk the right path and being strong enough to face the pressures from so many aspects.

Nothing prepares you for the things you will come face to face with. With a heavy heart, you witness the consequences of the choices they make.

As a mother, their pain is your pain magnified a thousand times.

At this age, they are hard to decipher and you are unsure what to say or what not to say.

I’ve discovered a sad truth from opening up to other mums. Beneath the surface of good grades, affluent lifestyles and superficial answers lie secrets many mothers carry in their hearts.

They are yearning for a confidential ear to listen to their worries. And when the storms have finally passed, they are more than willing to share their experiences and offer advice to others.

Just because they don’t have the visible signs of toddlers hanging off their arms, it doesn’t mean they are not burdened.

Yet more importantly, what about the teenagers?

Beneath their sullen look and curt replies could be a torrent of emotions they cannot handle, the demands of school and life which they cannot live up to.

Be the supportive village they are so in need of. If you do not know what to say, it is better not to say anything. They are very sensitive creatures at this point in their lives.

To mums of teens, hang in there. It is going to be a bumpy ride. It takes a strong heart.

Be ever vigilant. Teens are so good at covering up what they don’t want you to know. Don’t take things lightly. No matter how busy you are, keep an eye on them.

Don’t be afraid to open up and share with other mums of teens. They may not face the same issues but will understand what you are going through and can provide the much needed support in troubling times.

A wise friend with grown-up children shared this:

Never give up on them, never cease praying for them. Keep on loving them especially when it is so hard to do.

Some moments, I wish they were little again. When I could scoop them in my arms and life was so much simpler.

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

2018 – Can I run and hide?

2017 went by like lightning because work picked up momentum. I finally felt the weight of a working mum holding down 2 jobs. A busy work week, followed by an even busier weekend of seeing to the kids’ needs. I was on a bullet train that couldn’t stop.

After a nice, slow December, I am all rested and recharged. I have put Kate in childcare which took a load off my mind. Initially hesitant to move her at K2 as she was happy in her preschool but glad she managed to settle well today, with just a little bit of tears halfway through the afternoon. She missed her mummy, her old friends, and has to adjust to a new routine.

If 2017 was crazy, 2018 will be pure madness. Our student numbers have tripled and it’s going to be an exciting run with my team of teachers this year.

On the home front, first of all, I have a PSLE child. After going through this 4 times, the PSLE is just another year to me. However, dealing with my boy is a whole different ballgame altogether. His Chinese has been deteriorating year after year and is now at a miserable 20/100. He used to enjoy Science and was scoring 80+ but failed his P5 SA2 exam paper. This was what he wrote:

Yes. The type of answers we laugh about on Facebook. When I questioned him, he explained the whole molting process and exclaimed, “Mum, such a tough life right?!” His imagination is that vivid. I went for a talk recently and the speaker was explaining how children can be categorized by their fingerprints and he called this group of kids Type R. Creative, full of original ideas, our future designers and architects, but constantly getting into trouble with teachers.

Headache.

This requires a different tact from how I guided the girls, as I’m sure if I left him to his own devices, he will go through the week without any homework handed in nor relaying important messages from school.

His teachers said that a big part of his problem is his motivation, and we are scratching our heads on how to get him to buy into the idea of having to conform to the PSLE structure and memorizing appropriate key words for the sake of doing well in the exams so that he can go into a better school. This is something that baffles his immature 11-year old mind.

Thankfully, the older girls do understand the importance of the crucial years as the 3 of them are taking the O and A-level exams as well as Sec 2 streaming. I do worry though, that they don’t get enough sleep and it will doubtlessly be a stressful year even without me putting any pressure on them.

As for #1, she is in a bit of a dilemma trying to decide what her next step should be. After 3 years in poly, she realised this is not where her passion lies, but her interest is veering towards design. She is unsure which aspect of it should she pursue, and several friends in this field have shared their own experiences as we are exploring whether to go for a degree, another diploma, or gain some experience working. Such a tough decision with no clear answers.

Academics aside, these teenage years are the hardest in our parenting journey. The influence of friends and social media is a big concern, along with raging hormones, doubts, self-esteem issues, being critical of everything, and their world view being starkly different from ours.

Sometimes after an exchange with the lot of them, I feel like I’ve come out of a battlefield. Parenting a bunch of teens is not for the faint-hearted.

When I stop and think about this coming year and how I’m going to fit everything in while setting aside enough time to guide this brood properly, it looks extremely overwhelming. You know, the deserted island in The Last Jedi? The notion of escaping is enticing. Being alone. In silence. Where no one can find me.

Ah well, it’s nice to dream for a moment. But this is my reality, these, my responsibilities.

I am so thankful for little Kate.

She’s the ray of light with her sunny disposition as she runs into my arms like a furball greeting me with an exuberant “Mummy!!”

Whether it is after a long day at work, or when a heavy issue is weighing on my mind, I can still smile.

When things seem impossible, I can only put my hand in God’s hand and let go. By faith, I can find hope. I can find peace.

Rejoice always
Pray without ceasing
In everything, give thanks

Bring it on, 2018! I am ready 🙂

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

All that glitters is not gold

I haven’t blogged in a long time. I’ve been busy. So busy that I only had an hour to whip Kate’s birthday party up, just before her little guests arrived.

Maybe my next post should be entitled, “How to prepare an awesome birthday party in under 60 minutes.”

I was going to put up a pretty picture of her birthday party and dedicate the post to her.

Afterall she turned 5. What a sweet little milestone.

Best buddies

But you know, with so much going on in my life right now, it kinda feels like a lie to just shine the spotlight on that one bright moment while brushing everything else aside.

So, plot twist.

Life has been running at a breakneck speed. I’m working a full work week now but I can’t complain because I love what I am doing – I just wish I had more hours in a day. Like triple the amount.

The folks are also getting old and this is the time where things shift from having help in ferrying the kids around to having to ferry them around. We’ve been so lucky to have had their limitless love and support from day 1 and now is where the care is to be reciprocated tenfold.

And when you are running so fast, being pulled in every direction, you wish that everything at home is going just great. That somehow, the kids are behaving beautifully, so that you don’t have to worry and can concentrate on doing what needs to be done.

Unfortunately, having a current houseful of unpredictable and hormonal teenagers between the ages of 12 and 18 can make life very blustery.

One moment they are sweet, sensible, helpful young ladies, voicing opinions that I appreciate. Yet the next, they are moody or sensitive or in tears about something someone said.

My days are really long now. Our house seems to be running on two separate time zones. A too early morning start with noisy bickering younger ones while the other half of the house comes alive only when the sun blazes high (the kids in secondary school have already started their holidays. Already?)

These nocturnal animals who communicate in their own lingo are cheeriest between the hours of 8pm to midnight, and there’s a mini party going on in the kitchen or their bathrooms most nights.

Then, they wake up grouchy. I asked a perfectly normal question with a smile, “Would you like to tell me your holiday plans now that school has ended?” Only to be answered with “Nope” and the offender casually resumed eating her breakfast.

And that was it! No explanation, no elaboration.

Breathe.

I need to keep calm and mother on, and re-present that question after 8pm.

No, actually, I gave it to her, telling her that it was an unacceptable answer and I expect a proper response.

It is tiring. Tiring to come home to little kids who need to be nurtured and watered, and big kids who look like they don’t need you, pretend that they don’t need you, but still need you as much as the little ones.

Maybe someone can tell me that it will all pass soon enough.

The truth is… this gig called parenting? It doesn’t end. And it doesn’t get easier. It gets – different.

So all I can do is to take a deep breath and mentally prepare myself for the long haul.

It’s funny how people look at us bloggers with our shiny happy pictures and imagine that we live in a perfect world with model kids.

Honestly, how is that even possible?

Perhaps we should stop showing happy pictures of wannabe princesses and fake castles. But then again, we can’t be snapping pictures of grouchy teens or quarreling siblings while in the midst of disciplining them.

So that in a nutshell, is our life at the moment.

Happy birthday my little one.

Life is magical when you are 5, isn’t it?

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