“How do you manage?”

That’s the next most common question I get asked, after they say “You have 6 kids?” with a very incredulous tone.

One of their favourite past times: Climbing trees


So how do I do it?

1) Close one eye

When I had 3 kids, I had to ‘close one eye’. When I had 6 kids, sometimes I had to ‘close both eyes’. When #1 was little, if she dropped her spoon on the floor, I would go to the sink and wash it before giving it back to her. After I had more kids, well, I would just give it back to them sans washing. A little bit of germs wouldn’t kill them, and it would help to make their immunity stronger, no? 

In the early days, when the hub would do silly things like let them play in the rain, I would be nagging at them until I got all worked up. However, now I look at them squealing in delight kicking the puddles of water, and if I “have no eyes to see” (loosely translated from a Chinese phrase, meaning can’t bear to look at it), then I will find a quiet room and enjoy my half hour of solace by reading a book. After all, those are what childhood memories are made of, aren’t they?

2) Make them independent

Outings…

I figured early on that the only way I was going to be able to manage all of them was to make them as independent as possible. My mom always comments that she has been seeing a lot of families on outings where it’s 1 kid with 5 adults (mum, dad, grandma, grandpa and helper) whereas for us, it’s usually 5 kids and 1 adult. I have no problem taking them out by myself, and the times when I was pregnant and needed to rest at home, the hub would happily take the 5 of them out.  We never ask the helper to follow us out as she has her hands full with housework. So when we go out she doesn’t need to cook and can have a break. 

School…

From the time they entered Primary 1, I told them that they are in charge of all things pertaining to school. That includes the packing of their school bags, homework, spelling, revision for exams, basically everything. I have to say that my 4 girls did remarkably well in handling all their school work, but I can’t say the same for #5. Many parents tell me it’s a boy thing. In just this one year of him entering P1, I have received more phone calls from his teachers than the other 4 girls combined in their entire school life.

Travelling…

I allow them to venture out on their own on public transport. #3 and #4 (who are in P5 and P3 respectively),  take the bus by themselves to the library to help me return books or pick up stationery they need for school. Some friends think I’m nuts, but there aren’t any major roads to cross, they have a phone with them, and they only go in the day so I think it’s fine. Once they are in secondary school, they take public transport to school.

Holidays…

From the time they were in kindergarten, they were able to pack their own luggages for family trips. Initially I had a huge luggage where they all put their clothes in. During the trip, everyday I would get a chorus of “Mummy, where’s my blue t-shirt? Mummy, where’s my socks? Mummy, mummy, mummy.” It drove me nuts, so I bought each of them their own little luggage. Problem solved.

Moving house…

When we moved house last year, we did it in stages as I had just delivered Kate and was still recuperating from my C-section. The kids did all their packing by themselves and the loading and unloading. Some time later, I went back to the old house to pick up some items, and #5 tagged along. He was only in K2 at that time and I was surprised to see that he managed to pack his own things into the cardboard box, hauled it up onto the trolley, pushed the trolley to the car, and loaded it. He went back and forth several times and packed up his sisters’ leftover things as well. When I went to the car, I found the boot almost full! He had watched his dad do it and he followed suit.

3) Just do it

Sometimes when we think too much, things seem insurmountable. When you are in the midst of things, you don’t even have time to think. You just do. Now looking back, I really wonder how I survived those years.

4) Change your perspective

One of my good old friend just gave birth to her first child. She felt very overwhelmed with the 2-hourly feeding schedule and she said it was tiring having to tend to the baby with the little sleep she was getting. I shared with her that for 10 years, the longest stretch I slept was 4 hours. I was either breastfeeding a baby every 2 or 3 hourly, waking up to make milk in the night for a toddler, or waking up to go to the toilet when I was pregnant. I am a light sleeper and any little sound would wake me, and it took me ages to go back to sleep. In the day I still had to tend to the kids and at times, I was also working part time. She was surprised and it shifted her perspective. There was a joke among my friends whereby every year, they would ask me what I wanted for my birthday present. My reply was always the same, that I wished I could have a room to myself where I could sleep for a full 10 hours uninterrupted.

In one of my stints in a hospital when I was a student, I had the privilege of meeting a very inspirational man. He was in his 30s and was an avid sportsman. He got into an accident while para-gliding and had to amputate all 4 limbs. Instead of falling into depression which most of the doctors expected him to, he did not dwell on his misfortune but instead set his mind to get better. He set himself high goals (the doctors thought he was delusional) and he perservered at his treatment, working very hard to tone up his muscles and master the use of the prosthetics. He eventually managed to go back to work, and to his hobbies of surfing and para-gliding. Everyone who watched him during his treatment sessions were speechless. Here we were, nurses, therapists and doctors, who were all prepared to aid him in his recovery, but instead, we were all humbled and inspired by his strength of spirit.

My motto? What don’t kill you makes you stronger. When the going gets tough, I always think to myself, “We have 2 hands and 2 legs, what can’t we handle?”

5) Delegate

These days, teachers expect parents to supervise their school work. #5’s Chinese teacher sent me a WhatsApp text to say that I was supposed to craft a speech for his “Show and Tell”. To begin with, my chinese is nowhere near fantastic. And besides, I really had not factored in “Teaching them show and tell” into my daily to-do lists so I didn’t have the time to do it. I got one of the girls to help him out with it. The next day, the teacher called me to say that it was not up to standard and she gave me suggestions on the sentences to use. I had to again delegate the job to one of the girls to re-teach him.

Taking care of Kate is also a full time responsibility. The helper is not able to look after her all the time as she has to do the housework. When my hands are full, the kids will take turns looking after her. #3 spends the most time with her as she loves babies. Once she returns home from school, she will look for her and play with her. When daddy was away, Kate missed him and would cry sadly at times calling “daddee”. #3 knows that her favourite thing is to play with water so she cleaned the long bath, filled it with water and put Kate in to play. That never failed to cheer her up.

6) Good family support

I definitely wouldn’t have been able to manage without the help of my hub, my mom, my dad, my mom-in-law, my dad-in-law, my sisters-in-law and my previous maid of 14 years. My hub works from home and he is very hands on with the kids. In fact, when #1 was born, I didn’t quite know how to bathe her as she was so small and slippery. But he was a natural and handled her really well. He could bathe her, change her diapers, make her milk and swaddle her. When the kids were younger, he would swim with them all the time. My neighbours would say “Your hub very free hor” because sometimes they would see him swimming with them a few times in a week. Then they would comment “Wah, he can manage them so well!” They were amazed at how he could handle all 5 of them especially as none of them could swim! But swimming with daddy was always the highlight of their week and they would all come back after an hour beaming and chatting happily.

When they were younger, my mom came over everyday to help take care of them. She did anything that was needed; feed them, bathe them, put them to sleep, etc. She can easily hold the fort if we are not around. When #5 was just 2 months old, the hub had to go away for work. I was just about going crazy with the 2-hourly breastfeeding for the 5th time round, that I told him I was tagging along. We left the baby and the other 4 kids to her and the helper for 2 weeks. 

My dad’s job is to ferry them around. Especially during their P6 years when they had tuition the whole weekend, he would be in charge of their transport. My parents also loved to take them to the zoo and the bird park. When #5 was younger, they literally took him there every other week. Of course, they are also in charge of spoiling the kids, which I used to frown upon, but I have realised that that is what makes them happy so now I leave my dad alone.

We live with my in-laws and my mom-in-law does the early morning walks with the kids. When they were between the ages of 1 and 3, they used to wake up at 5.30 or 6 every morning. We didn’t know anything about proper sleep habits, so we thought that if we kept them up later in the night they would wake up later. Only after I had #5 did I read up on sleep patterns and I realised that the later you keep them up, the earlier they will wake up! It doesn’t sound logical but it’s true. As my mom-in-law was the only one awake that early, she would take them for a walk around our condo.

My dad-in-law comes back once every few weeks and he would make sure that the freezer is stocked with enough food to feed the kids. He would always question them if they are being fed well and he would also enquire about their studies.

My sisters-in-law are also such wonderful aunts to the kids. One SIL cooks and bakes very well, and the kids will ask her to make them their birthday cakes. She also takes them out when she goes for nice meals with her hub or her friends. They always come back and tell me excitedly what yummy food they had. Another SIL is good with her hands and she would make earrings for them or teach them to braid their hair. The other SIL lives overseas but every time she is back, she makes an effort to take them out or buy them boardgames to play.

I am extremely grateful for all the support that they have provided us over the years.


Linking up with:

www.ajugglingmom.com

Family Command Centre

Obviously with 6 kids, there are a lot of logistics to handle on a daily basis. I have to be organized or it gets really stressful when things are left to the last minute. There were countless times when a child did not have the materials ready for the next day’s show and tell, they forget they had an excursion and we didn’t have the right ‘healthy’ snack for the lunchbox, or worse, they forgot they had a Math exam and forgot to tell me that their calculator had run out of batteries. Even when I had only 3 kids and had no proper system, I was going crazy. Now I’ve got the whole process down to a pat.

My Command Centre

I rely on these to keep things running smoothly:

Family Wall calendar
Weekly meal planner
Daily To-do list
Yearly pocket calendar
Some notebooks

I love kikki.k over at ion. They have lots of organisational tools to help us busy moms stay on top of things. Colour really brightens my day and all these pretty stationery helps to keep me motivated to get the boring paperwork and administrative work for the family under control.

#3 drew the cute lil’ minion

I needed a huge magnet board so I recycled #2’s old board by turning it around and using the back. We got this magnetic board from Ikea many years ago. There were 2 holes at the back which were meant for hanging the board up. I tied some rope across the top so that I could peg photos of the kids and keep them rotated. It always cheers me up to see them smiling. I got the magnets from Daiso and added some stickers to personalise them.

This family calendar is just perfect for me – it has 6 columns. I got it from Tango Mango at Tanglin Mall, and you can also order it directly from Organised Mums which ships to Singapore. Whenever the kids come back with notices from school, I immediately pen it down on the calendar before tagging it on the board. This way, I will never forget to pick up any kid after ad hoc activities and we’re always prepared for events like wearing traditional costumes for Racial harmony day etc.

Menu planner from kikki.K
Having a weekly meal planner is really a life saver. Before I had it, I would just mentally plan some meals in my head. There were many a time when I was busy and before I knew it, lunch (or dinner) was upon us and I had nothing prepared for the starving kids. We usually ended up eating out (expensive), getting take-away (waste of time and not nutritious especially if it was fast food), or cooking instant noodles (definitely not nutritious). Once you get the discipline of setting aside a fixed time to decide what you’re going to cook and going to the supermarket, it will become a family routine.

On Sundays, I look at the week ahead and mark off on the family calendar which kid is back for lunch on which days so that I can see at one glance how many kids will be eating and which ones. If all or most are eating, I will prepare those meals that they are all ok with. If 1 or 2 are back on a particular day, I can then cook that child’s favourite food.

To-do list from kikki.K
I really like this To-do list as it’s got ‘Top 3’ things to do. When I used to have those normal To-do lists which just runs down, I will get really frustrated if half of the list is undone. Now, if I get my 3 most important tasks accomplished and a couple of the others, I’m a happy mom. Talk about a shift in perception! There’s even some cute icons to let us track how many cups of water we drink a day. Anything that helps to keep us healthy gets my two thumbs up 🙂

Lovely notebooks from Prints at ion

Whenever I saw something interesting in the newspapers or on the internet that I would like to take the kids to some day, I used to tear out the bits of newspaper or scribble the info down on post-its. However when the school holidays or long weekends came about I couldn’t locate the info I wanted. So I got some lovely bounded notebooks from Prints at ion (they have a shelf with past season items at 50% off) and started a resource book where I categorized the stuff I did with the kids and jotted down the info as they came, straight into the right pages. That way, I would just open up the book and scan the options and we’ll decide where we wanted to go or what we wanted to do that day.

Mail stand from Typo
I use these giant paper clips to sort my mail. I got them from smiggle (they have many outlets). I will handle the urgent ones, and when I have free time I will file the rest away properly.

The little yearly calendar is to keep track of things like when I paid their enrichment fees, when I paid my helper, or any other info where I can easily flip back to track. We have a Chinese tutor who comes over to tutor my primary 5 girl and to read to the 5 of them (Kate included). With the calendar I would know how many sessions she has already done and when to pay her. I also get the tutor to sign on the calendar so that there’s never any dispute.

Handmade birthday calendar

#2 made this lovely birthday calendar for mother’s day a couple of years ago. It is really handy as I can look ahead in that month and note down which birthdays are coming up. I will then shop for the necessary presents all at one go. This saves time and money as nowadays a trip to the mall is really not cheap if you include petrol, ERP and the exorbitant parking charges!

Gift cupboard

I also keep a cupboard stocked with presents suitable for a range of ages so that whenever the kids get invited to a birthday party I don’t have to make a trip to the shops just to get a present. I usually stock up my gift cupboard during the bi-annual private sales at Isetan or Robinsons as they have good discounts then. For the younger girls I get craft, playdoh or dress up/jewellery type gifts, for the older girls stuff like board games or DIY activity sets. For the younger boys, construction toys and for the older boys, science experiment sets.

Sane tip: With 6 kids, being organised is not an option, it’s mandatory!

Save tip: I realised that being organised helps to save a fair bit of money over the long run.


To know how we manage 6 kids, click here.

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


Don’t babies naturally fall asleep when they are tired?

When my eldest was 3 days old, the midwife came over for a home visit to check her weight and height and to see if I needed any help with breastfeeding. My baby yawned a few times, which I thought was completely normal. I mean, how many times have we seen cute pictures of babies yawning, right? The midwife said ‘poor baby, she is so tired’ and she looked very concerned. My hubby and I exchanged looks and we were thinking ‘What’s the problem? When she’s tired she will just sleep. She is sleeping most of the time anyway!’ We didn’t know about bedtimes, routines or sleepy signs. Some days she would cry incessantly and we had to put her in the car seat and drive around. She would promptly fall asleep. However when we carried her out of the car she would wake up and cry again! When she was 1+, she would sit and do jigsaw puzzles till 10 or 11pm while I did my assignments and she would just take her bear, get into bed and fall asleep almost immediately.

Her first pair of sandals

When she started to walk, I went to the mall to get her some shoes. I couldn’t believe it when the saleslady told me that the cheapest pair of sandals cost $50! Made of leather. Leather? Why in the world would kids need leather shoes? Mummy needs a new leather handbag… In the end, she convinced me how important it was for toddlers to wear the proper footwear with good support.

What a great fashion sense… red socks with sandals!

During winter, I just pulled on a pair of socks with the sandals as I was definitely going to let her wear that pair of sandals till she outgrew it! I honestly didn’t notice that the other toddlers were togged out in closed-toe shoes and some even in boots. Her toes must have been freezing most of the time. Oh and our pram was a $40 one which my mum got from OG and brought over to us, and I used to wonder how come the other babies looked so snug in their ultra bulky and comfortable strollers which were covered on all 4 sides, while my baby looked so exposed in her flimsy pram.

Her favourite toy

She used to play with our phones, the remote controls (don’t ask me what it is with babies and the most important gadgets in the house) and even my spectacles. Of course we told her not to touch those things but we were not consistent or firm enough and many gadgets were spoilt by her. As she grew up, I thought she would just know how to behave and how to be a good girl. Ok, I must have been the most naïve parent in the world. But of course she didn’t, and the other kids just followed suit, both the bad and the good.

Her next favourite toy

I have since come a long, long way. I now know how important sleep is for children (and mummies too!) and I know for certain that babies or children will not just go to sleep when they are tired. In fact, when they are over-tired, they become hyperactive (as some hormones are released) and will find it even harder to sleep. Kate goes to bed at 7pm, and the 3 other kids in primary school go to bed by 8.30pm. I also know for certain that we definitely, positively, without a doubt, have to discipline children. And it should be done as early as possible. With Kate, from the time she was 6 months, when she wanted to take our phones to play, we will say no and take it away from her. Consistently. It saves us a lot of money on replacement specs, phones and whatever else that she may decide to destroy. I will share with you my journey on all the different aspects of parenting in my million mistakes as we trail Kate’s development.


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

“You have 6 kids?”

I get that all the time. Yes, I do have 6 children.
Our brood
And I’m thankful for each and every one of them.

All of them are different. They have different personalities, different interests, different temperaments, different learning styles, different intelligences, different gifts. It has been an interesting journey, to say the least.

I had my first 5 kids in succession (all 2 years apart). They were all natural births sans epidural (ok, maybe I was a little bit crazy).

Subsequently there was a break of 6 years and Baby Kate entered our lives. Now that the 2 eldest are in their teens, I have the benefit of hindsight on what worked and what didn’t. I am better able to parent Kate with the little things that I learnt along the way, many through trial and error.

We didn’t have any experience with kids. None of our siblings had kids yet and we were the first among our friends to have kids. We must have made a million mistakes along the way as we didn’t know any better.

Nowadays, there are so many viewpoints on every aspect of child rearing. From the type of milk to feed our toddlers (fresh or formula), styles of discipline, what sort of pre-school is best for our kids (the options are mind-boggling), to enrichment classes to enrol junior in (the options are even more mind-boggling).

The way I parent Kate is a culmination of all the experiences, both my own and through friends, and knowledge that I have amassed from the past 15 years of parenting the kids, which I will share in my million mistakes.

The early days were a challenge, to say the least. I had my 2 oldest girls overseas, while the hubs and I were studying full time for a degree. We had no help whatsoever (only the occasional break when my mum or mum-in-law visited us for a couple of weeks when I had to go away for fieldwork). We took care of them ourselves, did the housework and cooked every meal. I managed to obtain my degree (with distinctions!) and bring up the toddler while being pregnant with #2.

There were times when I had to take her along to my lectures (I’m not kidding, and she wasn’t the only toddler in the evening classes). She sat quietly with her sticker books and crayons, and I was always armed with snacks. I must say that she was an easy toddler. It wouldn’t have been possible with my son!

She watched while I studied

Good time management became a necessity and I stopped procrastinating. I started on my assignments early and paced myself so that I wouldn’t have to burn the midnight oil (even that was a luxury!). I stopped wasting time on things like window shopping, surfing the net, or partying. It helped that she was happy to play by herself for stretches of time. The rental apartment was small so we were always in her sight. Those days are a far cry from our present situation, where Kate is really lucky to have so many older siblings to play with, and to have her grandparents visit weekly.

Kate is now 9 months old and this is where our blog commences. I have learnt that for a baby, the important areas in the first year concerns establishing good sleeping patterns, giving her a healthy head-start with nutrition, taking good care of her teeth and gums, and that it’s never too early to start reading to her. You can find all that and more in under 12 months.

It might sound unbelievable, but we had absolutely no clue how to discipline the kids when we first had them. I have a high threshold of tolerance towards mischief and would let most things slide. Of course, with no boundaries, the kids pushed the limits until there was a stage where I was constantly yelling at them. The hubs’ method of discipline, on the other hand, was swift and harsh. Misbehaviour was dealt with depending on his mood, usually by a quick smack, with no explanations whatsoever. Well, 16 years later, his punishments are still inconsistent, while I still don’t have all the answers. However, I hope to share some of what I have learnt, in discipline tips.

The 3 older girls have crossed the dreaded PSLE and all of them managed to score a minimum of A for every one of their subjects. I know it doesn’t sound impressive to those mummies who expect a lot more from their kids. But the fact that my kids hardly have any tuition except in the P6 year (save money), don’t do any extra assessment books at home (save some more money), are not coached by either of us parents (so that we don’t go mad), and they play at the playground everyday (so that they don’t go mad), I think they fared pretty decently. More about that in PSLE & more.


Every school holiday, I make it a point to expose our kids to some form of charitable work. In this age of entitlement, they have forgotten to be grateful for what they have. By making voluntarism a part of their lives from young, I hope to instil in them compassion and empathy for others. Here are some simple ways by which we try to give back to society in kids & charity.

As parents, we should leave a legacy of family traditions for our kids to pass on to their kids. This would help them to have a sense of belonging, and it would be so wonderful in years to come when the next generation of cousins enjoy the same traditions that all came from grandma! (that’s me). I also try to keep some of the traditions which my mom passed down to us. Family traditions also form the basis of fond memories of their childhood which they will look back on and reminisce. We would love to hear about your family traditions too!

And what about mummy? Mummy takes care of the entire family but who takes care of mummy? We’re in for the long haul. We have to keep ourselves healthy and happy so that we can hold the family together. We also have to constantly upgrade ourselves, to be open to new ideas and new perspectives and to never stop learning.

I had always relied on my kids or the hubs when it comes to technology. In fact, this blog was created by #1 (never mind that it doesn’t look professional) and I’m so proud of her. Yes, I can start to feel the ‘generation gap’. The internet, social media and technology are so much a part of her life.

However, while creating this blog, I learnt a lot from my daughter and was even able to figure out some of the functions while she was at school. I gave myself a pat on the back. I always tell the kids that learning is for life. I’m glad that I’m able to practice what I preach, especially in an area I have always shunned – technology.

I will include some tips at the bottom of the posts to save you from going mad or broke (hopefully). If we challenge stereotypes, go au natural, and get creative, raising kids in Singapore can be a blast! (most of the time, anyway) Happy parenting! 🙂


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