A tumultuous O level year!

My daughter’s O level exams has just started and it will last through the next 4 weeks. She is a slow and steady learner and drew up a timetable system to work through the chapters one by one for the various subjects.

She decluttered her room and tidied her desk to create a conducive study environment. She was all set to give it her best in this last spurt. Little did she know that her plans were going to be shattered.

An unfortunate situation cropped up, as grandpa had a fall at home. Our repair works had to be brought forward and undertaken immediately as the wooden flooring in his room had rotted and popped up.

We thought that replacing floorboards in 2 rooms wasn’t such major works, and the contractor said it would take A WEEK.

We could deal with that.

Well, it is obvious that we have never done this before – living IN the house while rooms are BEING renovated.

The first two days was deafening! Non-stop drilling and hacking, and the house felt like it was vibrating. In the end, we couldn’t take it anymore and escaped to the nearest eatery to do our work.

The siblings packed their stuff and bunked in with each other, and we reminded them to take EVERYTHING they would need for a week because there was no walking into the room when there was wet cement!

There was a quick shifting of furniture and the one who’s supposed to be revising for her major exams seems to be getting distracted by the others who are on holiday and I hear more chatting than studying.

The first night was like a fun sleepover but soon the contrasting sleeping and living habits started becoming a problem. She had to sleep early for school the next morning, while the others are on holiday. And she got annoyed as the rest are not as tidy as her. Rooming together takes a lot of compromise, understanding and acceptance!

The hubs decided that since the floors and walls have already been taped, it was an opportune time to get in the painters to repaint parts of the house plus do bits of repair works and not have to go through this again. So the living rooms are also out of bounds, and the kids are confined to their rooms because there is so much dust and debris all around as workers are walking in and out hauling cement and planks of wood.

Kate stepped off her school bus and exclaimed, “Why is there a safe entry in MY HOUSE?!”

Morale of the story, DON’T RENOVATE your house while still living in it, especially if you have children. Do it while you are on vacation or let the kids bunk in with their cousins for an extended holiday sleepover! (no one will take our entire troop though haha). We have planned a staycation to celebrate Kate’s birthday and are literally counting down the days till we can escape.

If any of you have done it successfully, please share any tips to survive this! The timeline is never what they promised and it looks like another week or so of chaos.

It is indeed crucial to guide our children to be adaptable and resilient because life is unexpected and things do crop up.

This poor child had a never-ending emotional rollercoaster this year. The sister who roomed with her left for the UK in January, and she cried when she left and it took her awhile to get used to her closest sibling being away (plus the empty room syndrome!) Just when she settled down and rearranged the furniture to suit her own needs, the pandemic hit and her sister was recalled home suddenly!

On top of that, her cohort had to adjust to remote learning in their crucial year, and lost the face-to-face support of their teachers and peers as they moved to a new normal. Then now, this topsy turvy house. What a year it has been.

I can only hope that she continues to hold up, as she tries to find the best way to cope with this year of constant changes!

About MummyWee

Michelle Choy is an Occupational Therapist by day and mum of 6 by night. Besides the already very demanding job of managing 5 teenagers and one 7-turning-17 tween, she is also co-Founder of The Little Executive, a nurturing centre to develop children in areas like resilience and executive function. She conducts small group parenting courses to help parents navigate this challenging journey, and has been featured on national TV, radio and print media.