Thankful for… both sides of the family

I love that we live next door to my sister-in-law. And that she can cook, and bake… haha, that’s besides the point.

Kate can just pop over for lunch every day after school, and when they take their kids out, they simply holler over the wall and ask who wants to tag along.

So glad to be relieved of those full-on outings like taking them to the zoo (for the 100th time), science centre or night safari, yet my younger kids get an opportunity to go.

My other sis-in-law also lives close by, and #4 plays with her younger cousins quite often. Yesterday was the first time Kate joined them to take the MRT into town and #4 did a great job taking care of her.

On my own side of the family, my 6 kids have been the only grandchildren all these years.

Finally, finally, my brother and sis-in-law had their first child. They come over every weekend and Kate always looks forward to their visits.
Big sis

My other sis-in-law also had her first baby last year and Kate is so fortunate to have several cousins around her age. Sadly, that is something my older kids have always wished for but will never have.

Kate loves taking care of her little cousins and calls them her ‘babies’. Although sometimes, she doesn’t quite do a good job.

Such a blessing to have harmony in the family, and it is something that should never be taken for granted.

I’ve learn a lot from the hubs side about living with a kampung spirit.

Thankful for so much support and thankful that our lives are enriched by one another.

“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has” – Epictetus

Thankful… for the hub’s cooking

Thankful… for our helper
Thankful… for my family
Thankful… for my mum-in-law

~ – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Glamping in Bintan @ The Canopi

We went glamping (glamorous camping) at this newly opened resort in Bintan and the kids loved the place so much that they are already asking to go back.

It felt like we were entering a make-believe land, a Smurf village of sorts.

The wow factor is definitely there, and everything looks picture-perfect.

However, operationally, they do not seem ready although they have been running for 9 months.

Here are some tips so that you go prepared and will be able to make the most of your holiday.

Glamping – glamorous camping

From Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal, it took us an hour to reach Bintan. Guests of The Canopi are ushered through the express lane and it was a short 5 minute ride to our resort.

Once we alighted from the shuttle bus and stepped into the lobby, this magnificent view awaited us.

“This is the largest swimming pool I have ever seen!” exclaimed #5.
The Lagoon

The lagoon stretched as far as the kids could see.

Right in the middle is the wake boarding section, which is run by a Singaporean.

The rest of the water and land activities are situated at the far end of the lagoon.
Little smurfette
We got the keys to our room and the kids couldn’t wait to dump their stuff before heading out to do the activities.

They oohed and aahed about everything and loved the safari themed rooms. All in high spirits as though they had stepped into magical land.

Tip: There are no phones in the rooms, so you either have to walk to the lobby reception for any requests, or you can WhatsApp the number that is given when you checked-in.

Also do note that there is no mini bar, thus no fridge to chill anything you might need to chill.

#5 called it his fort

Some examples of our requests, to manage your expectations:

Bedroom slippers, please. Sorry, we don’t provide.
Hand towels? Sorry, ran out.
A glass of beer? Sorry, machine broken.

The tent floor is really rough so pack bedroom slippers along if necessary. Or perhaps that’s what the cute little ‘well’ outside each tent is for!

To wash everyone’s feet AND slippers so you can wear them inside the tent. Ok, maybe it’s just me who has sensitive feet, but it felt like I was walking on woven rope.

The kids quickly changed into their swim gear and headed towards the water sports centre. After realising that they had to walk one big round, they decided to swim across instead.

Thank goodness I brought Kate’s pram along, because she could not swim across and it was taking her a long time to walk such a long distance.
$9 per  hour

There are a lot of activities for the kids. They started with the Water Sports Park which has giant trampolines, slides and obstacles.

Kate did not join them but was content to play with her pool toys.

The kids enjoyed the water park so much that they went again the next day. If the kids are young, they need to be accompanied by an adult.

Bumper boat – 15 min

They also had lots of fun in this Motorised Bumper Boat, with water guns to spray one another. It can go quite fast, and #5 loved spinning it around like those dizzy tea cups at theme parks!


Both single and double kayaks are available and it was rather idyllic kayaking around the lagoon.

The Land Sports Centre is situated right behind the water sports and it is open to public as well. As we were there over the weekend, it was very crowded with locals, especially on Sunday.

The kids were disappointed that they did not manage to do any of the land activities.

The electric scooters were all rented out, and we were told that the ATV bike adventure only commenced at 3pm. When we went over at 3pm, they told us that it was over-subscribed.


This is a nice place to learn wake-boarding and the kids were able to stand on the first few tries. #1 even managed to turn successfully!

There were several groups awaiting their turn and as most people paid for the 1 hour session, and with 2 cable lines, it was quite a wait.

If we ever do return, it will definitely be on a weekday.


The resort has 1 giant float, which was anchored right in front of our tent.

The younger kids woke up at 7am and after breakfast, they relaxed here while waiting for the older girls to get ready to start the other activities together.
Getting around

After a few times of walking round and round under the scorching sun to get to the activities, we decided to call for a buggy.

There is Wifi throughout the resort and you can WhatsApp the reception for a buggy but they have only 2 or 3 serving all the guests so you might have to wait.

Tip: Don’t forget to bring hats, sunscreen and goggles as there isn’t any gift/merchandise shop.
One and only restaurant

The biggest bugbear is the lack of food options at the resort, and the fact that it is not cheap.

There is only one restaurant to serve the entire resort. No beach front cafes, no bars, no convenience stores.

There is a little kiosk right at the far end of the lagoon (at the land sports centre) selling a small assortment of drinks and ice cream.

Breakfast: The buffet breakfast was included in our stay, but the spread was very basic. It also took a long time for them to replenish the food when the crowds came in.

Lunch: We ate here again to save time, but the standard was generally below average. The only items which were slightly better were the pizzas, spaghetti bolognese and mee/nasi goreng. Rather expensive at $20 each for a simple lunch with drinks.

Dinner: We decided to venture out to one of the several kelongs around the resort. It was quite an experience for the kids, to take a powerboat out to the kelong, however the food was average. We ordered the set menu, which came up to $20 per person.

Dinner at Kelong
If you have ample time, getting out of the resort for good nasi padang or Thai food would be a much better option.

Tip: Pack along biscuits, snacks and mineral water. Or why not go all out and bring tinned food, cup noodles and portable stoves and have a picnic under the stars! I’m sure the kids would love the novelty of that.
Right in front of our door step

Choice of tents:

We booked the Lagoon View tents, which was great because of the convenience. The kids found it simply amazing to open their front door and almost literally step out into the water.

I loved the convenience as the kids could easily nip back in to use the toilets and I could still be in the room with Kate while she napped, while keeping an eye on the older kids.

However, it was really noisy with the music blasting the whole time, and if you have little children who are easily awoken, a better option would be the Safari tents at the back which are away from the lagoon.

If you are going with several families, it would be nice to book the Safari tents as they are clustered around a central pavilion and the kids can play together in a safe space while the adults sit around and chill, or prepare a BYO alfresco dinner under the stars.

We found the Jacuzzi tents a tad strange, as people were soaking in these little jacuzzis at their doorway in full view of everyone walking past to get to their Safari tents.

I was woken up in the middle of the night and sat outside my tent for awhile.

The utter silence, and fairy lights twinkling over the vast lagoon made the place feel rather mystical. Just an hour’s ferry ride away from home yet it felt like we were in a distant land.
Bintan Resort Ferries

The ferry ride turned out better than the kids expected as there was a deli (hotdogs, muffins, chips, cup noodles) and Madagascar 2 was being screened, so the hour passed quickly enough.

Fun times

All in all, it was a perfect holiday for us (the kids got over their disappointment with the land activities pretty quickly) as our friends who were there a day earlier pre-empted us and we were prepared.

I’m sure the kids would hold fond memories of this spectacular resort for a long time to come.

The Canopi

Treasure Bay Bintan
Bintan Island

~ – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

A week in the life of a Blogging Mum

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our slightly large family

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cosy catch-ups at home

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

This is what a typical day looks like for me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best pals

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

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

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

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

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

Simple lunch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 down, 5 to go.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That is on a good day.
Silent nights…

On a crazy day…

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

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

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

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

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

Casual business meetings

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

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

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

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

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

That really gets to me.

You know those days?

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

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

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

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

Deep breath.

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

I blog.

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

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

An assortment of cookies

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

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

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

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

I rope #3 in to carry on supervising Kate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kate’s picnic

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

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

And just like that, the agenda is sealed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I pause at the doorway.

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

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

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

It’s cathartic.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jacob Ballas Garden

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

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

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

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

Related posts:

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

~ – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Increase birth rate? Dollars & cents and so much more

The latest Budget 2016 has included a new enhancement to the Marriage and Parenthood package.

The First Step Grant of $3000 will be deposited upfront into the CDA accounts of all newborn babies born from 24 March 2016.

Finance Minister Mr Heng Swee Keat kicked off the social portion of his maiden Budget speech in Parliament, describing Singapore as a “great place to raise a family”.

I have to acknowledge that the measures rolled out by the government over the past 15 years has been significant.

With 6 kids, every Budget became interesting to watch, as we wondered what new measures would be rolled out in a bid to encourage more couples to start a family.

Photo credit: Straits Times online

Over the years, the schemes that have been administered have helped families, such as the CDA co-savings scheme, more maternity and paternity leave, the Proximity housing grant, more childcare centres and tax incentives for working mothers (although this last incentive seems to be dulled by the recent cap on personal income tax), just to name a few.

So why has there not been any resounding success in raising Singapore’s birth rate?

Perhaps it’s time to address the intangibles.

Having been a part-time financial adviser for 10 years, I worked with many couples and singles addressing issues such as family budgeting, retirement savings, and leaving legacies for future generations.

We often discuss the topic of having children and they are curious and marvel at how the hubs and I can manage to raise so many kids in Singapore. I tell them that we do it by eschewing all conventional methods.

Some even joke that the measure of wealth is no more by the 5 ‘C’s, but by how many Cs you can afford to have – yes, children.

For many couples, it is not that they do not want children, but the top 2 reasons I hear over and over again as to why they are hesitant to have kids or would stop at 1 or 2 are always the same.

The first is the financial burden, and the other is the stressful environment the children have to grow up in.

Right from the O&G medical expenses, hefty pre-school fees, tuition, enrichment classes, all the way to university fees, the figures are mind-boggling.

Besides the already daunting financial obligations, people share with me that the picture of raising children in today’s society does not seem appealing at all.

They look at their siblings, friends or neighbours and witness how their lives have transformed into a mad rush.

From hectic weekdays trying to juggle work, school and logistics, to even busier weekends ferrying their kids from one class to another. Week nights are not spared either, with parents having to rush home to coach their children in spelling or upcoming tests. Everyone seems to be sucked into a spiralling pressure cooker.

The other big issue which impacts a woman’s decision to have more kids is the dilemma of having to choose between work and caring for her children.

It’s time mothers have real options.

You want to work full time? Plenty of jobs available.

You want to stay-at-home? We will support you.

You want to work part-time? Of course.

You want your young kids to be close to you at work? Why not?

You want time off to care for your sick children and to be there for all their important events? We totally understand.

We want a career landscape where we are able to find a good balance between work and family.

The way families are living their days is testimony to what other young couples would want to aspire to.

To see families enjoying their lives together, actually being happy, is the best advertisement to encourage young couples to start a family.

The day that Singapore is truly a great place to raise a family, will be the day you see birth rates increasing.

Because the ones who want to have kids will have them anyway, and those who are hesitant will not be swayed by dollars and cents.

~ – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Life Lesson #20: Will you teach your girls to find a rich husband?

Over Chinese New Year, the prying aunts were at it again, asking the single women when they were going to get married.

We may be so used to these obnoxious questions that none of us batted an eyelid, but to the listening children, they are forming their own views of societal norms of marriage via the discussions of trusted adults around them.

As parents, are we conscious about what messages we are conveying to our children?

Are we aware of the remarks we may have carelessly said without realising the impact they are having on our children?

Have we sat down and thought long and hard about what we want to teach our children about this very important matter?

I remember having a discussion with some mummy friends. I was griping about how miffed I was at my parents for buying #1 a pair of designer spectacles costing $500.

Here I was trying to teach them the value of  money, and there they were, spoiling them rotten. When I chastised my mum, she quickly pointed to my dad, “It’s your dad, not me.”

My dad looked baffled and said “The salesman said this is a special lens and the frame is very light. Since it helps her see properly in school, I don’t mind buying it for her.”

I expected the other mums to feel the same way as I did, but was surprised that we were split into 3 camps.

Some agreed that we shouldn’t let our kids get used to such luxuries and expensive items when they are young, especially since they are not earning their own keep. Others felt that if it were the grandparents spoiling them, that’s ok, as kids seem to understand that grandparents love and dote on them boundlessly.

I was surprised that the rest felt that there was nothing wrong bringing our girls up to enjoy luxuries as they will be used to that level of comfort and will expect no less from their future husbands. One friend mentioned that her mum taught her to marry a rich man so that she would not have to struggle like her mum did.

I was even more taken aback when a majority of the mums agreed that it is wise to teach our girls to find well-to-do husbands as that is being pragmatic, living in an expensive city like Singapore. They gave examples where after divorce, it is easier to bring the kids up when you have a higher alimony.

I left the discussion with a million thoughts swirling in my head. Have I been making comments too flippantly which are not aligned with the values I want to inculcate in them? Sometimes I joke with #1 that given her very expensive taste, she has to either earn a lot of money or marry a rich man.

I had never considered what all the listening kids might be extracting from statements such as these. Marriage = source of funds?

I pondered these questions and discussed them with close friends. I asked them what advice did their own mothers give them about marriage and we discovered that many of us in my generation did not have proper discussions with our parents and were not given sound advice about marriage and finding a life partner.

Instead, these were the more common refrains heard:

“Marry someone who loves you more than you love him”

“Marry wealthy man” (translated)

“Don’t marry xxx (race)”

For some, the closest advice they got regarding dating/marriage was, “Don’t get pregnant! or to the guys, “Don’t get any girl pregnant!”

And this one, “Don’t marry someone like your father!” we all laughed about, but isn’t it sad that many of our mothers felt this way? Possibly because that generation did not ‘wash their dirty laundry in public’, all that was seen was the false appearances of blissful marriages.

This topic became quite intriguing and I was curious about how couples ended up tying the knot. The more I asked around, the more I realised that in the void of good advice from our parents, many of us actually married for the wrong reasons.

Some were swept off their feet because the man was very handsome and owned a house and a nice car.

Some married caucasians because the romance of migrating to a foreign land was exciting while others “wanted a cute ang moh-looking baby”.

Some got married because they couldn’t wait to get out of their parents’ home and some did it because they have been together for many years and their friends were getting married one by one, so it was a natural progression to the “Which HDB should we get” discussion.

Some were pressured by parents or grandparents to tie the knot and start a family.

Now that we are married and wiser, we all agree that it is important to teach our children to seriously consider their choice of life partner and not just the circumstances surrounding the relationship before making such a huge commitment.

It is choosing someone you will want to spend the next 50 or more years with, raise a family with, and grow old together with. Isn’t that the most important decision they will ever make in their lives?

As parents, we know that a broken marriage is never easy for the children. It is important to guide them towards building strong and fruitful marriages and the first step is in providing them sound advice in finding the right spouse and teaching them that marriage is much more than the champagne and flowers on the wedding day or the ring, for that matter.

Being in a good marriage will bring them (and us!) much happiness, while being stuck in a miserable marriage becomes emotionally draining.

Neither do we want them to grow up thinking that something is wrong with them if they are not married by a certain age, nor feel the pressure to ‘just settle down’ because it is expected.

We all have diverse opinions of marriage and suitable life-partners, but as parents, it is good to start discussing with our children what are the ingredients of a healthy marriage before we let slip comments which have been ingrained in us by our own parents.

Although as life would have it, no matter how you try to guide your children, they will probably follow their hearts and give us sleepless nights with their choice of partners we might not approve of.

And we thought the ‘terrible twos’ or the defiant teenage phase would be the last we had to worry about.

What would you teach your child about marriage and finding the right partner? I would love to hear your views.

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

Life Lesson #2: Don’t over-sacrifice
Life Lesson #4: My bucket list
Life Lesson #6: Passion vs Family
~ – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

The kids finally got their first puppy

The kids have been begging for a dog for the longest time.

Like for 10 years. Especially #1 and #3.

I do want the kids to grow up with a dog. I really do.

But dogs are hard work, and they come with so much responsibility.

As if we weren’t busy enough trying to manage way too many kids to add pets into the fray.

I wasn’t going to be taken in by their cute little pleas promising to be responsible and all that, only to have them grow tired of the novelty of having a puppy and relegating the long term care of the dog to the helper.

Our new puppy in our garden

As a baby step, I did allow them to have terrapins and hamsters.

They were mildly responsible but finally gave them away to enthusiastic friends when they grew tired of looking after them.

A dog was a bigger consideration, and we would have to factor in time, space and money.

But do you know what was the real reason I was so opposed to them getting a dog?

I was simply terrified of dogs!

You see, my mum refused to let us have any pets when we were growing up because her dog died when she was young and she was adamant not to let us go through the same pain.

I had no contact with pets and became very afraid of them.

The thought of having a dog running around the house was unimaginable to me.

Of course, the kids never gave up on their dream and every year or so, they will badger the hubs, who loves dogs.

I reminded them of their previous pets and they vehemently protested, “a dog is different, mum!”

Over Christmas, they went at it again.

About how they are much older now and will promise to be responsible and how “all normal kids are allowed to have their own dog”.

Yeah, lay the mummy guilt on me.
I have to admit she’s an adorable pup
Over the past 2 years, we have frequently gone over to my sister-in-law’s house and her border collie is so well-behaved that I started to think that it is not so bad having a dog in the house.

He doesn’t growl at people, doesn’t bite nor bark, is toilet-trained, and does as he is told! He doesn’t bolt out of the gate nor wander up the stairs. He is such a sweetie and would come over to sit next to you.

Now that I have a much better impression of dogs, I was more open to the idea and gave the issue serious thought.

The kids are older and definitely more responsible than when they were little.

Besides, there are so many of them to share the work load of managing the dog.

We also have a much bigger space which can accommodate a dog, alongside the troop of kids.

I told them a pet is for life and even took them to SPCA to impress upon them the fate of dogs who get abandoned.

Coincidentally, the hub’s had a friend whose dog gave birth to 3 puppies and he was happy to give one to our kids.

The girls were simply elated!

Their dream had finally materialised.

The first few days, it was almost like we were welcoming a new baby.

The hubs was the pied piper and they were all fussing over the pup, watching her lap water from her bowl, taking her for her shower, teaching her to poo and pee at the right places.

Their friends came over after school to play with the puppy like how they did when Kate was small.

#3 said, “Mum, see, don’t you think you made an excellent decision this time? We are all down here instead of being cooped up in our rooms with our gadgets.”
Kids’ best friend
It’s been 2 weeks since the puppy has become a part of our family.

Their lives have changed.

They have a cute, loving pet to call their own and they fully understand the drudgery of taking care of a young thing.

After changing the soiled newspapers and wiping the floor for the umpteen time, #2 commented, “Mum, she’s like a baby, just a bit worse because she doesn’t pee and poo in her diaper.”

My life has changed too.

I am a quasi-prisoner in my own living room, and gone are the days where I can leave the sliding doors open for ventilation.

My house slippers are either missing or have saliva on them and I’m slowly getting used to having my toes chewed on when I’m working on my computer.

I get a mini-panic attack when I come down and can’t find her, and run around with Kate frantically calling her name and looking under the sofas and in every nook and cranny, all the while praying that she didn’t bolt out of the gate.

She’s just a puppy and hopefully all that will get sorted out eventually.

I wanted to name her Seven, and was voted out. But of course.

Guess this little pup will grow up with them and be the silent listener to all their joys and sorrows.
How fortunate.

The kids, and the puppy.

~ – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

A brother’s love

A couple of days ago, I was surprised to see #5 coming down the stairs in tears. As I was trying to find out what had happened, Kate bounded down behind him with a strange expression on her face.

Was that a smirk?!

Me: What happened?

Kate: I beat gor gor.

I went over to #5 and asked him where Kate had hit him. It must have hurt for him to be in tears.

The hubs heard the commotion and couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Besides, #5 has always been the big bully.

Hub: You are crying because your 3-year old sister hit you? You are 9! What’s the matter with you?

#5: She hit me on the head with a stool. It’s very painful.

gor gor always to the rescue

The hubs couldn’t understand how he could have been so silly to allow Kate to continue hitting him if it was painful.

I figured out what it was.

He was not silly.

He just loved his little sister so much that he could not bear to retaliate.

It was the first time she had done this and he probably did not expect that she could hit with so much force.

I gave him a big hug and told him that of course he was never to hit back, but next time, he should restrain her gently and tell her to stop because it hurts.

I called Kate over and gave her a stern look. Before I could even open my mouth, she quickly said, “Sorry mummy. Sorry gor gor. I love you gor gor.”

#5 brightened up and said, “it’s ok” and took her to find some toys to play with.

Little sisters.

I can see her walking all over him.

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’
Tip #10: 6 tips to stop tantrums in toddlers

~ – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Thankful… for the good and bad

As we approached the Christmas season, so much went through my mind. The past few months have been tough. A family member had a relapse of his mental illness and was warded in IMH. We went through a cash crunch and for the first time, the kids had to be denied things they were used to.

I looked around at our excesses and wonder if all these are necessary and I remember a time long ago when I wanted to be a nun, as I yearned for the simplicity of a zen life.

My kids, on the other hand, get sucked in to the commercialism and wish they were rich and can buy everything they set their eyes on. It accelerates into complains about everything, from our uninspired home decor to the boring dishes our helper serves up. Yes, they’ve been on too much Pinterest.

I keep telling them that if they constantly look at others with better things, they will be dissatisfied and unhappy. There will always be people who have more than us and people who have less. This holidays, they have had much less than past years, and I guess the silver lining is that henceforth, they will be more appreciative of the good life that we have been living all these years.

Thinking back to 2 Christmases ago where I couldn’t even walk, I knew I had so much to be thankful for. Being mobile and able to go wherever I wanted to, healthy children, a big family around us.

A few days ago, we accompanied the hubs up to K.L. for a meeting since the kids were on holiday. I was happy to be there but was griping about the horrendous traffic and for having to sit for hours in the jam.

My dad-in-law on the other hand, insisted on being picked up early so that he could spend time in the car with the kids. His priorities struck me. The inconvenience was irrelevant. He chose his priorities and stuck to it.

What a wonderful way to live our lives, instead of constantly being swayed by other people’s priorities or not even knowing what our priorities are.
Pavilion Mall in KL

We had some time to while away, and as we took in the extravagant display of thousands of sparkling crystals, something gnawed inside me.

What a show.

Are our lives a show?

In these very ‘showy’ times of Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest, my first response was to upload a pretty picture. However, it made me feel superficial at best and fake at worse.

Is this reflective of what our lives are at the moment? Or is it just to paint a picture to friends and readers?

On Christmas Eve after a beautiful service in church, we adjourned to my mum’s place for dinner, the same way we have celebrated for as long as I can remember.

It is a simple affair with family and close friends and it always feels like home. A place and time where we can be ourselves.

Big sis
I snapped this photo of Kate and her newest cousin.

She looks sagely matured and seems to know what is important.

Our relationship with one another.

I love how she grabbed hold of the little baby’s hand.

I will stay by you. Hold on to you. Pull you up. And everything will be a-ok!

May the joy and peace of Christmas fill your homes and hearts.
Merry Christmas!

“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has” – Epictetus

Thankful… for the hub’s cooking

Thankful… for our helper
Thankful… for my family
Thankful… for my mum-in-law

~ – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~