Kate’s Schedule at 18 months

This is Kate’s daily schedule at 18 months.

6.45 am: Wakes up and has her morning milk (180ml)
7.00 am: Tags along to send her gor gor to school
7.30 am: Breakfast
8.00 am: Plays by herself in the room while I shower

Playing her gor gor’s snap game

8.30 am: Goes to the park or playground
9.30 am: Heads home for a shower

Sidewalk chalk from Typo

10.30 am: Milk feed before nap (180ml). By right, babies should not be drinking milk before sleeping, however she has been used to doing this so I haven’t stopped it.

10.30 – 12.30: Naps for 2 hours in her crib

Sleeping like a baby

12.30 pm: Lunchtime!

She loves drinking soup

1.00 pm: Plays by herself if I’m cooking

Sorting toy

Currently Kate is still not able to fit the shapes correctly and I have to point it out to her. She gets a sense of satisfaction when she manages to get the shape to drop into the box. This is a suitable toy for 18 months because it can grow with the child and gradually she can match the correct shape.

Another suitable toy at this age are Mega blocks or the larger Lego blocks. A few months ago, Kate could pull them apart. Now she has no problems fitting them together. Great for their fine motor skills.

Concentrating hard on building her tower

1.30 pm: Tags along to pick the other kids up from school or CCA, or if everyone is back, they’ll be playing with her.

Waiting for her gor gor

2.30 pm: Afternoon milk feed (150ml)
Occupies herself with the other kids for the rest of the afternoon

5.00 pm: Goes to the playground as there are many other kids at the playground at this time. But sometimes I’m too lazy to take her and she’ll just play in our garden.

Loves nature

She loves the trips to the playground in the evenings as there are lots of other children’s skate scooters for her to ‘borrow’.

“Wow, that’s one neat looking scooter”
“This one doesn’t seem to have an owner”
6.00 pm: Dinnertime!
Our daily family dinner
She is daddy’s little girl and if she doesn’t hang out with her daddy for a while, she will be calling for him later when it’s time for bed.
Cuddles before bedtime

7.00 pm: Shower, night milk (180ml), brush teeth.

I know babies past the age of 1 should start to drink from a cup. Oh well, it’s just easier this way. I’ll probably do that when she turns 2!

The other kids will come in to cuddle and kiss her before she goes to sleep.

7.30 pm: Lights out and someone will lie with her (usually me, but the hubs or any of the other kids are able to put her to sleep when I’m not around). When she was younger, she would sleep in her crib. However, ever since around 15 months, she will only sleep in the crib for her naps, and will ask to sleep in our room for the night.

“Yummy warm milk”

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

School Stories #1: When your son gets into fights in school

As my first 4 kids are girls, problems in school usually revolve around friendships and ‘girl-type’ situations which I can handle and advice them on. However when #5 entered P1 last year, it was a shock for me as it was the first time that I received calls from his teacher telling me he was getting into fights. I know that boys fight all the time, but you are never ready to hear that such things involve your own son.

He got into 3 fights last year, and this year, he’s already gotten into 1 or 2 fights (I’m losing track of his fights). I’m sure he’s sounding like a big bully, but actually, he is really tiny. He’s the shortest in class and most of his friends are a good head taller than him. So what happened?

The first time I got a call, it was because he was playing with a friend and his friend was accidentally hit by him. While waiting at the pick-up point after school, they have about 15 minutes before parents are allowed in. Bored boys, 15 minutes and ‘weapons’ can only mean trouble waiting to happen. The boy started sparring with him using their calligraphy scroll case, and soon enough #5 accidentally hit him on the ear and it bled! The boy’s mum only found out when she was showering him and noticed the wound, so she called the teacher to inform her. I was worried about the boy and asked if his mum wanted to speak to me. The teacher said she did not, as no one was at fault (although they shouldn’t have been playing with the scroll cases) and it happened accidentally. 

Shortly after that incident, his teacher called me again. This time, he had shoved a boy and he fell and scrapped his knee and again, there was blood. Apparently, the boy kept taunting him and called him names like ‘baby’ and ‘shortie’ until he lost it and pushed him. I had taught him time and again never to start a fight, but he said that the boy started the fight using words. I explained to him that using words and using hands was different. If he used words, you can only use words to tell him to stop. And if he were to continue, then learn to walk away instead of retaliating. 

The third time his teacher called me, I could tell that she was getting exasperated at the fights which were occurring with more regularity, and that it always involved #5. This time, some boys were playing ball, and the ball rolled to #5’s feet. In trying to retrieve the ball, the boy somehow shoved him. He probably assumed the boy did it on purpose (as it was probably from behind) and he shoved back. Somehow, it turned into a fight, and 3 boys started to restrain #5. In trying to free himself, he wrestled his arm away and it accidentally hit a boy square on the nose, and again, it started bleeding. So as the teacher put it, “Your son keeps getting into fights.” I felt so sorry for the poor boys, and every time, I asked if the parents wanted to speak to me, but they didn’t. 

All the hubs and I could do was to again explain to him that no matter under what circumstances, it is wrong to get into a fight, unless of course the other person is going overboard and there are no teachers or adults in sight and you have to defend yourself. We think that because of his tiny size, he uses all his might in a fight to try and prove himself. We tried using both the carrots and sticks method, by stating our punishments if he were to get into another fight, and also telling him his reward if he doesn’t get into anymore fights. It seemed to work, and he didn’t get into anymore fights last year.

However, this year he got into a fight. He fought with 4 boys and ended up scratching one of them quite badly. The strange thing was that after the fight during recess, they all returned to class and everything was back to normal. The boys were still best friends and when questioned by the teacher, nobody said that #5 started it and nobody even admitted that they were hurt in anyway. It was the girls who informed the teachers that 5 boys were fighting during recess, and that #5 started it. Apparently, they were all playing with a plastic bottle and one of the boys called him a cheater and said he was not following the rules. Somehow, that ended up in a fight. A friend who has 2 boys tell me that that’s how boys solve their problems. Have a problem? Fight it out there and then and then it’s settled. No hard feelings.

His teacher called me to inform me about it as per protocol. I told her honestly, the hubs and I don’t know how else to handle this. I asked her if there was a school counsellor and I would like him to see the counsellor. I would be more than happy to work with him and enforce any skills and strategies at home. She said there is and will arrange for it.

Sometime after that, I bumped into his VP in the corridors and I took the opportunity to speak to her as he was sent to her after the fights. She was grateful that I touched base with her and told me that I was doing the right thing. She had seen many boys in secondary school get into much worse trouble and by then, the boys are bigger, stronger and more defiant and it is extremely challenging to deal with them.

I think in Singapore, many people are still not comfortable with the idea of seeing counsellors or psychologists whether for ourselves or our children. I have spoken to many foreigners and they don’t see it as having any sort of stigma attached. They describe it as akin to taking our car for servicing, to make sure that everything is working properly and to deal with issues before they escalate. Sometimes, it is hard for us to see the problems and it helps for a professional to point it out and to work through the issues together.

#5 has just started seeing his school counsellor, so let’s see how that goes. And hopefully I won’t get anymore calls from his teacher.

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PSC Scholarship? Wow
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PSLE results: A test of the parents more than the child

ECHA – The mother of all awards

School Stories:

#1 – When your son gets into fights in school
#2 – My son the loan shark
#3 – So kids can’t play once they start school?

#11 – How #2 topped her level in English
#12 – DSA. Yet another initiative parents have warped
#13 – Tuition – First line of attack?
#14 – Why do exams have to be so stressful?
#15 – First day mix up!
#16 – The day I forgot to pick my son from school
#17 – No more T-score. Now what?
#18 – Tackling the new school year
#19 – She did it, without tuition.
#20 – So who’s smarter?
#21 – Why I do not coach my kids anymore.


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

10 things Kate has gained from Gymnademics

We have come to the 10th session of our pre-fellow class sponsored by Gymnademics. Here’s 10 things Kate has taken away with her after a term.

1. She is able to follow the actions of the songs.

When she first started out, she had no clue how it works and she would just sit there and absorb everything. Now, she knows how to sing all the words to the reply and do the actions.

“Kate, Kate, are you here?”

She can sing the words and pat her tummy at the same time.

“Yes, yes, I am here”

She is responsive and can understand what is expected of her. I think that is very impressive at 16 months (if I can say so myself). Don’t remember the other 5 being able to do that. But then again, she is the 6th child after all!

Ringing the bell at the end of the greeting song

2. She can walk the balance beam with just 1 finger assistance.

At her first lesson, she wasn’t even able to put one foot in front of the other. Teacher Aly had to assist her in placing her feet one after another on the beam and she was very unsteady. 

Just keep looking straight, baby

Midway through the 10 lessons, she slowly improved and could place her feet one in front of the other with us holding both her arms for support. Now, she only needs to hang on to one of our fingers to steady herself.

Steady does it

She can even turn her head and be a ‘kay-po’ to see what her friend is doing.

“Something more interesting going on?”

3. She allows the teachers to handle her to do the gym exercises.

Previously, she refused and would just watch the other kids. The teachers encouraged us to practice the ‘wheelbarrow’ with them at home as it helps to strengthen their arms, hands and finger muscles which is important for many skills, including writing.


4. She discovered music (And I discovered that she loves music!)

She’s always wandering off to the corner to play with the bells and tinkle on the piano. We have a piano at home but it had never occurred to me before to let her play on it. I just started to introduce it to her at home and she loves it.

Watching what is happening yet can’t resist the bells

5. I have learnt a lot from the teachers as they are very knowledgable and willing to explain. 

The teachers shared with us that this is the wrong way of sitting as this posture puts unnecessary stress on the lower spine. Now that I am aware, I am able to correct her.

Kate tends to sit in this posture

6. She has made a friend.

Let’s make music together

One straight ‘A’s student and one trying to distract her

7. She loves the teachers.

Tactile awareness

Most of the teachers have either a degree or diploma in Early childhood education, psychology or are trained as child play specialists.

“And we reach up high!”

Every lesson, they get to swing on the trapeze as it improves their grip and expands their lungs. She tried the trapeze during her first lesson but refused to do it anymore after that.

Watches from afar
Inches towards the action

Teacher Aly wanted to gradually get her to lose her fear of the trapeze by just giving it a hi-5. But Kate’s not having any of it!

Runs away when it’s her turn!
8. Kate finally overcame her fear of the trapeze

Well to be precise, the pictures for this post were taken on the 9th lesson. (I didn’t want to wait till the very last lesson just in case something unforeseen cropped up and I am unable to fulfil my review obligations). On the 10th and final lesson, lo and behold, Kate suddenly overcame her fears and happily swung on the trapeze! Just like that. This reminded me that we should never give up on them in any aspect as they will surprise us one fine day.

They do 5 swings each time

Well, the only thing is that she’s still a wanderer… (while the others are engrossed in what the teachers are showing them).

Anyone come to catch me back yet?

9. But it’s without a doubt that she had lots of fun.


10. And.. she’s really proud of herself.

I think i’ve done well 🙂

These 10 lessons have also reinforced for me that to have quality output, you first need to have quality input. At Gymnademics, they focus on all the developmental areas including visual competence, auditory competence, tactile competence, mobility, language, and manual competence.

For Kate’s mid-term post and their fee structure, click here.

Safra Toa Payoh
293 Toa Payoh Lorong 6
Singapore 319387
Tel: 62590307

Disclaimer: Gymnademics has sponsored Kate a term of lessons. They have also sponsored the giveaway. All opinions are my own.

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

Life Lesson #8: Teach our children compassion by little actions

Many friends who have been to Taiwan tell me how impressed they are by the kindness of the Taiwanese people. They relate stories of how at the train station, once they approach a flight of stairs, many pairs of hands will miraculously appear to help them carry their stroller down. When they have kids in tow or are pregnant, it is common for passer-bys to help them hail a taxi or give them a hand with their luggage.

I finally had a chance to speak to a Taiwanese lady whom I met at the playground. I was really curious as to how this culture of kindness and compassion was imbued in their people. She explained to me that from the time they are young, they see such kind acts modelled all around them, and they are also explicitly taught by their parents and teachers in schools until it becomes second nature to them. She gave me an example of a rule they had in school. If you were sitting in a public bus and managed to get a seat, you had to help hold the school bags of fellow schoolmates who were standing. This was because the bags were heavy and the buses were usually very crowded and jerky.

She said that in the village where she grew up in, if a stranger was cycling to get to another place and ended up near someone’s house when it got dark, the occupants will offer him a meal and allow him to stay in their house until the next morning. Wow, wonderful kampung spirit. I’m sure it was like that here during our grandparents’ time. My mum told me that when she was little, one neighbour held the keys to the entire floor’s apartments. All the other adults were out working and that ‘auntie’ would be in charge of opening the doors to delivery people, repairmen, or to check in on the school-going children.

However, in present day Singapore the majority of people are self-sufficient, so hardly anyone needs to rely on strangers for help. Children thus grow up without much firsthand experiences of charitable acts towards strangers.
Kate’s cousin sharing her fruit with her

So what can we do? For me, I try to extend simple gestures of kindness to people I come into contact with on a daily basis. For example, we were at our neighbourhood provision shop and I was having a conversation with the owner’s 8-year-old son. Somehow we started talking about cooking and he said he wished he could learn to cook but his mum did not have time to teach him. I told him #5 was able to follow the kids cookbook, but he said he didn’t have any. Simple. I lent him our Geronimo Stilton cookbook, but his mum was apprehensive that the recipes might call for expensive ingredients. I told her that after he had decided on what he wanted to cook and if he needed stuff like a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, I could bring it over.

Just last week, I was at #1’s school fun-fair with the kids. As we were leaving, I saw a group of youths hanging around under the void deck. I don’t exactly know what had transpired, but suddenly I realised that one boy had been punched in the eye and was bleeding. He did look like the typical punk, with shaven head, tattoos, and low slung jeans. There was a clinic right where we were and they went in. Apparently, the doctor instructed them to go to the hospital. I saw them trying to hail a cab, but when I had made a u-turn to go home, they still hadn’t managed to get a cab. I drove over and sent them to the hospital. As a mother, my heart went out to him and all I could do was to pray for him. I asked if any of their parents had been called and they said no. Kate was crying the whole journey because she was probably distressed by the bunch of them suddenly entering the car. I started to sing a nursery rhyme to calm her down and they joined in! Needless to say, they were immensely thankful for the ride.

The hubs and I never set out to show kindness to those around us for the sake of teaching our kids compassion. But I have come to realise that because they are around us and observing what we do, they are slowly catching it. How wonderful if the children of today were constantly surrounded with acts of kindness and compassion.

I was heartened to hear #1 share with me her little kind act while on her way to school one morning. She saw an elderly lady pushing a heavy trolley and she helped her to carry it up the stairs and to her destination before walking back to school. (I’m not sure if I would have been so forthcoming with my energy at 6.30am in the morning!) #1 was beaming and I could see how proud of herself she was.

She also related another little incident which made me laugh. One morning upon reaching the bus stop, she realised that she had left her wallet at home. I knew she wouldn’t have had time to go home so I asked her what did she do? She said in a very matter-of-fact manner that she simply approached an elderly lady to ask for $1 (because they are usually very kind), which she gave. After that, she was on the lookout for that old lady every morning, and finally she saw her again and returned the dollar. What struck me was that she must have considered kindness and compassion as a normal part of life to have approached a stranger for money. Her siblings asked her in disbelief, “You seriously did that?” And her reply: “Ya, why not?” Ah, the kampung spirit is alive and well.
The best portion of a good man’s life is his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love. ~ William Wordsworth

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
Linking up with:
~ www.mummyweeblog.com – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

A day in the life of a stay-at-home-mum of 6

When people hear that I have 6 kids, they always ask me how I manage them, after which they want to know what my days are like. Here’s a peek at what a typical school day looks like for me.

7.00 am: Send 2 of them to school with Kate along for the ride. The other 3 are either on school bus or public bus.

7.30 am: Feed Kate her breakfast and have a quick bite as well (usually her leftovers).

8.30 am: Take Kate to the playground. We rotate the playgrounds in our neighbourhood, if not she gets bored of them.

She loves sand play.. who doesn’t?

9.30 am: Take Kate home for a shower and our helper settles her down for her nap at 10.30.

10.00 am: Either breakfast with the hubs and running of errands, brunch with friends or yoga.

12.30 pm: Feed Kate her lunch and play with her before the rest comes back.

1.00 pm: Cook lunch for the kids if helper is busy with housework or if the kids have specially requested for something e.g. #4 will say “Mummy, can you make me baked rice tomorrow for my lunch when I’m back from school”.

1.30 pm: Pick 2 of them up from school if they are not staying back.

2.00 pm: Have lunch with whoever is home while keeping an eye on Kate. We’ll chat about their school day and it’s usually this time straight after school when they are bursting with things to share with you.

3.00 pm: Pick #1 from the bus-stop, fix her a salad and sit and chat with her about her day. The rest of the kids will either be doing their homework, playing with Kate, reading, or wasting time doing what-not. We have a no TV, no computer/ipad rule on school days.

#1’s salad: Tomatoes with baby mozerella

4.00 pm: Off to pick #4 from school after her CCA (the 3 youngest have their CCAs on different days so it works out perfect for picking them up). If Kate follows me, she will play with #4 and her friends in school for awhile before we head home. But if #3 is free, she will take care of Kate and I’ll go alone to pick her. I’ll take the opportunity to take #4 for one-on-one time somewhere nearby where we’ll grab a bite and chat while she does her homework. On days where no one stays back and I’m home with them, we’ll either be hanging around the kitchen making some snacks like ice lollies or their own culinary creations (read: peanut butter and cheese sandwich with blueberries squashed in between), going over to my sister-in-law’s place for tea, or the kids will jump into the bathtub and have some water fun with Kate if the weather is really hot (which is most of the time!).

5.00 pm: Watch Kate while the helper prepares dinner. The younger ones usually play in the garden with her or sometimes we all head off to the playground. If anyone has school stuff for me to sign or requests for supplies or other issues for the next day, I’ll get it settled.

6.00 pm: Dinner time! The older 2 come back late twice a week on CCA days, so they’ll eat by themselves later.

Dinner is at 6pm everyday

7.00 pm: See that everyone has their shower and are settling down to prepare for school the next day.

7.30 pm: Remind #5 to brush his teeth and get into bed. (Yes, I have to remind him everyday, if not he’ll read past his bedtime).

7.45 pm: Pick #2 from the bus stop as it’s dark and she’s tired after a long day at school, and it gives me a few minutes to chat with her about her day. Warm up her dinner and sit with her for 5 minutes to finish our conversation.

8.00 pm: Read to #4 before she goes to bed.

8.30 pm: Read to #3 before she goes to bed (they are in separate rooms and have different bedtimes).

(Nowadays, Kate doesn’t want the helper to settle her to sleep so I have to do it. Some days, I fall asleep while doing that so the bedtime stories for #3 and #4 doesn’t happen)

9.00 pm: Check if #1 or #2 have any other things they need me to settle or discuss.

9.30 pm: Exhausted. Unwind and relax by blogging. In. Peace. I have never liked watching TV or surfing the Net, so previously, I used to read or sleep. Now, by blogging, I am able to sieve through all the thoughts swirling in my head and by putting it all down, somehow it clears my mind and I know what to focus on.

So, this is what I do everyday, day in day out. Honestly, it is quite enjoyable as the 5 older kids are between the ages of 7 and 15 and we can have proper conversations about things they learn in school or issues they are facing. When they were younger, a typical day revolved around feeding them, showering them, changing diapers, putting them to bed, cleaning up spills, breaking up squabbles, carrying them when they are cranky, disciplining them, yelling at them. Sounds chaotic? Imagine doing all of that on 4 hours of sleep every night, and being pregnant half the time. Sometimes, I don’t know how I did all of that without running away. Hmm, I think there WERE many times I wanted to run away! So yes, life is great now. Well, if I didn’t know the bitter, I wouldn’t be able to appreciate the sweet right?

Here’s what a typical Saturday of ours looks like.

To read how having 6 kids has changed my life, click here.

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

Life Lesson #6: Passion vs Family

In one of my previous lessons, I mentioned that as mothers, we tend to over-sacrifice for our children at the expense of our own needs. Recently, I had a rather interesting conversation with a friend’s husband, and it got me thinking about a different kind of sacrifice. What happens when your hobby is in direct conflict with your family life? His hobby is mountaineering, and now that he has children, he is in a dilemma. Does he forgo his passion for the sake of his family? Because there is definitely an element of danger attached to his hobby. The obvious thing for him to do, as some people would conclude, is to give up his hobby as the risk is not worth it. However, as any avid adventurer would explain, their hobby is so much a part of their lives that after some months of staying at home, it feels as if something is not quite right. And like he says, he misses the mountains, the freedom of the space, the exhilaration.

As the conversation went on, he pointed out that actually, a lot of people are in a somewhat similar situation, where they have to consider giving up one for the other. He gave an example of a freelance artist. This person may have been very happy doing commissioned paintings every now and then. However, after the children came along, the irregular pay check starts to be a problem for the family and he is pressured into ‘looking for a proper job that can pay the bills’. I’m sure there are lots of people facing such a scenario. And they probably end up in a ‘proper job’ which they don’t look forward to. If only we could marry the two. Where our passions can generate sufficient income for the family. 

For us stay-at-home-mums, it’s a tough job where we go to work with no knock-off time. Don’t even think about hobbies and passions. However, after recognising that I need to spare a thought for myself and subsequently penning down my bucket list in my previous post, things started churning. A friend read that I wanted to give talks and told me about the charity centre where she had been giving talks. So the date is set, and I’m going to give my first talk in more than 10 years! Guess what the topic is? Parenting 6 kids without going mad or broke! Hope that people will actually turn up to listen to what I have to share. I have also booked a trip to take my mum on a pilgrimage next month. This is all so exciting. I was just declaring to a close friend, “I feel alive!”

Now I am starting to get an inkling of how people who have to give up their hobbies and passions feel. And I realise just how important it is to have passion in our lives. It drives us, motivates us, makes us come alive!
“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living” – Nelson Mandela

P.S: For those of you SAHMs where your hands are full, don’t think too much about it. All in good time. There’s a season for everything. Now is your season to nurture your children and plant deep roots. Throw your passion into being the best mum you can be! There is nothing like parenthood to grow a person. I’m sure you will emerge from this wiser, more giving, and more humane. 

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
Linking up with:

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

Life Lesson #2 – Don’t over-sacrifice

Being a mother comes with a lot of sacrifices. Not only on a daily basis, but sometimes we even put our careers, our hobbies, or even our hopes and dreams on hold for our children. For years, I didn’t see the night sky as I stopped going out with the hubs or with friends for dinner because you could either call that prime time with the kids or ‘the witching hour’, whereby I had to see to dinner, baths and bed. And of course, after all that was done, I would be so exhausted that some days I would fall asleep while putting them to bed even before they fell asleep!

And because we have done so much for them, we get upset when we feel unappreciated or taken for granted. Worse, when they were around the ages of 8 or 9, sometimes they would say things like they liked daddy better because daddy plays Play Station with them and lets them watch movies and play the iPad. Here we are, doing all the hard work and sacrificing almost everything for them, yet daddy just waltzes in and is the favourite parent. Thankfully, I had a very good bunch of SAHM friends and we managed to laugh at the irony of it all as we were in the same boat.

Jokes aside, the greater issue here is that I have seen women in my mum’s generation who have spent most of their lives sacrificing for their families, and now that they are reaching the end of their lives, they could be silently regretful or even resentful. They may have given up their careers, their passions, or even hung on to an unhappy marriage just for the sake of the children. 

And if somehow their children end up being unfilial, or perhaps even filial children who might be faced with the constrains of taking care of their own families and have not enough time, money or energy left for them, they may feel very sad or bitter. But can they blame their children? After all, the children did not even know what had transpired and definitely did not ask their mums to give up everything for them. But as mums, that’s just what we tend to do. To put everyone else’s needs before our own.


I have a whole long list of ‘Things I want to do when the kids are older’. But I’ve come to the realisation that I should stop putting my life on hold for the children (after all, I’ve already devoted 15 years to them), and think out of the box to see if there are things I have always wanted to do that can be worked around the family, and start from there. Because I sure don’t want to reach a point when I am old and be full of resentment at my kids or angry at myself. And even if my kids end up being filial and try their best to make me happy, I might still be discontented as I was not able to fulfil all the things I wanted to do in life. Perhaps I’ll share my bucket list in another post.

So I’m going to seriously look at my list, and even though my hands are already full taking care of the 6 of them, I will spare a thought for myself. Because if I don’t I may end up being unhappy which will make my family unhappy, and even if they wanted to, they can’t turn the clock back for me. I don’t want to be on my deathbed with a heart full of regrets at a life half lived.

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

Linking up with:


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

How to use your children’s hong bao money to teach them financial literacy

When the kids were younger and we took them out, they would invariable ask to buy something. I would have 5 incessant pleas of “Mom, can I buy this… please?” If I said no, they would take another item and say “What about this? Please?” It drove me nuts. And I would have to make a decision to allow the purchase or not. Sometimes just to get them out of my hair so I could shop properly, I would allow them to buy the toys if they were not too expensive. Or if some days they kept badgering me until I lost my patience, it was “All cannot buy!”

So I started thinking about this issue seriously. What did I want them to learn about money? I wanted to teach them to make the decisions themselves, to decide if the item was necessary and if it was value for money. I also wanted to teach them to spend within their means, and to learn values like thrift and charity. And I definitely wanted them to know that money didn’t grow on trees, which I concluded when I was young, as my parents bought me everything I asked for.

I was a financial consultant for a decade, and I saw too many adults not having the proper financial skills needed in life. It did not matter if they were earning $2,000 or $20,000. They could be making the same mistakes and I realised that it was not only how much you earned but what you did with your money that mattered.

I formulated a plan. I realised that giving them a little extra in pocket money and teaching them to save to buy something did teach them delayed gratification, but not much else. So I didn’t use their pocket money as a teaching tool. I gave them $1 per day for recess starting from Primary 1, with an increment of $0.50 every 2 years. That was to cover their food in school. For all other purchases, I allowed them to keep a small portion of the money collected during Chinese new year, which they were free to use as they pleased for the rest of the year. 

$200 to last them a year

This program commences the year they enter Primary 1. For me, I need to standardise everything so that it’s fair and easy for me to remember. However, based on your own family’s needs, you can start the child at an earlier or later age as you deem appropriate. Generally, kids from 0-4 are contented with hand-me-downs and creating fun out of simple or recycled objects. It is around the age of 4 onwards where they start to ask for particular toys as seen on TV or something their friends have. So at that age, I started to discuss and teach them simple concepts such as what are needs and wants and how much toys cost in relation to something else. For example, I told #5 that a box of Lego ninjago can buy us 20 packets of chicken rice, and his eyes widened in surprise. When they reached 6, that’s when I started to give them a lump sum from their hong bao money to allow them the opportunity to learn the financial lessons themselves.

This is how I derived the figure – I roughly estimated what I was currently spending on each child in 1 year on non-necessities like toys, watches, fancy stationary etc. I rounded it down, and was comfortable with a figure of $200 per child per year to spend as they like. The rest of the money went into their bank account, which is earmarked for their tertiary education. (Another option is to start them off on a smaller amount for the first couple of years, say $100, before increasing it as they get older).

The first time #3 had her money, she was overjoyed and spent it freely. She bought all sorts of cute stationary from her school bookshop, toys when we went to the malls, and even knick-knacks for her friends. I didn’t chastise her as I wanted her to learn the lessons on her own. Within a few short months, she was shocked to find that her wallet was empty. She came to me and told me tearfully that she was ‘wallet-krupt’. I didn’t quite understand, until the older girls told me that it’s not her bank account that was depleted, but her wallet. She watched in misery for the rest of the year as the others had money to spend. It also taught them generosity as there were occasions when the others had money to buy something and she didn’t, and they bought it for her, knowing that she had fallen on ‘tough times’. The favour would be repaid the following year when her finances were better. All these situations mimic real life, and they are teaching moments which can be used to reinforce the things they are doing right and to teach them other options if they are not quite on the right track. I figured that it was better for them to make the mistakes when they are young, than to learn the hard way when they are older and the amounts are more substantial.

So for #3, I instructed her to gather all the things she bought that year, and she was puzzled as to where the money went as there was not much to show for it. She realised that $2 here and $5 there amounted to a lot of money, and she regretted buying some of the items which she didn’t even want anymore. The next year, she was much more prudent with her buys and by the end of the year, she still had a good portion of the money left.

As for the rest, #1 is very meticulous and she notes down every little purchase and carefully budgets her money to ensure it lasts her the year. #2 never liked shopping and saved almost all of her money. #4 was very careful with her buys from the get-go as she saw what happened to #3. Last year was the first time #5 had his money and he readily spent it all on Lego and didn’t mind that the rest of the year he had no money left as he spent the year happily playing with what he had bought. Let’s see if his spending pattern changes over the years. It was also really interesting to see how their characters were reflected in their spending habits.

When they reached Primary 5, I gave each of them a little notebook to record their purchases. They will write down the item, how much they have to begin with, how much the item costs, and their balance. This allows them to look back after a year to see if the purchases were worth it or not. If they were still using the items and it was serving them well, that’s good as they got a lot of mileage out of it. They will put a tick under the ‘Note’ if it was a wise buy and a cross if it was not a good buy. It can then be seen at a glance if a majority of their purchases were good or not, and they can try to improve on that the next year. They also naturally realised that a lot of stuff they bought were useless or bought on the spur of the moment. This leads them to consider more carefully in future before they bought something.

Cashbook to record their purchases

The only times they get presents are during their birthdays and Christmas. During the year, if they want something which would take up a sizeable chunk of their money, they will note it down, and if some months later they still want that item, they will request it for Christmas, either from us, their grandparents, or their aunts and uncles. That teaches them delayed gratification and also helped cut down a lot of unnecessary spur of the moment “I really want” type of purchase, only to regret it later.

Sane tip: The best part of my program? No more “Mom, pleassse, just this 1 thing?” I can now shop in peace while they are busy figuring if they should buy an item, or comparing prices, or sharing info with each other about where to get cheaper and nicer items which they were looking for. And instead of thinking that “Mom is mean” when I refuse to buy them something, they are empowered to make a wise decision. They have also learnt the very important skill of budgeting and spending within their means. Giving to charity has also taken on more significance to them, as it is given out of their own pocket.

Save tip: I have saved quite a lot of money, because now, everything comes out of their $200, even concert tickets! They used to bug me to take them to Hi 5Disney on ice, and High School Musical when they were younger. A concert outing could easily set me back $500, not only for tickets for everyone, but they also wanted those silly wand sticks or ice balls which cost more than $10 each! After they turned 6 and had to spend their own money, they bought it once, forking out $68 each. After the show, I asked them if it was worth their money. They replied that it was not bad, but that I had taken them to enough concerts over the years and that they wouldn’t go the next year (that was what I had been trying to tell them all along!) And of course, they did not part with their money to buy any of the overpriced memorabilia after the concert. The good thing is that you can still take them to any concerts or events which you feel you want them to be exposed to, and believe me, the kids will be so grateful to you for paying for it 🙂

Here are more tips on how to keep their birthday parties within $100 while equipping them with financial skills like planning and budgeting.

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