Kate’s bedtime routine… or mine?

One of my hot buttons is that the kids go to bed on time.

They know that I get really angry if they sleep late during school nights.

Not enough sleep = poor concentration & immunity lowered = falling sick and spreading germs to the others = overtired & grumpy mummy.

Lately, the bedtime routine of the 2 youngest ones is starting to drive me crazy.

Kate’s babies

Kate & #5 sleep in the same room, and after showering and brushing their teeth, they get in bed by 7.30pm. Nice.

But then the real routine begins.

I read Kate her bedtime stories while #5 reads to himself.

There’s always the “one more, pleaseeee”, while trying to put on her cutest face. We have settled on 5 books, although she is using the 1 to 1 correspondence skill (or lack of) to try and wriggle a few more books into the 5.

Then it’s lights out.

I am constantly surprised how kids can think of so many things to do in semi-darkness.

“I want to sleep here, next to mummy.” Shuffle, shuffle. Silence for 3 seconds.

“I don’t want to sleep at the bad guy side.” (the side closest to the wall) More shuffling.

“I have no space!” Nudging, pushing, shoving.

Stop moving both of you, and go to sleep!

Silence for 10 seconds.

“I have a mosquito bite on my arm. I need to put oil.” No. Sleep.

“I need. I need!” Ok quickly put oil and lie down.

#5 will take the opportunity to start telling some jokes.

Enough, both of you! Keep quiet!

#5: “I need to use the toilet.” You just went!

“I need!” Ok. GO!

And this can go on until 8.30.

Some days, I get so worked up I start yelling at them.


Then I lose it and start ranting.

“Why must you two keep on messing around until I get angry, yell at you before you sleep? WHY??” Can’t you yada yada yada…

Some days, when I’ve had a tough day, I cut myself some slack and just GIVE UP.

I lie down, close my eyes, and let all their talking and quibbling wash over me, and tell myself that they will fall asleep.

When it felt like they will go on forever, I open my eyes, ready to hiss some orders.

But then, I see them doing the simplest, sweetest things. Being siblings.

Sibling love

And I let it slide.

Ah well, sometimes, these precious moments are worth the delayed bedtime.

#5 will eventually be knocked out as he wakes up at 5.30am to catch the school bus.

But Kate? She will be busy arranging and re-arranging her soft toys, softly singing lullabies to them, and patting them to sleep.

At this juncture, if the hubs walks into the room, in my drowsy state, I can hear him say, “She put you to sleep again?”

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

More than just a Market – Bukit Batok East Market

Most of our grocery shopping is done at the supermarket with the kids, but on weekends, the hubs goes to the market early in the morning to buy fresh meat and seafood. He does the marketing as he’s the one who cooks up a storm at home so he knows exactly what to get. He is comfortable with the wet market because he grew up accompanying his dad on their weekly market runs.

For me, my mum used to go to the wet market every single day without fail, but us kids had to stand at the side and wait because “the floor is very dirty and slippery”. So we never had any firsthand experience in learning to choose the freshest fish nor managed to pick up tips on using which pork/chicken parts for what dishes. Pity.

This may sound strange, but I view going to the market as a mini excursion, and take Kate to different markets during the school holidays to while away the morning while the older ones are still asleep. Markets are the most happening places to be at 7.30am!

I like visiting markets which have more than just the wet market/food centre and have discovered a lovely market in Bukit Batok where we like to stroll around and soak in the sights and sounds, while picking up one or two small bags of fresh produce. Nothing too serious.

Love the riot of colours
BUKIT BATOK EAST MARKET (Blk 278 Bukit Batok East Ave 3)

This market is not your usual layout, and is basically one long stretch of stalls under the block. The pathway is relatively clean and dry, but with the morning crowd, it does get rather crammed.

Bukit Batok Market

Let’s start our tour at this corner vegetable stall. You can spot it easily on the weekends by the long queue. The price of the vegetables are the lowest around, so the aunties are happy to stand in line to weigh and pay. They would ‘chope’ their spot in the queue with their basket while they grab a few more items. I have great respect for these aunties who can easily prepare the ‘3-dishes-1-soup’ type of meal daily, while keeping it all within their budget.

Queuing to pay
There are the requisite stalls selling chicken, pork, seafood and beef, but to be honest, I have no clue which stall is ‘better’. If I need to buy some meat, I would look for a stall with people waiting, as it is usually a good indication of their popularity!

As you walk along, you will see this stall selling just bananas and papayas! Kate loves to stop and buy a small bunch of bananas, and we will sit on a bench and enjoy it together. After she is done, she will run around and chase the birds. I love the atmosphere of this whole area, as it has a charming ‘neighbourhood’ relaxed vibe about it.
As with any market, there is a shop selling dried goods, sauces, and spices. Occasionally I will buy ikan bilis from here to fry as toppings for their porridge.
Dried provisions
The only stall I patronise more frequently is this yong tau fu stall. I love yong tau fu, and the wide variety means that I can get each of the kids’ favourites. Not only that, the auntie doesn’t mind me buying just a $1 portion of noodles as only #5 loves to eat the fat yellow noodles (some atas markets have a minimum of $2). And I can’t go far wrong with yong tau fu. For the younger kids, I just throw them in some soup with the noodles, while I cook them in laksa broth for the older ones. Quick and yummy!

If I need to get some fresh cod or promfret for the kids, I’ll buy it from this stall right opposite the yong tau fu stall.
We have reached the end of the wet market stalls. Now let’s backtrack to the opening where you will notice the egg stall. On this perpendicular street, there are more going-ons. You will hear aunties demonstrating the latest ‘cleaning cloth’ or some multi-functional kitchen gadget, and surprisingly, there will be a crowd standing around rapt with attention!

I get our fruits from this stall which carries a wide variety of fruits. I have learnt that the price of fruits defer quite significantly depending on which market you buy from. So don’t forget to compare prices, my dear auntie wannabes!
Also on the same stretch is this kueh kueh stall. I love these traditional snacks. Sadly, my kids don’t know how to appreciate these and the only thing they would eat is the colourful ‘9 layer kueh’.

As #1 was taking photos of this stall (yes, I dragged her along bright and early to help me with the photos as the stalls are too dim for my phone camera) she spied the colourful baskets with the piggy biscuits and exclaimed, “Mum! We used to eat those during lantern festival.”

Here’s a fun fact I discovered about the cute little biscuits. The story goes that in order not to waste food in the old days, people would use the leftover dough from making mooncakes to make these little piglets without filling. They are literally translated as “Pig cage biscuit” because the plastic cage resembles the traditional bamboo cages used to transport pigs.

As we were leaving the market, #1 spotted this uncle sitting on a little stool with the cardboard boxes he has collected and neatly folded to sell. This photo brilliantly captures the spirit of our pioneer generation. Of self-reliance, resilience, and being unashamed to do an honest day’s work.

I really hope our young people will not slide down the slippery path of thumping their noses to jobs they deem below themselves. I am also glad that the government is taking care of our pioneer generation, who not only gave their all to build our country, but who now face the brunt of the rising cost of living. 

And I hope that 50 years later, the ubiquitous but diminishing neighbourhood markets will still be around, rich with the sights, sounds, and smells which are so much a part of our home.

Singapore’s ‘Uncles’

This post is part of a blog train hosted by Life’s Tiny Miracles, to celebrate this unique aspect of our Singaporean way of life – our markets. 

Next up on To Market, To Market is Pamelia, who is a busy mum of three. She’s always planning the next adventure or activity with her three kids! In her free time, she’s either playing with flowers or just sitting down to enjoy a cup of coffee.

Hop aboard our blog train and read about other local markets in Singapore.

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

Life Lesson #18: What do you do when you get sick of parenting?

I came across this on social media which read, “Best books to help you recharge when you’re sick of parenting”.

I was just feeling that way, but never did it cross my mind that I could be sick of parenting.

I was nudging Kate upstairs to take a shower, and after getting her in and hearing her whines of “bathe myself!“, I gave up the fight and sat on the bed while allowing her to shower herself. I was tired of these daily struggles. The battles fluctuate with her moods. One time it was no want to bathe! Another was no want to wash hair! Yet another was I don’t want to come out!

Why oh why do kids not behave like robots and sweetly do whatever you ask of them?

I was getting tired of parenting, but I dared not even admit that to myself. It was my job, naturally. My life. My duty. How could I be feeling that way?

To see those words in print, normalising it, actually liberated me in some way. Others felt the same way too! And I could acknowledge it. I am sick of attending to her calls of being taken to the potty, sick of having to wrestle the toothbrush from her every day and night to finish the job properly, sick of having to nag at #5 to stop annoying her. Sick of the mundane bits of parenting.

So what should I do?

I think I would go on a nice, long holiday. Alone. To a faraway place. Amidst the beautiful mountains.

Or I should just go and eat a big slice of cake. Make that really big.

Or perhaps I will get onto Amazon and grab one of those books mentioned. This one sounds good, “The Parent’s Tao Te Ching: Ancient Advice for Modern Parents”. Synopsis reads, “speaks directly and clearly about the most difficult of modern tasks – parenting.

Oh well, Happy Friday everyone!

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


30 reasons why my kid loves me

I was overjoyed to receive very sincere gifts from my kids for my birthday. #3 gave me a jar which read, “A bunch of reasons why I love you”, and she filled it with 30 little slips of paper stating why. Such a darling.

You made me who I am today.

You always let us go out with our friends.

You are very kiddy. (I’ll take it as I’m FUN)

You have cool friends.

You let us do things daddy doesn’t. (uh-oh)

You didn’t stress much on studies.

You are not a typical Singaporean mum.

You don’t care about our results. (It’s the process and progress, no?)

You raised us with proper morals.

Your cooking is still edible.

You raised an amazing kid, which is me.

I came out pretty, so obviously you must be. (woah, what a one-liner)

You are better than most mums.

You let us do a lot of crazy things.

You have nice clothes, which you don’t wear.

You raised me to be independent.

You are a cool mum (ahem. taking a bow)

You made me.

Wow. I was flabbergasted.

Have my girls really grown up? 

They attempted to create an art piece with Kate, although it did not turn out as expected. They glued the crayon sticks onto the canvass and blasted the hair dryer over it. Somehow, the crayons didn’t melt as it should. In the end, they got Kate to draw some squiggly lines. Still, I like it!

When #2 presented me her gift, I was so impressed. She made the effort to print out our photos over the years, cut them all nicely, categorise them, and stick them onto the strip. She did it on both sides and it unravels beautifully.

Handmade photo album

She went the extra mile by decorating the box, drawing on every inch of the paper and gluing it on. Can you spot the ‘happy birthday’ written on it? She folded paper hearts as a cushion for the photo roll. 100% for effort!

Personalised box

So heartening to see that all the sacrifices I have made in raising them is being appreciated.

Isn’t that all we wish for as mums?

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

Simple fine motor activity for 2-year olds

I love finding things around the house to use as ‘toys’ for Kate to play by herself. I got an old jewellery case from one of the older girls and gathered loose buttons from the sewing box, and viola! A splendid activity that kept her occupied for half an hour.

Assorted buttons

She carefully filled the container then tried pouring the buttons back into the little box. Most of it fell all over the table and she had a nice time picking them all up. And she did it on repeat mode. Nice.

She was so proud of herself.

“Look, mum!”

After she was bored of the buttons, I brought out a box of mini pegs. If I’m not wrong, I got it from Typo. Great fine motor skills and concentration going on over there.

I was surprised she decided to use her left hand to try it out as well, even without me prompting her.

I also noticed she used both hands to get the peg in a good position, which makes it a great activity for crossing the midline, which encourages communication between the right and left brain.

I was busy doing my own thing and when she called out to me to come see what she had done, I was impressed that she put the materials together!

Sane tip: I prepare it during her nap and take it out when she wakes. I simply rotate the materials every once in a while by walking around the house and picking up suitable items.

Save tip: When I had #1, I made up most of her toys myself. As we started to have more kids, I was too busy to think about toys. I’m finding it fun again to let Kate play with such versatile materials, which is way better than mechanical toys.

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

Our slow June holidays

This must be the strangest June holidays ever. It’s the first time #1 is on a different school term schedule as the other 5 kids. With 1 kid ‘missing’, somehow it doesn’t feel like ‘yay the kids are all on holiday let’s go do stuff’ (even though I know that technically she’s not a kid anymore and realistically she doesn’t always want to go do stuff with us). But still.

She does have 2 weeks overlapping with her younger siblings, although the first week is mostly filled with CCA training and camp, and the second week she’s trying to get her assignments and upcoming tests settled.

I intentionally chose the first 2 weeks of the school holidays for our helper to go back on home leave and envisioned taking the kids out to do our usual holiday activities like going to the trampoline park, rock climbing, and lots of swimming and water play.

1st week of holidays

As it turned out, #3 is recuperating from her surgery and is not allowed to do anything active due to her double vision. I felt bad taking the rest for active sports without her, so we shelved our plans. Then Kate came down with a flu and I had to stay home. Which meant everyone else had to as well! 

As Kate started to recover, I wanted to ensure she did not miss her naps, which left us with a window of time between 3 – 6pm for activities, as by the time the teens woke up and were ready to start the day, it was close to her nap time. Add to that the household chores and cooking of meals, I was left with neither time nor energy to take them out.

Even though I was exhausted, I had to take one kid for their appointment almost everyday. No, not the fun sort. It was either to see the eye doctor, the podiatrist for an ingrown toe nail, another eye doctor for a second opinion, a GP for antibiotics (because of the infected toe), the dentist for braces, another doctor to follow up on a spine problem, etc, etc. As I was grumbling about how much time I’ve wasted waiting in hospitals and waiting rooms this past fortnight, #2 pointed out, “Mum, how come you are surprised. You’ve got 6 kids. Expected, right?”

Yup, right. It never rains but pours.

Our holiday has been so dull that the highlight so far was watching Jurassic World. The kids absolutely loved it. Even Kate. I tried shielding her face during the scenes where I thought she might be scared, but she kept swiping my hand away until the hubs told me to stop spoiling her fun.

Which plane is Auntie Mary on?

But you know what? When we went to pick our helper from the airport, and she was telling me how her children cried when she left, I felt so disturbed. Here I was thinking what a tough 2 weeks I’ve had (with the kids cooped up indoors, they have been getting on one another’s nerves, and mine), yet I can’t even begin to understand how it must feel for her and all the other foreign workers who are parents, to have to leave their young children behind and see them once every 2 years.

We have so much to be thankful for. Too easy to take everything for granted.

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

Small Spaces: #5’s Play room

With 6 kids, this is how we house them. The 4 older girls share 2 rooms, and #5 has his own ‘lair’, as he likes to call it. During the school holidays, he ties bedsheets all around the room and turns it into his ‘fort’.

Kate is too young to need (or deserve) her own room, but #5 very generously shares his space with her. Anyway, he was so used to sleeping with us in our old place that he doesn’t quite dare to sleep by himself. So now, it serves as a play room for the both of them.

#5’s room

His study table was passed down from #3 when we moved, but he hardly uses it as he does his homework downstairs in the living room. These space-saving study tables were very useful for us previously as it allowed every child their own little station to keep their possessions.

See those little Lego guys? They were mostly bought by his doting grandpa. One day, a friend came over and mentioned that Lego is so expensive. One small box with one figurine costing $39. I was confused and told her that #5’s set came with 5 of them. She insisted that her son’s set only had one. In the end, we found out the truth from #5 that his gong gong bought him extra figurines but told him to pretend that they all came together. My friend was speechless. So was I.

His mosaic piece done in K1

I use the cupboards in #5’s room to store Kate’s extra craft and toys which I put away on rotation. Her other toys are downstairs in a corner of the living room where she spends most of her time.

The transparent boxes really help to make things easier and I can see at one glance where everything is. When we moved here, I asked the hubs to please, please build more cupboards. Their stuff was spilling all over the house in our previous place as the storage space couldn’t keep up with the number of kids being proliferated.

I like that there’s ample floor space for the kids to play and create. We lugged this rather heavy wooden castle set all the way back from Germany when the hubs and I went away without the kids.

“Is my tower going to fall?”

Another thing I requested the hubs to make was more shelving for books. That’s one of my weaknesses. I can’t resist buying books. These are the titles which the kids loved reading.

The colourful number chart was given by a friend who bought it, forgot about it for almost 10 years, and found it still brand new in time to pass down to Kate. Haha. What a lucky girl.

Built-in bookshelf

More often than not, #5 is bullying Kate or taking advantage of her (like using her for his nerf gun target practice) but sometimes he’s really good and helps me by reading her bedtime story.

Engrossed in gor gor’s story

And they usually end up in peals of laughter.

This post is part of Mum in the Making’s Small Spaces series. Click here for a peek into the homes of others with children.

Next up is Yann, from Bubsicles, whose humour in her writing never fails to lift my day. Yann is a mother to two little men who, unfortunately, believe strongly that sleep is for the weak. Therefore, she sleeps too little (for her liking) and drinks too much teh-si. She suffers from Acute Mother Guiltilitis and is also addicted to writing and photography.

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

Dear Mum – You are Pretty Cool

For Mother’s Day, I never know what I’m gonna get. When they were younger, I was disappointed when they did not make any effort at all to show their appreciation and I told them so. I mean, no point feeling upset and unappreciated when the poor kids didn’t even know what happened right?

As a result, they got creative and prepared me an awesome ‘breakfast in bed’ service. They poured milk and cornflakes and placed some cookies on a tray. Of course, the loveliness lasted all of 15 minutes and after that it was back to settling squabbles and mopping up messes.

As they grew up, the girls planned elaborate efforts like hanging streamers from the ceiling which they got the younger ones to help colour in.

Now that they are older, I receive real gifts. Yup, store bought stuff like blouses, t-shirts, and dresses. Maybe my teenagers are trying to tell me something…

I have long stopped reminding them that “It’s Mother’s Day this weekend”, as I’d rather they do something from their heart instead of doing it out of duty. So every year, I get surprised. Some years, they don’t do ANYTHING. Ok, well, some of them. Luckily I have 6, so at least 1 or 2 will ‘remember’ me.

This year, I got one stalk of beautiful red rose, 2 cards and 2 drawings.

#5 drew me a lovely picture and helped Kate draw one too by guiding her hand.

But I was truly, truly surprised to find a proper card from #1.

Let me share with you a bit of what she wrote:


(hey, pause. For a 16-year old to describe her mum as cool is really something. Just a couple of years back when they started entering the teen phase, they thought I was pretty un-cool.)

Thank you for giving me the chance to develop my interests.

Thank you for always having faith in me.

Thanks for letting me be independent.

Thank you for supporting all my concerts.

Thanks for letting us be noisy and sing in the car.

Thanks for letting my friends come over and being nice.

Thanks for cultivating my love for chips together with dad.
Thank you for being so chill.

And hear this:


(Yay! From my very critical teenager, that means a lot).

She ended her card with:

Sorry for my bad grades and thanks for trying to help pull them up. I will work hard from now on.

(I could cry. Isn’t that what every mum wants? For their kids to acknowledge their mistakes and try harder next time?)

So. I was really happy. Not laughing happy, but deep down happy. Because I know she has come to her senses. She was not an easy child to raise during the teenage years. But I know it will get better moving forwards.

You know, it is easy for little kids to tell you nice things. “Mum, you are so pretty, your food is nice, I love you, I love you, I love youuuuu!”

As they grow into pre-teens, they are balancing between telling the truth and learning not to hurt people’s feelings.

Thus it becomes: “Mum, you look nice in that dress, but your arms are fat.”

(Er, ok. I’ve learnt not to get angry and to turn their comments into constructive criticism).

Subsequently, when they grow into teenagers, they don’t say much.

So to receive an utterly sincere and honest letter from my 16-year old is something I will treasure for a long time to come.

This post is part of the Dear Mummy blog train hosted by June, a lovely mum of 3 who blogs at mamawearpapashirt. Click here to read the dedications from the beloved kids of the other wonderful mummies!

Tomorrow we have Karen, a mum to 2 wonderful children, who muses over at Mum’s calling. She believes it is almost every woman’s calling to be a Mum. While fulfilling hers, she finds the journey truly rewarding and enjoyable. She is convinced that Motherhood is life changing and full of surprises.

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