Friday, 6 September 2019

To all teachers out there, YOU ARE AMAZING

Every year, my kids plan and make their own teachers' day gifts. I was delighted to see that despite it being her first teachers day in a big school, Kate had already prepared her own handmade cards and simple gifts and they were all packed and ready to go. She only needed help to write out the greetings for her chinese teacher in chinese characters.

The teens made super yummy chocolate cookies and brownies for their teachers, but what really took me by surprise was how one of them spoke about her teachers.

"I'm going to give to Ms xxx, Mrs xxx, etc...

As for Mr xx, we don't really like him. He scolds us a lot, can't teach well and we don't understand his explanations."

I was expecting her not to pack any for him.

"But... I know he has good intentions, so I'm also going to make him some."


Teenagers (and sometimes even us adults) tend to think about how WE have been treated and we react and respond the same way.

To be able to look beyond that, to see the INTENTION of another person and be grateful, that takes maturity and wisdom.

I am so proud of how this child has blossomed in her character.

Now that I am running my own enrichment centre and have gone through thick and thin with my teachers, words cannot describe how appreciative I am for all the teachers out there who are giving so much of themselves day in and day out, to guide, nurture and inspire a whole generation of children.

Being a teacher entails more than just a straightforward task of teaching. It's not the abcs that children are lacking in. Teachers today have to teach children how to respect others, how to cooperate and work together amicably, how to persevere and not give up when things don't go their way, how to manage their emotions and even basic manners.

Many a times, parents are asking teachers to step in when they find it hard to understand or get through to their own children (I've been there). And we are not talking about 12 year old teens, but children as young as 5 or 6.

It is extremely tough to raise children in this day and age, and teachers are a crucial pillar of the village.

A mum shared with us how she has new-found respect for teachers after sitting in for a period in her P1 child's class.

She was sitting at the back of the class and a student came up to her to strike a conversation with this new 'auntie'. She asked the child to go back to her seat and pay attention to the teacher in front. In the span of 30 minutes, she witnessed how children were either chatting with their friends, looking out the window or distracted and in their own world, digging through their school bag or fiddling with stationery on the table.

It is not an easy task for a teacher to command the attention of all the students and to get them to focus on the topic at hand, as well as dealing with all the other issues that crop up with managing a class. Imagine doing that for 10 periods in a day, week after week, month after month. And we are not even talking about the extra responsibilities outside of class and liaison with parents.

When I attended my son's PTM last week, his teachers and I were discussing how 1 very naughty student was affecting many of the students in class. At the end of the meeting, they lamented that they are really worn out from the year, not only with teaching, but having to deal with disciplinary issues.

Teaching is indeed a calling. To soldier on and give of your best for the good of those entrusted to your care. For the little ones, to do what is right even though there is no one watching and the children are too young to relate what happens in the classroom. For the older students, to never give up on them even though they have a bad attitude and may have given up on themselves. To keep on doing your best for the child even though at times the parents may be giving you a hard time.

The influence of a teacher has the potential to reach far and wide, and to impact a child for life. When I see how my teachers light up when parents tell them how much their child has changed, how motivated and self-intiated they have become, it is clear that this simply is the reward that drives them.

For all the dedicated teachers our children have the privilege to encounter, Happy Teacher's Day! Please know that many of us appreciate all that you do!

~ - A blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Monday, 26 August 2019

BenQ Eye Care Monitor GW2480T - A Review

As an occupational therapist, I used to go out to offices to help adults readjust their workspaces, desktop monitor heights and problem solve their ergonomics concerns.

These days, children are not spared and are facing screens for stretches of time. They are using educational apps, playing games or watching Youtube on Ipads or laptops.

Even though she has just entered primary 1 this year, Kate already has online homework on her SLS portal. Besides the homework, which is not much, I like the additional Chinese resources where she can play character recognition games and have the stories read to her.

She uses the Ipad to do her work or borrows one of her sister's laptops, depending on who is at home. However, the problem with using Ipads or laptops is that because of the small screen size, the viewing distance is too short and is one of the causes of short-sightedness. Also with an Ipad, she tends to lounge on the sofa in an array of not so ideal postures. I have heard of 5-year olds needing chiropractic help because they spend hours hunched over the Ipad!

BenQ, the world's first brand of eye-care monitors, has launched their new Eye Care Monitor GW2480T specifically for students.
A new monitor!
Here are 5 reasons to invest in the NEW BenQ Eye Care Monitor - GW2480T: 


With a 24-inch monitor, your child is able to sit at the proper distance. The recommended viewing distance between the eyes and monitor is 60-70cm. This monitor can be adjusted for height, tilt, pivot and swivel which allows it to grow with your child as well as being suitable for other members of the family.
BenQ Eye Care Monitor GW2480T

Most people overlook the brightness of their screens and don't usually adjust the display brightness according to the ambient light every day. This may result in eye fatigue, vision problems and headaches. With the Brightness Intelligence Technology, it provides more comfort for the eyes, which is important as both children and adults are spending more hours looking at screens.

BenQ's unique technology automatically adjusts the monitor's brightness according to the ambient light. This is also good for me as I work on my powerpoint presentations in the bedroom at night.


We know that blue light emitted from digital devices affects our sleep cycle as they lower the production of melatonin. This monitor filters out blue light which helps the kids with the quality of sleep when they finally turn off the computer and go to bed. Beneficial for #2 as she studies into the wee hours of the night and has to wake up early for classes the next day.


Laptop screens can result in eye fatigue because of the flickering screen which causes excessive blinking and frequent rubbing of the eyes. This monitor makes viewing more comfortable.

This is especially helpful for my 2 girls as one spends a lot of time designing logos and brochures for her marketing assignments and one does a lot of eye-straining photoshop edits for her work!


With a wide viewing angle, parents can sit with their child to guide them with their work comfortably. I've been needing to do that with Kate for some of her Chinese homework!

As parents, with this monitor, we can be reassured that our children's physical aspects like posture and eye health are not compromised while they are spending time on the computer.

How to connect:

The GW2480 can be used with laptops or Ipads. It has 3 connection ports, including HDMI, DisplayPort, and D-sub. For our Ipads and the newer models of laptops, all we had to do was attach it to an adaptor and it instantly syncs onto the monitor.

BenQ Eye-Care Monitors are certified by TUV Rheinland, a global leader in technical and safety certification, for Flicker-Free and Low Blue Light performance that truly benefits human vision.

BenQ Eye Care Monitor GW2480T retails at S$269. Currently they are running a National Day Promotion with 7% off (no GST) until 31 August 2019.

For more information about GW2480T, click here.

For other GW Series Eye Care Monitor, click here.

BenQ Website

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

~ - A blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Monday, 19 August 2019

"I wish you were never born!"

I came back from work and found Kate in tears. After a big cuddle and sitting with her, I asked her what was wrong.

She had an argument with her brother and he had said to her, "I wish you were never born!"

"Mummy, does everyone in the family dislike me?"

That really took me by surprise. Such a sad thing to hear, but it was an eye-opener into a child's world.

That Kate, who is loved and doted on by so many, can feel this way.

I went through our family members one by one.

Do you think Mummy loves you?


Why do you think so?

"Because you always tell me and you do many things for me."

Do you think Daddy loves you?

"Yes! He takes me swimming and goes on the slide with me and he makes us yummy BBQ on the weekends."

We went through the rest of her siblings and I was surprised how she thinks that one of her sisters did not love her!

"Jie jie scolds me all the time and does not spend time having fun with me."

That really got me thinking, because it pretty much summed up my first 10 years with the kids! Yikes.

I tried to get Kate to understand why her older sister always corrects her, but she still did not feel that her sister loved her.

We talked about her brother who said those hurtful words to her and I pointed out the times when he cared for her. I tried to get her to see it from his point of view, that he must be feeling neglected as well. He was the youngest for 6 years before she came along, and now she is the one getting all the attention and love from everyone.

I had a lot to reflect upon over the weekend.

As parents, we assume that our children know that we love them. We also hope that we have brought the siblings up to love one another. But it may not necessarily be so. And behind the hurtful words could be a cry for help.

I remember vividly a conversation with one of my daughter's classmate. Before her O levels, she said to me, "Auntie, I don't think my mum loves me. When I go home with a good grade, she is very happy. When I get a bad grade, she scolds me and is in a bad mood the whole week. What am I to her?"

What made me sad upon this reflection is that despite us knowing that we should be giving our children unconditional love, do our children feel our unconditional love?

When we get angry at them for their misbehaviour, yell at them or cane them, they must surely be thinking that we don't love them at those times. My poor older kids went through so much of that from the hubs and I.

With Kate, we have learnt to control our extreme outbursts and we don't yell or spank her. I make it a point to tell her even during those moments when I am scolding her, that no matter what, I still love her, every single day, every single moment.

It also hit me again, that despite our older children (upper primary or secondary) looking like they don't need us or rather spend time in their rooms, they do need to be shown just as much love, but in different ways. It is tough trying to find time to see to the needs of so many kids. And as they go through the different phases from being a child to a tween, from a tween to a teenager, what worked before may not anymore.

The more I parent, the more aware I get, the more I feel I fall short of being a good parent.

The only thing that keeps me hopeful is that we have parented them to be resilient and despite all the mistakes and terrible parenting they have faced from us in the early years when we didn't know better, somehow they have turned out not too badly.

I'm also glad that I've come so far in my own parenting journey that instead of marching over to my son to give him a good talking to for speaking to his little sister that way, I am able to work through with them calmly to unpack the intentions and emotions behind their outbursts.

And that's something to rejoice about! One day at a time, one step at a time, and we will get there :)

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

Lesson #15: What are we worth, mums?
Lesson #16: What do you do when you get sick of parenting?
Lesson #17: The tragedy of our society

~ - A blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Monday, 12 August 2019

Light Chiropractic - A Review from a Mum of 6

My neck & lower back pain has been a constant problem for the past 20 years mainly because of bad posture while carrying the 6 kids. With my eldest, I didn't know better and was afraid to put her down when she fell asleep in my arms as she would wake up and cry. That resulted in many hours of unnatural carrying positions! I have tried all sorts of treatment but have resigned myself to living with the constant pain.

When I was approached by one of Singapore's top Chiropractors to try out a session under the skilful hands of Dr Theo, the timing couldn't be better as I had a very tight knot at my neck and really should be doing something about it before going on vacation. Every time I return from a flight I have to visit my physiotherapist because the sitting position on the plane is not ideal.

To be honest, as a professional in the healthcare industry, I am weary of chiropractors in Singapore. First-hand accounts from friends have shed a poor light on some of them and I wouldn't trust my body in the hands of someone not highly experienced.

Dr Theo was trained in America by the best chiropractor known in the history of the profession, Arno Burnier, and he has had more than 12 years of clinical experience in Singapore and 17 years of hands-on experience working with the spine. His particular area of expertise is in the upper cervical, which is my biggest problem area!

I was greeted by the warm and friendly staff at the front desk and ushered to a room to get changed into a gown. My spine was scanned to find out which are the areas that have blockages. The scanning is done by a female chiropractor assistant using a hand-held thermal scanner by running it gently down the spine. The results are shown immediately and she pointed out my problem areas to me.

Next, I placed 3 fingers into a machine and it gave another set of results. The areas that looked bad on the scan were the areas I have been having problems with, so it was accurate!

What I didn't know was how bad some areas were. Every time I went for a massage the masseuse will tell me the same thing, that the knots at the right side of my neck and shower blades are very tense but all they can do is to release it little by little.

The friendly assistant explained the colour codes to me, starting from white which was good, moving to green, blue and red. The black was off the charts! Uh-oh. It doesn't surprise me though as the problem has been there for so long.

She continued with the questionnaire and asked me what I felt was my stress level on a scale of 1-10. I gave it a 3, and she laughed in surprise, saying that with raising 6 kids and running my own company, 3 was a pretty low level.

I do find that over the past 5 years, ever since I have taken time out for myself to tend to my spiritual needs and to make time to recharge and enjoy the company of friends, I have become much more balanced than in the first 10 years of motherhood. If she had asked me that question a decade ago, I think my stress levels were closer to a 9!

After the testing was done, it was time for the session with Dr Theo. He started with explaining the basis of his treatment, that not only are blockages a result of physical causes, but when a person gets frustrated easily, is unable to let go and is highly stressed, there can be a lot of blocked areas. While he can do the manual adjustments, the person has to learn to be less uptight and unhappy with life in general. He also stressed how maintaining a good posture is very important. Something we all need constant reminders about!

He started the treatment with adjusting different segments of the spine one at a time and it wasn't painful. You can tell that he is indeed very experienced.

He noticed that one leg was longer than the other, and that has been something my physiotherapist has been trying to fix. It was due to years of carrying my kids on one hip which led to the tightening of muscles on one side of the body which caused the natural alignment to be out of sync. He worked on that as well.

He meticulously went through the adjustment procedure, asking me to turn to the right, left, facing up, facing down, sitting up and standing to correct the blockages one by one. It felt good to have my whole body re-aligned!

My scorecard? He said that it was relatively easy to do the adjustments and there wasn't much tension in my body. I am by nature an easy-going person and I don't get stressed easily nor harbour negative feelings or thoughts, which helps!

Dr Theo sees patients with issues such as lower back pain, sciatica, headaches, numbness, slipped disc, poor posture, neck pain, and he also works with children and pregnant women.

Young children tend to fall a lot and sometimes that results in misalignment in their pelvis and lower back which needs to be readjusted. School going children carrying heavy school bags or having poor posture can also benefit from chiropractic care because when their bodies work better, their minds also function better.
Light Chiropractic
I never thought I would have so much to reflect upon when I entered their centre. But in that one and a half hours, I had a good conversation with Dr Theo and came out being able to stand taller, feel lighter and have an overall happier feeling, both of mind and body.

I'm glad I saw him before I left for our trip because despite the 7-hour flight and our long road trip, my neck wasn't as bad as I expected it to be. I will have to make one more trip to Dr Theo and that should put things in good order.

He says, "Being pain-free should not be enough. Feeling great, inspired and alive should be what we all strive for."

I can't agree more!

The first visit costs $190 which includes a Thermal spinal scan, consultation and tailored adjustment and it takes about 60-90 minutes. More details of their fees can be found on their website, with one-off prices as well as package rates. They have kindly offered a discount for my readers for the FIRST SESSION - simply quote MUMMYWEE and they will take 20% off the fee.

Most of us mums tend to overlook taking care of ourselves and our bodies. However, don't forget that when we are healthy both in mind and body, we will be in a better position to take care of our families!

Light Chiropractic
20 Malacca Street
Singapore 048979
Tel: 63364063

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

~ - A blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Friday, 19 July 2019

My teen in a Neighbourhood school

One reason many parents worry for their children and push them towards excessive tuition is to cross the first academic hurdle - the PSLE. I hear parents lamenting that despite MOE scrapping some exams, it makes no difference if at the end of the day, students still have to sit for the PSLE.

When I ask them what are they worried about? The majority tell me that they are concerned about their children ending up in a neighbourhood school because of the negative influence.

I had that perception too. I guided my 3 older girls towards mission schools for their character development.

When #4 did not do well enough to enter a mission school, we pored over the grey book and narrowed down 2 neighbourhood schools which had interesting niche programmes. We checked out the open house, spoke to the HODs, asked around if friends knew of any friends with children from that school and made our decision.

The first year was a culture shock for her. Coming from an elite school, she was used to chatting with classmates about their overseas vacations, which air pods to buy and the movies they are planning to watch together. With her new classmates, the topics of common interest were limited and she wasn't able to make any close friends.

I did feel her sadness, especially when her older sisters brought groups of friends home and she wished that she had classmates she could bond with.

However, 3 years on, she tells me that she is happy in school.

At her recent PTM, I was glad to see her chatting with friends of all races, some from her class, some from CCA and others from previous classes. Her form teacher is a lovely experienced teacher and she had good things to say about #4. She's not academically strong, but she tries her best and is always polite and cheerful.
My birthday present
She's been writing me cards for Mother's Day and for my birthday and I am so pleased to see that she has become such a sensible child. She wrote:

Thank you for everything that you do for us, it must be so so hard to raise 6 children! I really appreciate all the encouragement you give me too! And how much you believe in me! I am also super proud of you and you living your dream makes me see that I can too.

She took much time and effort to knit me a beautiful bag dotted with pearls and made me a set of jewelry. Look at the bracelet! She moulded each piece from clay, baked them carefully in the oven and strung them into a bracelet. She designed earrings in my favourite colour and completed the set with a pearl ring.

So impresssed!

I admit I was worried about this child, being a teenager in a neighbourhood school. What negative influence will she pick up? Who will she mix with? I heard horror stories of kids in Sec 1 who stayed out for weeks playing Lan gaming with their classmates and skipped school and their parents could not control them.

My other kids went through the dreaded teenage phase. Of rolling eyes, bad attitude and monosyllabic responses. Some came out of the phase quickly but some were difficult to handle for years.

My fears of her being influenced by "bad company" has been unfounded. Instead, we have seen the silver lining of her being in this school. Because of what she witnessed around her, she is more appreciative of everything she has. She thanks me for every little thing. For making her a healthy dinner, for buying her a special art pen from the bookshop or for buying back flour so she can make cookies. She has also developed great empathy for those around her who are struggling.

I remember during one dinner conversation, the older girls were discussing their grad night and problems in finding the right dress.

In the midst of the conversation, she shared what was on her mind and said, "Miram's dad is going to jail tonight. He told her to take care of herself and her mum."

All of us froze. We didn't know what to say. What to think. Finally, one of the girls blurted out, "Why is her dad going to jail?"

#4 said, "I didn't ask. And I don't want to know. But Miram must be feeling really sad. I didn't know what to say to her when she told me that."

On another occasion, #4 asked me for money to buy a calculator for Math. It cost more than $100 and she felt bad that I had to fork out the money. She shared with us that she had a classmate who is feeling the pinch of this extra expense as she has been taking care of herself since Sec 1 and who works during the weekends and pays for her own needs.

She doesn't take anything for granted anymore and when she askes me for her weekly allowance, she gives me a discount and says "Mum, this week I won't be spending so much so give me less." Although she finds school work very hard to understand, she is good with her hands and dreams of the day she can have her own accessory line and is able to provide for us.

Having this one child in a neighbourhood school with friends who have real struggles have opened the eyes of all the other siblings.

I've also heard from teachers that it is not only in the neighbourhood schools that children end up with bad company. Even in the so-called "better" schools, students do get into trouble, be it in boys schools, mixed schools and even in all-girls schools.

The stories that surround our teenagers can get pretty chilling. As parents, we should aim to build our children up with good moral values, which provides them a strong foundation to know right from wrong and be able to make wise decisions and stand by the values they believe in, instead of trying to shield them too much.

We can only do our best as parents. Sometimes, despite trying very hard to raise them well, they still end up giving us endless nights of worry. All we can do is to ride out the storm with patience and love.

~ - A blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Friday, 5 July 2019

Renault GRAND SCENIC BOSE - Truly a family car

When Renault offered us the use of their newly launched 2019 GRAND SCENIC BOSE edition, I was hesitant to take up another review with my hectic schedule. However, with 2 newly minted drivers in the family, the older girls were quick to shout, "Let's give it a try!"

The first thing that struck us was the ultra-modern technology. Yes, we have been rather spoilt with keyless entry on most cars where we simply press the button on the remote control or on our door handle. With Renault's GRAND SCENIC BOSE, they go one step further, and I don't have to press anything at all!

The sensors pick up my palm motion around the door handle and it unlocks as I am about to open it! In fact, with the remote control key in my handbag, as I approach the locked car, the side mirrors open up to welcome me. And when I arrive at my destination, I walk away and it locks itself automatically!

That's the overall feeling we get with this car. You feel pampered. You know it's been designed to make your life easier. 20 years since Renault invented the world's first compact MPV, they have never stopped innovating and have pushed frontiers in areas of performance, fuel efficiency and safety.

They move with the times, recognising our busy lifestyles and I really appreciate the little luxurious touches. Over the week, we didn't even manage to explore all the special features built into the car!
When we entered the car, the feature that captured our attention was the inbuilt BOSE Premium Sound System. We use a BOSE system in our house, so it got the nod of approval from the family. To have it fitted in an MPV was an unexpected bonus!

The 11 high performance speakers strategically positioned around the car made the teens very happy. They immediately plugged into their playlist on their phones, started singing, and that put them in an excellent mood. These days, it's not easy to get them together on a family outing unless it's for a good meal or to someplace really fun but with this car, they were happy to go anywhere. 

Then I heard them exclaim, "Wow! There are 2 phone outputs for us! Plus 2 more in front for mum and dad." Loving the well thought-out little details not only for the driver but for the rest of the family as well.
At the touch of a button
It also surprised us to see that the GRAND SCENIC BOSE was fitted with solid 20" sports rims. Not only does it make the MPV look way cooler, but it improves the ride and helps with better fuel economy. Definitely plus points for me.

At the start of the school holidays, we bought Kate a new 2-wheeled bicycle and she was excited to go for a good ride. With the press of a button, she managed to get the seats down and was able to load her bicycle in the boot independently. With the last row fully collapsed, and 2 seats in the middle row down, we had no problems getting in an adult-sized bicycle, Kate's bicycle and a folded scooter.
Ample space
Off we went to the Marina Bay area and had a carefree time cycling with the wind in our hair. It really felt like the holidays were upon us.

To be honest, I'm not a car person. For me, a car was simply a vehicle to get you from Point A to Point B. But with the Renault GRAND SCENIC BOSE, it seems to be so much more.

They have cleverly balanced practicality and safety with the personal touch, to give the whole family comfort, luxury and the promise of adventure. It even has massage features on the front seats!
Wheee! Life is great!
Their cutting-edge technology could be seen in the revolutionary multimedia system with voice control and drag and drop functions, to name a few. I love how we were able to customise the profiles for the 4 of us. Depending on who was driving, all we had to do was to select our own profile on the touchscreen tablet and the driver's seat would move into our desired position and individual driving mode selected.

For the hubs, the first consideration he has for MPVs (or most cars for that matter!) is the performance of the car. As we regularly have a full load of people and the fact that MPVs are heavy, the car needs to have enough power so it doesn't crawl up a slope.

He likes it on Sports Mode to optimise the performance, while I prefer to put it on ECO Mode, which is better for fuel consumption and keeps environmental footprint to the minimum.

Apparently, Renault's GRAND SCENIC BOSE has unrivalled fuel efficiency and the friendly Marketing lady even challenged me to finish the full tank of petrol over the week. We were astonished to see that there was still more than half a tank of petrol despite us going out to several different events everyday!
Large touchscreen interface
It's no surprise that the New Renault GRAND SCENIC BOSE has been clinching awards such as "Best 7-Seater MPV" from the 2017 ST-Torque Awards and "Best MPV 2017" from the UK Car of the Year Award, and emerging as the ultimate Reader's Choice in The Straits Times 2017 Car of the Year.

I've grown quite attached to it, and love the Carmine Red model I've been driving around.
Family fun and antics!
Buying a Renault was never on our radar but I have to say we were impressed by the experience. Check it out for yourselves and go for a test drive. You will be as awed as we were!

The All-New Renault GRAND SCENIC BOSE is retailing from $133,999 while the standard variant of the GRAND SCENIC is retailing from $113,999.

Renault Singapore
28 Leng Kee Road
Singapore 159105

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

~ - A blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Thursday, 16 May 2019

A Mother's Day Letter from my 6-year old

My teens have been writing me lovely heartful letters on Mother's Day. I can't quite recall when the childish drawings evolved to long letters and elaborate handmade gifts, but it must have been around the age of 12 or later.

For the past week, Kate has been showering me with her little doodly Mother's Day cards, gifts bought from her school bookshop, and cut flowers beautifully arranged in vases. But what surprised me on Mother's Day itself was a letter of gratitude.

Dear Mom,

Thank you for: putting me to sleep.

Thank you for: making me dinner.

Thank you for: trying to earn more money to go on a holiday just for me.

Thank you for: playing with me.

Thank you for: staying at home and making me lunch.

Thank you for: paying a lot of attention to me when I was a baby.

Thank you for: being my mom from a baby until now.

And have a Happy Mother's day!!!

I'm surprised that it comes so naturally for Kate to be aware and able to articulate the things she is grateful for at such a young age. 

Years ago, when one of my older girls finished her O levels, they wrote a letter of gratitude to their parents which was presented on graduation day.

My daughter was going through a rebellious phase then, and she found the whole exercise extremely superficial because they were given a template to follow and she felt 'forced' to write it and had to hand in the letters to the teachers to be checked before they were given out.

I remember that it was awkward for her to write that letter, and it took her a long time to reflect on what she was grateful for.

Another one of Kate's letters read:

Dear mom,

Thank you for being my mom. I know it's hard to be a mother for 5 children and me. And trying hard to earn money.

Have a Happy Mother's Day!

At the age of 6, she is able to see another person's perspective and acknowledge how tough it must be for me. Wow!

I gave her a gigantic hug, thanked her for her cards and letters and told her that no matter how hard being a mum is, it is all so worth it.

~ www.mummyweeblog -  A blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

Sunday, 14 April 2019

Our helper has gone home

Jane has been with us since Kate was born and it was time for her to return to her own 2 children. Our family was sad to see her go, and the girls made gifts for her and drew beautiful pictures in a keepsake book telling her how much they appreciated all that she has done for us.
Handmade necklace
5 weeks before our new helper arrives, and we have survived 2 weeks! It was pretty fun the first couple of days, with everyone chipping in and being enthusiastic about doing the dishes, laundry and throwing out the trash. Kate even invited some church friends over and she made lunch - her signature quesadillas.
Little chef at work

#2 has been such a darling and knowing that I have so much on my plate, she volunteered to wake Kate up in the mornings to fix her breakfast and wave her up the bus. She did that for the first week, but as she finishes her cafe shift at 10.30pm it was tiring to wake up at 5.30 when she only gets to bed at 1am. So now I do 3 mornings and she does 2.

Because everyone is on a different schedule, with one at work, one in Uni, one in poly and 3 in school, we have a tag team going, depending on who is home at what time. Someone will load the washing machine at 6am, another will hang it to dry at 8am and one will bring in the dry clothes in the afternoon.

Lunch and dinner duty is split between me and 2 of the older girls. One evening, #3 realised that it was only Kate who was having lunch the next day after school. She tried her luck:

#3: Kate, you love watermelon right? How about watermelon for lunch?
Kate: No thanks.
#3: Hmm.. then what should I make for your lunch?
Kate: Oh, Auntie Merz said that if I don't have lunch, I can go next door for lunch.
#3: Ha that's settled! You go over for lunch tomorrow.

But to be fair, for dinner duty, she did make an effort to do a good meatball pasta, and customized it for those who didn't want cheese toppings.

One evening, I returned home from work and was busy preparing dinner and ensuring that there were clean uniforms for the 3 younger ones. Kate said, "I can help to do the ironing."

I thought that was too dangerous, and re-directed her to other chores. She finished folding the clothes, sweeping the garden, tidying the shoes in a row and helped to wash the dishes left in the sink. She saw the pile of clothes and kept repeating that she can do the ironing.

Finally I thought to myself, is it really possible for a 6-year old to do ironing? As an occupational therapist, we assess people on their activities of daily living (ADLs) and we guide them towards independence. I thought, ok, I'm going to assess how she does it, without turning the iron on.

I was surprised at her motor skills, and she ironed like a pro, knowing how to turn the clothes over and doing each section bit by bit. "Where did you learn to iron like that?"

Kate: I didn't learn. I just watch auntie Jane everyday.

My oh my. In our society where we have helpers and it is easier for us to get things done ourselves, much quicker and cleaner, we have stopped giving our children the opportunities to pick up so many life skills. We tend to be over-protective and shield them from all potential dangers when this is the age where they naturally want to help out. She finished ironing all her siblings' clothes and uniforms and even her daddy's pants.

I explained the dangers of the hot iron and that she had to be extremely careful when using it. I also told her that she is not to use the iron when I am not around, and she can only do ironing under my watchful supervision. (and no, we did not run out of clothes and have to wear CNY clothes, this was on international friendship day. We are on top of our laundry woohoo!). I don't want to encourage her to do the ironing as she is still very young, but I'm glad to know that in future, she will be able to handle household chores independently.

It's been 2 weeks, and I've reached my threshold. It's really not easy to work, tend to the kids, cook, clean, ferry elderly parents around and run errands. I've been very busy at work, with several preschools approaching us to run our program in their centres.

My Sunday was crazy, with church in the morning, visiting an elderly, conducting a parents' workshop and helping my team to prep for one of our student's birthday party, and coming home to do chores before cooking dinner.

Kate saw her food and said, "I don't want to eat this."

I would have expected it from my son who has always been a picky eater, but coming from Kate, I got really mad. I snapped at her, "If you don't want to eat, go up and shower and go to bed!"

I stomped around the kitchen trying to prep for tomorrow, thinking about what to put into her lunch box for recess, her snack box for class break, and what to give her for breakfast. I didn't have time for a supermarket run this weekend and there wasn't many options.

I took out a pack of "wang wang" japanese biscuits, put 2 into her snack bag and said, "Since you like to buy these for recess, you can bring these to school tomorrow." For good measure, I threw the whole big packet on the kitchen counter and said, "You know what, you can have all you want for breakfast."

Such a bad mummy moment.

What happened last week was that on Friday, I was running out of food for her lunch box and she said that she will buy food from the canteen. When we asked her what she bought, she said too cheerfully, "I bought a bowl of fishball noodles and also roti prata."

Immediately, we knew she was telling a lie. She confessed and admitted that she bought a wang wang biscuit from the snack stall.

I was still snap-pish at the older kids but told myself to take 3 d-e-e-p breaths. Kate finished her dinner (with her sister's help) and washed her utensils. I took her up to shower and she said, "Mummy, I'm sorry." I gave her a big hug and asked her what was she sorry about. "I'm sorry that I didn't want to eat your food."

I asked if she knew why I was upset? "Because you cook for me." I explained to her how it took me effort to make a healthy dinner for her, and was sad that without even trying a bite she refused to eat it. I apologized for my harsh words and we talked about what happened and both of us felt much better. She went to bed happy and me? I went back down to the kitchen to find something wholesome for her breakfast tomorrow.

2 down, 3 more weeks to go!

~ - A blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

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