Monday, 29 July 2013

“You have 6 kids?"

I get that all the time. Yes, I do have 6 children.
Our brood
And I'm thankful for each and every one of them.

All of them are different. They have different personalities, different interests, different temperaments, different learning styles, different intelligences, different gifts. It has been an interesting journey, to say the least.

I had my first 5 kids in succession (all 2 years apart). They were all natural births sans epidural (ok, maybe I was a little bit crazy).

Subsequently there was a break of 6 years and Baby Kate entered our lives. Now that the 2 eldest are in their teens, I have the benefit of hindsight on what worked and what didn't. I am better able to parent Kate with the little things that I learnt along the way, many through trial and error.

We didn't have any experience with kids. None of our siblings had kids yet and we were the first among our friends to have kids. We must have made a million mistakes along the way as we didn't know any better.

Nowadays, there are so many viewpoints on every aspect of child rearing. From the type of milk to feed our toddlers (fresh or formula), styles of discipline, what sort of pre-school is best for our kids (the options are mind-boggling), to enrichment classes to enrol junior in (the options are even more mind-boggling).

The way I parent Kate is a culmination of all the experiences, both my own and through friends, and knowledge that I have amassed from the past 15 years of parenting the kids, which I will share in my million mistakes.

The early days were a challenge, to say the least. I had my 2 oldest girls overseas, while the hubs and I were studying full time for a degree. We had no help whatsoever (only the occasional break when my mum or mum-in-law visited us for a couple of weeks when I had to go away for fieldwork). We took care of them ourselves, did the housework and cooked every meal. I managed to obtain my degree (with distinctions!) and bring up the toddler while being pregnant with #2.

There were times when I had to take her along to my lectures (I'm not kidding, and she wasn't the only toddler in the evening classes). She sat quietly with her sticker books and crayons, and I was always armed with snacks. I must say that she was an easy toddler. It wouldn't have been possible with my son!
She watched while I studied
Good time management became a necessity and I stopped procrastinating. I started on my assignments early and paced myself so that I wouldn't have to burn the midnight oil (even that was a luxury!). I stopped wasting time on things like window shopping, surfing the net, or partying. It helped that she was happy to play by herself for stretches of time. The rental apartment was small so we were always in her sight. Those days are a far cry from our present situation, where Kate is really lucky to have so many older siblings to play with, and to have her grandparents visit weekly.

Kate is now 9 months old and this is where our blog commences. I have learnt that for a baby, the important areas in the first year concerns establishing good sleeping patterns, giving her a healthy head-start with nutrition, taking good care of her teeth and gums, and that it's never too early to start reading to her. You can find all that and more in under 12 months.

It might sound unbelievable, but we had absolutely no clue how to discipline the kids when we first had them. I have a high threshold of tolerance towards mischief and would let most things slide. Of course, with no boundaries, the kids pushed the limits until there was a stage where I was constantly yelling at them. The hubs' method of discipline, on the other hand, was swift and harsh. Misbehaviour was dealt with depending on his mood, usually by a quick smack, with no explanations whatsoever. Well, 16 years later, his punishments are still inconsistent, while I still don't have all the answers. However, I hope to share some of what I have learnt, in discipline tips.

The 3 older girls have crossed the dreaded PSLE and all of them managed to score a minimum of A for every one of their subjects. I know it doesn't sound impressive to those mummies who expect a lot more from their kids. But the fact that my kids hardly have any tuition except in the P6 year (save money), don't do any extra assessment books at home (save some more money), are not coached by either of us parents (so that we don't go mad), and they play at the playground everyday (so that they don't go mad), I think they fared pretty decently. More about that in PSLE & more.


Every school holiday, I make it a point to expose our kids to some form of charitable work. In this age of entitlement, they have forgotten to be grateful for what they have. By making voluntarism a part of their lives from young, I hope to instil in them compassion and empathy for others. Here are some simple ways by which we try to give back to society in kids & charity.

As parents, we should leave a legacy of family traditions for our kids to pass on to their kids. This would help them to have a sense of belonging, and it would be so wonderful in years to come when the next generation of cousins enjoy the same traditions that all came from grandma! (that's me). I also try to keep some of the traditions which my mom passed down to us. Family traditions also form the basis of fond memories of their childhood which they will look back on and reminisce. We would love to hear about your family traditions too!

And what about mummy? Mummy takes care of the entire family but who takes care of mummy? We're in for the long haul. We have to keep ourselves healthy and happy so that we can hold the family together. We also have to constantly upgrade ourselves, to be open to new ideas and new perspectives and to never stop learning.

I had always relied on my kids or the hubs when it comes to technology. In fact, this blog was created by #1 (never mind that it doesn't look professional) and I'm so proud of her. Yes, I can start to feel the 'generation gap'. The internet, social media and technology are so much a part of her life.

However, while creating this blog, I learnt a lot from my daughter and was even able to figure out some of the functions while she was at school. I gave myself a pat on the back. I always tell the kids that learning is for life. I'm glad that I'm able to practice what I preach, especially in an area I have always shunned - technology.

I will include some tips at the bottom of the posts to save you from going mad or broke (hopefully). If we challenge stereotypes, go au natural, and get creative, raising kids in Singapore can be a blast! (most of the time, anyway) Happy parenting! :)



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

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