Friday, 1 April 2016

A week in the life of a Blogging Mum

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The community of blogging mothers I have met, the people I have interviewed for my {101 Paths to Success} series, being on TV and radio, giving talks, being invited to pen a chapter in a parenting book and of course not forgetting the exclusive events we get to attend!
Our slightly large family
Last year when Kate started preschool, I finally had freedom after devoting 17 years of my life to my kids.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

After hanging around little people for so many years, it is refreshing to sit with adults and brainstorm new and creative ideas, and have the time to actually work on them.
Cosy catch-ups at home
Even though I have taken on paid jobs, my priority is still the children and I work everything around them.

This is what a typical day looks like for me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I try to accede to their requests and cook their favourite food as usually only 2 or 3 come back for lunch each day. Some days, everyone is back only at 4pm and that gives me 3 extra hours to work on the computer.
Best pals
2pm #4 and #5 come back on the school bus if they have no CCAs or supplementary classes and I make it a point to be home for them everyday after school as that is the best time to chat as they unload the events of the day.

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

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

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

I enjoy sitting down and chatting with the teenagers, to get a sense of what is happening in their world. These chats give me new perspectives and also spark new ideas for my posts.
Simple lunch
Kate usually has a 1 - 2 hour nap and if the older girls have friends over, I get a break as they love to entertain her when she wakes up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 down, 5 to go.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That is on a good day.
Silent nights...
On a crazy day...

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

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

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

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

Besides, I love to try new cafes so that I can share them on my blog with fellow mums who are also looking for early breakfast places.
Casual business meetings
Our meetings are very energising and lots of new ideas are thrown up. We have to wrap it up by 12 noon so I can go and pick Kate up.

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

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

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

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

That really gets to me.

You know those days?

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

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

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

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

Deep breath.

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

I blog.

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

Kate wakes up all too soon and insists on a cookie baking session, for her "picnic".
An assortment of cookies
I am always for hands-on learning and try not to turn them down. Afterall, there is so much math concepts and fine motor skills going on there. And who can resist the smell of freshly baked cookies?

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

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

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

I rope #3 in to carry on supervising Kate.

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

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

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

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

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

Like a movie, at this point in time, #4 trots down the stairs on cue, announcing to anyone who bothers to listen that all her homework is done, done, done!
Kate's picnic
Suddenly someone shouts, "Let's go swimming!" Followed by a chorus of "Woohoo! Swimming!"

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

And just like that, the agenda is sealed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I pause at the doorway.

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

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

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

It's cathartic.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With our weekends free and easy, I have time to nip out with the kids individually or in pairs to spend time with them doing simple things like shopping for their friend's birthday present, while the hubs whips up delicious meals.
Jacob Ballas Garden
The paradox is that the more I work on things I am passionate about, the more energised and alive I feel, and that's the engine that keeps me going.

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



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

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

Related posts:

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


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

10 comments:

  1. I really envy & admire your energy level for taking care of the kids and working. I have 5 kids and time is just not enough having to cook both lunch & dinner and to nag at them to do their work. It's really nice to read your blog.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Evonne,

      I can totally understand what you are going through. Just handling their weekday lunches takes up a lot of my time. I am so thankful for the support of our helper and the hubs for settling the rest of their meals. My older 5 are already between 10 -18 years old, so now I have time for my own work. Hang in there, and do try to enjoy them, even though I know it is much easier said than done :) They grow up too fast. All the best. You are doing a great job!

      Delete
  2. You're always such an inspiration Michelle! It's truly amazing how much you can squeeze out of your time!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Mummybean! :)

      Haha. In fact, I feel more lethargic when I don't have a little bit of meaningful work to think about.

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  3. Hats off to you juggling 6 kids, and thank you for sharing your journey with them!

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    Replies
    1. Dear mummyed,

      Thanks! I had fun documenting it all!

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  4. Always inspiring! Your normal day sounds like a "crazy" day to me haha.
    I can still remember 3D2N when I play Mother/Father as Mrs went for holiday, no time to rest, much less blog !

    Michelle rocks!

    cheers, andy
    (SengkangBabies.com)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha, thanks Andy! I think I've been handling so many kids for so long, and often without the hubs around, that I've developed coping strategies so it all seems normal to me :)

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  5. You're truly an inspiration and I love the closeness you've built with your older kids by inviting their friends home often!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Angie. It's good to know what the kids are up to, and it gives them a place to hang out at. #2 and #3 are in the same school, and I've come to see the added benefit of all of them mixing together and forming friendships across the ages.

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