Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Kate's final 'childhood' year

When I started working longer hours, I moved Kate to a full-day childcare for peace of mind and flexibility to pick her up late. It was a tough decision as we were happy with her (then) current preschool.

We checked out several childcare centres and initially, my priority was to put her in a reputable school to get her ready academically for primary 1 as the K2 was a crucial year.

However, the more we looked around, the more I felt sad seeing little kids sitting at desks doing lots of worksheets.

Witnessing my 5 older kids stuck in this system where they have to keep running and have no way to get off the 'hamster wheel', it dawned on me that the K2 year was the last window of opportunity for her to play, explore and have a happy childhood with her friends in a safe environment.

I finally chose an international preschool where the emphasis was on learning through play.

My sis-in-law with a child the same age as Kate started worrying for her. "More play? What's going to happen to her when she enters P1?"

It was a difficult decision to make as I watched mums around me sign their kids up for more and more enrichment classes to prepare them for P1. But when I saw how happy Kate was, interacting with friends of different ages and diverse nationalities, I know this will give her a good lens to view the world.

The children spend a lot of time outdoors, having water play, sand play, free play and games in the garden. They bake bread for tea and grow their own vegetables for lunch. The older kids who have dropped their naps are given the responsibility of patting the toddlers to sleep. Such smart teachers haha. Kate came home and was proud to share that the little girl under her charge slept very fast! I do love the chill 'kampung' vibe of the school and how they are taught to respect one another.

I almost regretted my decision of putting her through another transition in her last year of kindergarten as she sobbed so pitifully every morning for almost 2 months. Thank goodness she has settled in well and strides confidently into school now, eager to see her friends.
At pick up time
Next year, she will have to wake up at 5.30am, carry an oversized schoolbag, sit behind a big desk and get into the routine of homework and tests.

No more luxury of waking up naturally at 7am, taking a quick ride to the market with daddy and coming back to watch him cook a simple breakfast for us before heading off to school.

It's happening all too fast! Soon it will be time to register her for P1 and the baby of our family will enter formal schooling like the rest of her siblings.

For now, I'm going to let her enjoy every last bit of her carefree childhood.


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


Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Are we prepared for the teenage years?

We all know about the dreadful teenage years. Of raging hormones and irrational behavior.

But do we really know what to expect? Are we prepared for it?

Just as we start to enjoy the freedom of independent kids who can function without us, the next phase descends without warning.

As I started to navigate my way around unchartered waters, I reached out to those with teenage kids/young adults for advice.

What a vast difference from when the kids were little. We could relate to one another with similar rants of bedtime battles and sibling quarrels. Bonds were formed with fellow mums as we shared tips and supported one another through those long and tiring days. We could rope our other halves in, the helper plus grandparents to ease our load. We were not alone.

But this. This was entirely different.

Nobody talks about the worrying problems facing our teens. No two situations are alike, and there are no easy solutions.

As I spoke to other mums, the conversations were done in hushed tones. The seriousness of the issues poured out gripped me with fear. They were too real. Not something you read about in the newspapers. Some were lucky that their kids did not give them sleepless nights. But many others shared personal tales of a time shrouded in darkness.

There were stories of eating disorders, self-mutilation (sometimes in groups), being the victim of cyber bullying, peer pressure, depression, obsession with their looks and self-perceived inadequacies, inhaling harmful substances to get a high to escape from reality, relationship issues, negative influence from classmates, staying away from home for days, attempted suicide and other sombre tales.

Having to face just one of these issues can wreck havoc in a teen's (and their family's) life.

In some cases, it can be to the most heartbreaking extent where as a parent, you have to turn your own child over to the police after discovering something like drug abuse.

The tough decisions parents have to make.

It really is the most difficult job in the world. Nurturing children to walk the right path and being strong enough to face the pressures from so many aspects.

Nothing prepares you for the things you will come face to face with. With a heavy heart, you witness the consequences of the choices they make.

As a mother, their pain is your pain magnified a thousand times.

At this age, they are hard to decipher and you are unsure what to say or what not to say.

I've discovered a sad truth from opening up to other mums. Beneath the surface of good grades, affluent lifestyles and superficial answers lie secrets many mothers carry in their hearts.

They are yearning for a confidential ear to listen to their worries. And when the storms have finally passed, they are more than willing to share their experiences and offer advice to others.

Just because they don't have the visible signs of toddlers hanging off their arms, it doesn't mean they are not burdened.

Yet more importantly, what about the teenagers?

Beneath their sullen look and curt replies could be a torrent of emotions they cannot handle, the demands of school and life which they cannot live up to.

Be the supportive village they are so in need of. If you do not know what to say, it is better not to say anything. They are very sensitive creatures at this point in their lives.

To mums of teens, hang in there. It is going to be a bumpy ride. It takes a strong heart.

Be ever vigilant. Teens are so good at covering up what they don't want you to know. Don't take things lightly. No matter how busy you are, keep an eye on them.

Don't be afraid to open up and share with other mums of teens. They may not face the same issues but will understand what you are going through and can provide the much needed support in troubling times.

A wise friend with grown-up children shared this:

Never give up on them, never cease praying for them. Keep on loving them especially when it is so hard to do.

Some moments, I wish they were little again. When I could scoop them in my arms and life was so much simpler.


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