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Kids Put To Work!

I used to read mostly blogs from other countries, but once I started following local blogs, I have been hooked. Our circumstances are more similar, so it’s much easier for me to ‘copy’ if I feel inspired. And inspired was what I felt when I read Our Everyday Things about training kids to be independent, specifically helping out with housework.

Thus, about two weeks ago, I started getting the boys to help out in the daily chores around the house. This also coincided with a update of our routine, so things have been working out nicely. I used to randomly ask them to help, but now I want to make it a regular part of our lives, with the goal of them eventually (soon??!!) doing the work on their own without me supervising or guiding. (Only Kor Kor gets to cook at the stove for now.)

Hmm, yes it does take longer to complete the chores with the boys’ involvement. But I have already seen improvements in their work performance! They have definitely got used to helping out, and no longer drag their feet when they have to stop playing/reading at Housework Time.

4

SAHM Survival Tips: Voice-Controlled Kids And More!

I had thought that I depended mostly on having a routine and sleep-trained kids to survive taking care of three young kids by myself. Then when Gingerbreadmum initiated a blog train on SAHM survival tips, I started observing the kids and myself more closely, and I realised I actually do have a few more tricks up my sleeve to share! Without these, routine and sleep training also cannot save me ah…

Voice-Controlled Kids

Despite their tantrums, I guess I do have well-behaved and obedient kids. (But I never say they are perfect hor.) I know this for a fact, because if they are not, I would not be able to do this. OK, so other than the usual parenting advice to be firm and consistent and fierce (personally, I say this is very important. Mummy is no pushover. Don’t even try me.), what else???

From very young, I used my voice to control the kids. Like, once they could actually control their own movements. ‘No, don’t touch that.’ ‘No, no bite bite.’ Don’t underestimate the babies, they can understand very well! (they just acting blur.) When Meimei started climbing up the stairs at the grandparents’ double-storeyed house, I remained on my chair (about 2 metres away) and told her sternly ‘No. Come down.’ She would turn to look at me (to see whether I mean business?), and I would repeat the instruction if she tries to continue climbing. If she took no heed, I would then walk over to remove her to the bottom of the stairs and repeat in a harsher tone.

It might not always work now that she is only 13 months old, but this is training in progress, and I do see it working most of the time. It might seem dangerous to leave her on the stairs, but actually she is only one or two steps up. Not likely to sustain any serious injuries if she were to fall down from that height, and I think the potential gains outweigh the risks.

A Safe Environment

In order to cook and do housework in peace (ok, strike that, it’s to do any housework at all, peace or no peace), and also because of my personal adversion toward always hovering over the kids, I choose to work on the environment. When Meimei started to climb onto the sofa, I barred her from the living room by setting up the playyard as a fence (the boys climbed over instead. The stool is to help Didi get over.)

No entry!

No entry!

When Meimei got older and more competent at climbing (sigh), I removed the playyard and put out more playmats instead. So far, she has only fallen down once, which is pretty good considering I am rarely free to sit around with the kids and guide/guard her. And hey, kids need to fall to learn how not to fall again!

The two brown playmats were from other parts of the house.

The two brown playmats were from other parts of the house. And see the legs on the arm of the sofa??? With this kind of role model for Meimei… !!!

 

The boys like to look outside, so I make sure they have sturdy (wooden) chairs at the windows.

The boys like to look outside, so I make sure they have sturdy (wooden) chairs at the windows.

Allowing Independence

Most parents say they want their child to be independent, and the key is providing accessibility to what the child needs to exercise his independence and emerging skills. For example, if you would like your child to use drawing/painting as a way to keep himself occupied while you are busy, you might need to place the materials where he can reach, without needing your help.

When I realised Kor Kor was capable of pouring drinks for himself, I cleared a bottom drawer for the kids’ utensils. Previously, I had to pass the cup to him even though he took the carton from the fridge himself. Now, he just takes the cup himself and even helps to pour for Didi!

But Meimei helps herself often to these 'toys', oops

But Meimei helps herself often to these ‘toys’, oops

 

With safe stools, the boys can wash their hands safely without any help from me. I even bought a stool for my mum's house so that they can also go to the toilet on their own there, hee hee.

With safe stools, the boys can wash their hands safely without any help from me. I even bought a stool for my mum’s house so that they can also go to the toilet on their own there, hee hee.

Impose Rules For The Older Kids

The boys often zoom around the house on their ride-on cars, which might seem rather dangerous for a toddling baby. But I have always told the boys that as the drivers, it’s their responsibility to be careful of the pedestrians. And to date, they have never bumped into Meimei.

Sometimes, while the boys are playing with something, they call for me to ‘take Meimei away’ as they do not want her to disrupt their play (or destroy their block tower or Lego building). I remind them that Meimei is still small and instead of removing her, they should play at the dining table or the study table where she can’t reach. Now they are used to it and do not bother me ask me to help carry Meimei away anymore : )

– – –

There are many variables in every situation. And since I do not wish to engage a maid or rely too much on extended family, I have to work on the other factors like the environment and the kids themselves. I have to say a big THANK YOU here to my three children, because I really cannot do this without them being well-behaved and forgiving kids.. Special mention to my eldest.. because the younger siblings take his lead and fortunately for me, he is a good role model. Mummy loves you all and Daddy deep deep!

The next mom on Survival Tips for SAHM blog train is Michelle. She is a former fashion model turned mompreneur to Lauren and another baby girl due in July this year. She sold her food business to spend more time with her daughter because she doesn’t want to miss any precious moments and milestones in her child’s life. She is currently writing an ebook, blogs at The Chill Mom and runs a maternity concierge business to help new mom cope with pregnancy and beyond. In tomorrow’s blog post, she has turned to Lauren to guest post for her. Check out what sort of tips her 19 months old toddler has to share!

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This post is part of a blog train hosted by Gingerbreadmum where 31 stay-at-home mums share their survival tips. We hope that you’ll find our tips useful and remember that you’re not alone!

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How I Sleep Trained My Kids

Baby #1

When Kor Kor was about seven months old, he did not sleep well at all. He cried when I put him in the cot after nursing, he woke up numerous times during the night, he refused to go back to sleep at 3am+.

I can’t say I was very tired or very stressed, since I had only one child then and wasn’t working and could rest when he did sleep or when he was playing on his own… but I was very unhappy and angry. I didn’t know what to do, or what I did wrong. So I started to read about babies’ sleep issues, and came to the conclusion that my only choices for sleep training was graduated extinction (ignore some crying), or extinction (ignore all crying), also known as the cry-it-out (CIO) method. Because I really did not want to co-sleep.

[ I do not think co-sleeping or sleep training is better than the other. I do not believe that co-sleeping babies grow up to be less independent, or that sleep-trained babies feel abandoned. I feel that it’s a matter of personal preference and lifestyle. I knew I was bad-tempered because of the numerous night wakings, and I chose to remove the cause of the bad-temperedness. To mummies who have the heart and will to co-sleep with your baby, I applaud you. I am sharing my experience for mummies who want to sleep-train their child but might need more info.]

I also learnt that overtired babies would find it more difficult to fall asleep, until they got so tired that they KO, but then that would mean they would not be well rested the next morning.

Thus, for Kor Kor, I decided to ‘repay’ his sleep debt first. I knew by then that I had not implemented proper routines or sleep habits for him. So I was determined to somehow make him sleep enough first, before I started CIO. Twice a day, I rocked him to sleep in the Baby Bjorn and then either sat or stood throughout his nap. If he stirred before I felt he had slept enough, I would rock him back to sleep. Didn’t want to risk putting him in the cot and waking him up.

(Ahh.. the luxury of being a mother of one… seems like ages ago…)

Did that for about one week. Then started off with graduated extinction for bedtime in the evening. But Daddy and I realised very quickly that it would not work – Kor Kor just cried more loudly after each time I went to check on him. So we switched to extinction – just let the baby cry till he fell asleep.

The first night he cried for about an hour. On each subsequent night the duration of crying got shorter and shorter, and after one week or so, he was only whimpering at bedtime. Good enough! Then we moved on to sleep training for naptimes. But I can’t remember how we did it. Oops. The things three pregnancies do to a brain. But it was definitely easier cos we (parents and baby) had already got the hang of it.

Baby #2

I had sleep trained Kor Kor when he was about eight months old, and I had intended to wait till Didi was around the same age before sleep training him. But I found it very difficult, near impossible, to manage on my own when Didi was no longer able to sleep by himself around five months old. I wasn’t sure whether it was ok to sleep train him at five months old, and I desperately sought advice from parenting books, parenting websites, mummies’ forums, and my friends on social media. This time round, I learnt about Pick Up Put Down (Baby Whisperer) and shush-pat.

Tried these methods as they seemed much gentler than CIO, and I was hesitant to do CIO with such a young baby. They sorta worked for a while… but the effects were not sustainable. Thus I turned to CIO again.

This time, I had read Dr Marc Weissbluth’s Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, as recommended by another mummy. In its 500 pages, it clearly explains the importance of good quality sleep for the child, and provides clear guidelines for training your child according to age. Armed with this book and our earlier sleep training success with Kor Kor, I felt assured and confident.

Didi’s training was faster and easier. There was no serious ‘sleep debt’, as I was more aware of sleep habits and routines now.

I really love this book

I really love this book

Baby #3

Meimei was such an angel that I told myself I would rock her to sleep till she was much older. Furthermore she would be my last baby… *emo*

But it was not just about whether I was willing. Now I had two noisemakers instead of one. Didi walked like an ELEPHANT…!!! And would create more noise by crying, wailing and throwing tantrum when I told him to GO AWAY.  Kor Kor was older and could obey instructions to stay away from Meimei’s room… most of the time… But he was also tempted to follow Mummy when he saw Didi doing so.

That sealed her fate. Sayang-ing her would not gain her quality rest (since the noisemakers would definitely be around to make noise). Sleep training it was then.

Happy Ending : )