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Parenting The Youngest – Meimei we can co-sleep!

Inspired to share about this topic again. Because Her Highness Princess is acting up again. ARGH! I had been so very proud of her ability to sleep by herself since very young (five months old?), but recently she has been refusing to nap in the afternoon. Boo hoo hoo. Any parent will know a child’s refusal to nap is a disaster, right?

For the first few days, I felt quite upset about it. Though I mostly just gave in and let her skip the nap lah. But then I realised that hey, actually there’s nothing to stress about. So what if she doesn’t nap? The main problem is that I will not have any one-to-one time with the boys if Meimei doesn’t nap, but I can easily tell the boys that we can’t do one-to-one since Meimei is awake. They are old enough to understand and have been ok with it thus far. we are unschoolers so we don’t need structured learning activities. My rest is not affected either, since Meimei is very competent at independent play and doesn’t disturb me while I catch forty winks or do housework.

Another problem is, how can I ‘escape’ while she is awake? Almost every Saturday, I bring one or both boys out to run some errands or visit the library or do something which we can’t usually do with a toddler around. (The three of us went to Pulau Ubin last weekend! The boys cycled while I ran alongside them.) But I have also thought of a ‘solution’ for that – just leave and let Meimei cry lor…… she is already two years old… she has to learn to accept mummy saying byebye to her… And actually, once she gets used to this, I have More Freedom! Silver lining! YAY! (Sometimes, circumstances is the best motivation, otherwise I really don’t know when I will finally Just Do It.)

For a couple of nights this past week, Meimei woke up around midnight and refused to go back to sleep on her own. So…. urmmm, I just let her watch tv while I finished doing whatever I was doing (preparing meals for the next day.. take a shower.. watch drama serial), then I either slept in her bedroom next to her bed or let her sleep on my bed together. Watch tv during middle-of-the-night wakings??? This had NEVER happened to the two brothers!

The thing is, so what if Meimei wakes up every night and wanna join me on my bed or want me to sleep in her room? So what if she wants to drop her nap at two years old? It’s OK cos I don’t have to worry about taking care of a younger baby! With the two boys, I really thought very far ahead and was very worried they would develop bad habits making it impossible for me to manage with a new baby. But now, no such worries anymore! Suddenly, I quite agree with anti-sleep-training experts that babies will grow up and grow out of these ‘bad habits’ anyway.

Hmm, sometimes we read about the pros and cons of sleep training, co-sleeping, etc. I am thinking, perhaps it’s not about which is better, but about which is more suitable for each family in a certain situation.

And the good news is, today I tried having some reading and activity time with each boy while Meimei was awake. (They chose two books for me to read and we did a few brainteasers for a total of 30 minutes each.) Sometimes Meimei played on her own, sometimes she joined us to listen to the stories. When she got naughty, I threatened asked her whether she wanted to go for her nap, and she quickly backed off. Didn’t even need to be fierce. Hee hee 😛

Felt such a sense of relief when I saw that the previous post was less than a month old 😛 I have been busy cooking more for my family – more often, more dishes, more variety, healthier snacks. Also trying to go running every night. So many things I wanna blog about, but not enough time. As it is, I have not read any book for quite a while. But I have definitely not forgotten about or given up on this blog! : )

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Parenting The Youngest

After less than two years with Meimei, I can fully understand why the youngest often turns out to be spoilt more pampered than the older siblings. I have been giving in to her so much that even Hubby (who is the Good Guy while I am the Bad Guy) has commented about it. I used to wait out the boys’ tantrums, even if they were rolling around on the floor wailing while we were outside, no worries about embarrassment. But now, even if it’s just a whimper or sad face from Meimei, I usually surrender.

I am very sure that by 19 months old, both boys were already walking on their own 100% of the time while we were out without Hubby (he’s the Good Guy, remember? So they often ‘target’ him to carry them. But they never try it on me since eons ago.) But now, I am still carrying Meimei almost everywhere, almost all the time.

I guess no mother likes to be harsh strict firm for no reason. When Kor Kor was 19 months old, Didi had already been born, so I couldn’t possibly carry two kids. When Didi was 19 months old, I was already six months pregnant with Meimei, So there was strong motivation for me to train the boys to walk on their own. Not so for Meimei now. It’s easier to give in to her and just carry her.

It’s also out of necessity that now I must train her for certain things. For instance, she was sleep-trained at five months old, so that I could take care of three kids without help and maintain my sanity. And I really must train her to either play on her own or sit and listen while I am reading to them. Now she crawls all over me and grabs the book from me, which means that it’s very difficult for me to do any reading with the boys while she is awake. Not much time to read during Meimei’s nap either cos that’s almost Didi’s naptime too.

But no matter what, Meimei is always our princess. The boys know that unless there are special circumstances, the default mode is to Give In To Meimei 😛

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Princesses don’t need a reason to wear princess dress!

I had resisted buying princess dresses for Meimei because she did not have much hair yet, i.e. she didn’t look very girly yet. But when The Sunshine Kids offered to gift a dress to Meimei and I browsed through their online catalogue, my heart just said ‘yes yes yes!’ See, she does look girly and princessy, doesn’t she? *melt*

The dresses at The Sunshine Kids are designed especially for special occasions. They are also expanding their apparel line to include casual line for both boys and girls soon.

They have partnered with Agape Babies, to form a multi-store. This means customers can shop between both stores and checkout in one shopping cart. I have shopped at Agape Babies many times before, for baby essentials such as diapers, milk, skincare, organic food, toys, books and more! They are partnered with over 150 premium brands and retail over 3000 products. Do check out their new lifestyle & parenting blog, The Agape Lifestyle, too!

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Mummy is going to buy me more dresses for Christmas parties!

If you are also shopping for dresses for your girl this festive season, we have a discount code for our readers! Use the code “stayathomemumof3” to receive 15% off the dreses. Valid till 27 December 2014.

Disclaimer: We received a dress from The Sunshine Kids for review purposes. All opinions are mine.

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The Best Season

I feel like we are finally where I want us to be.

We have settled into a routine where each day is predictable. Mornings are usually spent at home, so that the kids have their fill of free play. Classes and outings are mostly in the afternoon. So the kids know that it’s time to go out after their nap almost everyday. I like this routine too, because I feel accomplished by the time the kids go for their nap/quiet time – even if we do nothing else, the kids have played the whole morning!

Kor Kor has started attending the classes which I envisioned him to take up since he was very young – swimming, wushu and Mandarin speech & drama. Before this, he was too young for the classes… and also too young for the daddy to be willing to pay for his lessons 😛 Three classes is a bit too much on top of school I think, so we will stop the speech & drama classes before he starts primary school in a year’s time.

Didi is also attending wushu. Though a bit young, he’s happy and enjoys the classes : ) Now, just waiting for a vacancy at swim class! And for Meimei to be old enough to start ballet and guzheng, heehee.

Now that the kids are older, we can be more flexible in terms of naps when we do go out the whole day. The boys can go without a nap occasionally, and it is quite easy to get Meimei to nap in her stroller. This means that it’s easier for us to go for nature outings, yay! (I am exploring joining Nature Society as a family. Shall update if it’s interesting!)

I am also loving our home environment. The last round of decluttering was very successful. But it’s definitely not just one round of decluttering that did the job – it’s the accumulated results of many, many rounds. I read Simplicity Parenting almost one year ago, and it’s still having a huge impact on my parenting now. I love our work spaces / activity corners around the house – art station (which I have added on to since the post), playroom, reading nook, science lab, nature table (post coming!), construction area (very new), and others. (some areas have made way though :P)

Most importantly, my firstborn is growing up to be so sensible! He gives in to Meimei a lot and offers his help when I am tired or busy. To be frank, Didi is still very whiney at 3.5 years old… But he’s really very super cute! Makes me laugh at the most tired or stressed times : ) And Meimei, our princess, she’s getting spoilt and naughty, but never mind, she’s our princess! It’s good training for the boys anyway, to learn to give in to younger ones and girls. And urmm, I am confident of correcting her wayward behaviors, hiak hiak hiak, no more always getting your way now that you are older, Meimei!

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Yes, I am happy and love my days together with my children. I love being able to be with them and to seek learning opportunities together.

But let there be no illusion. Happy is one thing, TIRED is still very real. Just because I manage to do it, doesn’t mean I don’t feel exhausted. I am half-dead by mid-day, after the lunchtime rush. I don’t know what my point is here, just want to say, I am really very, very tired. Oh well 😛

 

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In Defence of Cry-It-Out

Quite often, I come across articles condemning the CIO method of sleep training, usually links posted on facebook. Seriously, with three kids and a firm confidence that CIO is the right thing for my children (in hindsight!), I can’t be bothered to even comment on those links anymore. One man’s meat is another’s poison, to each his own, and all that.

Sure, I have no doubt that non-CIO methods can be just as good, if not better than CIO. How can letting a baby cry and cry be good anyway? Who cares about a baby being independent anyway. I am just quite sick of those articles implying that mothers who do CIO are lousy mothers.

And what’s not mentioned in those articles is the opportunity cost for the rest of the family. And I don’t mean the mother. It is obvious that the welfare of the mother is of little importance in comparison to the baby, not going to argue with that. And ya, it’s not just about the baby and the mother.

The other children

So, when the mother is doing her best to soothe the baby to sleep, what happens to the older siblings? I guess they will either be playing on their own… or being taken care of by another adult (maid?)…. or maybe the TV or smartphone is babysitting them. Baby gets mummy’s loving attention and time – good for him, perhaps not so good for his siblings.

Or what happens if the older sibling is still young enough to need a nap? And to need the mother to soothe him to sleep as well? I don’t know how the mother is going to juggle that. Maybe end up neither child get to nap at the time that he should nap? Or get the amount of sleep they need?

The baby’s father

Baby sharing the matrimonial bed. Hmm. Or perhaps the husband doesn’t even get to sleep in the bed anymore.

The mother

OK, even though nobody cares about the mother’s well-being, I still must mention this. It might not matter that the mother is exhausted and stressed – that’s the price for having a baby what, how can let the baby cry just so that the mother can rest, no way. But the quality of her relationships with the whole family will probably be adversely affected when her fatigue makes her impatient, or just no energy to play with the other kids, ya?

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I know there are mothers out there who seem to be able to do it all – multiple kids, homeschool, outings, fun activites, no maid, cooks, does all the housework, takes care of all the kids herself, and does NOT use CIO. But but but, I am sure there’s some compromise somewhere. It is just not possible to really do it all.

If not for CIO, I would not able to homeschool my children. I would not be able to manage taking care of my three kids without a helper, be it family or hired help. Since I really want to homeschool, I would really really hate it if I had to send the older kids off to school just so I could take care of the baby, and I would feel it was really really unfair to them.

I did CIO for my first child even though I only had to take care of one then, because I knew there would soon be a younger sibling (before I got pregnant). We had planned to have a second child soon, and I needed to think for the near future. (I started calling Kor Kor ‘Kor Kor’ when he was three months old.) I did CIO for my third child even though there would be no more younger ones, because I was already taking care of three young children then. (In all my plans, a maid was never in the picture.)

Not everyone want to homeschool, so most people won’t be bothered about sending the older kids to school. There is nothing wrong with not homeschooling anyway. My point is, other than whether it’s good for the new baby, there are many many other factors to consider. Is it good for the old(er) baby? Is it good for the father? Is it good for the mother? Different priorities for everyone, just remember to consider the whole family!

By the way, I don’t mean to say I first tried CIO because I only considered the welfare of my husband and children. I wasn’t so noble. I tried it because back then, I was feeling so tired and frustrated and stressed and helpless. Other than knowing I must not start co-sleeping if I wanted to take care of my second child on my own in future, the other sleep training methods we tried had failed, namely by schedule and pick up put down.

Frankly speaking, I think it’s perfectly reasonable for mothers to do CIO just so they can have more rest. Even if it’s the only reason for you wanting to sleep train your baby. No need to feel guilty. Happy mother, happy baby. Happy mother, happy family. Happy wife, happy husband. So go ahead, no need to justify your decision!

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Why I Am Stopping At Three

So that I won’t have to change the name of my blog!

Kidding, of course, just kidding.

Why am I even thinking of having one more baby?

  1. Want a sister for Meimei. A sister is surely the best friend that one can have, especially when they are close in age.
  2. Meimei is such a sweet girl that I think she would be perfect as an elder sister.
  3. I am too free.
  4. I must be crazy!

I was actually really quite tempted to try to persuade Hubby to have one more child. With already three kids, I think one more or ten more (haha) won’t make much a difference to whether I can cope. Especially given my parenting style – sleep train the kids, teach them to eat by themselves, let them walk by themselves (instead of carrying them), etc. It’s give and take of course, more siblings to play with but less individual time with parents.

[Sidenote: Some people might say, already so little individual time now, cannot reduce! I say, since already so little individual time, doesn’t make much of a difference to cut a bit more 😛 And don’t think that I get a lot of individual time with my kids since I am a sahm. Argh. NO. But that’s another story for another post.]

Finally, the thing that makes me come to a firm decision to stop at three…

Other than the obvious problem of it might NOT be a sister after all, I really can’t bear to make Meimei give up her current throne of being the youngest and the only princess, to become a middle child >.<

Not that I happily made Kor Kor give up his Only Child Throne, or Didi his Youngest Throne… it’s different as we PLANNED to have three kids. Or if the fourth were an accident.. But since we planned to have three, there would have to be a greater and very powerful motivation to go beyond. And in this case, the motivation is simply not enough to overcome the deterrent.

 

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If I Only Had One Child…

No, I have never for a single moment regretted having three children. It was what I wanted before getting married, it was what I wanted after getting married, it is exactly what I want now. (Though I often think about having a sister for Meimei.)

But often, I would have ideas of what I would like to do together with Kor Kor, then realise it would be too difficult to do so with two younger ones in tow, even with Hubby’s help.

I would like to…

Teach Kor Kor rollerblading….

Bring Kor Kor on a double decker bus…

Play racket games such as badminton with Kor Kor…

Not that I don’t want to do these with Didi and Meimei, just that they are still too young. It is only recently that Kor Kor seems to be ready for rollerblading and racket games, but…

If I try to teach him, Didi and Meimei most probably will wanna tag along and worse, glue themselves to me. (Gosh, I am really so grateful that Kor Kor is not the jealous type.) If Hubby tries to teach him, well let’s just say that I am the fierce one and I believe some fierceness is necessary at the beginning to ‘help’ Kor Kor get over the difficult start. (Just like cycling. I had to roar at him to just try. And once he did, he was able to do it and he was so happy! Come to think of it, it’s the same for rockclimbing. More updates on that soon.)

Racket games are even more difficult cos I would have to watch out for the little ones being hit by the racket. It would also be challenging to allow Kor Kor the time and patience to try and try when we have to take care of the younger siblings’ needs as well. (And I believe that for a young child to pick up and enjoy something, he needs to be given the grace of time, for him to experiment and practise, with no time constraint and no one rushing him.)

In comparison, a joyride on a bus seems very easy, doesn’t it? Not too likely to be able to sneak out while Didi is napping, cos I can visualise just how heartbroken he would be to wake up and find Mummy gone! With Kor Kor only! Argh. So, the second-best option is to bring the two boys together. But it’s a bit scary to try to go up and down the steps of a moving bus with the two of them. Maybe up is still ok, but down… I am not confident. And Didi is already too heavy for me to carry.

There are many other things which I would have taught Kor Kor by now if not for having to care for the younger two. Like setting the table for meals, washing dishes, sweeping the floor, etc. I guess it will be more feasible when Meimei is older, about two years old at least. Which means that things which Kor Kor should be able to do at 4.5 years old, he will only get to do at 5.5 years old. Similarly, I would have provided more art materials for his ready access if not for Meimei who would sweep them off the table, dump them on the floor, put them in her mouth… Oh ya, and marble play too. I bought a marble roll long ago, but it has been in storage till now, first because of Didi, then because of Meimei. Same for our Geomag. Sigh.

No doubt, the kids have the benefit of having siblings. I know that the pros outweigh the cons, just hoping that Kor Kor enjoy his siblings’ company to the max for now!

(Not that the younger ones don’t ‘suffer’ any of the cons. Yes, when they are old enough to learn something, I can teach them while the older ones take care of themselves. But for one thing, they are now being dragged along to Kor Kor’s classes. But that’s for another post, another day.)

 

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Why I Choose To Homeschool

When Kor Kor was very young, I had thought I would be sending him to preschool like most kids. I had even decided on the school. A few months before Didi was born, my mummy friends whose second child was also due around the same time enrolled their firstborns in schools. But it was then that I first felt the reluctance. Mine, not Kor Kor’s. He was about 1.5 years old then, and I didn’t want him to be away from me for so many hours everyday. I felt that I might be able to manage taking care of two young children on my own.

As he grew older and as I read more, I became more certain that I wanted to homeschool him.

More Time With Siblings

This sounds crazy, right? We are all living in the same flat, Kor Kor and DIdi are sharing a bedroom with their beds right next to each other, and that’s still not enough time together? Hmm, one of the common reasons for sending the child is for socialization and to learn social skills. I think the kids need to spend more time to learn how to socialize with one another first! This is the reason why I have three kids close in age – so that they have playmates (socialization) and learn how not to kill one another despite being together ALL the time.

More Time For Rest And Play

If the kids are going to school, I would have to plan their naptimes and activities around schoolhours. And waste time traveling to and from the school. As it is, I am already having a hard time juggling three kids’ naptimes, especially since their KO time keeps changing as they grow. By homeschooling, there is no need to wake them up in the morning – they can sleep till they wake naturally. We can customize our schedule, e.g. if we have had a busy weekend, we can rest on Monday. When there is an interesting exhibition in town, we can go on a weekday and avoid the crowd.

The Age To Explore

One of my guiding principles for choosing activities and books for the children is that it should preferably be something they do not get to do in school. I mean, if they are going to do it when they go to primary school anyway, why do it now? That’s double ‘work’!

I Can Teach My Children

Ahem, fact is.. I am probably more highly educated than preschool teachers. And I have the great advantage of being the mother, and mother knows her child best, ya? I am confident I can teach my children at least as well as preschool teachers, though it is not likely that any parent can teach her child everything. And it’s ok, my children can learn as they grow, there is no need for them to learn everything right now.

More importantly, it’s not just about academics, or even things like independence or social skills (important as they are). I don’t see myself as a control freak, but I would sure like to know and to control what my children are learning and whom they learn from. I think I would absolutely hate it if they came home with a bad habit and I couldn’t trace where they picked it up!

Protect The Love For Learning

This is not such a good reason… because it stems from fear.. and it’s never a good reason to do something because of fear… I believe that all children have a natural love for learning, and I am scared that premature formal schooling would drown this love. It’s not that children should not be stressed, but I believe it makes a difference whether the child is ready. For example, if Kor Kor were in kindergarten now, he would have to write. From what I observe as a result of him never being made to write, he CAN’T write yet. I am not sure how well he would be able to write if he had no choice but to do so, though I have no doubt he would definitely be able to do so under pressure from teachers and peers. Yet, it is developmentally appropriate for him to only write around seven years old, so why force him?

Saveguard Self-Confidence

Given that I do not want to do academic stuff with my kids at the preschool age, if they do go to kindergarten, I would not go through their homework or spelling with them. (And please, no chance of me doing their projects for them!) But… what happens when they do badly on the tests? What if the teacher labels my child as learning-disabled or lazy? What if the classmates laugh at him for his low scores? How will his self-confidence suffer??? A caterpillar cannot fly, and if it is told that it will never be able to fly, it might not even try to fly when it becomes a butterfly.

I don’t wanna hothouse my seedlings. I wanna greenhouse them until they grow into tall, strong trees. A small seedling cannot survive the heavy rains and strong winds out there, but the tree can.

Image source

A pine tree survived the 2011 tsunami (Image source)

I will be letting the kids start formal education at primary one though. Because by then, they will be old enough (and hopefully tough enough) and developmentally ready to do what the P1 curriculum expects of them. Which brings us back to the preschool curriculum… I think most preschool curriculums are not age-appropriate. If I could find a preschool which does not really school the kids, I might be less worried. But such preschools are rare in Singapore… and I have other good reasons to keep the kids at home! See above : )

The one he wrote for Didi became part of Didi's glue collage :P

The one he wrote for Didi became part of Didi’s glue collage 😛

One fine day, Kor Kor suddenly wrote his name, and Didi’s name, then ‘Mummy’. I know of many 4.5-year-olds who can already write way better by now, but what Kor Kor did was totally unguided (we have never taught him or asked him to write) and he did it when he was ready. I have faith that when he is ready, he will write more and write more legibly.

Baobei, mummy wait for you : )

There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why… I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?

Robert Kennedy

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