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SAHM Happiness Tips

Because SAHM is not just about surviving! But on a more serious life-and-death note, have you read the SAHM Survival Tips on The Gingerbread Mum’s blog train? Without survival, there can be no happiness :p

When I first started out on this SAHM journey right after Kor Kor was born, I often entertained thoughts of returning to work. I was on no-pay leave after maternity leave, so it would be easy-peasy to cancel the no-pay leave and rejoin the workforce. And guess what, nobody asked me to stop working, and there was no need for me to look after my baby myself – my mother-in-law was very willing to help and I had no worries about leaving my child with her. I became a stay-at-home-mum for only one reason – I wanted to. Despite this, I still felt trapped and unhappy at times….

Fortunately, now I am much more content and happy, even with triple the workload! (Actually it’s more than triple.. cos I had a part-time helper who came weekly to do the major cleaning chores back then.. We stopped engaging help when Meimei was one month old. I am crazy, I know.) Of course, part of the reason is that I am a more experienced mother now and more familiar with household chores. In addition, I believe in making myself happy, and to actively take steps to make myself happy. Cos happiness isn’t served on a platter, you know?

Happiness Tip 1: Change What You Can

One of the toughest problems I am facing now is the heat. No aircon except in the bedrooms, and it is difficult to ‘imprison’ the kids in one bedroom, especially since their playroom is in the living room and the art corner is in the kitchen. Not very possible to install aircon in the living room, cos it’s one huge open area including the dining room and our open-concept kitchen. (Lucky me, Hubby has agreed to get me aircon! But need to get approval from HDB to install an additional condenser.. so the chances of success are low.)

Ya we have fans, but how to sit in front of the fan when I have to serve the kids?? After feeling very unhappy about the situation for some time, I decided I MUST do something about it. Thought hard and came up with a very do-able solution – to wear sleeveless dri-fit tops and beach/sports shorts!  I felt sticky and auntie when I wore a regular t-shirt and shorts and perspired like crazy.. but I never felt auntie when I was drenched in perspiration after jogging or playing volleyball under the scorching sun what!

Current situation – still no aircon (haven’t got around to submitting the necessary documents to HDB. Low motivation cos I doubt they will approve), June temperature is forecast to go up up up, but I am happier!

 

Happiness Tip 2: Don’t Live With What You Can’t Change

Everything can be changed. Even if the thing itself can’t be changed, our mindset toward it can be changed. But the change in mindset only works if you really believe in the new mindset. It’s not going to work if you are just saying it… If you can’t even convince yourself, it’s no use! Keep thinking, keep trying, change something. It can be the environment, or the people around you, perhaps even doing the same thing but at a different time… Remember, there are many dimensions to everything.

Happiness Tip 3: Know What You Want, And Ask For It

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Hubby is always willing to help when I ask for his help. The problem is I don’t like having to bear the main responsibility 24/7, I would much prefer him to be more proactive and hands-on, but I guess men are just wired differently.

(This is not to say he never offers to help on his own intiative. He does sometimes, but when he doesn’t, I would feel unhappy why he isn’t offering. Ya I know, I am hard to please :P)

So, I implemented a new ‘rule’. On weekdays I do all the kids’ baths at night, even when he reaches home early from work. On weekends he bathes the boys, even when I am not busy. On non-working weekdays, we bathe one boy each.

It might sound like a lot more work for me, but it’s not that difficult since I am doing everything on my own when he’s back late from work anyway, and I have been coping well. And since he’s the sole breadwinner and is also working hard at his job, I don’t really mind doing the majority of the housework and childrearing duties.

The new arrangement allows me to totally let go on weekends. I just need to bathe Meimei and that’s it. I won’t have to ask the boys 1000 times to go for their baths. I don’t care if Hubby takes a long time to finally bathe the boys. I am happy, and Hubby is happy when I am happy : )

 

Err, OK that’s it! Gosh I am feeling quite bo liao for writing so much and it’s actually just three simple points! The thing is, these are common advice for being happy in general, and just because a stay-at-home-mum is a non-monetary, ‘noble’ ‘job’, it doesn’t mean we should be ‘noble’ and put up with being unhappy. Anyway, making ourselves happy doesn’t make us any less noble ok.

Image source: Meetville.com

Image source: Meetville.com

 

 

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Simple Cooking 5

I am back with my simple dishes!

Recipe 10 Char Siew

Ingredients: Pork (I buy from the wet market and I just tell the auntie I want to buy ‘char siew meat’. I have no idea what it’s called in the supermarket. But the original recipe calls for shoulder butt or tenderloin.), 2tbsp hoisin sauce, 1 tbsp honey, 1 tbsp oyster sauce, 2 tsp light soy sauce, 1 tsp dark soy sauce, 1 tsp hua diao wine, few drops of sesame oil, 1/2 tsp five spice powder, 1 tbsp sugar, 2 tsp garlic powder, 2 tsp onion powder, dash of white pepper

Method: The original recipe is from Munch Ministry. Char siew sounds like a lot of work, right? Especially with the intimidating list of ingredients above. But it’s super easy! Just marinate the pork with all the ingredients for at least 3 hours and just pop it in the oven for 30 minutes at 170 deg C, then flip it over for another 20 minutes. Voila! I usually marinate the previous night so that there is minimal work during the day. My kids love this dish!

Recipe 11 Braised Pork with Egg

Ingredients: Pork belly (3 layer pork?), cooking oil, 3 tbsp dark soy sauce, 1 tbsp sugar, 1.5 cups water

Method: Cut the pork belly into half-inch strips.

Fry the pork until it is no longer pink.

Add dark soy sauce, sugar and water.

Cook till it’s boiling. Turn down the fire to low.

Prepare hardboiled eggs. Add into the stew.

Simmer for an hour.

This is yummy. I love this dish since childhood and now all three kids love it too! I have to cook extra rice whenever I serve this dish.

Recipe 12 Hardboiled Egg

Huh, don’t look down on this ok. It’s a perfectly nutritious food! And super easy to cook. So easy that I am not going to include the ingredient and method!

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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4

Living My Perfect Life

“I cried. At least once a day … No, I wasn’t suffering from depression. Nor did I have a chronic eye watering condition. I was homeschooling.”

When I first read that at Simple Homeschool, it totally described how I was feeling in those days. I was crying everyday. Usually in the evenings, when the toll of 11-12 hours non-stop caregiving duties towards three young children was seriously breaking me down.

Even when nothing went wrong, when none of the kids were misbehaving, I was in tears. Just because I was so tired. I would be bathing the boys and my tears would flow. The boys would ask me, “Mummy, are you sad/angry?” and I would reply, “No, mummy is just very tired.”

When things did go wrong, I had no strength, mental or physical, to handle it. I would think, “It’s so near bedtime, so near the end of the (work)day, why now? Why does it have to go wrong now? Why do the kids have to be naughty now? Why why why???” It’s like, it felt worse being so near yet so far.

Fortunately, I am out of the gloom now. I made some changes to our routine, and I am not crying everyday anymore. But as the sole caregiver of three children below five years old from 8am to 8pm on most weekdays, exhaustion and tears are common. But I remind myself that this is what I want, this is how I want my life to be, this is how I want my children’s lives to be.

I want my children to be homeschooled for the preschool years.

I want my children to grow up without a domestic helper.

I want my house to be clean and tidy.

I want my children to have outdoor time everyday.

I want them to do hands on activities.

I want to cook good food for them.

And I am very lucky that my hubby gives in to me on most things and that he is able to support the family financially, allowing me to make the above choices.

Reminding myself everyday of the reasons for my choices, and to be strong for my children.

Not exactly the best photo I know, but it's not easy to take photo of 3 young kids ok!

Not exactly the best photo I know, but it’s not easy to take photo of 3 young kids ok!

 

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Life Happens

Maybe you have noticed a lull in posts on outdoor play… and on cooking with the kids… Because…

Three weekends ago, we went on an outing as usual. Then it rained just as we reached our destination. Argh.

Two weekends ago, we had to attend a nephew’s birthday party.

Last weekend, we went to our usual haunt. But for some reason, none of us enjoyed it. Maybe it was the weather… maybe it was because Meimei wasn’t feeling well.. anyway, so we left much eariler than usual.

Didn’t manage to cook with the kids last week either, because Meimei was busy driving me nuts. Or rather, I was busy being driven nuts by Meimei.

April. It’s the month I was looking forward to eagerly. Four months after I decided to do homeschool proper and started to streamline our ‘processes’. When I finally felt we had a good routine going, with enough rest and free play and outdoor time factored in. The last week of March I spent so much time pondering which play activity to start off with the boys.

Then Meimei fell sick. I fell sick. All plans went to smithereens.

Oh well.

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Life Of Mum… In Photos!

8AM Breakfast. I think Meimei is trying to imitate my dazed expression. LOL

8AM Breakfast. I think Meimei is trying to imitate my dazed expression. LOL

 

830AM After breakfast. Sigh

830AM After breakfast. Sigh

 

9AM The boys get to watch some TV after breakfast, and they usually choose Thomas.

9AM The boys get to watch some TV after breakfast, and they usually choose Thomas.

 

910AM My morning coffee

910AM My morning coffee

 

920AM Hanging the laundry while the kids are watching TV. Very lucky today, cos usually Memei doesn't let me go outside without her!

920AM Hanging the laundry while the kids are watching TV. Very lucky today, cos usually Memei doesn’t let me go outside without her!

 

930AM Yesterday suddenly thought of letting Meimei play with flour! Setting up

930AM Yesterday suddenly thought of letting Meimei play with flour! Setting up

 

945AM Preparing the ingredients for lunch

945AM Preparing the ingredients for lunch

 

10AM Meimei's first flour play!

10AM Meimei’s first flour play!

 

1030AM Meimei down for nap. The boys want to continue playing with flour. So we didn't have our lessontime.

1030AM Meimei down for nap. The boys want to continue playing with flour. So we didn’t have our lessontime.

 

1050AM They usually have their morning snack around 10am, but were too engrossed just now

1050AM They usually have their morning snack around 10am, but were too engrossed just now

 

1115AM Helping with lunch preparation

1115AM Helping with lunch preparation

 

1140AM They ask to play with stickers

1140AM They ask to play with stickers

 

12NN Meimei up and eager to join in!

12NN Meimei up and eager to join in!

 

1210PM Steaming tofu & minced pork

1210PM Steaming tofu & minced pork

 

1215PM Chicken wings in my trusty Airfryer

1215PM Chicken wings in my trusty Airfryer

 

1230PM Lunch!

1230PM Lunch!

 

1PM Wash up time again

1PM Wash up time again

 

105PM Meimei doing her own exploring

105PM Meimei doing her own exploring

 

105PM The boys at our Sodor Island

105PM The boys at our Sodor Island

 

130PM The scene that greets me when I finish the washing up

130PM The scene that greets me when I finish the washing up

 

140PM Kor Kor being very serious about it

140PM Kor Kor being very serious about it

 

220PM Send the boys in for nap/quiet time and breastfeed Memei before putting her down for nap.  Blanching pork ribs for dinner's soup and clearing out expired ingredients

220PM Send the boys in for nap/quiet time and breastfeed Memei before putting her down for nap.
Blanching pork ribs for dinner’s soup and clearing out expired ingredients

 

250PM Taking a break and checking FB

250PM Taking a break and checking FB

 

3PM Kor Kor is up (didn't sleep at all). We have a snack together

3PM Kor Kor is up (didn’t sleep at all). We have a snack together

 

320PM Asks to play with flour again

320PM Asks to play with flour again

 

345PM Didi up and joins Kor Kor

345PM Didi up and joins Kor Kor

 

350PM A rare break while the boys ignore me and Meimei still napping!

350PM A rare break while the boys ignore me and Meimei still napping!

 

430PM Cooking dinner while carrying Meimei *gloomy*

430PM Cooking dinner while carrying Meimei *gloomy*

 

6PM Out at the playground!

6PM Out at the playground!

 

830PM The kids are in bed. Cleaning up. (It is a blur of events after playground time, going through the bedtime routine, totally forgot about taking photos!)

830PM The kids are in bed. Cleaning up. (It is a blur of events after playground time, going through the bedtime routine, totally forgot about taking photos!)

 

9PM Folding clothes. Last chore of the day, yay!

9PM Folding clothes. Last chore of the day, yay!

 

5

My 4-Year-Old Can Cycle!

16 February 2014. The Big Day when Kor Kor first cycled on a 2-wheeler! It was the first time he tried a 2-wheeler, and within five minutes, he was cycling on his own!

3 March 2014. Another Big Day! At first Kor Kor couldn’t start off on his own. He needed someone to hold on to his seat and give him a push. On this day he managed to do it on his own 😀

We had started him on the Y-Bike when he was not even two years old, and moved on to the Strider around his second birthday. When Didi was old enough to handle a balance bike (and when I was confident of handling two kids on bikes outdoors, ha!), I got them another balance bike – the JDBug.

First balance bike at 1 year 9 months old

First balance bike at 1 year 9 months old

Strider at 2 years 3 months old

Strider at 2 years 3 months old

Small and cute : )

Small and cute : )

So cool ya?

Big and cool!

Why I chose:

Y-Bike – as Kor Kor was very young then, I wanted to give him a very easy balance bike so that he could take his time to ease into it. The Y Bike has very wide tyres so it is really super duper easy. Now the boys love to zoom around on their Y-Bike at home : )

Strider – because it looks most like a regular bicycle and is so cool! It’s light enough for the boys to carry it up a flight of stairs at 2+ years old. (Yes, I am that type of mum.)

JDBug – I wanted the add-on pedals! Bought this when Kor Kor was 3+ years old and I thought he probably wouldn’t need a balance bike for much longer, and I LOVE balance bikes for their light weight. So I thought a balance bikes with pedals would be the lightest bike available for a three-year-old. But sadly, Kor Kor never got to use the JDBug as a regular bicycle… because he was too tall for it! When I started letting him practise on the JDBug with pedals a couple of months ago, he just couldn’t do it. Then one day I finally realised it was because the bicycle was not tall enough for him to pedal properly.

Actually, before Kor Kor was three, I already felt that he was almost ready to cycle. But alas, I wasn’t able to bring him out for more practice on the balance bike. Neither was I able to help him along on a two-wheeler. Because I was pregnant with Meimei then and also had to take care of Didi when we went out. So I had to put Kor Kor’s ‘bicycle training’ on hold. Hold hold hold, until Meimei left my womb for ten months before I finally got around to it, oops.

I am really very happy. I am quite sporty and I would really love my kids to love sports too. I hope to explore the great outdoors with them, to play sports together, to go cycling and trekking together when they are older. I have this dream… of my kids cycling as I jog. Now it’s partly fulfilled!

I'm so proud of my boys!

I’m so proud of my boys!

Next biker coming up!

Next biker coming up!