A heartfelt letter to my first child - I miss those times too

Posted by ~Summer~ on July 20, 2017
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For those of us who chose to have more than one kid, have you ever thought of how life would be if you had only one? You would have so much more time for him/her, you don't have to feel guilty about loving one of them more than the other, you don't feel bad for tending to one and neglecting the other, you don't suffer from parenting woes related to sibling rivalry, and you understand how less can be more at times. This is coming from me, someone who has been a mum of one for three years, mum of two for another three years, and then now a mum of three.

No, I don't regret having more kids because that is what I've always wanted and truth be told, if I had eight hands and legs, I would wanna raise a football team of kids and take care of them all on my own. However, for now, having three of them and being a stay-home mum is enough to keep me busy every minute, every second of the day. Yes, it gets hard even to breathe at times. You see, life at home hasn't been all smooth-sailing in the past few months. But then again, when has parenthood ever been a smooth journey? It seems like no matter how experienced I become at being a parent, each day still presents an unique set of challenges and even if I conquer them today, with tomorrow comes another set of hurdles to cross.

Here's a letter I penned for my firstborn, whom I've been going through a roller coaster ride with this year. Yup, we've had our fair share of ups and downs. I'm not sure if it's her way of trying to exert more independence now that she is in primary school, if it's her way of acting out to get my attention over her younger sister and brother, if she is tired of all the expectations people lay on her just because she is the eldest, or if it is just part and parcel of growing up. There were times when I felt like the worst mum, when I said things I shouldn't have said, did things I shouldn't have done and let motherhood bring out the worst of me.

I know, my dear, I know how much you love me and how hard this is not just for me, but for you too. Here's a letter telling you how much I miss those times when it was just you and me, and how I will always love you, no matter what happens.

******




Dear Angel,

I held your hand tightly as we waited in line for the Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure in Universal Studios. It was going to be your first time on the ride and since meimei hasn't reached the minimum height, you and I were going to ride on it alone while Daddy looked after her and didi. It's been long, so long, since I held your hand and never had to let go because of a younger sister who wanted my attention or a baby brother who demanded for his milk. It made me realise how much I missed it, and I'm sure you do too.

We saw some other people putting on ponchos and you spotted a signboard that read "You will get wet!" But no, we did not worry about it and instead, we thought it might be quite fun to get wet together. Just you and me. Once we got onto the raft, the adrenaline kicked in and we were both getting ecstatic. But no, not once did I let go of your hand, not even for a split second.

As our raft bumped along the rapids and water started flowing inside and wetting our shoes, we raised our feet and squealed together. When the dinosaurs squirted water on our heads and sometimes even our faces, we laughed in joy and tried to anticipate for the next one. Then we entered a long tunnel which was so dark that I couldn't see your face or my own fingers. I put my arm around you because I knew how scared of the dark you are, assured you that everything would be all right and told you not to be scared because I was there with you every step of the way. We boarded a lift that took us upwards and that was when you saw the head of a giant T-rex and got a scare. You squeezed my hand and jumped, which in turn gave a me a fright too but I held onto you even more tightly and braced ourselves for what was to come - the final drop.

Not surprisingly, the drop didn't scare you at all. No, you are one who dreads the dark but isn't scared of roller coasters and vikings. In fact, you dig the adrenaline rush and always wanna have the best seats in the house - first row for roller coasters and last row for viking, and you would ask to go on the same thrilling ride over and over again. So, we screamed (or was it just me who screamed?) but we also chuckled and enjoyed the last part of the ride. I loved it because I was with you, you know that?

The truth is, my dear, I know you miss those times when you had me all to yourself, when it was just you and me against the world, when I had only one child and that was you. And you know what, I miss those times too. Even if I don't say it out loud, I do think about it from time to time because those years were wonderful years spent with you, my firstborn.

That was the time when we were living in Sweden, when you and I would go for walks nearly every day, when we would sit by the lake and feed the swans and ducks, when life was quieter and more peaceful, when we would hold hands or I would carry you, piggyback you or push you in your stroller whenever we went.

We had all the time in the world to ourselves, especially when Daddy was sailing or busy working, it was just you and me, day in day out. You chased away my loneliness and gave me a reason to wake up each day. Your cute, smiley face was what greeted me every morning and there just seemed so much good in the world and so many amazing things waiting for me. You made me realise how motherhood was the best thing that ever happened to me and it seemed like I was given a fresh new start in life and it didn't matter what past mistakes I had made, I had a new opportunity to live right and to do right by you, my child.

Those were the days when I could attend to your every whine, even though I don't give in to you when you were being too unreasonable (and I still don't, you know). Those were the days when bedtime storytelling was just about you and me, and you could sit on my lap or snuggle in my chest the whole time. Those were the days when mealtimes were more peaceful and we could always sit side by side.  Those were the days when we could go on holidays as a family of three and you were the only little one in our family portraits. You were my pride, my joy, my reason to live. 

And you know what, you still are.


Many people told me about how the first child will get jealous when the second one comes along and will act out, throw tantrums or even push the sibling away. In fact, one of my friends was rather unable to breastfeed her second child because the first one would come over every time, kick up a fuss and just make things difficult for everyone.

When meimei arrived in this world and needed me to feed her every couple of hours, you would gently come over to take a look at her. Even during bedtime, when the three of us slept on the same bed, my back would be against you whenever I was feeding your sister who was lying on the other side. Do you remember what you said? I can never, ever forget that because you made me tear up.  Those were tears of joy, of relief, yet of melancholy too.

You told me in that sweet, patient voice of yours "Mummy, later after you finish feeding meimei, can you turn over and hug me?"

That was when I knew, I just knew, that you were going to be the most awesome big sister.

And you are, in every sense. Despite the fights and squabbles, I know how deeply you dote on your siblings with every beat of your heart and how you would go all out to protect them. You are my sensible one and you are always my best helper - or what we call a mini mama. You dash to your baby brother at every whimper and seeing how he hugs and kisses you is proof that he adores and looks up to you. I know sometimes you give in to meimei not because you are wrong, but because you just try to make things right and make me less frustrated. I can hear the way you feel indignant at times and that you think you deserve more and deserve better from me. I feel your tight hugs when you return from school every day and I know the way you pout your lips for a goodnight kiss is a sign of how much you still crave for my attention and love. I know life isn't fair to you all the time and it can be tough trying to be a role model for your siblings.

I know, my love, I know. 

It isn't easy being the eldest child but I also know how madly and deeply the three of you love one another. Having a sibling can be the best thing in life, you know that? My hope for you is that you will remain loving and close, always and forever, even when I'm not around and when you have each built your own lives. For now, while I may not be able to spend much one on one time with you, at least being a stay-home-mum allows me to spend every single day with all of you and you have no idea how much joy it brings me to be able to be by your side, watching you grow, watching you bloom. 

No matter how much time passes or how fast you grow up, you will still be a baby in my heart. My first child, my darling, my precious little one. I love you all the same and I will never, ever stop loving you. Let's look forward to the day when it would be just you and me again, and I promise I will take you to a book sale where you can lay your hands on your favourite books, or we can go shopping for earrings and get matchy matchy ones, or we can just spend a day at Universal Studios and go for ride after ride, just you and me. Just promise me we will scream together, okay?

I'll love you forever
I'll like you for always
As long as I'm living
My baby you'll be

Love,
Mummy

Not a sacrifice, but a privilege

Posted by ~Summer~ on July 18, 2017
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I have to admit that somewhere along my motherhood journey, I couldn't help but feel that I made a sacrifice for the family by choosing to be a stay-at-home mum. I mean, come on, I studied for so many years, aced my exams, got a Masters degree, used up all of my parents' savings and then what happened? Well, I became a mother, a stay home kind, who now doesn't command a salary, needs to ask for pocket money, has zero annual leave and still has to slog every single day to keep the family going.

Many of my friends, especially those who have known me for decades, tell me things like "I never imagined this would be your path in life", "Out of all of us, you could have been the most successful one" and "You gave up a lot for your family and your kids". Which, of course, didn't help me to dispel those feelings of grievances and instead, they could have easily etched them more deeply in my mind.

Then, on those days when the kids shred the last bit of my sanity and make me want to bang my head on a wall, dash and hide in the toilet or scream into a pillow, I wonder, I just wonder if this was all I was going to do for the rest of my life. Seriously, this job is soooo hard, so overworked, so underpaid and it has turned my life into one hell of a roller coaster ride.



But you know what?

That mentality sucks. It does. Not to mention, it is absolutely wrong.

BEING A STAY-AT-HOME MUM IS NOT A SACRIFICE, BUT A PRIVILEGE.

Yes, I realised it long ago and I chose to see it this way ever since. Think about it, while there are many mums who chose to work and amazingly juggle both family and careers (which I seriously don't think I can ever do that because I will be half-committed to both), there are also many mums who wish to be SAHMs but for various reasons, they can't - be it financial constraints, lack of support from the spouse or parents, or other circumstances which render their dream unattainable.

We, on the other hand, we chose to do it because we CAN do it. We manage to make ends meet on a single income, we have a roof over our heads and bread on the table, we have the support of our husbands, our kids appreciate what we do and our parents don't blame us for making this choice after all they've put in to raise us. At least, that's the case I hope for all of us.

My mum was a SAHM too so I think she jolly well understands my reasons for wanting to look after my own my kids, and I am very thankful for that. My kids tell me they never want me to go out and work because they want Mummy to be by their side and they can even tell me "You can just blog from home, don't go out to work". My hubby, though not one who sings praises, is deeply appreciative of the 'work' I do in the home, especially since he works long hours and hardly sees the kids on weekdays. And the truth is he can go crazy being alone with three kids so he can only imagine what I go through on a daily basis and be amazed by how I thrive.

As for me, I've learnt to count my blessings for the little things in my life. I've learnt to see things from different perspectives and focus on those that bring more joy into my life. I've learnt life is too short to waste on thinking "What could have been" and instead, I need to be thankful for "What I have", be happy to do "What I do" and be proud to be "Who I am".

I AM A STAY-AT-HOME MUM.

I might not be able to get a promotion (unless you mean having more kids) but I won't get a retrenchment either. Yes, my job will not be redundant, not in the next decade at least. It's nice to know I am needed, you know what I mean?

I might need to do a hundred chores a day but that means I have a family to look after, a home to live in, I have people to love and yes, I am very much loved too. Now, how many people are lucky enough to say that?

I might get stares and even hurtful remarks from relatives and strangers but the ones I work for - my kids - truly appreciate me and what I do for them. And that is all that should matter, isn't it?

I might not receive year end bonuses or incentive trips but I do get kisses and hugs as rewards and I get to bring the kids out any time, any day, anywhere I want. And that is something which you just can't buy with money.

I might not need to do presentations or charts but I am the only one who can churn out reports of my kids' growing up milestones. Yes, I've never missed any single one of their milestones (for all three kids!) and I was always there for the first time they did anything - first tooth, first steps, first word.

I might not have much power or fame (I do get recognised for being a mum blogger though, haha), yet I've the strength to chase away monsters under the bed and the magic to kiss boo-boos and make pain disappear.

I might not have used my education for a job in the office but I pass on my knowledge to my offsprings and in a sense, it's not all for nothing. I discipline, I teach, I nurture. Every day.

I might not have dreamt about being a SAHM when I was a kid, but being a SAHM now does feel like I'm living a dream. Sure, there are the ups and downs, there are the heartbreaks and tears, there are the tantrums and fights, there are the constant worrying and non-stop nagging. But more than that, this is the one job that brings me an indescribable sense of joy and achievement, that makes me feel like the most important person in the world, that makes me realise how beautiful life is and why I need to cherish every moment that my heart still beats.

So yes, it's a blessing, it's a luxury, and it's my absolute privilege to be a stay-at-home mum. I think I really am destined to be one, and I'm a happy one indeed.

Summer's A Happy Mum -> SAHM. 

Get it?

Haha. Oh well, you get my point. And if you are a fellow SAHM, I hope you see it the way I do too and let's all count our blessings every day and do what we do with a grateful heart. If you ever need to share your woes with anyone, don't hesitate to write in. I've been replying so many of you on PM and emails and I hope that sharing my side of the story helps too. Thanks for letting me know that I am not alone too!

P.S. If you've been following my A SAHM's story, be sure to check out my other posts too!

******

This post is part of the "A SAHM's Story" series where I share my experiences, moments and reflections of being a stay-at-home mum. It takes a SAHM to truly understand another and while many might assume that we are tai tais or that we get to shake legs all day long, only we know the amount of toil and sweat we put in just to get past each day. Likewise, only we know the true rewards and unparalleled joy that this job has brought us. Being a mum, and one who gets to witness all her children's milestones and spend precious time with them every day, is still the best thing that has ever happened to me. While I gave my kids life, they gave me a reason to live.

This is how we keep our house clean

Posted by ~Summer~ on July 13, 2017
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As a stay-at-home mum blogger, I always have readers asking me how I manage to do the household chores with three kids and no helper. Some people mistakenly believe that we might have a part-time cleaner, which we don't, and some assume that we get some form of help from our parents, especially the in-laws who stay next door.

The thing is, my parents don't come over at all unless we invite them over for meals. Otherwise, we are the ones who bring the kids out to meet them on some weekends. As for the in-laws, my father-in-law goes out in the morning to the brother-in-law's house to look after the grandchildren and returns late at night, while the mother-in-law works and is out half of the day. Even when she is home, she stays in her unit to unwind and watch TV so even though the kids might go over to talk to her for a while, we don't bother her with any of our chores. By the time the in-laws come home, which is past 9pm, the kids are already getting ready for bed and we would have gotten by another day. Yes, that essentially means I do all the laundry, cooking, grocery shopping, washing, cleaning, tidying, fetching from school, sending for enrichment classes, cleaning of dirty bums from day to day in addition to looking after the three kids myself. The only chore that I get help in is ironing and I really thank the father-in-law for that extra bit of help.

As for the hubby, he is a very hands-on dad and a way better chef than I am. The only problem is being a navy commanding officer, he works very late and is rarely home on weekdays. Still, he drives the big girl to school in the mornings and tries his best to reduce my load during weekends. While his late working hours make me a tad relieved that I can usually keep our family meals simple, it also means I don't get help even from my spouse on most days.

So, just how do we survive with the endless chores?

Today, I'll be sharing with you some of my secrets as well as how we tackle one of the dreariest yet absolutely crucial chores - CLEANING. Just so you know, I am not a clean freak but I try our best to keep our house relatively clean and safe because that's important if you don't want the kids to fall ill. As as a mum, one of the worst things to handle is a sick child, or worse, a few of them.

When it comes to cleaning, or in fact this applies to other chores too, my three golden rules are:

1) Don't be a perfectionist
Unless you chase the kids out of the house, if not you will likely have to live with some kind of mess on a constant basis. Unmade beds, messy tables, scattered toys, stained walls - these are some of the things I've made peace with and even though I still nag at the kids to pick up after themselves, chances are we will never be able to live in a perfectly clean, immaculate house.

2) Let the kids be involved
Some people might see it as child labour but I see it as educating the kids to be responsible from a young age. Yes, I let the elder two help me out with the chores nearly every day and while it's not like they never whine about it, at least they're starting to accept it with more willingness than they did initially. It's the best way, or in fact the only way, we can make ends meet without a helper. I don't reward them for a job well done because I want them to see chores as a responsibility, but we do try to make it fun and more of a family bonding time than a dull routine.

3) Have the necessary tools and supplies
Make sure that you have all the tools you need and stock up on your supplies when they run low. Before we shifted into our new house this year, one of the first household items I brought over was a mop. Yup, I really wanted us to start on a 'clean' note and make the house ready for the kids. To make cleaning faster and easier, I also make sure I have ample supplies of cleaning products which I use and trust.

If you remember, Angel contracted HFMD last year while Asher had two episodes of pneumonia. Those were terrifying, arduous ordeals and it pains my heart like no other to see my kids suffering. Yes, it's truly no joke when the kids fall sick and it gets worse if they start spreading the germs to one another. In wanting to keep my kids as healthy and as safe as possible, I choose to use cleaning products which have anti-bacterial properties and so far, Magiclean's cleaning range has been working well for us. Here's a look at the products that we've been using.


Yes, these are our must-have products in the Magiclean anti-bacterial cleaning range. I'll share a little more about each of them below.

a) Magiclean Floor Cleaner


I'm always amazed by how much smoother and comfortable the floor feels after a mop, even if it's a quick one. For me, I like a floor cleaner that doesn't need rinsing, gives off a nice fragrance and dries quickly without stains or stickiness - there's a high chance that one of the kids will fall when the floor is wet.


The Magiclean Floor Cleaner not only removes sticky dirt and oil stain, it also dries fast and kills 99.9% of bacteria. Having six fragrances to choose from is a plus point and we love the lingering scent of the Fresh Floral fragrance that we are using.


How my kids help: While I still do most of the mopping because wet, slippery floors are too much of a hazard, the kids can help me to measure and pour the cleaning liquid as well as soak and spin-dry the mop. You have to let them start somewhere, right?

b) Magiclean Wiper and Wet Sheets


After writing that last part, I think I should first clarify that I DON'T MOP the house every day. Seriously, where got time? In fact, this might make your jaw drop but if we don't have visitors to the house, I only mop the floor every weekly. Or even fortnightly. Ah-huh. Before you go "Oh gosh, this house must be so dirty!", let me introduce you to one of our favourite products - the Magiclean Wiper and Wet Sheets, which we turn to every couple of days.


The Wiper is so easy to assemble that my big girl can do it on her own. It works as a makeshift mop for us and make things so convenient because you don't have to carry a bucket of water around the house. Plus, once you are done, all you need to do is dispose the wet wipe and... that's it!


One thing I like about the Wiper is that having a 2.8cm thin mop head makes it easy for you to reach narrow spaces, for instance under the sofa which always gathers a lot of dust in our house since it is right beside the balcony. You can also turn the mop head so as to maneuver around corners easily.


How my kids help: From assembling to wiping, the big girl is usually up for the task and she sees it as a fun activity too, which is a win win for both of us. Even though she takes double the time of what I use to clean the house, I'm just glad she is trying hard. Once, I even saw her putting on a N95 mask herself and went around cleaning the house. How cute, right?

c) Magiclean Fabric Freshener


Let's face it. There are a handful of fabrics that I don't wash as often as I would have liked because it is simply too much of a hassle. These include the sofa, cushion covers, curtains, stroller seat, bean bag covers and bedsheets too. After moving into the new house, I make sure we always have a fabric freshener in the house because you just never know when you might need it. The Magiclean Fabric Freshener helps to penetrate into the fabric fibres and is proven to kill 99% of flu virus and bacteria. There are also natural deodorizing extracts which help to remove odours too. A quick spray on places like the sofa and bed definitely helps to make us feel better, safer and more refreshed.


How my kids help: This task, being one of the easiest and fun ones, belongs to the little sister. She handles the bottle with ease and loves spraying so much that I have to tell her when to stop. Then, she makes it a point to go around the whole house finding fabrics to spray and will ask me for permission first before she does. Awww.

d) Magiclean Natural Plant-based Surface Cleaner


Last but not least, this is something that we've only started using recently but love it nonetheless. Manufactured in Japan, the surface cleaner is a new limited edition product from Magiclean and is made with 100% naturally-derived cleaning agents. Not only does it help to remove grease, stains and finger marks, it also kills 99% of bacterial and helps to keep my house clean and my kids safe.

I often tell my kids to beware of many household products because of the harmful chemical ingredients. Knowing that this plant-based cleaner is made with natural cleaning agents makes me feel relieved and keeps my mind at ease, considering that the kids are in contact with many of the cleaned surfaces.


Moreover, it makes me feel comfortable letting them handle this cleaner on their own too! To use it, all you need to do is spray and wipe with a clean cloth or tissue. It can be used on surfaces like the dining table, kitchen table, baby chair, windows, mirrors, furniture and even toys and electrical appliances. Yes, so previously we had a solution for fabrics and now we have a cleaner for the non-fabric surfaces. Yay!


How the kids help: Easy, all I need to do is give them some clean cloths and ask them to start cleaning - usually the dining table, kitchen top and their study tables! I don't let them deal with electrical appliances yet for obvious reasons, but if they are in the 'cleaning mood' and wish to do more, I just let them spray and wipe away.


It's not that I can relinquish my cleaning duties as a mum and the fact is I still try to get things done in the mornings when the girls are in school and I am left with only one kid. However, we've really seen marked improvement this year and both of the girls have stepped up to their plates and shown better attitudes in taking responsibility, procrastinating less and doing their part to help out in the house. In fact, cleaning is the one chore which we've seen the most progress because it comes easy even to kids and can be a fun activity to do too. Yup, whether the floor is squeaky clean or not, it doesn't matter so much, right? So kudos to you, kiddos!

As for now, it's been a blessing to know that except for a couple of minor coughs, which we let heal on their own, the kids have been well since the start of the year and unlike last year, we've not made a single trip to the hospital or even the clinic. *victory dance* I'm keeping my fingers crossed that things will stay this way for a long time and you bet we'll continue with our routines and rely on our trusted cleaning products to help build a safe family haven.

Magiclean’s anti-bacterial cleaning range is available at all leading supermarkets, hypermarkets, minimarkets and provision shops. For more product information, visit www.magiclean.com.sg/protectyourfamily.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored collaboration between Magiclean and A Happy Mum. All opinions are purely my own.

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