Happiness is... realising less can be more

Posted by ~Summer~ on December 08, 2017
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I admit I'm the kind of person who likes to multi-task, wants to do everything and has a tendency to pack her day full of activities. It's almost like I don't like to sit around doing nothing or feeling like I'm doing so little with my life, you know what I mean?

I guess that is why being a stay-at-home mum of three suits me so well because whaddaya know, I don't even have time to properly breathe on most days now because looking after these kiddos, and having to take care of a house too, keeps me constantly on my toes. I go to bed feeling so exhausted every night nowadays and on some occasions, I even wonder if I should stop blogging altogether to cut myself some slack.

The month of November was a time of realisation for me because it struck me that I needn't, and shouldn't, be trying to do so much and achieve so much every day. In more ways than one, doing less can actually mean gaining more, if only I'd stop in my steps and think about it from another perspective. So yes, in this post of "Happiness is...", it's understanding that less can be more and reminding myself to enjoy the simplicity of life.

LESS ROUTINE, MORE FREE PLAY

We don't usually have a routine at home and the only thing I try to instill nowadays is a bedtime. That said, I still fail 90% of the time because they will procrastinate (okay, sometimes I do that too), will find reasons not to go to bed on time (why must they always wanna pee only after they should be in bed already and not before), and will be overly excited to Papa who returns home late on most nights (if he even comes home at all).

Anyway, I don't come up with a timetable for them on when they should do revision, when they can have time for play, what time to nap, when they can watch TV, when to do the household chores etc. We usually play by ear and I realise that having less routines means they have more time to come up with their activities, to be creative during free play and they even develop more ways to bond and interact with each other.

I came out of my afternoon nap with the toddler one day to see that the girls had already woken up and set up their own 'tent', picnic area and designed their own games to play with all their plushies friends


Grandma's birthday was coming and the girls wanted to make cards, so I just gave them a bunch of materials and let them do whatever they want in their free time


LESS ENRICHMENT CLASSES, MORE FAMILY TIME

I like to keep our weekends free so that we can do anything and everything we want as a family without having to rush here and there for any enrichment classes. That is also why I try to keep our classes to a minimum too because family time is by far too precious to be sacrificed. Other than art classes (which the kids really love) and our sponsored classes at Heguru (which they also enjoy and told me they wish to continue), I do not intend to take on anymore for now. Yes, two is the ideal number, and also the maximum, of enrichment classes for my kids for now. Let's just hope we can stay this way for years to come!

Angel's latest artwork at heART Studio, a chinese painting of a beautiful tree and colourful birds

Ariel's version of colourful, 3-D houses by Karla Gerard
 
LESS CLUTTER, MORE SPACE

Since the school holidays started, we've been trying to declutter and spring clean the house. So far, we've cleared quite a bit of stuff, starting from their wardrobes and study area. Given that our house has no storeroom (go on a tour in our house here) and that I'm trying to be a minimalist instead of being a hoarder, I think it is important that we learn to live with less clutter in our lives. The girls have been really helpful in the process too and I think it matters to let them have a say in what things they wish to keep and what they are able to chuck or donate.

This shelf houses all the clothes that Asher has, other than those in the laundry basket or clothes rack, or those with matching family wear. Really very minimal, right? I always think we don't need much clothes, just the ones that are really comfy to wear over and over again. Explains why I myself don't need a huge wardrobe too!

LESS QUANTITY, MORE QUALITY

The kids honestly don't see much of their Papa on weekdays. That's the truth about being married to a sailor and if you haven't read my post on what it means to be a navy wife (which, to my surprise, garnered over 2,000 likes on Facebook), you really should. It's to the extent that they no longer ask if Papa will be coming home tonight, where he's gone, and they don't even feel a tinge of sadness when sending him off at the airport but waved happily and said "Farewell, Papa!" (On the other hand, they have expressed that Mummy is not allowed to leave them, not even for a short break. #notfair)

That is also why weekends are extra precious to us because the hubby tries to reserve more time for us too and we love exploring new places, hanging out at our favourite places or just doing nothing much but being together as a family. Having less time to spend with him means we cherish the time we have to be together even more. I know I do, because with him around, it means I don't have to do the solo parenting gig and I can finally take a shower in peace. Haha.

We salute you, Daddy, and the whole Singapore Navy. Thank you for working so hard for our family and for our country!


Supporting the hubby at the RSN50@Vivo event. I hope he knows how proud we are of him even if we don't say it out often enough


Love this shot of the kids in the No.1. Go, Navy!

It's been really hard for the hubby to even carry the toddler because this boy refuses and demands for no one but Mama. He has to bribe, coax and use a lot of methods before they could get this precious smiling shot. Dear Asher, please let Papa take you from my arms more often because it breaks his heart when you reject him, you know?

The hubby took time to attend a couple of media events with us this month and I couldn't be more thankful for that. It's always great to be reunited as a family

During the first weekend of November, we went for Halloween Family Night Out held at Kidzania. It was awesome to dress up as a family and though the event ended at 11pm, we went for late night supper and reached home at 1am. Fwah!




Even though we keep reusing our Halloween costumes, the kids were just very happy to be able to dress up again (like what they did last year). Haha. Thanks for being easily contented, my dears!


LESS ANGER, MORE PATIENCE

On some days, I flare up more than I like to and even though I can blame it on many reasons (PMS, the fact that I don't get enough sleep, having to solo parent, a lack of me-time etc), the fact remains that I wish I can be more patient at times without feeling the need to raise my voice, shout, nag, chide or argue. It's not just with the kids, I've had a couple of run-ins with the hubby, who is also feeling lethargic and stressed from his work, too. Yes yes, A Happy Mum does get her share of bad days too, don't doubt it.

Well, moving on, I can only hope to constantly remind myself to keep my cool, to talk amiably, to shout and snap less, to have patience, patience and more patience.

I found this note which was written by the big girl to... herself. Yup, she kept it in her bag to remind herself what to do if she gets angry (she can throw terrible tantrums which frustrate me badly). If even a 8yo can do this, surely I can remind myself to manage my anger and find ways to calm down too? I really hope I can do it.

To the hubby, I think we will never stop bickering from time to time because we are both such headstrong people. Perhaps, that's just how every couple needs to be in order to stay in love forever. That said, let's just remember to always be thankful for each other and for our lovely family because that will be our motivation to keep going. Love you!


LESS COMPLAINTS, MORE PRACTICE

It's never going to be easy having to parent three kids on my own, not to mention that I love to bring them out every now and then to explore, play and have fun. We go out at least thrice a week and let's face it, there are always going to be challenges because these are kids after all and it's never going to smooth and easy for me as a mum. I've had so many people stop me on the streets to give me a pat on the shoulder and to ask me how I do it, but the truth is I'm still trying and learning every day too.

Instead of fearing the obstacles, whining about how tough it can be or grumbling to my absent hubby on WhatsApp, I've decided to instead spend more time on practising, on learning to deal with all sorts of sticky situations (for eg. having to order food at a foodcourt while hearing bawls coming from my table, having to deal with a kid who for some reason needs to poo every time AFTER my food is here, having to split myself in different directions to keep them safe, having to nag non-stop because these people just don't seem to understand instructions). When there's a will, there's a way. I know I can, and I will, continue to enjoy my outings with the kiddos and cherish these years while they are still young and love to hang out with Mama.

We took public transport to town to celebrate the big girl's birthday, which falls on a weekday, and it was a fun day to remember! Glad to see those smiles on her face and once again told myself that as long as I believe I can do it, I will do it.




LESS RUSHING, MORE APPRECIATING

Is it just me or do you feel that we are constantly rushing our kids? Quick, eat your breakfast. Come on, walk faster, we are running late. Can you go to bed now, it's late. You have only five minutes to do this, do it now. Why are you doing it so slowly, we don't have time! I know I do, every day, it's like there are a million things for us to accomplish and we have to quicken our pace somewhat. It's a little sad, isn't it? They will be inevitably sucked into the rat race when they grow up and enter the society, so we should let them make the most of their childhood, slow down their pace and breathe in everything life has to offer, shouldn't we? In fact, my kids are always the ones who remind me to take it slow and enjoy the little things in life. Like how they ask me to stop in my steps to look at a bug, to smell a flower, to look at the trees, to guess the shape of the clouds, to say "Hi" to a stranger. There are so many things that we adults tend to take for granted or stopped appreciating, and it is being a mum that reminds me to slow down, stop more, admire the wonders and enjoy what life has to offer.

I was in a rush one day (as usual) but reminded myself to stop in my steps to appreciate the little things in life. This is something that the kids have taught me and something I think I need to do more of

LESS FOCUSING ON THE BAD, MORE SEEING THE GOOD

More often than not, we tend to pick faults rather than applaud the strengths of our children. I know that too well because I have, on more than one or two occasions, overlooked all the good things that they have done and instead nitpick about how they can be better. It's hard to see that like all human beings, they are not perfect and will never be. So instead of holding them to high standards and expecting flawless behaviour, I keep on reminding myself to focus less on the bad (it doesn't mean I let them go if they do a terrible wrong, I still have to discipline them because it is my job as a mum) and to see more of the good in them. Like how they've been helping me with the chores even if they are not done perfectly, how they still protect each other when we are out even though they bicker at times, how they start off with good intentions even if they end up doing things the wrong way, how they have put in effort even though they might not be different from what I expected. Let go of your so many expectations, Mama, no matter how hard it is.

The firstborn gets the most of my scoldings because I just tend to expect more out of her due to her being the eldest and my best chance of having an extra pair of hands. I need to remind myself to see her as a child, still, to accept her shortcomings and to see all the good that she has tried to do - like how she taught her sister to do her Heguru homework so I could do other chores


The little sister also had her annual school concert themed Wizard of Oz and did a most wonderful job dancing as Tin Man Girl. I have to admit that I was feeling somewhat upset that night because as much as I tried to, I ended up filming a very shaky video of her performance which was totally not up to my standards. Why? Firstly, the toddler couldn't stop fidgeting and it was hard for me to even keep my eyes on, much less enjoy, the concert. Secondly, the hubby stopped me from going nearer to the stage (which most other parents, including me, always do when it's our child's turn) to film her dance because he was scared that the toddler would act up without me. For goodness's sake, I just needed three minutes of peace but I couldn't even get it. As a result, I could only record the dance from where I sat and it ended up that my girl was scanning the crowd for Mama throughout the dance and never did see me. Boohoo.

Well, the thing is she still did a superb job and many fellow parents told me she was a great dancer. Still, I couldn't stop feeling regretful when I edited her video (you know how they love to watch my videos of them, right?) because I could have done a much better recording job and gave her a better video to remember this fond day. It was only when she told me "Never mind, Mama" when I apologised did I realise that she didn't mind it in the least, and it was only my own expectations of myself that I had to manage. Don't sweat the small stuff, Summer, there are so many more things for you to celebrate, so many good things in life for you to discover and so many moments that you should learn to just embrace.

Annual school concerts are some of my favourite milestones of the kids and I always try to take videos for them so that these memories can last forever. You did a superb job in your new school this year, dear Ariel!

LESS HUGE PARTIES, MORE INTIMATE GATHERINGS

We've decided to hold more cosy. intimate birthday parties in our home because honestly, it gives me less stress, allows us to have more interaction, lets me plan more activities for the guests, makes for better goodie bags for those who came, gives us more time and space to thoroughly enjoy every minute of the celebration. Read about our Sylvanian tea party held for the big girl this month (and we have two more parties to come!) and how it was a blast for her and her best buddies. These are memories that will last the kids for a lifetime and I am just happy that I managed to make it happen despite having three year end babies.

The big girl had a wonderful birthday celebration cum farewell party with her best friends from her primary school. She was so happy that day and thankful for everything I did for her. Awwww, I guess small parties are the way to go from here because those big smiles say it all

Another cake celebration (using a slice of the leftover cake) on her actual day. Can't believe how fast she is growing and only reminds me how fleeting these years can be

LESS WATCHING, MORE PARTICIPATING

My kids tend to get very crazy at times (which kid doesn't, right?) and I know that there are times when I nag more than I should or try to tame them when they deserve to have more freedom to be wild and carefree. Nowadays, I try to tell myself to let loose a little, to give them more space to do what they want to do, to forget rules sometimes - and even to join in their craziness.

Yup, perhaps much more than wanting to be photographed or videoed, they just want Mama to make the most of that spontaneous moment with them - be it singing out loud in an empty MRT carriage, doing silly antics and monkey faces, laughing out loud at the slightest joke, dancing like no one is watching and just enjoying all the simple joys of being together. Of being alive.

Don't even know how to caption this, haha. My bubbly, crazy yet perfectly normal and lovable kids?



Yup, there's so much more that motherhood has taught me and I can only once again say that I'm so thankful to be here. Less is definitely more in more ways than one, but if there's one thing I am proud and happy to have more, it's having more kids than my hands can handle because these little people keep my hands full but my heart so full too.

Counting down to the end of 2017 and an awesome new year ahead of us!


1 comment:

Yoohoo, thanks so much for reading my blog and leaving your comment! I am feeling the love! (^.^)

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