Happiness is... getting used to solo parenting

Posted by ~Summer~ on October 16, 2019
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One of the most common questions I get from readers is how I survive solo parenting with no help when the hubby is away. While I am flattered that many of them find it incredibly amazing, I also admit truthfully that there are days when I feel defeated, when I lose my cool and when I just feel like throwing in the towel and not be a stay-at-home mum.

Yup, it is never a bed of roses for me, no matter how much of our happy life is portrayed on social media. That, you have to know. I am pretty sure all of us have our ups and downs in this parenting journey and thus, I learnt to stop comparing, stop lamenting and stop wishing, but to instead pick myself up when I fall and try harder than I did yesterday.

With the hubby's unpredictable schedule and frequent OTs, it is really a case of me vs the kiddos most of the time. I guess that's the reality of life in his line of work and I have grown accustomed to it over the years.

In this "Happiness is..." post, it's about getting used to solo parenting. Because I have to. And, I wanna make the most of it and let these moments be looked back upon as fond memories when the kids are all grown up.

During the school holidays, we decided to go on a wild adventure and I took the three kids on my own to St John's and Kusu Island! The hubby was surprised that I would want to do that without him but I thought it was too good a chance to be missed when I saw the excursion details on a RC's website.

I brought along the hubby's military bag as well as two more small bags, and in them contained our ponchos, umbrellas, change of clothes, snacks, water bottles, sunscreen, mosquito repellent and more. We were advised to bring along our own lunch too so I woke up before the sun rose to steam some chicken rice along with char siew and roasted pork so we could have a hearty lunch later on. That, turned out to be a great decision because the kids were indeed very hungry halfway through - we were out from 7am plus to past 5pm - and there was no way we could get any decent food on either of the islands. Haha. I will try my best to write up more about our experience in a separate post so stay tuned.

We LOVE karaoke! Or actually, I think it's because of my love for karaoke that caused the kids to listen to countless pop songs and in turn fall with love with singing too. Haha. On a random Friday night, I decided to call up the nearest Teo Heng outlet and we got ourselves a small room where we sang our hearts out for three full hours. Yup, so shiok! We even tabao-ed dinner over and brought along our own microphones so we were kept happy and occupied throughout. We also took over an hour to travel to and fro the place because the kids wanted to take the public transport. Haha. Yup. That meant that we reached home nearly midnight but oh well, no school the next day, right? It was a wonderful mum-and-kids outing that night, or so I thought. I really enjoyed myself and even sang JJ's newest song 对的时间点 and taught them to sing it too. Haha.

I've always wanted to teach the kids to give back to society and to do acts of kindness whenever they can, no matter how small. I used to donate blood when I was younger but when I was informed that I had thalassemia and my iron count was lower than the minimum level required, I stopped for years. Last month, I went to a donation drive and asked them if I could still donate blood if I had thalassemia, they said yes but would need to assess my iron count first. Lo and behold, it was above what was required and I was given the green light to donate - they were so nice to give me iron pills so I could replenish my body. It was the first time the kids saw the whole process from start to end - I had to bring all of them with me because the hubby was out for football - and I think it inspired them in one way or another to help others too.

On the topic of helping others, thanks to a very big-hearted friend, we took our kids to Bendemeer market on a Friday in the hope of bringing smiles and joy to people. Firstly, we treated the elderly and the cleaners to some drinks as we walked around asking them one by one if they would like one. It would surprise you but some of them would actually refuse, thinking if we had any ulterior motive. It was a good way to train the kids to be brave and learn to approach and start conversations with the elderly too - most of them were only too happy to see these little ones - and to deal with rejection too. Halfway through, a lady approached me from behind and said "I just want you to know that what you're doing with the kids, it's just wonderful." I think that was more than what I needed to hear that day.

Well, we didn't stop there too. After making our rounds, we went to the provision shops and bakery stores to get household supplies, coffee, tea, biscuits, cookies and bread so we could distribute them. We went to the HDB blocks and went to unit by unit, asking whoever was around if they would like to receive some goodies. We also went to the Lion Befrienders and left them bags of food before we called it a day too. Those smiles and words of thanks from these people whom we did not know made our hearts a little fuller that day.

I guess going to KidZania on a solo parenting day makes the job easy for me, right? Well, the thing was it was a media invite so I had to follow them around and document our experience through photos and writing. Still, it was a fun day for everyone and I think we would never get bored of this place. The kids still enjoyed the activities at the establishments, even the ones that they had done before too. This was their first visit to the University and I got a little teary when they were all donned in the graduation gowns and mortarboards. Awww. How cute!

After a whole day at KidZania, the kids and I decided to stay out late by going for dinner at Good Old Days, walking along the fountain and trying to spot frogs on the way, and watching the mesmerizing light show at the Merlion afterwards. We were so lucky that there was a carnival that day and there were arcade games, including Dance Dance Revolution and Bishi Bashi, which were free to play! Woohoo! We stayed for another couple of hours there just enjoying ourselves and feeling thankful that it was the school holidays. Yup, my kids sleep pretty late and we don't have much of a strict routine, especially when it comes to holidays.

We take the public transport regularly. Yup, you probably know that by now if you follow us. That is because the hubby is often away and I don't drive. Plus, travelling around by MRT and bus is so much more economical than taking cabs every time. So, these three are very accustomed to going around the island by public transport already and if you ask me, it's a good thing to start training from young.

Now that we don't need the stroller as much as before as they are getting bigger, it makes it easier for us to go to the upper deck when we take the bus. Just like when I was younger, they love the front row seats so we always hope that we can find empty ones and go on a, well, make believe roller coaster ride. Haha.

We celebrated Teacher's Day in September and that concluded my final parent volunteer event for this year. We had spent a few months brainstorming about the ideas and coming up with the actual gifts and books filled with personalised messages from the students and I was just happy that I was able to contribute once again - even if that meant spending hours and hours of hard work putting everything together.

As for our own gifts, as always, I wanted the kids to do something handmade so this year, we came up with the idea of making bookmarks. The big girl used her handlettering skills to write the thank you quotes for the teachers, the little sister wrote personalised messages and drew pictures,  and the baby boy was, for the first time, able to write his own name too. Yay! Simple but sincere, that's what I hope we can always strive to do when it comes to getting gifts for the people who matter.

Still solo parenting? Yup, I think we didn't see the hubby much at all in September because his work really took up much of his time, and still does. The way I see it, it's not gonna get better at all in the upcoming months so we can only try to do our best and keep the house together while he is gone. Even though he wasn't able to spend the school holidays with us, I still wanted to bring the kids out to relax, have fun and just take a break from school.

We made our way across the island to Science Centre one day because I've been wanting to bring them to KidsStop again. Yup, the little sister mentioned a long time ago that she wanted to try the Giant J slide and I wanted her to know that I do remember. This plucky girl of mine went up nearly all the way to the top (max is 7m, she went to 6m) on her first try and it was really amazing of her. You go, girl! We then spent the rest of the session letting them tinker, play and just enjoy bonding while having fun.

We climbed up the clouds to reach the music room at the top and I saw how Ariel was taking care of her brother the whole time, holding his hand, guiding him and telling him where to step next. Well, I guess maybe I wasn't needed much after all but hey, I just wanted to be there and be present in the moment with them too. We took the public transport all the way back, even stopping halfway to visit a friend at her house and play with her baby, and I have to say that it was definitely a tiring but memorable day we had.

It's quite amazing how many playgrounds we can find in Singapore and I'm on a quest to explore more of those that we have not played before. Even in my own neighbourhood, we still have so much more to check out and isn't it great how these kids can play for free in all these playgrounds?

This spider web was found in Potong Pasir and I couldn't resist climbing up to the top with the kids and helping my youngest to reach the halfway mark too. It brings back so many fond memories of my secondary school days where we would climb up and lay down to watch the shooting stars above us. Now that I am a mum of three, I still want to be that fun mum who plays in the playground and knows how to let her hair down from time to time too.

On another note, the big girl has embarked on her Ortho-K journey with Eyesight.sg and I will be sharing more on that with you very soon. So far, it has been quite a smooth journey for her and she loves being specs free, especially since she loves to dance so much. I am just glad that we took this up and hopefully this will help to control her progression as this bookworm of mine will never stop reading and I don't her to, too.

Anyway, we went to the optical shop three times in the month of September and spent many hours on her consultation and in getting her to learn to do the routine. The longest visit was nearly four hours and I had the two younger ones with me. I had brought along our homemade slime - which I can't decide was smart or dumb because while it made a huge mess that I had to clean up, it also kept them entertained and happy - and these two younger ones were, luckily, quite cooperative. The brother even fell asleep on his own in the buggy while the big girl was still trying hard to overcome her fear and put in the lens on her own. Not easy at first but well, we survived and we are off to a great start!

Back at home, I've been trying to keep up with our homecooked meals, no matter how simple our dishes are. Even if the hubby returns late, sometimes he still heats up the food to eat so at least my cooking is appreciated. Haha.  The kids have been more active in the kitchen nowadays, especially Ariel, who always volunteers readily to be my little helper when it comes to mealtimes. She loves cutting and frying and is getting better and better at handling the knife.

It's hard to say if their helping out makes my work easier or harder but I can tell you that I believe we just need to let go and let them try. Even if the time taken to cook is doubled, even if the floor becomes a huge mess, even if they make mistakes here and there, the only way they can learn and get better is if we let them have the chance to fail and to try again. I'm also learning to hold my tongue whenever they do something wrong in the kitchen, for instance the girl spilled a whole box of Coco Pops which went all over the kitchen floor and under the fridge and that was in the middle of my cooking and almost drove me mad. Stop being a naggy mum and stop getting fed up over the trivial stuff, I tell myself that every single day.

We started doing yoga, in addition to our dance workouts, and that is mostly done after dinner before bedtime. We would just search for some yoga tutorials on YouTube and after that, do our own stretching too, like sit and reach or half splits. It's nice to see all three of them showing interest in keeping fit with me and gives me more motivation to not be a lazy mum. Haha. It is also a good way to pass time too since we are also home alone on most nights. I don't like it when they keep asking to watch TV but mum-and-kids workouts, yes, let's keep these coming.

You know, these monthly posts makes me realise how much we do within the span of a short month, and all those that I've written here isn't even all of it. Haha. It's pretty incredible how much we can achieve and how much we can do within four weeks, isn't it? We went to town to watch a theatre show and after that, I decided to make the most of it by going shopping! Haha. Yup, I rarely shop but that day, I decided to pamper myself and get a dress which was going on sale for $12, can. Okay, I bought a shorts too but before that, I needed to try it. That was when I realised the fitting room had a long queue but nonetheless, I decided to try my luck. It turned out that these kids were pretty good at entertaining themselves by pretending to be models and fashion designers so I was given ample time to shop and try out the clothes. Fwah, so blessed!

I guess it's good for them to learn to give and take, for it can't always be me doing what they want 24/7, right? At times, they have to understand that Mama still has her wants and needs too and they can help by respecting that and giving me the space and time that I need. That is also why we don't just watch kiddy movies too, but instead, we alternate between a kids' movie and a more grown-up movie. I'm not sure if it's good or bad, but that's just how we roll in this family.

It's never easy to find one-on-one time with the kids when you have three and when the hubby is seldom around. Still, I've been working on that. The boy gets plenty of time with me every day because he only goes for three hours of preschool, and last month, I had some precious time with the secondborn too because it was her off day from school. We went for breakfast and had her favourite 鸡蛋面包, we visited a friend's newborn because she loves babies, we spoke about things that she liked and I listened to the stories she had to share, for once without any disruption. It means so much to any child, doesn't it?

We also went for our first Hello Kitty Walk and it was our first night walk ever. Somehow, 5km feels longer at night than it does in the day but we are still glad we made it in the end. Read more about our experience here, including how we forgot to take our bag which contained our race bibs, how I was left with the kids for the first leg of the race because the hubby couldn't find parking, and how we still managed to make it to the end and had a great night out.

Weekends are precious to us because it means Papa is usually home. He always tries to keep most of his weekends free for us and even if he needs to finish up on his work, he will go back to office late at night. The best thing about weekends is we will go out to explore the island or just have fun together, which also means I don't need to cook. Haha. Be it a simple McDonalds breakfast or a mookata dinner, it matters so much to us that he is home with us and I can see how much his presence means to the kids too.

Museums are great places to visit and a good way for the kids to learn about the world and history of Singapore. I didn't used to like museums so much - maybe because my parents didn't bring me - but I'm hoping these kids will know how blessed they are to enter our museums for free and be able to check out so many awesome exhibitions. We visited the National Museum - the oldest museum in Singapore - once again last month and our favourite was the Glass Rotunda which brings you into a magical forest.

Going to the arcade just once a month isn't that bad, right? We were at Timezone for half an hour as we had time to spare before our movie started. Yup, we still go out aplenty and refused to be bogged down by tuition classes or enrichment classes on the weekends. I hope all these moments will be fondly remembered by these kids and perhaps one day, just one day, they will look back and be thankful for all these opportunities to play in their growing up years.

We celebrated my dad's birthday and had a nice hotpot lunch together with my parents. The kids made a simple birthday card for him and I know seeing how he always put up our cards and pictures onto their wall at home. Awwww. He's the one who always plays with them, buy drinks for them and carry them up when they want to swing on the monkey bars. I hope these kids will always love their Ah Gong and knows how much he loves them too. That said, we are taking my parents and in-laws for a getaway in December and I think it's gonna be lots of fun!

Thanks to The Westin, we had one of our best Sunday lunches ever at their signature Seasonal Tastes restaurant and that came complete with fresh seafood, lots of sushi, ice cream, desserts, laksa, fishball noodles and the chance for the kids to decorate their own cookies too. More than the food, it was more of the opportunity to come together as family and spend some well-deserved time together..... before the whole solo parenting gig begins again. Haha. Positive thinking: We are all gonna survive - even with the exams - and everything will be great and the holidays will be here again in no time. Jia you!

We made so much wonderful memories in the month of September and I am thankful for that. The year end is gonna be a busy period again because all the kids are turning a year older soon. Gasp. Again! Till more updates in October!


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