Happiness is... balancing work and play

Posted by ~Summer~ on April 16, 2024
in ,

I've always believed in the importance of having a good, healthy work-life balance. For all the time we spend working hard at our jobs, we should spend the same, if not more, time on doing the things we enjoy and being with our loved ones.

Back in Sweden, the hubby usually came home at dinner time when he was not sailing and it was a period of time when we spent lots of family together, including travelling and sightseeing around Scandinavia. Alas, it is not the case now in Singapore and we seldom get to see him at all on weekdays - which is also why weekends are so precious to us. 

But then again, work-life balance doesn't just apply to those holding full-time jobs, right? In my view, it also applies to me as a stay-at-home mum and my kids who are studying. What it means to me is that we need to regularly take time off from our 'jobs' - for me, it is doing chores and taking care of the home, and for the kids, it means doing their homework and revision - and pursue our hobbies, find time to relax and enjoy family time together.

In this post of "Happiness is...", it's about balancing work and play.


Indoor playgrounds are always a hit with the kids and although we've been visiting them less frequently than before due to the escalating costs, we still make it a point to have some fun here every once in a while. The younger ones still love whizzing down slides, engaging in sensory play, playing tag and ball games. 

Having Ansel also means that all the older siblings love to play with him and he gives them a reason to be 'kiddy' again. For instance, Ariel is in the adolescence stage and sometimes, she wonders if she is too 'old' or big for such playgrounds already. I know that she still loves to play but the awkwardness is there, especially now that she just had a growth spurt and has grown much taller. Having a toddler as her younger brother cuts down the awkwardness and she now has a reason to climb onto the play structures, go on slides and jump into ball pools as she plays and looks after him. It's the same when we visit Legoland and the older ones love accompanying Ansel on the kiddy rides because he is always so happy and it warms our hearts to see the joy on his face too.

So when people wonder how it is having a rather huge age gap between the older kids and youngest one, I think it works out perfectly in the end - such is the wonder of life. Ansel has been a blessing to our family - everyone adores him! - and having a fourth kid has been nothing less than a privilege and an absolute joy.

I have to admit that.... my kids sleep very late. And by late, I don't mean 10pm or 11pm because that is considered early in our family. We sleep at past midnight (sometimes even on school days) and when we have our movie nights, it can go even later than that. I definitely don't advocate this habit and I do let them take naps in the day if they are tired. So yes, I am not a strict mum when it comes to bedtime and in fact, too lenient that I end up having to nag at them one by one to go to bed. 

But that also means we are totally cool with hanging out and in fact, we even go out for late night suppers too when we are in the mood. We went for McDonalds' supper one night and the kids were jumping for joy because I was the one who suggested it even though they had school the next day.  These are the kind of fun, heartwarming memories that will linger in our hearts when we are old, right? 

I am also not strict when it comes to drinking cold drinks and desserts. Ask the kids and you'll know - they still get to eat ice cream and frozen yoghurt even when they are coughing. Don't ask me why, it's hard to say 'No' unless the whole family is sick which is usually not the case. And if it's only one or two kids that are feeling under the weather, it's also hard to ask the whole family to skip desserts or cold drinks totally, especially when coughs can last for long since germs spread so easily in school.

Since Sweden days, I've also make it a point to let the kids recover on their own when they are sick and will only intervene with over-the-counter medication if it gets really severe or prolonged. I know many people will disagree with me, even my mum and mum-in-law wonder why I don't just feed the kids medicine once they show any sign that they are unwell. But it's just our way of life and I think some habits and beliefs which are ingrained can be quite hard to change.

Anyway, we love going to Yole for frozen yoghurt every once in a while and I love such mum-and-kids outings (the hubby is never around and anyway he is not a yoghurt fan too) where we end up chatting about anything under the sun.

Do your kids love playing at arcades and claw machines? Mine do, and if plushies are any indication of how much we've played, here's a pretty good idea - of course, there are accumulated over the years. We were clearing up these stuffed toys and putting some in bags for donation. I always tell the kids 旧的不去,新的不来 and remind them that every time they get to play, they need to remember how fortunate they are and not take everything for granted. 

With the teen daughter fast growing up and catching up with my height, I find it such a challenge to guide and even communicate with her at times. Times are not like before and I think we parents have a lot of homework to do when it comes to understanding teens, being updated on trends like kpop, trying to speak in their lingo and reminding ourselves to be more like a friend they can count on than a supervisor who bosses them around.

I was happy that Angel and I found time to do a mini photoshoot for our new Gaston Luga bag which was also a gift for her 14th birthday. It has always been my wish to be BFF with my daughters and sometimes, that holds true but on other days, it still feels like a distant dream. Yes, I definitely have to keep working hard on that. With secondary school being so busy along with not just academics but CCAs and time spent with friends, I cherish the time we get to be together and make sure that this big girl of mine gets time to relax too.

October marks Children's Day and it's the time of the year when I insist on doing something handmade for the kids. This time, I made pop up cards for them and they were very amazed by the cards even though I told them I learnt all from YouTube. Haha. I earnestly hope to keep up with this tradition for many years to come, even when the kids are all grown up and not really kids anymore. It's a token of love from me to them and I hope they will remember this feeling for a long time to come.

I enjoy my one-to-one mornings with the toddler since he still doesn't go to school yet. Most of the time, we are at home but sometimes, I like to take him out on dates and go to places that we haven't been to. This was our first time eating at Ajumma's and it turned out to be so much yummier than I thought, and the two of us had a really nice mum-and-son morning.

I'm not that concerned with academics when it comes to the younger kids and I also don't usually make them write or teach them phonics at home. What we do is read together and that happens every night before bedtime. But, I also love to play with Ansel and we will do puzzles or play card games nearly every day. I also used recycled materials to make 'educational toys' for him and this one was done using cardboard, poms poms and milk bottle lids so he could learn colour recognition and practise his fine motor skills.

What is the highlight of October for us year after year? Well, it has to be..... Halloween!

It is an occasion that my kids eagerly look forward to and this year, we had a Kidzania themed party where the kids tried out different 'occupations' and had lots of fun. Read all about the party and watch our video highlights here.

Just so you know, our party took place right in the middle of Ariel's final year exams and she still had a couple more important papers to sit for. But, that wasn't a good enough reason for us to postpone or cancel the party because I know it meant so much to her - she's usually the most enthusiastic one when it comes to Halloween and and she gives me a Thank You card to thank me for my effort. I wanted her to remember that life is so much more than tests and exams and that her happiness means everything to me.

Looking back, she didn't do as well as she could for her exams and for the first time, failed to make the awards list in her class. Did that make me lament letting her party and have a ball of a time that Halloween weekend? Well, not in the least. We had so much fun and made so many priceless memories and there honestly isn't even a tinge of regret. It's going to be her PSLE year next year but beside the revision and hard work, I am pretty sure we will still be playing and having parties because it's all about striking a balance, right? So we continue to say 'No' to tuition and 'Yes' to fun (I hope I won't have to eat my words next year, haha).

Those big smiles, those happy faces, those precious family moments - they fuel me and make me more motivated to continue to inject fun into our lives and make memories that last.

So if you are reading this, do remember that we all need to let our hair down from to time and be able to relax, rest, play and have fun without feeling any guilt. It's okay to have our me-time, it's okay to feel like a kid, it's okay to wanna retreat into our caves once in a while and do things that our hearts desire. It's also okay if our kids don't ace their exams, can't score full marks for spelling or basically forgot how to write the bulk of the Chinese words that they have learnt before - it happened to my kids and guess what, I used to be a Chinese teacher and hold a Minor Degree in Chinese but my kids don't seem to share my aptitude or passion for the language. 

Oh well, 很多事情只要看开一点,就会开心一点,因为到了最终,必然发现快乐和幸福才是最最最重要的

Till the next post of "Happiness is..."!

1 comment:

  1. I love your blog. You're a wonderful, loving mom who practises loving parenting! Your kids will grow up balanced, whole, with no anxiety issues.


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