Today I’ve Had Enough

Do you know what the challenge of writing a family blog is? It’s that you have to constantly come up with solutions for fellow mamas and offer tips and life hacks and stuff even while your own family is going through a rough patch. There. I’ve said it. 

Today was a bad day for me guys. I don’t pretend to have a perfect life. Blogging is something I enjoy doing not because I am a know-it-all but blogging is a way for me to connect with other parents, a way for me to deal with my loneliness as a stay-at-home mum. I offer what I can, but I never pretend to have my sh*t together all the time. 

So if you are having your worst day of the week today, you’re not alone. 

If your child adamantly refuses to get out of the house when you needed to, know that today my child was like that too. 

If you lost your cool after trying so hard to be calm, know that I just started yelling at one of my kids just now. 

If you’re running behind your to-do list, know that my list never gets cleared. 

If you feel like you’ve had enough of everything, I feel the same way today. 

If your head is so tight you feel like you need some fresh air, know that my head was just about to explode as well. 

That’s why I’m here writing this post. I needed somewhere to vent. But I also needed someone to know that she’s not the only one that had a bad day today. 

I want her to know that everything will start again tomorrow, for the better.

I want her to know that the kids will forgive her.

I want her to know that nobody expects her to be a mama angel all the time, nobody. So don’t go beating herself up. 

I want her to know that parenting was not meant to be anger-free or tears-free. It’s just part of the process that has been going on for thousands of years. 

I want her to know that it’s ok to regret the life choices that she’s made, whether it’s to stay at home or to go to work. Because in the end nobody can have it all. I’m sure she chose what was best at the time. 

I want her to know that family is family and that kids will one day grow up and understand everything, just not today. 

So here I am, trying to get myself together to be the mum that I am, again, and forever more. 

You can too. 

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How to Wean Your Child Off Sugar

My youngest survived on nothing other than his formula milk until he was 3 years old. After which he only nibbled on sugary doughnuts, bread with Nutella spread, Milo drink and whatever that is sweet. Unlike his brothers, he wasn’t a very good eater since he first started solid food at 6 months old. At times I doubted myself and kept wondering “where did I go wrong? How come my child is not eating?”. Sometimes I will blame myself for making food too bland or using vegetables that have no taste to attract his tastebuds. Other times I consoled myself that I did exactly the same thing with my two older boys and they were good eaters. Surely the problem wasn’t me?

Six months after his third birthday I decided to be serious about fixing his nutrition intake. I was getting worried sick about his health and growth. He was clingy and easily tired. For months, at the back of my mind I had known that it’s because he didn’t have the right nutrition in his system but I refused to address it because it was just so hard to deal with a picky eater. It was so much easier to just give him whatever he will eat i.e. all the sweet things under the sky.

So we knew what he liked, and there were 2 main characteristics of the food that he like to eat: sweet and/or crunchy. Things like deep fried wanton (chinese dumpling) or biscuits and cookies were some of his favourites.

When we came to that observation (I know, what took us so long?) my husband and I decided to strip the house of all the sweet and crunchy things so that we can tell him “we don’t have those in the house anymore” and that he was going to have to eat something else. It was TOUGH. It was. He went through some withdrawal symptoms. At bedtime he would say he was hungry and because he drinks milk before bed every night, we would insist that eating time is during meal time i.e. breakfast lunch or dinner and that bedtime is not for eating. He was quite persistent, and it was hard on us, we almost gave in a few times. It took a few nights before he stopped completely which was a huge relief.

And voila, over the next week or so he started eating omelette and bread! He ate that and ONLY the egg yolk of the sunny-side-up egg for a few weeks. Then he moved on to eating pork fat and chicken skin and rice. Then he moved on to eating broccoli and cauliflower! I was over the moon! I didn’t care that he doesn’t eat chicken or pork, at least he eats eggs and some vegetable.

We’re still in the process of making him eat more variety of food. His main staple now is still bread and omelette (like practically almost every meal).

Oh and one more tip, breakfast cereal is not a good idea for breakfast, especially if your child is a sugar addict. Replace it with something else. Cereal is the culprit in our house. He used to ask for it 3-4 times a day. But after we stopped giving him cereal along with other sweetened food, he became a better eater.

So, if you want to wean your child off junk food or sugary food, make sure you wean them off ALL of the sweets. Otherwise his taste bud will still crave for sugar and he won’t eat normal food.

Oh and one last thing. No store-bought juice please. Those are filled with sugar and it won’t help in the weaning process if you still give them those drinks. Give them freshly squeezed juice from your kitchen instead.

Good Luck! I feel you!

What Makes A Happy Child

How do you know you have a happy child? When you give in to every demand? No, that’s not a happy child. That’s simply a spoilt child.

We all don’t want a spoilt child, but sometimes we subconsciously equate giving them what they want to making them happy.

So, again, how do you know you have a happy child? I don’t claim to have happy children 100% of the time but each child of mine has gone through what I would call different mood phases that sometimes last a few weeks or months. Sometimes it is just obvious that they’re not happy little kids and sometimes it just shows in everything they do that they’re contented little kids.

From my humble experience, here are some of the noticeable characteristics of a happy child vs unhappy child:

The characteristics of an unhappy child are often mistaken as their personalities, but they’re not. I know this firsthand because my children can go from one “personality” to another.

Thus, we can conclude that their behaviour does not always reflect their personality, but rather their overall mood.

So how do we help our children be happy little people? Here are my top 5 suggestions:

Instil good sleeping habits

A well-rested child equals a happy little child. It’s common knowledge. Ensuring your child gets enough sleep, however, is not only about getting them to bed early every night. Children who can truly have good sleep are ones that go to bed at the same time everyday, ones that can fall asleep on their own and sleep throughout the night with little waking up.As long as your child has disturbed sleep, looking for you in the middle of the night, she’s losing the benefits of a good night’s sleep. And that often translates into more crankiness throughout the day and if it happens for a prolonged period of time, children deprived of good nights’ sleep may develop symptoms of minor depression.

Provide a balanced diet (ditch the junk food)

You are what you eat. I will add also that you feel what you eat. Children who eat nutritious food are happier little people as compared to those who binge on snacks and sweets. So wean them off junk food.

Model positivity

Children learn from what they see better than from what they’re told. There’s little use in telling them to “look on the bright side” if everyday you and your spouse complain about life, work or certain people. Instead, make it a habit to talk about the upside of unfortunate events and talk about what you’re grateful for each day.

Teach them self-regulation

The term “self-regulation” is used to refer to a range of characteristics and abilities. A child with self-regulatory skills is able to focus his attention, control his emotions and manage his thinking, behaviour and feelings.

A child that has good self-regulation is better able to accept rejections, conflicts and disappointments. As they do not dwell on the negative emotions for too long, they can return to their happiness baseline on their own.

Train them to combat boredom

A child that does not rely on external stimulation for happiness is a happy child. It’s best if parents can reduce structured activity timings for their children and allow them to have free unstructured, unsupervised time. This way, they learn how to entertain themselves and not rely on gadgets or planned activities to have fun.

What are some of the ways you ensure that your child is a happy child? Share your secrets with our readers in the comments below!

Do Each of Your Children Feel Important?

The hubbub of work and school sometimes leave little space for us to give attention to our children individually. Nonetheless, In our family we have figured out 3 effective habits to let each child know that they are special, because they are.

1. Acknowledge their contributions or bigger achievements. Make a point of speaking about the things that you like about each of your children. You can do this as you go about your daily life or you can try what our family has been doing:

Every Sunday night we have a mini family bedtime routine whereby we come together and everyone starts sharing

– “I love it when [so and so] ….. [does something]” or

– “I like [so and so] because ……. “ or

– “[so and so] makes me happy when [he/she]…

We did not only restrict the sentences to our children but each family member gets to tell at least one thing they like about all the other members in the family.

A lot of times we hear happy giggles during this session, sometimes silly sentences come out. Even then, laughing together promotes bonding, just make sure there is no teasing involved because that would have defeated the purpose of making someone feel loved and special.

2. We have monthly dates with our boys on specific dates. They know exactly which day is their date night with either one of the parents. This is how it goes:

– the day of their birthday will be their monthly date for their date. For example if your child was born on 5th of June, we would make his date with a parent on every 5th of the month. They LOVE looking forward to their special date on the calendar as they know exactly when it is. It’s already fixed for the whole year!

– we alternate the parents that go out on these dates. For example January is mummy’s turn to date 3 boys on their own individual days. Then February is daddy’s turn, and back to mummy in March and so on. This way each child gets an undivided attention for some period of time every month and each parent gets to give their time to one child fully in that period of time.

For the child it’s like being an only child once a month. Isn’t that nice? 🙂

– to make the date even better? Let them choose what they want to do on their date day (within reason). You’re guaranteed a happy child for those few hours 🙂

3. Allow for open communication. In our family, we try very hard to let the kids be heard. Sometimes it’s easier said than done. Sometimes we just want to tell them what needs to be done and how they should behave and we forget that they have their own reasons or logic to do certain things.

Listening on the part of adults make children feel that they are loved and that they matter.

To sum up, each child will feel important if parents can

– acknowledge their contribution
– give them undivided attention consistently
– listen.

If you have not been doing the above, here is a challenge for you to take for the next one week.

  1. When my child has done something right, I’m going to praise his/her effort by saying ______________ .
  2. I’m going to decide on the frequency and duration I want to give each child my fullest attention. The frequency is __________ , for a duration of _____________. I’m going to start on _________________ (date)
  3. After my child expresses himself in words, I will make an effort to rephrase what he/she had just said so they know I was listening.

Let me know how it goes in the comments!

10 Ways You Can Make Your Kids Exclaim “You’re The Best!”

It was easy to make babies, toddlers and even preschoolers smile their biggest smile. A simple peek-a-boo can have your baby laughing away for 10 minutes. Chasing bubbles can make a toddler squeal their happiest sounds. A family ride on the top deck of a double-decked bus can have your preschoolers excited for the whole 20 minute-ride. But these things hardly bring out the biggest smiles on our 7 and 5-year-olds now. They claim that everything is boring and that only the iPad can make them happy. Well, sorry boys, that’s not going to happen. You only get a limited amount of screen time each week. So you’re gonna have to learn to enjoy life without the iPad! I survived mine when I was younger!

Nonetheless, there are still so many things that could bring out that biggest smile you’ve been missing. Here are some of my favourites:

  1. Let them run in the rain. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen Oliver’s biggest smiles on the days I let him run freely in the rain. My tummy does some butterflies whenever I see that level of contentment on his face. It’s just priceless. Running in the rain gives them a sense of freedom and a chance to release any tension they might have. Water helps to reduce anxiety and calms a person down. So let them run, let them get wet. Allow them to let loose. Just make sure they have a non-slip pair of sandals on and that there are no possibilities of falling branches in the vicinity.
  2. Make slime together. Nothing makes kids more excited than being able to make their own toy! They love knowing that they can make something found in the toy shops. It’s like they have special abilities! Even my dear Oliver who has a slight tactile hyper-sensitivity enjoys slime. Whew!
  3. Family movie nights. In my 8 years of parenting, I haven’t come across any child that does not like looking at the screen. So of course, when we proposed a movie night, our 3 boys jumped in pure excitement! I love that feeling when you know your kids are happy with your suggestions. Our movie nights are right in our own family room in the comfort of our own cosy sofa seats. You don’t have to make a trip to the cinema, but you can do it once in a while.
  4. Favourite Characters In Town. Keep a look out at your local malls for any visits by Paw Patrol, PJ Masks, Peppa Pig or Barney, etc. They would be over the moon to get to meet their favourite characters. It might be equivalent to us getting to meet Meryl Streep. You get what I mean.
  5. Play chase. I have to admit that joining my children in their games of chase or hide and seek and soccer takes a lot from me. I would rather be seated with my book. But every time I want to say “no”, the images of those happy smiles while I chase them and the memory of the sounds of the happy squeals when they try to run away from me tell me that it’s going to be worth it. Get in the game. Don’t just sit at the bench. Join them when they play with other children at the playground. You have no idea how proud they feel when their friends say to them “your parents are so cool!”.
  6. Get an indoor swing. Our occupational therapist said that swinging helps calm the mind, especially for children with sensory processing disorder. Well, after that session, we went to IKEA and got our very first indoor swing! For those of us who live in an apartment or simply do not have that big of a yard space, an indoor swing is the perfect solution. They can swing as they switch between different activities inside the home. They do not have to wait for “playground time” or “backyard time” to get to enjoy the benefits of swinging.
  7. Surprise them with puddle-ready sandals or boots. Last week I did something I had never done before. It was a rainy day, I picked up my children from school with their Crocs sandals ready in hand for them to change into. They put on their raincoats and was allowed to run wild and jump in all the puddles on the way home. Those smile and giggles were priceless.
  8. Art and craft. I realise that ever since Edward goes to Primary 1, he craves for more art and craft activities at home. I suspect it’s because he has less art and craft in school than he used to have in K2. So I try my best to give them one art and craft slot per week to let them express their creativity.
  9. Say “yes” to playdates. Edward is going to have his first playdate with his Primary 1 classmates tomorrow and he’s so excited! Even Oliver is excited too because he knows them as well. They plan to play badminton and some other games. Imagine if I had said no, what would they have missed out?
  10. Play their games. We all love it if our partner joins us in our favourite activity. I love it when my husband accompanies me to the museum and he loves it when I accompany him to an Apple shop. Ha! Children also crave for parents to participate in activities that they like. Right now Edward and Oliver are into Pokemon cards. Until today I still do not understand what is so fun about playing Pokemon cards but I play with them anyway and it makes them feel loved when we play what they like. What do your kids like? Play with them, they’ll love it!