My daily routine as a FTWM + Sanity Tips

Christy familyBeing a FTWM (Full Time Working Mum) is like holding 2 full time jobs. A career woman by the day and a mum-teacher-maid by night. It is not easy to handle the evening’s demands of child-rearing and house chores after a full day fatigue and stress at work. Many people think that after I go home, it’s just all play with my 3 adorable kids. But the truth is nothing like this since I do not have a domestic helper. However, being helperless, I have many opportunities to bring up my kids to be independent and not take things for granted. I believe any unfavourable situation has a potential to benefit from it.

Many people are curious about how I handle the household after work and still have time for blogging. When I told them about it, there are mixed reactions. Some praised me for being a supermum after hearing my schedule. Some offered suggestions to “improve” my situation. Some thought that because I have my parents-in-law to help out during the day so I must be “shaking legs” (means nothing to do) after I get home. Some were mortified when they heard that I am alone with 3 screaming kids on most nights because my hubby meets clients after their work. Then some of them have the same expression that tells it all: this mum’s “plight” is worse than theirs.

Some people might be put off at having more children for fear of sacrificing their freedom. Actually, there is really nothing so scary about having more kids and being helperless. You just have to have good planning and be positive. Of course there are days when I feel like crying, wishing I could just relax after I get back home and enjoy some peace and quietness. But, there are also days when I feel invincible after keeping the house neat and clean, supervising the kids’ piano and academic work and still have time to play with the kids happily. Especially, at the end of the day, the kids kiss me and whisper a “Thank you mummy!”, I feel everything is worth it.

Parents who do not have to do house chores may not necessary spend more time with their kids than me. And it doesn’t mean that if you have to do house chores on your own, you will have to spend lesser time with your children. It just takes some planning and lots of patience. There is no right or wrong on how people choose to spend their after work hours. Everyone has their own right to do what they like and how much time they want to spend with their kids or not. For me, I really enjoy being with my children. Although at times, they drive me crazy every 5 minutes and I have to sacrifice much of my own me-time, I still treasure each second of my precious evening time with them.

On a typical weekday, my day looks like this:
Morning – The alarm rings off at 540am. I wake up my girl at 550am and let her toss in the bed till 6am while I prepare breakfast for her. The breakfast is usually very simple like making cheese omelette, or hardboiling eggs the night before for egg mayo sandwich in the morning, or a pre-prepared nutrient pack smoothie. On some tired mornings, my girl is also fine with just bread and jam with a cup of milk or Milo. I am learning more recipes from other mums on easy-to-make breakfast to cut short my time. Then, I see her up the school bus before 630am and jog 2 rounds in the neighbourhood after that. Usually by the 2nd round, I will make sure I catch up with her school bus making its rounds in the neighbourhood for a chance to wave at her and make her smile. After that, it’s back to home and I have less than an hour to throw the clothes into the washing machine, boil water, do some blogging and prepare myself out of the house for work.

Evening – After I get back home from work, I will put down my things and kiss each of my 3 babes. My in laws cook for us on most days and I am thankful to them which otherwise, I have to revert to days when I woke up early and slept late to prepare ingredients for after work cooking. I eat dinner together with my 2 elder kids while my toddler is entertained by Baby TV as his “nanny”.

After dinner, I delegate the house chores to the 2 kids. Every night, they wash their own plates and cutlery, and put back their own clean clothes into the wardrobe. Then they choose one additional house chore to do: vacuum the floor, mop the floor or tidy up the living room littered with toys. This additional duty is only on weekdays for now. I then do the rest of the house chores. When the kids help out, I can finish up the basic house chores by 8pm.

We try to follow the time-table for after dinner activities. The elder kids are still in Lower Primary and hence have minimal homework. On days with homework, I supervise selectively. Once homework is done, we will follow the time-table for evening activities. There will be 3 nights of free play and 2 nights of academic work or reading books or piano practice. I believe in giving them as much free time for play as possible before the intensive academic years come and rob them of their childhood.

For free play, we do an activity like playing cards, board games, story-telling or anything the kids want to do that will not take up more than an hour. Activities that require more time will be reserved for the weekends. Not all days will see the perfect relax evening with the kids. For half the nights, I am always breaking up fights, disciplining back talk, teaching piano all with the screaming toddler walking and climbing all over the place. I need to have more than one pair of eyes to teach piano, or play a game and at the same time make sure the toddler is not picking up erasers off the ground to put in his mouth, or playing with the fishes in the tank.

Bedtime – Most school-going kids will be off to bed by 9pm. For us, we have such short 1.5 to 2 hours of the evening to spend together, the kids and I are only willing to turn out the lights at 1030pm. Now all 3 of them are fighting to have me stay in the room till they sleep. They love my presence and love to talk to me about their day events in the dark. If the hubby is not back by their sleep time, I will have to accompany my toddler to sleep before tucking in the elder kids. I know parenting books encourage kids to fall asleep on their own, but I am one who love to stay with the kids in the dark before seeing them fall asleep soundly. However, it can be trying at times when I have unfinished tasks to attend to. Once the kids sleep, I will spend 20min to reset the house in order and prepare for the next day school needs. Then, it’s me-time finally. That’s when I blog or read.

Tips on making things easier for me
It takes a godzilla of patience and energy to keep cool dealing with 3 young kids and not feeling the fatigue after work. After lots of trial and error, I made some changes to the house and myself that help me stay on top of things and have less stressful evenings.

1) Buy new storage furniture

TV ExpeditTurquoise Expedit
My living hall is always littered with toys and storage boxes are all over the place which makes it very untidy. So, I bought an IKEA EXPEDIT TV Storage Rack. It has many compartments for me to keep toys neatly in IKEA matching storage boxes. I bought a beautiful Turquoise EXPEDIT 8 shelves rack to sort out different toys. The school bags go here too. Now my living hall is so much neater and easier to keep toys hidden. It is a breeze for me to mop the floor now. It makes me feel happier with a tidy common area. If you are thinking of what I did with my old TV rack, there are many options to clear bulky items, sell or donate old furniture. One good place to start is at usedfurnituresingapore.net.

2) Change the writing desk orientation
Previously, my kids do not have a proper designated place to do their homework. They do the homework all over the place, eg. on their beds, on the floor, on the dining table, on a foldable bed table. The toddler will tend to disturb them if their pencils and books are within his reach and it was extremely disruptive. I decided to change the orientation of our IKEA long work desk to be perpendicular to the wall so that the kids can do their homework on opposite sides. When they are doing their work, I could bring the toddler out and play with him in another room. A proper study area is very important. I realized a tad too late but better than never.

3) Get the kids to do house work
If you have been following my blog, you will know that I like to delegate house chores to them. I train them to do morning routine daily without my supervision. I let them know that each of us has a responsibility to keep the house clean and tidy and hence they have to help out on house chores. I often tell them if they help out, I will have more free time to spend the night with them. This helps me a lot especially when the hubby is not around.

4) Plan out things that help you to save time

Letter tray
Every night, I have to seek their wallet/purse and water bottles to replenish contents. I have to remind them whether they have school notes and forms for me to sign. I decided that they shall be responsible for all of these and bought 2 trays to put on my new IKEA shelf. One tray for the school notes and one tray for the water bottles and wallets. This small idea help put the responsibility in them and make it easier for me.

5) Time-table
I cannot emphasize how useful a time-table is in getting the kids to do things independently. What happen to the kids during the hours that I am at work? I cannot place the responsibility on my parents-in-law to supervise the kids to do the things I want them to do. Besides, they will not follow instructions other than mine. So, I sit down with each of them to plan out a time-table. I check on them after I return home. I will know if they follow through the time-table or not. I set rules on no watching TV for weekdays and get my parents-in-law to let me know if they flout the rules. You will be surprised, with a reasonable time-table, kids will follow it.

6) Sleep!
What an important ingredient to keeping sane and have a happy home! On days that I have enough sleep, I am more patient with the kids and am able to handle tantrums efficiently. Similarly for the kids, if they have enough sleep, they will tend to have lesser meltdown moments and squabbles.

A Peek into the After Work Hours of a FTWM

This is a blog train hosted by Kids R Simple (that’s me!) on “A Peek into the After Work Hours of a FTWM. Read about how the other 20 FTWMs handle their kids and household everyday from 1 June to 21 June. The aim is to give other working mums motivation, ideas and support to deal with the everyday demands of juggling work and family while keeping sane. We will be happy to hear your story, tips and even an encouraging word will make our day! Share your thoughts in the comments!

Tomorrow, Mrs Kam from The Kam Family will be sharing her routine:

The Kam Family
Mrs Kam is a FTWM to 2 pre-schoolers, 6 and 4.5 years old. From the moment she fetches the children from the childcare centre at 6pm, the Supermum costume is donned on her and she would be fully occupied with the motherly and wifey duties till late at night. She copes well with all the house chores and taking care of the children on her own without any help. Find out how the Supermum does it 🙂

31 thoughts on “My daily routine as a FTWM + Sanity Tips

  1. I’m so very impressed at how you are balancing work and life! What a great example you are providing for your kids about balance, and by letting them help out in the house you are showing them how to be a participating member of the household and giving them the skills they need for their future!
    And I love the organization bins!! I’m a big fan of those! 🙂

    • Thanks for the lovely comments! Actually I feel quite weird sharing my routine which I find not really the best routine in similar situation. Lots of trial and error and lots of adjustment every now and then. So, I am hoping to learn some good routine and tips from other mums too 🙂

  2. Those parenting books that you have to let them fall asleep? I’m sure it makes some sort of difference on average, but I think you have to question if it’s worth the trouble, given that they’ll grow out of it (one day). Some will say yes, but no is a very valid answer. We also went with “no”.

    Thanks for the peek into your day! Always nice to see how people balance things, since finding the right balance is so hard.

    • High 5! I know parenting books on sleeping is good in general for the parents more than the kids. However, I just can’t bear to leave the baby crying. I have to agree 100% with you that yes, they will grow out of it, it’s just a matter of time. When you look back, you may even miss sleeping with them.

      This peek into my routine took me many nights to draft it out. Partly because I don’t find it really fantastic a schedule to share, yet I feel that it’s possible to handle 3 kids alone and helperless. It just takes patience and planning. Lots of me-time is sacrificed but at the end of the day, I find it’s totally worth it.

      • There’s one sleep book (by Elizabeth Pantley) which advises, at the start, that you may not want to follow any of the sleep methods in the rest of the book at all and things will turn out just fine either way. I took that advice to heart (and threw out all the other books).

        It sounds like a very workable schedule. I’m a bit curious as to the timetable your kids follow during the day? Only if you want to share.

      • Actually, I am planning to share the daily time-table that I have for my kids. They are different every few months depending on the needs and schedule in school. For instance, I have one for the June holidays and the kids had just been briefed on that tonight. I will share that out once I am done with the rest of the posts in the pipeline 🙂

  3. I wanted to comment already on your teaser post but we were out on an island and the connection was so bad that I couldn’t comment. So here it all comes: what a GREAT idea for post, and even better for having many of you participate! And your post got me to think soooo many thoughts again, to start off with: I already new you were organised but getting up at that unheavenly hour and going for a run?!!! Well done! 😀

    I like the way you get your kids to help you out. Mine are still pretty young but I still think we can do things together and they’ll learn at the same time. And there are things they can have a “responsibility” in such as hanging up their clothes where they belong. I want my kids to learn how to do chores, and I want them also to learn that things do not get done without somebody doing them. But there I also noticed a cultural difference; you mentioned that you do not have a helper at home, which here is almost unheard of. It would simply be too expensive for most average people (which pretty much everyone here is;) ).

    Then again, it is quite normal here that fathers do their share at home, I am pretty sure e.g. that my father vacuumed and ironed more at our house than my mother ever did.

    Btw, I looooove those little trays for water bottles and wallets! We’ve been lately working on getting a place that works for everything we need, it is so infuriating to start looking for something the minute you should be out of the door…

    • Thanks for sharing your own routine and trying to comment while on holiday! I was waiting to hear your views on this 🙂 Yes, the night is indeed short and I would love more me-time too but still prefer common time like you say. My husband does help out when he’s back home early. Otherwise I would try to finish the chores so that he doesn’t have to do in the wee hours. I certainly do more chores than him lol!

      In Singapore, we are lucky to be able to afford helpers and I would say half of the people whom i know have one. The rest are either married with no children or having one child. I know it is not the norm in other countries out of Southeast Asia. Hence I am always in awe that these countries have no falling birth rate and yet the mums are able to handle many kids plus chores. They are so capable. We have so much help over here with parents living nearby. It’s just a mindset thing I feel. Everyone can do without a helper. Great that you are also doing well without one 🙂

  4. PS I find the week evenings with kids very short too,mainly though, because I have to put them to bed so early because they don’t sleep at daycare. But I have currently more me-time than I have had for the last 4 years due to that reason! (but I’d prefer less me-time, more common time…) we’ll see what will happen after the summer holidays as my husband will start a new job and will be working one week on, one week off! I might need tips from your schedules 🙂

  5. Wow! My jaw dropped all the way to the floor reading this post! Especially about you waking up at 5.40am and jogging 2 rounds and still can do laundry before going to work! And all those stuff after a long day of work! All I can say is… SALUTE! You’re inspiring! I wish I have your energy…

    • Ah… I wish I can have it easier Ing! There’s not much choice at this period of time and in this period of circumstances. I am suffering lack of sleep still and still tweaking routines here and there. I need the jog to maintain my physical and mental health 🙂

  6. Been meaning to comment but just haven’t got down to it! That’s why I chose to be a SAHM, because I really can’t juggle so many things!!! It really takes a lot of focus and purpose to know how to be a FTWM and be able to treasure and maintain a bond with your kids! I just read Why French Children don’t talk back and you remind me of being ‘french’, working full time but still keeping your kids in hand.

    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts here. I wish to be a SAHM if I have a chance, so I really envy you 🙂 It takes lots of energy for FTWM, SAHM alike. I can understand your schedule as I did enjoy 5 months of SAHM during my maternity leave. I enjoy tremendously on the bonding and the fact that I am able to plan out activities for my kids! I even enjoy the cooking and house chores to a certain extent. Can you share with me which author wrote this book that you mentioned here? I would love to read too!

  7. You are interested in my after work hours? Maybe I’ll share them here rather, feels more appropriate after your great introduction 🙂
    It really starts with the mornings with my husband going to work early. so I get up at 6am, get myself and the kids ready for daycare and drop them off there for breakfast. I ride the bike now in the summer to get some exercise too, and should aim to start work 8-8.30, and am most days home 4.30-5pm as my husband mostly picks the kids up from daycare. He also works reduced hours due to small children (entitlement of the law, but it also means reduced salary ;). He’ll go up to full hours again in July though) and is home one day a week with the kids. On that day I usually work a bit longer and instead try to finish one day a week at 2.30 to have more time with the kids (and on that day my husband works longer). Those days I try to do something a bit different with them, go to a playground, cafe, do a special craft etc.
    Most days I’m home about 4.30-5pm. Then I cook if my husband hasn’t or we don’t have rests (as I am soooo over cooking I often do big stews, soups or oven casseroles to last two days to save time), have dinner and clean up after that, play with the kids (domino or other games, draw/paint, read, lego, cars and my little ponies are in. Now with the light and warm nights we often play on the yard too), and every second night we have a bath. There isn’t much time for anything else as at 7-7.30pm (depends on how tired the kids are, I prefer the latter) kids clean up their toys and we go to kids room and read for about 30min and then it is good night by 8pm. But we take turns with my husband with putting kids to bed so every second night I have “me time” from the 7-7.30pm onward which I use for exercise, preparing for the lunch for work, and cleaning. The one putting to bed needs to “hoover” closer to the kids room for 20-40minutes, and here comes the gender differences in our family: my husbands then sits with the computer. So do I, but only after I’ve folded laundry, cleaned a toilet or something 😉 We’ll see what kind of routines we get when my husband starts working one week on, one week off in August!

    • I am so envious of your flexi work hours! It sure sounds perfect and of course here I go again marveling at Finland’s pro family culture. Your evening chores are so well spread out with your husband. I love that both of you coordinate so well and it makes it so balance. My situation is certainly different since my hubby works late. In Singapore, that’s almost a norm. Nevertheless, I am happy to read how others manage so well and kind of inspires me with ideas to improve my own 🙂

      • It really hit me, when reading your stories, how long the days are in Singapore! Here, traditionally, the office hours are 8am-4pm but it has become more common to have at least some what flexible hours, and since I as a counsellor/ project employee create my own schedule, it really makes my own life easier. And I am happy I chose to work for a noncompetitive employer, which means less money but also no pressure to work late evenings as there would be in a company.
        I do feel lucky about the team work with my husband, I know I am lucky there, as well as with having both work and daycare so close.
        We have already been talking about it that next year, when my husband starts working a week on/ week off, I’ll probably have some minus hours the weeks I’m alone, and then work longer days when he is home (but working for his own business…)

  8. I never liked routines, but find them to be soooo helpful with children. It was nice seeing how you do it. If we ever move back to America, I would likely have to work full time, so I am sure some of your hints will be very helpful!

  9. Pingback: All about Cherieladie; Surviving as a FTWM. - All about Cherieladie;

  10. Pingback: Behind the scenes of a blogger | Kids "R" Simple

Leave your thoughts! I'll love to hear them!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s