A working mum’s woes

I had started my new job in October this year.
I got accepted in a totally new arena and was never so happy in my whole career life to finally do something I like. I was even mentally prepared to do my best and work late because I am determined to excel in my work.

Then work started, and all my predictions came true.

It is a challenging job. It is a work late job. I work more than 10 hours most days, sometimes 12 hours. I resist bringing work home so far. And work began to eat into my time with my kids and family. When I said I was determined to put in effort and time, I really did. I employed a domestic helper (finally!) so that I can concentrate on spending time with my children after I get home from work and have the sanity to handle the pressure at work.

With lesser time with the family and great work stress, I find myself getting tired easily and lesser patience with the children who yearn ever more attention from me. I feel my guilt surfacing almost everyday whenever I lose my cool, and make the kids upset. Such a situation leaves me a total wreck and more guilty and the vicious cycle repeats. There are a few times a thought of regret leaving my cushion job (not high pay though) haunts me and that made me feel worse. Maybe a woman is suited to stay at home, or otherwise not be too career focused. My girl starts to ask me why I had to change my job. The feeling hurts.

This morning, my baby wanted me to sit beside him while he ate his puffs. He knew I was about to leave for work and insisted that I stayed with him longer. I was running late but I obliged and stayed with him for another 10 seconds, what seemed like 10 minutes. Then, I stood up, kissed him and told him Mummy had to leave for work. He then sat still, eyes glued to the Baby TV which I had switched on for him on purpose, and did not turn around to see me leave. Just before I left the house, I stood at the door telling him all the sweet nothings about how much I love him and saying goodbye to a back facing baby. All this while, he did not turn around. After a few seconds later when I was walking towards the lift, I heard him let out a loud wail and started crying “Papa! Papa! Papa!” to his sleeping dad. My heart flew to him literally but I stood rooted to the ground. I knew if I had gone back to him, it would be worse for him and me to experience the separation twice. Continue reading

My little princess’ score card – progress in Primary 1

 

It’s been half a year that my dear princess goes to Primary 1.  Her score card in my eyes has been almost perfect so far.  And how happy am I to give her a near perfect score.  Taking into consideration that her Primary school is a well-sought after SAP (Special Assistance Plan) school (which means they place high emphasis on Chinese and it is mandatory for all students to take higher Chinese), she manages well with her school work and enjoys school so far.

 

She relates happenings in school to me and I am too glad that her teachers seem to be very passionate teachers especially her Chinese teacher 黄老师.  They tell interesting stories and crack jokes in the fun of learning to capture the children’s interest.  And her school makes sure parents are involved and know what their children are learning by making us sign on their assignment and textbooks frequently.  Academic-wise, I have totally no worries on her school’s model of teaching and guidance.

 

It’s a relief and “gift” for me that she does her homework after dinner on her own without any nagging from me and Kel.  She shows independence in passing me her school letters and making sure I sign on her worksheets and books without fail.  As a working mother, I could not spend time with her in the morning before school.  Hence, I mark out pages on her assessment books for her to complete in the morning so that I can mark and go through with her at night.  She did the assignment I gave her with no adults reminding her.  It saves me from what I would have otherwise experience stress and worries on her academic learning.

 

In XX’s first MA (Modular Assessment) test for English, she got full marks.  For Mathematics and Chinese, she got 23 and 24 out of 25 marks respectively.  I couldn’t ask for more.  Now in the second semester, her 2nd MA test, she got full marks for English again but careless mistakes and lack of focus on the questions cost her marks and she got 17 out of 25 for Mathematics.  Well, so to say, she has lots of room for improvement in her focusing skills and practising patience to read questions carefully before jumping to write answers.

 

XX’s first parent-teacher meeting has the same response from both teachers (Form teacher and Chinese teacher).  She day-dreams in class.  This observation has long been commented by her Yamaha teacher.  I feel attitude is extremely important for learning and doing anything well.  I know it will take lots of effort by herself and time to correct this day-dreaming problem, but I will help her and by her character, I am pretty sure she will improve sooner or later.  As for her attitude, if you were to read my earlier blog on “Learning Piano – from dread to love“, you will know that she has come a long way in improving her attitude.  Sometimes, if she seems to be relying on me to feed clues to questions in assessment books, I feel I have a guilty part to play.  I may be too obliging to give clues too quickly and just last night, I realize that XX seems to be lazy in reading music scores.  She has a good memory and for new song pieces, I spoon-fed her on correcting her fingering and wrong notes by reading the score to her while she focuses on memorizing what I say and what she remembers on the positioning of fingers on the keyboard.  That was a wake-up call for me to not be too involved and let her have a free hand and time to figure things out on her own!  It all points to the fact that this mummy is too impatient.  My girl must have picked up this bad trait from me.

 

XX had just experienced a long one month June school holidays.  I signed her up for a 3 day academic camp which she says it’s boring.  Kel sent her to her cousin’s house to play for a day every week.  I took leave on and off to keep her company and brought her to my gynae check-up in June as well.  Places we’ve been to during the June weekends includes the National Museum of Singapore for the Children’s Seasons, Yakult factory, taking part in the Safra Sprintkids Competition, Marina Barrage for kite flying with their cousins, Wild Wild Wet and Madagascar 3 movie screening.  Since we are not going overseas for the holidays, I thought this holiday for her must be boring.  But she seems to prefer boredom than to go school even though she enjoys school and she did not have much to do except to read books to finish her many book reviews homework.

 

Now that the holidays are over, she is back to school.  She asked to be signed up for Wu Shu (武术)and she has to wake up early every Saturday for this class.  It was tough on her to wake up early since she sleeps late at night and her school is in the afternoon.  Even then, I praised her for being such a good girl to fight sleep and wakes up without much violent protest.

 

Xuanxuan, mummy is so proud of you.  Keep it up my dear princess!

 
 

Preparing for Primary 1

XX is going to Primary 1 (P1) next January which is less than 2 mths to go.

Many parents around me have been preparing frantically for this BIG day.

Some ensures daily one hour “homework” to accustomize their kids to this “habit” of doing homework when P1 starts.

Some decided to stop nap time.

Some send their kids to Preparation class for P1 where such classes drill P1 exam papers onto the pre-schoolers.

For me, I have not done anything yet, and I think I should…  but based on a few principles:

a) nap time – since my girl will not get to enjoy this anyway from January next year, I shall let her enjoy for 6 weeks more

b) homework – since my girl will bound to have homework from school from Jan next year, I shall let her enjoy more play time for 6 weeks more.  However, I will still give her fun worksheets to play while at the same time reinforce some academic basics.

c) preparation class for Primary 1 – since my girl will get to know how it will be like in P1 next year, I shall not expose her 6 weeks earlier.

With the above principles in mind, I will prepare my girl for Primary 1 in the following ways:

1) Eat a good breakfast

This is initially difficult as the time gap between wake up to out of the house is really short to cramp in milk plus breakfast.  My kids are not used to eating breakfast immediately when they wake up, except for milk.  I started implementing this 1 year ago and I learnt that I have to have good variations in breakfast every morning to entice their appetite.  I believe a good breakfast is essential to a good start of the day.  Kids do well in school and have better concentration when they have breakfast.  This will be important when my girl starts school.

2) Earlier bedtime

This is tougher to implement than the first.  There are so many activities to do with my kids that I find it extremely hard to off the lights at 10pm.  And not to mention, all these activities do not include any one hour homework time.  Hence, I need to work hard on this one, and I know 6 weeks is a bit too late to start this routine, and what makes it worse is that we’ll be travelling for 3 weeks in a 7 hour time difference country just prior to school starts.  That brings me to the next preparation – to have a good time-table and FOLLOW IT!

3) Follow a fixed time-table

yh-clock-time-table

I have drawn up a clock time-table which my kids have drawn in the picture here.

Having drawn up a time-table together with my kids help them remember and let them refer to it whenever we exceeded our time in any activity.  There will be little protest on this agreed routine since they are involved in the process.  With this, my kids will be able to know how to follow the time stated, train them in reading the clock, and hopefully it will help my girl in transition to homework time when I incorporate it into her time-table next year.  In this case, I need not purposely start her in doing homework daily in order to get her into following a fixed routine.

4) Reinforce her academic basics

I have printed some fun activity sheets for my kids (in separate difficulty levels).  I take these sheets out, explained how to do in game rules style, so that they will not feel like it is a boring homework.  Even though I don’t stress too much academic activities on my kids, but I still think my girl has to know some basics to not feel overwhelmed in Primary 1 classes.  I need to prepare her moderately especially most kids will be much more “advanced” from their P1 Prep class from the first day of school.  She just needs to know the basics and learn the rest in school so that she will not feel bored or switched off when the teacher starts to teach something she already know too much about.

5) Take down notes, write faster

My girl has a habit to day dream, and write slowly.  I am glad that her Yamaha teacher, Ms Tan has taught her to take down notes quickly in her music class.  Also, the Yamaha fast paced lesson forbids her to day dream too much and she is forced to listen attentively to not miss an instruction.  However, at home, she still reverts back to old self and I have to constantly remind her to write faster.  This will be very important in Primary school and I am training her speed in writing.  I have yet to train her by the clock and I will not do so for fear of stressing her too much.  So what I have been doing is constant reminders and also correcting her way in holding the pencil.

6) Independence

Independence is extremely important for any kids, and not only to prepare for Primary 1.  Kids are easily trained in independence if we start them young.  I want my girl to be responsible for her own books and what to bring to school.  I shall only do the checking and not pack her bag for her.  Again, her Yamaha Ms Tan taught her before I do, to pack her bag and ensure pencils are sharpened, erasers are in the pencil box, her Repertoire and Solfege and Ensemble books are in her bag.  All these to be checked every Friday night before the Saturday Yamaha lesson.  I shall take a leaf from here and make sure she does this everyday when she starts school.  We have started to let the kids, including the young one, the moment they step into the house, to put their shoes on the shoe rack, bring the dirty uniform from the childcare bag to the laundry basket, put school letters in the letter holders, and put their school bags into the cubby hole.

Independence applies to learning for spelling tests.  I used to remind my girl endlessly on whether she has learnt her spelling.  Soon after, it seems to become my responsibility!  But recently I have tried to cut down on my reminders and told her it’s HER responsibility to remember when she has her spelling tests.  Parents should not be the ones to be responsible for everything including learning for tests.  Kids have to learn their life skills too.  The only way to encourage independence is that parents trust their kids and let go, with some checks along the way.

Nowadays, parents are so involved in their kids’ lives, we seem to be the ones attending school.

Whatever we do, I feel the element of fun learning and enjoying childhood should always be the fundamentals in parenting.

How do you prepare for your child’s first day of formal school?