When it was time to think about having kids, the thoughts that went through our minds were the usual ones that concerned finances, time, childcare, and maybe which school to enroll them in the future. Our initial goal was to have three kids and the interval should be too far apart. And that was it—our grand plan to have kids.
When Nicole came along, she was such an easy baby that we decided to quickly have #2. Nathan came shortly after, and he was really very easy too. So Nadine soon followed. Thus in a span of four years, I had three babies—Do-Re-Mi—and it was good.
We took things in stride as we juggled our three kids. We were mindful to watch the finances, give time to each child, and catch those important milestones. But reality bit us when they all entered Primary School. That’s when I realized, NO ONE, absolutely no one warned me about family life when you have three school-going kids.
You see, when they were preschoolers, the attention they needed was pretty “mindless”. I didn’t really have to use a lot of brain power to play with them, or read to them. Even for time consuming activities like doing craft work, or embarking on projects, can be easily incorporated into a family bonding session. Totally easy peasy.
Now that they are in primary school, there’s this thing called HOMEWORK, and another thing called REVISION. And as much as we want to make it Family Time when the TV is off, and everyone is doing their own school work, it is not possible.
Imagine this scenario: Mummy practices spelling with #3, while Daddy teaches #1 Math. #2 ends up daydreaming because he is stuck with science.
So I deploy my domestic helper to practice spelling with #3 spelling while I help #2 with science. Then I realize I’m not that great with science and we need Daddy’s input. But Daddy is stuck with #1’s Math and it would be too disruptive for me to step in.
The above scenario is not the worst case, because Mother Tongue (Chinese) is not in the mix … yet. And what happens if all three need to use the computer but we only have two.
Alas, no one ever pre-empted us for such challenging week nights! Above this, my kids need extra tuition and enrichment as it is a struggle for us to keep up with the current methods adopted in Math and Mother Tongue.
One way we survive this incredible academic focused primary school life is by re-arranging all their school matters within the weekdays. This means my kids have very busy weekday afternoons, and they do their remaining homework on week nights. This also means that on weekends (BOTH Sat and Sun), they are free (and I am free!) to go out as a family!
Such an arrangement calls for their tuition or enrichment programmes to be located near the school or home. I have to entrust my domestic helper to do all the ferrying, and when they are old enough, the kids will have move around themselves. And of course, all the classes have to be easily accessible via public transport. The highly stressful period for me is the start of the year, when I’ve to plan their schedules!
This arrangement is very ideal as we value our family time together (without school work)! The cost of tuition classes on weekdays is cheaper, and the ratio of teacher to student is also better compared to weekends. We don’t have to plan our weekends around a Chinese class or Music lesson, and the kids get a nice 5-day week just like Mummy and Daddy!
Meanwhile, we are still juggling our week night studying times. It is getting better as the kids are learning to do their own homework. We parents get involved when there’s something that’s beyond them. Rarely do we get the helper involved now, as the kids are taught to practice and test themselves for spelling. It’s a juggle we are all trying to manage together…
So don’t say no one told you about having more than one school going kid in the family! You ain’t alone!