Tuition or not Tuition

It’s scary to see the crowds of parents waiting outside Berries or Tien Hsia or Mindchamps on weekends in the malls. And it’s even scarier when the kids come out and you realised that they are only 6/ 7 year olds!?

It’s becoming a national hobby for Singapore families to send their kids for enrichment classes at a young age.  Traditionally, we have tuition classes for the students who cannot cope with school work from school.  In today’s times, tuition classes are the norm; students go for tuition classes whether or not they are able to cope with school work. Tuition classes become the CCA, the core curricula alongside with the school’s teachings.  And enrichment classes are becoming the necessary necessities if you want to up the ante.

There’s enrichment classes for English, Chinese, Math, Science, creative thinking, speech and presentations, money management, etc etc, and we are talking about classes for pre-schoolers.  Pre-schoolers, mind you!  5, 6 year olds who unknowingly “learn” while “playing” in these lessons.  And of course, for every enrichment lesson, time is spent and money $$$$ is spent just so for the kid to learn more things in a structured, fail-proof environment.

I’m glad that at home, Baby1 and Baby2 are exposed to a bit of all these “enrichment programs” through our daily interactions and free play.  The National Library is a good source of knowledge and information so we get a bit of English, Chinese, Math, Science, Money Management etc enrichment through our nightly bedtime stories. And with not-many toys at home to play with, leaving the kids to play with whatever household items they can lay their hands on, creative thinking and speech and presentations are involved. So I really am not too sure why parents will still send their kids to such costly (time and money) enrichment classes?

So far for this past year, I have been coaching Baby1 in her school work.  I’m not really in line with how the teachers conduct their teachings, and very often I merely supplement the curricula with my own style.  I get Baby1 to explain to me why she does her work in that manner, and she’ll tell me “teacher say blah blah blah, blah blah blah”.  Tada, coaching is done!  I’m glad that Baby1 is attentive in class and is eager to learn. And when these pay off in her high scores in tests and assessments, her confidence gets an even bigger boast and she continues to find joy and fun in learning.

So yeah, I am their tuition teacher, yet I am not a tuition teacher. I supplement their quest for learning by sharing with them my knowledge, experiences and values, and I supplement their joy of learning by making learning fun and “invisible”.

As Baby1 and Baby2 grow older day by day, I hope that I can continue to nurture and guide them in their learning journey, in a cool and calm manner (exams are over now so it might be easy to say that now; wait till we enter the academic year again!!!).  For now, I need to continuously “upgrade” myself so as to better fulfill this role.  Gambatte Mummy!

– Dear2


What are Your Values?

I am still in search of myself, and when I came across a parenting book that says, “a parent is a role model who inculcates her values to her kids”, I am stumped – what are my values?

I had not prepared myself as a SAHM.  It sure looked easy – stay home and look after the kids.   But 3 months on, I am still asking myself, what value add have I added to the family?

I heave a big sigh of relief now that Baby1’s pencil-holding grip is finally corrected.  Dear1 and I had observed this some years back, and we thought that she’ll correct herself along the way.  But when she still holds the pencil awkwardly 2 months before starting Primary School, I had to rectify this problem lest it becomes a perpetual habit.

Baby1 and Baby2 are much happier now too.  Both of them get to spend one-on-one time with me every day now when the other sibling is in school, and sulks when the sibling is dismissed from school.  A good problem, one that I should pay attention to.

Dear1 is happier too, now that he does not have to listen to my daily wimps of “which hawker centre to eat for dinner tonight?”.

Despite these improvements, there has been numerous emotional and mental downs while I try to become the super SAHM that I think others are.  Chinese New Year is just next weekend, but I still cannot bring myself to set my 2017 New Year Resolutions. *groan*

So I thought, instead of doing up a grand master plan, maybe I’ll start with something small first.  So, let’s start with Values.

Hmm…… Values….

For one, Dear1 and I try to advocate “no processed foods”.  This seems to be going down pretty well with Baby1 and Baby2, when every time I cook sausages or fishballs, they’ll chant to me the numerous occasions when the grannies cooked these. It is pretty easy to steer clear of these – just don’t buy them.  But for chips and fast food and ice creams, Dear1 and I have to constantly remind ourselves that “once in a while” must really mean “once in a while” and not every other day/ week/ month. We want our girls to grow up eating healthy, so these food habits really must start young.

For the second, I must really stop thinking that food courts or restaurants are alternative foods.  How often have I complained that food courts are “so oily, so fried, so not nice, yet not cheap”!  And restaurants are “so salty, so noisy, stinks the clothes, and so not cheap”!  Food courts and restaurants are really so not value for money.  (I think the concept of value of money has been practiced by Dear1 and myself all the while, so Baby1 and Baby2 should be pretty used to this concept?)  Conversely, hawker centres are yummy and value for money!  And of course, home-cooked are the best in value-for-nutrition.

Talking about queues, Singaporeans soooo like to queue!  “If you see a queue, it’s probably nice!”  But not us – Dear1 and I don’t quite subscribe to this.  Long queue may mean inefficiencies, not necessarily equate to food yummi-ness.  So one of my indicator of nice food is to do a visual sweep of what others are eating, heehee!

Dear1 and I are quite contrarians – we don’t chase after the latest trends like what most people do.  Take for instance Food Panda and Deliveroo and all the food deliveries aps out there. It’s so convenient – branded foods are just a call away.  But food is meant to be enjoyed, so what’s the point of having a spread of cold, soggy, too soft or too hard branded food in front of me?

Values.  I think I need to appreciate myself more.  Improvements will probably not happen in leaps and bounds for me from a FTWM to a SAHM, because I may really had been doing a pretty good job juggling work and family then.  Our financial circumstances have changed, but since I was already pretty frugal from young, these values have not changed; perhaps only more stringent now.

I need to trust myself more.  Or perhaps don’t fret or worry too much.  If there’s a problem, use my brainy thinking hat and think out a solution, and resolve the issue, TA-DA!  Or if my tweeny brain is stuck, I can seek for inspirations from my loving Dear1 who is always there to support me.

– Dear2


It’s fascinating to know how much clothes we’ve actually got, every time when I clean out the house.

Every now and then, I’ll want to buy new clothes.  Perhaps more tee-shirts to wear at home.  Perhaps a couple more polo tees for my weekend wear.  Hmm, the kids should get more clothes too; we definitely need to go Tung Chung Outlets get some kids wear during our Hong Kong holiday next month!

But halt!  During the ‘Spring Cleaning’ this past week, I’ve uncovered mannnnnnnny items which we’ve long forgotten about!  Really out-of-sight, out-of-mind, haiz.

First and foremost, 3 new pairs of army white socks still pristine in their packaging.   Dear1 was contemplating of making a special visit to e-mart to replenish these.  Thanks to procrastination, we haven’t actually got down to e-mart before these 3 pairs were uncovered, sitting snugly in the shoe cabinet some more!

From our wardrobe, I found:

  • 3 packs of facial cotton.  OMG, since when have I been using facial cotton!?  I’ve got no idea, but it seems such a waste to discard this.
  • 2 home tees, not worn before. Omg, why!?
  • 4 pajamas.  Hmm… didn’t realise that I’ve got this many.  And Dear1 always keep asking me to buy more, grr…
  • x number of nightie. Urgh, Dear1, we’ve really got to stop buying more night wear for me.
  • Dear1’s underwear, all looks new.  Omg, to think I always ask him if he need new ones every time we are at a Departmental Store.
  • 4 bottles of hair serum, and 1 bottle of hair conditioner.  OMG.

Around the house, I also found:

  • A pack of kitchen towels, not opened yet.
  • 2 floor mats which look brand new.
  • Ah yes, I didn’t forget the new bath towels which we got earlier at a sale – so, there’s still 2 of them.
  • Oh, here are the torchlights, we could use them for travelling, no need to buy torchlights again
  • Hmm… 2 cute pillow cases.  I can use these to make the bolster case for Baby2!

I did major cleaning of the ‘insides’ this past week, de-cluttering and throwing out the things which we REALLY do not need.  I don’t think Dear1 and I like to buy things; compared to some people, I think we are really not fashionable nor have the material need to want to possess branded goods or the latest tech gadget.

But over the years, we’ve seem to have accumulate quite some bulk to the house. I tend to buy things when they are on sale, so like the hair serum and extra towels, these were either got at a good discount, or when we needed to make up the minimum amount to qualify for the discount.  Unknowingly, many of these items became ‘spares’, sitting in the cupboard waiting for their use turn, sometimes idling there for a couple of years until the next spring clean, which they are eventually discarded as they’ve expired, opps!

I want to go on a minimalist lifestyle.  Recently I came across this clip of a Japanese guy who advocates this.  The furniture in his house looks like they’re all bought from Ikea – the compact and cheap type.  He digitized all his photos and music albums and books, converting his entire hobby collection to a mere hard disk.  And he’s only got like 15 pieces of clothing, including 5 underwear and 5 pairs of socks!?

The minimalist lifestyle is not about having less; it’s about knowing what you want.  Don’t we all have a bag too many, x number pairs of shoes, work clothes, glam clothes, weekend clothes, home clothes, PJs, but still think we need more clothes?  And I won’t even go into the collector’s items; I personally do not believe in collecting anything, lest they just accumulate dust (and which I need to clean).

Singapore throws out xx tonnes of waste every day.  I can’t even imagine where these trash goes to.

  • Know what you need (Is this item really what you need? Before buying, confirm that we REALLY don’t already have one sitting somewhere in the house?)
  • Reduce
  • Reuse

I shall try to follow these mandates, and set an example to Baby1 and Baby2 too.  :)

– Dear2

The Financial Perks of a Working Mum

The clock is ticking away…. It’s gonna be May tomorrow, soon it’ll be June, then July, when parents of all Primary One going kids get stressed over the which Primary School to go to.  After that, what’s the arrangement like?  Urgh……

I am very grateful to Baby1 and Baby2’s current childcare centre. Kudos to the teachers there.  We deposit the kids around 7.30am every day, and ah gong picks them up at 6pm every day.  It’s 10 and a half hours in “school” everyday.  Compare to our 8.30 to 6 jobs, the kids spend more time in “school” then us adults in office everyday!

But when next year comes, and Baby1 goes to Primary School, who’s going to take care of her after school?  Urgh, I’ve been procrastinating on this question every since people start asking me “which Primary School” ever since a few years back.  And we still don’t have a plan yet.

The grandparents that we want help from, don’t want to help; and the grandparents who we don’t want help from, want to help.

Ideally, kids should be cared for by their own parents, so that we parents cannot complain that the kids watch too much tv, or eat too little dinner, or play too much, or didn’t do any homework, or get fed with sweets and snacks after school.

The drawback of such an arrangement: the money, of course!

Having been in the company for coming to 10 years, I have always been appreciative of a regular salary that paid employment provides.  As we consider being a full time SAHM, suddenly the medical reimbursements, medical leave, paid 21 days annual leave, additional annual leave if public holiday falls on a Saturday, paid 6 days child care leave, employer’s contribution to CPF, working mum tax relief, childcare subsidies for working mum, all these suddenly feels too lucrative to forsake. (Salute!  Salute to hubbies of full time SAHM, now I know how much more money you need to bring in for your family!)

Can we afford to become a SAHM?  Haiz, I don’t know, but it sounds tough…

The best situation is if I can work part time, and be home in time when Baby1 gets home after school.  This seems like a tough proposition, given that my company doesn’t seem very family-pro.  There has been much talk recently (actually, for many years le), on changing Singaporeans mindset on having kids, or having more kids, but ultimately, if our society is only selectively encouraging, we mummies can only suffer silently in this society.

There’s still 8 more months to go, we’ll take one step at a time…

– Dear2

Sheng Siong Lucky Draw is Real

Dear1 and Dear2 have been faithfully filling in the Lucky Draw slip for NTUC all these years.  Chinese New Year, Hari Raya, Deepavali, whatever, whatever.  It seems that NTUC has some kind of lucky draw every now and then, and as NTUC is our favourite supermarket, we’d always filled this in every time whenever we get a slip.  But through out all these years, we’ve never ever won even once.

Recently, Dear1 and Dear2 liked going to this Sheng Siong at West Coast Market.  Big (it’s actually 2 stories high) so we can get almost everything that we need, and it’s near to a market so we can go grocery shop after our dinner on a weekday.  But NTUC is still our favourite supermarket as its fresh food is fresher.

One day, we received a letter from Sheng Siong informing us that we’ve won their Hari Raya Lucky Draw. It was a 6-piece Cornell set, woohoo!

Our lucky draw prize from Sheng Siong

Our lucky draw prize from Sheng Siong

We’ve probably participated in more than 100 NTUC Lucky Draws all these years, and maybe 20 for Sheng Siong, but we’ve never ever won anything from NTUC.  Some to think of it, those milk, or bread, or juice, or butter kind of Lucky Draws, are they even real too?

I’m not going to waste my effort filling in NTUC Lucky Draw slips again.  Hmm, maybe I’ll continue to do so, let’s see when will I actually win anything, if it’s even real.

Since we’re talking about lucky draws, let me try to recall the other times that we’ve been lucky and won something:

  1. A Shinco tablet at NUS ECE Family Day (2nd prize)
  2. A Coffee Bean voucher from a magazine contest at Bukit Batok CC
  3. A bean bag from a marriage magazine contest
  4. Twice Shop and Win lucky draw from Standard Chartered – we got reimbursed for a restaurant meal and a mobile phone
  5. Twice board game contest at BoardGameGeek – we won a board game each time
  6. A manicure voucher at company DnD
  7. Twice Royal Caribbean email contest – an overnight travel bag and a small hand luggage
  8. Baby1 won a game of Bingo during our recent cruise

-Dear1 & Dear2

Saving Every $ part 4

We emptied our piggy banks again! :D

This time, we employed the help of Baby1 and Baby2 to sort and help to pack the 50 cents and 1 dollar coins. We counted a total of $1090. As usual, we exchanged the coins with my mummy so that she can bring it for use at her workplace.

Normally, we would deposit this savings into our designated savings account for it to start earning interests for us. However, since the saving of coins was to contribute towards our Baby Savings Plan, and we also have a plan to invest in gold coins for our kids, we decided to use this money to buy a gold coin instead. In addition, we topped up the total sum with Baby1’s POSB Kids Savings account (which wasn’t earning much interests at all) and bought a larger gold coin for the kids.

One thing we noticed about buying from UOB is that, for the same weight, a gold bar is cheaper than a bullion coin. See the price list here. We’ve already bought a bullion coin this time, but perhaps we should be buying a gold bar instead the next time.


Baby2 Hospital Bill

Dear2 and I are in the midst of spring cleaning our house. The purpose is to convert the current study room into a children’s bedroom, and thereby “chase” the children out of our master bedroom and “reclaim” the master bedroom for ourselves once again. Hehe…

In the process of spring cleaning, we came across old stacks of bill from TMC for both Baby1 and Baby2. It was then that I realized I had not documented Baby2’s hospital bill here. So here it is (following the same format).

Item description Baby1 (2010) Baby2 (2012)
Mummy hospital package $3175 (4 nights) $3115 (3 nights)
Companion package $240 (4 nights) $170 (3 nights)
Drugs, medicine, supplies, procedure, facilities $263.90 $931.92
FBI/SBI discount for 1 bedded -$100 -$100
GST for hospital $250.52 $288.18
Gynae fees $2461 $3424
Anesthetist fees $450 $600
FBI/SBI discount for professional fees -$100 -$100
Medisave deduction -$4400 -$5500
Cash payable (mummy) $2240.42 $2829.10
Baby package $388 $388
Drugs, medicine, supplies, facilities, etc $593.90 $976.35
FBI discount for hospital -$28.16 -$48.82
GST for hospital $66.77 $92.08
Baby doctor fees $406.40 $395.90
FBI discount for professional fees -$40.64 -$39.59
Medisave deduction -$1181.13 -$1350
Cash payable (baby) $205.14 $413.92
Total cash payable $2445.55 $3243

Some observations:

  1. The 3 nights package for Baby2 was just as expensive as the 4 nights package for Baby1.
  2. The hospital facilities, etc fees was much more expensive for Baby2. This could be because Baby2 was born in the wee hours of the morning while Baby1 was born in the middle afternoon.
  3. Our gynae is $1000 more expensive than before.
  4. Anesthetist fee also went up, but I can’t confirm if it is the same person.
  5. Baby package remained the same, but the facilities, etc fees were up just as with mummy’s cost.
  6. Baby doctor is slightly cheaper. The 2 baby doctors were different and I guess Baby2’s doctor was slightly less experienced.
  7. Despite medisave deduction was increased by $1100, we ended up payable roughly $800 more in cash.

What a big difference! And this was without factoring in ante-natal costs (which was increased as well). There were of course other savings, such as the many baby equipment that we could reuse and therefore did not need to buy.

At the end of the day, nothing is more important than a healthy baby and a healthy family. :)