Photo credit: Celine Ng

When the circuit breaker kicked in last year Apr 2020, FFL Volunteer Celine Ng suddenly found herself stuck all day in her executive flat with eight people and an animal. There were her parents, husband, four children aged 20 months to 15 years old, their domestic helper, and their pet cat.

Every day, this multi-generational household was a clustered cacophony of voices and noise. With so many people under one roof, there was a lack of personal space. Fights were inevitable. They were particularly frequent between her two oldest children – Javier, 15, and Jayden, 13.

These quarrels would often snowball from trivial matters such as playing music out loud. At times, these verbal brawls would turn physical. It reduced Celine to tears.

“I had meltdowns,” said the 40-year-old property agent. “I lost all my cool. But they’ll be scared after that, and then they’ll come to me and promise me they won’t do it anymore.”

But amid the mayhem, the family found a formula for harmonious living and bonding. The solution: tapping on everyone’s strengths, by doing activities that revolved around the interests of their children. It was a success. “We tried to know each other better, and I feel that we understand each other more now,” she said.

Homemade Entertainment

Life at home was hardly dull with so many people at home. Whether it was TikTok dances, baking, or strenuous workouts, the family did them all.

Their children became entertainers. Avid TikToker 11-year-old Reeyern would film her grandparents dancing to challenges. Fitness nut Jayden would also organise workout sessions to keep the whole family active, while also building bonds between three generations.

Photo credit: Celine Ng

“They’ve opened up a lot,” said Celine of her parents. “The kids actually motivated them to move.” The family also baked together, where their interest soon evolved into a home-based business. Their delicious cakes and toffees received many positive reviews. This gave the family much satisfaction.

For Javier, who is more of a quiet artist, Celine honed his drawing skills by asking him to design thank you cards for clients. This has helped boost his self-esteem.

Finding a Silver Lining

With the prevalence of fake news online, Celine also made it a point to ensure her children understand the complexities of the pandemic. “I taught them not to judge – that they must learn to look beyond what they see,” she said.

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, Celine sees it as a gift. Being at home all day has allowed her to watch 16-month-old Jayern grow up – something she never managed to do with the older children.

Photo credit: Celine Ng

“Time is so easily wasted when you’re busy or working,” she said. “My takeaway from this is to spend time with my family without any distractions. We don’t take things for granted anymore.”