Stay-at-home mum and parenting blogger Summer Goh is used to having a perpetually boisterous household. Her three children, aged 10, seven and four, have kept her plenty occupied for the last decade.
And the Covid-19 circuit breaker has all but taken away what little respite she used to enjoy. “Me-time is a thing of the past. I used to have three hours of free time in the morning which gave me the opportunity to be on my own, even if it meant doing the household chores in peace. Nowadays, I can only surf the internet, blog or find some way to unwind after the kids are in bed,” the 37-year-old jests.
But it’s not all bad, says Summer who opted to look on the bright side when the school closure was announced. “As best as I could, I saw it as a good opportunity for me to spend 24/7 with the kids, bond with them, let them know that we are doing our part for Singapore and teach them what it means to be socially responsible.” But how does she convert household chaos into an organised method?
Giving the kids a say
From art and craft and cooking to planning skits and dancing, Summer’s family doesn’t seem to run out of ideas on how to stay engaged in a wholesome way. “For us, the rule is to have no rules! We don’t have a timetable to follow and the kids have a say when it comes to deciding the activity [we do]. It’s important for them to feel involved so that they look forward to contributing and being a part of it,” she says.
Summer concedes that she may somewhat have it easier than working mothers on this front. “I don’t have deadlines to meet or bosses – kids excluded – to answer to during this period.”
You don’t have to do everything
Yet, even a “chill” mother like Summer also has to grapple with this little thing called “home-based learning”. “Trust me, I totally understand the frustration and agony of having to handle more than one home-based learning kid. On some days, my kids need to have Zoom lessons at the same time and we only have one laptop! And the kids take turns to run up to me and ask for help whenever they encounter a problem.”
Her solution? Trust and delegate. “As much as I can, I ask the older ones to try to complete their own [school work] independently and remind them that making mistakes is an important part of the learning journey,” says Summer, who also enlists the help of her older children. The eldest girl helps her sister navigate the online learning platforms; the middle child in turn helps her kindergartener brother with spelling and writing.
On her social media, Summer has talked about holding the fort at home as her Navy officer can be called away for long stretches of time. But while at home, he pulls his weight. “The hubby is a great chef and he takes over the kitchen, giving me a much needed break from the cooking. He also helps out with the grocery runs so that we don't have to take the kids out. His antics keep the kids entertained and they see him as their best playmate,” says Summer.
Seeing the glass half-full
Even in these unprecedented times, she continues to keep up a positive spirit. “If we feel angry, frustrated and stressed out, so will our kids. If we feel optimistic, calm and hopeful, so will they too,” says Summer who keeps her sanity with writing, a close circle of mummy friends she can rant to and good old chocs and ice-cream.
Her efforts paid off when her eldest daughter recently said to her, “Mummy, staying home doesn't have to be boring. We can go on adventures, play pretend, come up with games and do many things together as a family. I like being home.”
And though her family has nothing planned for Mother’s Day this year due to the evolving Covid-19 situation, Summer has only the best thoughts for fellow mummies: “Remember we are all in this together and while we will never be perfect mums, our best is good enough and we are the perfectly imperfect mums for our kids.”