Take one look at Sun Lirong’s Instagram page , which boasts a colourful grid of wholesome homecooked meals, and the term “domestic goddess” immediately comes to mind.
However, this consummate multi-tasker is in fact a full-time working mother. On top of holding down a job in the education industry, the 32-year-old is a hands-on parent to two girls: four-year-old Jaylene and three-year-old Kaylene.
How Lirong seemingly balances work and home life—in particular, cooking up a storm in the kitchen—is a certain point of envy for many mums. “I try my best! There are days we will just have chye peng too!” she quips.
Modest she may be, but Lirong’s ability to raise food-loving children with adventurous palates doesn’t come by accident. Aside from the fact that she was a big foodie long before kids came along, the mindful mummy puts in the work to prepare nutritious homecooked meals and help her girls appreciate everything that is served on the table.
Here are some of Lirong’s practices that you might find useful for your household.
It starts with mental organisation
Lirong would plan each meal the day before, sparing no details. “In my mind, I’ll be estimating the time I’ll need to prepare and cook, and which dish I should cook first among other things,” she says. Also, once she’s off the clock, she switches to full mummy mode. “This is so my mind is clear from work, only focusing on Jaylene and Kaylene,” she adds.
Ditch the power struggle
Any parent with a fussy eater at home will know the pain at mealtimes—slowness, whining and the occasional temper tantrum. Lirong had to contend with this situation when her firstborn was about a year old. “She simply refused to eat more than three mouthfuls of food,” she recalls.
“As a first-time mum at the time, it was very stressful. I actually feared mealtimes with her.”
However, rather than continuing to lock horns with a toddler, Lirong took a different tact. She allowed Jaylene to leave the table if she didn’t want to eat, but no snacking is allowed before the next meal. “After three days, we never had any more meal struggles with Jaylene,” said the triumphant mum.
Making fun memories with food
Bonding over food is a daily feature in Lirong’s household. She gets the girls involved in meal preparation such as washing rice and vegetables and making dumplings together. “They love to hang around in the kitchen when I’m cooking, so I use the opportunity to get them to recognise, touch and smell the ingredients,” says Lirong.
At the dining table, whether at home or outside, no electronic devices are allowed so the family can focus on one another. Says Lirong, “I’ll ask about their day and they will always have lots to share! There are times the girls will start complaining about each other too.”
“I remember my girls’ first local food was roti prata! Jaylene loves it plain while Kaylene likes egg prata,” says Lirong who enjoys exposing the young ones to hawker dishes.
She rattles off a long list of familiar dishes like hokkien mee, carrot cake, satay and chicken rice. “As long as it’s not spicy, my girls will want to try them out,” she adds.
Asked if there was one Singaporean dish that could represent her family, Lirong picked the ubiquitous mee pok. Her heart-warming reason: “You can have it for breakfast, lunch, dinner or even supper. It's just like our family, always there for each other any time of the day.”