SingaporeMotherhood | Parenting

April 2013

Large Singaporean Families (Part 2)

In the second part of our feature on large families in Singapore (read part one here), we speak to a mother who is expecting her sixth baby, and a mother-of-six whose children are growing up.

Baby Number 6 On The Way!

Tsui Ling and her husband are parents to five children aged are 12, 10, eight, six, and three years. The couple’s sixth baby is due in July. Their motivation to have a large family arises from their belief that children are treasures from God.

On birthing six babies:

Tsui Ling’s births have been fast, exciting affairs. Her first child was delivered via Caesarean section, as the baby was in a breech position. For the rest, she chose unmedicated, natural births. “My second child was born half an hour after reaching the hospital. My third baby was induced, and labour lasted about one and a half hours. My fourth one arrived a mere eight minutes after I reached the labour suite, my doctor did not arrive in time! During my pregnancies, my husband and I prayed for fast, smooth births, and I know that the births were all in answer to our prayers.”

On making ends meet:

Tsui Ling’s husband, a civil servant, is the main income earner. Tsui Ling worked as a teacher before her babies were born. “For my eldest, I took childcare leave for a year before returning to work. My mother-in-law took care of him for a few months before I decided to stay home for good. I found it challenging to be both a good mother and good worker at the same time. I did not want to spend just two hours after work with my kids every night before they go to bed. We have never had a helper. Raising my children is a special responsibility which I cannot shift to a helper or to relatives! We live simply and spend within our means. We definitely need to budget. But we do not lack anything. Although we have space constraints in our home, housing is too expensive at the moment for us to consider getting a bigger place,” says Tsui Ling.

On getting around:

The Hoy family gets around in their seven-seater Toyota Wish. However, the car will not fit the entire family after baby number six is born. “We bought a car when we were expecting the fourth baby. Before this, we relied on the MRT, buses and taxis. Now, I still take public transport with my five kids when we go out during the week as my husband uses the car for work.”

On holidays:

Drives to Genting or Cameron Highlands in Malaysia take the place of expensive overseas family holidays.

On breastfeeding:

“Mummy’s milk is created perfectly for babies. It has the right amount of nutrients, at the right temperature and it is so convenient going out without bottles, powdered formula and hot water. It has also helped us save so much! While breastfeeding is easier because I know what to expect, every baby is different. Baby and I need time to get to know each other. I exclusively breastfed my babies, despite the challenges. I knew the problems would pass and I persevered.”

3 Girls, 3 Boys, and A Home Filled With Books!

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William and Tracey Ng have six children. The eldest, 20-year-old Denise, will be beginning
her undergraduate studies at university soon, while her 18 and 16-year-old sisters, Danielle and Debbie, are in polytechnic and junior college respectively. Twin brothers Dalton and Dale are in Primary 6, while three-year-old Declan is being homeschooled. Tracey, who is of Sinhalese and Eurasian parentage, is a stay-at-home mother while her husband is a Physics teacher in a secondary school. The family lives in an HDB executive apartment in Punggol.

On housework:

“Everyone chips in to do the housework!”

On getting around:

“We do not have a car, so we travel everywhere by either bus or train. We rarely take taxis as we would have to take two taxis to fit everyone in, and the cost would be high.”

On teaching the kids:

Tracey and her husband have raised their kids to be independent. Tracey shares, “I believe it is important for children to take ownership of their studies. Our kids study on their own, are responsible for their own homework, and have no tuition. I guide my sons as they are doing their PSLE later this year.”

On teaching finances:

“My kids have a fixed allowance; they budget their allowances themselves so that they have enough money to eat at school and to buy the things they want. They save for big ticket items like a DSLR camera.’

On daily life:

“The children are avid readers, so our place is filled with tons of books! My sons are crazy about Science shows like Mythbusters, and are always inventing things. We spend a lot of time talking. Our flat faces a small park and playground, so there is quite a lot of space for the kids to run around. Our boys have plenty of fun outdoors. Their school is next to our block, so they walk to school and back home every day. We enjoy outings to the library, the park, and so on.”

On large family dynamics:

“My kids are happy. They often say their friends envy them because they have siblings to talk to and play with. My girls are all about the same size so they can share clothes and such. Sometimes they will quarrel but these incidents are usually short and they don’t harbour ill feelings towards one another. They also say they’ve grown more independent because they have many siblings.”

On coupletime:

Despite being the busy parents of a large brood, William and Tracey take time to nurture their marriage. “We go out for tea at the nearby coffee shop or food court every evening after work. It may be only for 30 minutes but it’s good to catch up on each other’s day. We send text messages to each other every day, go for long walks every week and take on household projects such as home makeovers. The little things we do for each other matter.”

Read our Large Singaporean Families (Part 1)

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Large Singaporean Families (Part 2)