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The A-Z Guide to staying home

May 13, 2014

This is the second year I’m staying home and it’s been nothing but crazy still. Many people have asked me how I survive on a daily basis, and what my secret is. I wish I could say vodka, but heh no, I don’t drink and have yet to give that to my kids to knock them out.

Although that’s a really tempting thought on really insane days.

Well, I’m still surviving (but barely breathing!) and I’m joining The Gingerbread Mum‘s blog train where she invited 31 stay-home moms to share their survival tips – one mom for each day for the month of May.

So here’s my very own tips – from A-Z – featuring all the things I do / use / need to make it through the madness. There’s no secret, really, but I hope some things in this list can help you make it through each day as they have helped me make it through mine.

You’re welcome.

Motherkao’s A-Z Guide to Staying Home: things you will need and places you must go

Activity books

Activity books can keep young children occupied for quite a while; even the littlest would colour away happily whenever he gets one. Value for money, and great investment in exchange for at least 5 minutes of silence (and longer if the kid is older). You can get these for less than $4 at fairs and mobile booths in shopping malls

I keep the kids iPad and iPhone-free with these

I keep the kids iPad and iPhone-free with these


Believe it or not, I buy balloons from the party section in the supermarket. I buy many packets and use balloons to distract the littlest and to break up fights. I get the kids to choose a colour and they love to watch in anticipation while I blow each balloon, one by one, and then I make them volley the balloons and chase them. And while they do that, I can catch a shut-eye for a minute at least.


I stash a few boxes of After Eight in the fridge and sneak a few pieces in my mouth whenever I feel I’m losing it. You already know chocolates are a great cure for depression and insanity, right?

Disney Junior

Channel 311 on Starhub TV, oh, that’s a godsend babysitter. The kids like almost everything on it, from Doc McStuffins and Sophia the First to Jake and the Neverland Pirates and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Now that we’re without a helper, this channel gives me my toilet break and some me-time in the shower. For another awesome babysitter recommendation, refer to the Letter N.

Espresso machine

One of the best things in our kitchen and worth every single cent we sunk in. Think the smell of coffee filling the air in the mornings and freshly brewed lattes that are kind to the stomach. I’ve said goodbye to 3-in-1 and its horrible aftertaste forever since we bought one. If coffee makes you happy, consider investing. We use a Philips Saeco.

Foot rubs

I don’t get to go for these anymore at those koyok-smelling places in the heartlands. No time, no money to buy packages anyway. But I give myself these rubs on my feet once in a while with nice smelling essential oils for a perk-me-up. FYI: your two big toes are connected to your cerebrum so remember to rub hard and press in when you think you’re losing your head.


Best.fruit.ever. to give to kids. No need to cut, no need to wash plates or utensils. Just give them a good rinse with skin on and kids get vitamins, fibre and natural sugar.


This word deserves a thousand exclamation marks if space allows. He’s your tag-team partner and the one who has to bear all your complaints after a hard day of you staying home. Be nice to him (so he’ll be ready to listen and empathise), always ask how his day was first, and squeeze his shoulders for a bit before you unload.

H is for Husband, the best tag-team partner ever

H is for Husband, the best tag-team partner ever

Ikea’s Småland

Ever since Nat can enter this place (he’s finally 92cm!), I’ve been going there at least once a month to “deposit” the kids while I get at least one hour of me-time and some coffee. Sometimes, I bring a friend who brings her kids and both of us get some adult conversations while the kids play. The best part of this all: IT’S FREE!


Best “distracting” beverage for the kids – I pour this out a lot whenever they whine for something sweet or I have to throw away candies from goodie bags they get from school. I exaggerate the number of fruits / veggies that they can taste from one sip of the juice – blueberries! grapes! carrots! peaches! apples! – even though it’s usually ‘Mixed Berries’ that they drink (two 1-litre packs for $3.95 from Marigold) and the kids start salivating. Add some ice cubes to make it like a treat! Works wonders every time!


This keeps me going when the going gets rough: the thought of being able to catch one episode – any episode – of something from kdramaland with enough hotness in it after the kids are in bed (Lee Min-ho, I’m looking at you!). Many sites have come, and gone – and failed me – but I’ve found DramaGo and DramaFire to be the most stable for now.

Cannot miss the chance to put a picture of HOT on my blog like a crazy fan girl

Cannot miss the chance to put a picture of HOTNESS on my blog like a crazed fan girl


Place to go where you don’t have to put the books back and organise them by genres (me to OCD self). Place to go when you need to escape from sweltering heat. Place to go so kids can be awed by just how many books there are and to sit comfortably to read. Best place to visit during the school holidays to keep kids occupied.

Mom rules

I have these rules for myself to follow as much as I can. They guide me in the day-to-day handling of the kids and my role as their mother.

Mom rules

Nick Junior

Channel 304! Another terrific babysitter. My kids love this more than the one you read about at the Letter D. I find this channel more educational, slower in pace of moving images, and more engaging. I do still try to limit TV time (but it’s becoming increasingly tough these 2 weeks with no helper) but I really wouldn’t mind them catching the 15-minute segments of the many good shows on this channel – Go, Diego, Go!, Dora the Explorer, Bubble Guppies, Wonder Pets and Ni Hao Kai Lan.

One-pot meals

These help me save time and yet give the kids a meal. I throw frozen prawns, frozen corn and canned pineapples with pineapple rice paste in the rice cooker and we get pineapple rice for dinner. I throw some ribs and lotus in the slow cooker and we get soup. I put in chicken, carrots, potatoes and mushrooms and we get stew. Easy peasy lemon squeezy!


When I see the kids getting restless and sense that they need to expend their energy a little, I head on down to the nearest neighbourhood playground. Now that the kids are older, I leave them to play and climb and run while I sit and stone on the bench. Keeps me sane in the evenings too.

Quiet time

Now with the Bible app on my phone, I read the verse of the day and meditate on it throughout the day. For me, it really is crucial to spend time praying. Like the saying goes, prayer IS really the best way to draw strength from heaven.

Running Man

Ooooh! I am addicted to this, and like what you’d read while at the Letter K, the thought of being able to unwind with this after the kids go to bed keeps me going when the going gets tough. On particularly bad days, I find myself needing to watch this to have a good laugh before I sleep. I laugh out loud heartily (this variety show is just TOO funny!), release all the tension of the day, and when I finally feel that the stress is all gone, I go to sleep happy. Running Man *Hwaiting!* !

I catch my Running Man episodes here

I catch my Running Man episodes here

Singapore Mom Bloggers

I belong to this wonderful closed group called Singapore Mom Bloggers and we have meaningful virtual connections and friendships online. I share and rant there, and seek advice a lot from the mothers in the group, and having these moms as my friends keeps me sane on crazy stay-home days.

Terminal 3

If the kids need space to run; if you need a decent place to eat out on weekends but don’t want to queue for that long (compared to places in town); if you need to dream of a holiday; if your kids want to be monkeys without you being judged, head on down to Terminal 3. This is our place to go on weekends; and my kids monkey around at the viewing gallery together with many other kids while the parents look out at planes and plan their next getaway.


I have stopped feeling guilty of scrolling my phone to check status updates on FB and Instagram. Why, I need to connect with people too, I face the kids almost 24/7, y’unno.

Verbal diarrhea

Known fact: women de-stress by talking. Talking helps them connect. Talking helps them unwind. So talk. Talk to husband. Talk to children. Talk to children’s stuffed toys. Talk to children’s school teachers. Talk to furniture. Talk to self. Talk to cleaners, pump attendants, service staff at restaurants and cashiers. TALK. It ALWAYS makes you feel better. Just make sure you won’t have to put your foot in your mouth while at that.

Water play

For hot days. For days they refuse to get in the bath. For days when I need 15 minutes to chill with a cup of tea. I turn on a trickle, throw in lots of plastic cups, bottles, bottle caps, and pails and get them to play while I sit outside the toilet with my cup of tea and watch them. Fun at a small price, and will certainly continue if PUB doesn’t increase our utility fees.

Or places like these also can:

Free fountain fun at Greenwich V

Free fountain fun at Greenwich V


Having a printer that can photocopy is extremely helpful. I zap things for the kids to do again and again, like their favourite colouring pages and activity mazes. If you own one of those Grolier Logico sets, the back of each card has an activity which you can xerox for the kids to try.

Young Living’s Essential oils

I’ve tried essential oils from Young Living for close to 6 months now and I am one happy convert. I oil the kids’ soles – and mine and Fatherkao’s – religiously and use the oils for various ailments and aches. They work great for me, by the way, especially Peace & Calming, which soothes me much after a tiring day with the kids.

Zoo (and the River Safari)

Our two default places to go if the weather is good and I have energy (the River Safari is fully sheltered, by the way). These two places never fail to thrill the Kao kids, and they just love the idea of being there looking at animals. Favourite hangouts: Frozen Tundra, Giant Pandas’ Den and Rainforest Kidz World. Oh yes, I’ve calculated that the zoo family membership is worth it if you visit at least 6 times a year. And also, this is the place to go during the school holidays if you’ve run out of things to do.

Z is fo Zoo

Love the cool at Kai Kai and Jia Jia’s den at the River Safari

There you have it, a list from A to Z! My favourites are the letters H, K and R. What are yours?


The next mom on the blog train is Summer, who blogs at A Happy MumSummer is a media executive turned SAHM from Singapore who stepped into the gratifying journey of motherhood during her four-year stay in Sweden. It was then she realised that this was her destiny all along and she is now the mother of two lovely girls. She believes that contentment is bliss and that happiness is about making the best of what you have. A Happy Mum is a place where she blogs about motherhood, babies, love, DIY crafts, travelling and all things happy. Join her tomorrow as she shares a heartfelt post on how she maintains her emotional well-being as a SAHM.

Summer_A Happy Mum

Need more survival tips? Read them all here from all of us on The Gingerbread Mum’s Blog Train! 

This post is part of a blog train hosted by The Gingerbread Mum 
where 31 stay-at-home mums share their survival tips. We hope that you’ll find our tips useful and remember that you’re not alone!

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  • Reply Di May 20, 2014 at 2:47 PM

    Hahaha I also watched R recently to destress!
    Love yr blog- thanks for sharing! :)))

  • Reply Jac May 14, 2014 at 8:48 PM

    Haha. My kids fav will be D. For me, “K” and “R”! Lee Min Ho!!!! is my favorite too. And Kang Gally!

    • Reply MotherKao May 15, 2014 at 11:14 PM

      Hi-five from one Lee Min-ho and Kang Gary fan to another. *cue fan gurl screams*

  • Reply ting May 13, 2014 at 4:45 PM

    This is a really cool list! I particularly love the letter K and R too! :p

    • Reply MotherKao May 15, 2014 at 11:14 PM

      Looks like we can all have a kdrama-thon and Running Man variety-thon soon!

  • Reply Angelia May 13, 2014 at 3:17 PM

    Am so encouraged by your enthusiasm for life! and you still can churn out such an excellent piece of witty tips! You’re doing an amazing job. I agree wholeheartedly to connecting with God to draw strength from Him and the TALK part is really funny and necessary! lol. Jiayou once again! Your family is blessed!

    • Reply MotherKao May 15, 2014 at 11:17 PM

      Ya, forgot to add, TALK to God. All day also can. Best. way. ever. to de-stress!

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