It’s good to be home! I’ve missed this face so much.
Leaving this baby for 3 weeks was hard and I cried so bad after dropping her off at my mom’s house. I had expected there to be tears, just not this much. Even after doing this a few times, having to leave a baby behind is one of those things that never gets easier. When we got to New York, I thought I’d feel better if I could spend some time on video chat with my baby but it was possibly worse. Poor baby was so sad and confused at having to look at all of us on the phone, she started tearing up and calling mama and then I wanted to cry too.
Now that we’re back and I get to hold my baby again, my heart is complete. All the kids have been smothering her with kisses since we got back to make up for all the time we had to spend without her.
And how was traveling with 4 kids? For the last 23 days, we spent every waking and sleeping moment together in close (sometimes too close) proximity. So in other words, it was amazing.
The kids woke up feeling like best friends every morning. We would hear Truett and Kirsten talking in hushed tones, planning their adventure for the day and then the boys would climb in with them and soon, all four of them would be snuggled up all squashed in that one double bed, giggling and whispering secrets.
We would shush them from time to time but really, I just enjoyed listening to those conversations.
Truett and Kirsten have really grown up and they were an incredible babysitting tag team during the trip. Tru would shower the two boys and help them put on their many layers of clothing. When they got out of control, he would nag at them to behave like civilized human beings, it was hilarious. While running after them at Disney one day, he told me “Watching these two boys is exhausting, I don’t know how you do it all the time. I do this for a few days and I cannot already.”
Meanwhile, Kirsten would help them with their laces and moderate their squabbles. “Theo, you get to hold the bubble blower for 3 more minutes and then it’s kor kor Finn’s turn…urgh okay lah stop fighting, here, just take my toy and you both can have one each.” It was like watching a re-enactment of my life, I really enjoyed it.
The other day, I was asking the kids to guess how much it would cost to raise a child and they thought for a moment before Truett said, “Um…5,000?”
“Not even close,” I told them.
“30,000?” Kirsten suggested.
“More. A lot more.”
Finn decided to go with all of the numbers. “I know!! 100 million gazillion thousand billion!”
“Hahahaha, I like the enthusiasm but no, not that much.”
When I eventually told them each kid would cost an estimated $500,000, they were incredulous, like “WHATTT??? And you still have so many babies??!!! WHY?? THEN HOW???”
Before I got to the “then how” part, I had to explain to them that as with most things in life, we jumped headfirst into this whole having babies situation without really thinking about how much it would cost or how were going to come up with it. We just happened to really like babies and after we had our first one, we thought he was ridiculous adorable so we went and had another 4 more.
Yeah, and that’s the story of how you wake up one day to find out that you now have to pay for 5 of these very expensive tiny humans.
They started to look very worried so I told them that the $500,000 is just a suggested amount and it’s entirely possible to be perfectly happy with much less. Besides, we would have the next decade or so to figure it out. “Don’t worry! Worst case scenario, we’ll just have to eat less food and you guys will have to start getting a job during your school holidays,” I added, helpfully.
I don’t think it made them feel any better.
It’s a good thing that these days, Truett has learnt not to take me seriously all the time, so he was like “You’re kidding, right? Aiya, mom is just kidding, we’ll have food to eat lah. They have a plan or something.”
And he’s right, because here’s the good news: you don’t need to have gold bars stashed away somewhere to have 5 kids (or even 1). All you need is smart financial management.
What kind of smart financial management? I’m glad you asked. Here are some basic steps to get you started:
1. Build a stash of savings
Step one is to make savings a regular habit. It’s great to save a lot all at once, but there’s a case to be made for developing the habit of stashing away some savings every month, even if it seems like a small amount.
That’s because when you add all those small amounts together, you get a decently sized amount and if you keep at it, soon enough, you’ll have a nice big amount, that’s how math works.
We’ve been trying to teach this to Truett and Kirsten since they started Primary School and I think they generally understand how important it is. Whether they’ve been consistently successful at it is um, debatable. In fact, Tru was just trying to pitch me the idea that he should have a 50-cent increase in his pocket money for Primary 4 next year.
I was like, “You need a 25% increase?? WHY?? What are you planning to buy with it?” and he immediately said “Oh, so that I can save more.”
2. Stash those savings in the right place
Now that you’ve accumulated a nice little stash, the next thing is to make sire that you put it in the right place.
Okay, enter the new UOB Stash Account®, a bank account that makes your savings work harder for you. I’ve just signed up for it and here’s how it works. Earn up to 1% p.a.1 interest on your Monthly Average Balance (MAB) when you: a) maintain or increase your MAB compared to the previous month and b) maintain a MAB above S$10,000. That’s about 15 times* the interest you’d be earning in your basic savings account.
3. Have access to those savings just in case
With kids, you’re always one emergency away from burning a hole in your pocket. Flu season can quickly escalate into bronchiolitis and a hospital stay, an afternoon at the playground can turn into somebody’s fractured arm, and at any given point, somebody will probably need new glasses, new shoes, new school bags, which can all add up.
With the UOB Stash Account®, there’s no lock in period so you’ll have quick access to your savings if you ever need it. You just need to make sure to top it back upto enjoy bonus interest.
Setting aside a stash of savings for the kids is one of the most important decisions we’ve made as parents. Not only does it give us a headstart in being prepared for the future, we hope that they’ll also grow up adopting this habit of saving.
As an added bonus, earn 1.2% p.a. on your savings for the month of November if you sign up now here.
But wait, there’s more! UOB is having a special promo for the festive season:
//If you are a new UOB customer, get an extra $80 cash credit when you apply for your UOB Stash Account. Sign up now here.
//Terms and conditions apply.
1Maximum effective interest rate (EIR) on the UOB Stash Account® is 0.83% p.a. (at S$100,000 Monthly Average Balance) or 0.65% p.a. (at S$50,000 Monthly Average Balance), provided that: (a) the customer maintains a Monthly Average Balance above S$10,000; (b) the customer’s Monthly Average Balance for the present calendar month is equal to or more than the Monthly Average Balance for the preceding calendar month; and (c) the Monthly Average Balance which is eligible to earn Bonus Interest is capped at S$100,000. UOB Stash Account® Terms and Conditions apply
*This calculation is based on a UOB Stash Account® holder with an initial deposit of S$80,000 and who maintains a Monthly Average Balance of at least S$80,000 for 12 months. Total interest earned will be up to 1.00% p.a., 15 times that of a normal savings account earning an interest rate of 0.05% p.a. This calculation is for illustrative purposes only and is not a representation, warranty or assurance of the actual interest credited. “Monthly Average Balance” is the summation of each day-end balance in the UOB Stash Account® for each calendar month, divided by the number of calendar days for that month.
Baby Hayley is at the most delightful age and I cannot get enough of this baby.
At just 16 months, the selfie game is already strong in this one. I mean, this girl is front facing camera all the way. The moment she sees herself on the phone, she goes from Oh Look That’s Me to Let Me Ham It Up to Woah Okayy That’s A Fine Looking Baby all at once.
She’s also the only baby who enjoys having her photos taken. I’m not going to get ahead of myself but I’ve never seen a baby this good at taking direction on how to pose.
I’m like “Let’s start with happy face” and boom, done.
“Taking it to something more demure like you’re a damsel.”
“Gorgeous, I love it! Okay, serious face, let’s go.”
“How about more feeling? We need to turn on the feels.” and she’s like “MORE FEELS? SAY NO MORE, MOM, I’VE GOT THIS!”
“Yeah okay, maybe dial back the feels. Do it like you’re thinking about something vaguely important.”
On this note, I used to feel like it was more important to be fully present in the moments and to really enjoy them while they were happening instead of obsessing about capturing them all down in photos. Which was great but as the kids got bigger, I found myself spending a lot of time looking back at all of the photos and then remembering all the amazing moments.
So now I’m feeling like I need more photos of everything. Give me all of the photos!!
In a few days, we’re going to do something we’ve never done before: go explore the world with 4 kids. We’ll be heading to New York + Niagara + Orlando with Truett, Kirsten, Finn and Theo for the next 3 weeks.
I gave a lot of thought to the possibility of bringing all 5 but after coming at it from every possible angle, this remains a puzzle I can’t seem to crack and it would be irresponsible to try. Knowing how mopey I’m going to be without my baby, the husband was all “Let’s just do it!! See, she’s such a good girl. It will be the craziest thing we’ve ever done but we’ll manage, don’t worry! At least we’ll all be together…” and I was like “YOU NEED TO STOP ME, you’re supposed to be the voice of reason!” This is exactly why I married this man.
We could probably survive it if everything went according to plan, but things rarely go according to plan and we would be completely out of our depth if we brought baby Hayley along so it is with great sadness that we’re leaving her behind.
As it is, traveling with all 4 kids would be would be madness enough but I’ve worked out a detailed plan that covers most contingencies. Hopefully. We’ll see how that goes.
**I’ll be posting on Instagram while we’re away, you can find me over here!