Coping with five kids without help

Coping with five kids without help
Pastor Ivan Chow with his wife Agnes and their children (from left) Toby, five; baby Oliver, seven months old; Sophia, seven; Ezri, three; and Mika (seated on the floor), two.

Stay-at-home mum Agnes Nemes-Chow is a 35-year-old permanent resident who was born in Hungary.

Her husband, Mr Ivan Chow, 39, is a Singaporean pastor. They have five children, aged between seven years old and seven months old.

She had a home birth for their youngest child, Oliver.

Ms Nemes-Chow says: "After our third child, Ezri, was born seven weeks premature, we decided to be on our own because it would be hard for the kids to have a lot of changes around them.

This happened when Ezri, who is now three, stayed in hospital for a month and we visited him twice a day. People from our church helped babysit our two eldest children, Sophia, now seven, and Toby, five.

Sophia and Toby were upset with us; they cried more because of these changes at the time.

We wanted to establish a stable routine for the children. We have never had a maid and I took a week off from my chores after the birth of each of our five children.

During the confinement period, people would ask how they could help us. We told them to bring food.

Ivan looked after the older kids.

We also want the older children to be involved with the baby. I breastfeed in front of the kids. Sometimes, I leave Oliver in his playpen when the other children are in the room, while I do housework elsewhere in the flat. They help entertain him. In fact, Sophia fed Oliver his first spoonful of solid food.

I always try to focus on the second youngest and give him more attention when the newborn arrives because he would feel more insecure.

I found it helpful that I gave birth to Oliver at home.

Our second youngest, Mika, now two, was very clingy to me. Soon after Oliver was born, I spent an entire morning with Mika, reading together in bed. It calmed him down and I was able to give him attention as I was not in hospital.

I am homeschooling the children for kindergarten.

By being hands-on, we want to transmit our Christian values to our children. For example, regarding forgiveness, I try and make it a point to say sorry after yelling at them. I want to be a role model to them.

It is hard to go against the mainstream culture. I have friends who are like-minded mums, which is very important for emotional support.

To save time, my husband and I shop for groceries online and use machines such as a robotic vacuum cleaner.

I don't go for beauty treatments and I cut the hair of everyone in the family."

This article was first published on May 10, 2015.
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