10 Money Lessons for Grade Schoolers

I remember when I started getting an allowance. I was a 9 years old and my parents discovered a stash of money (birthday and random cash gifts from relations) that I had hidden in my drawer. After a brief chat about where I got the money from and what my plans were, my father implemented a monthly allowance system that stayed in place until I graduated college. My allowance was thin and had to cover my food, transportation, college class supplies and casual clothes. I learnt quickly how to prioritize financially, make sacrifices, do without and be content. That discipline has shaped how I make financial choices even as an adult. It wasn't always fun, but in hindsight it was a lesson worth learning.

Over the last one year, I've been more conscious of introducing my 6 year old twins to simple financial concepts. Start them off young on a financial path where they understand smart money choices. In no particular order, here are 10 things I've started doing to sow the seeds for financial smarts for their future.

  1. Once they're able to recognize numbers, teach them how to read and recognize currency denominations e.g the difference between a $1 and $2 coin; even though a dime is smaller than a nickel, it has more value because 10 is bigger than 5.
  2. Give them a piggy bank, wallet or handbag to store their money and respect their ownership of those items. My girls have piggybanks and handbags where they keep and regularly count their money. I don't pry into what they have and don't touch without first asking permission. 
  3. Take them shopping and teach them how to read the price labels of the items on display. Emphasize the numbers before and after the dot and what it means
  4. Teach them to recognize sale signs; my kids know how to read % off
  5. Take them grocery shopping. If they want to grab the flyers in the grocery store, let them leaf through it and identify the items that we need to buy for home use
  6. If they're asking for something that's too expensive or unaffordable, I tell them no and explain why so they understand that not everything we want can be bought at whim
  7. Teach them to stick to budget. Sometimes when they're gifted money, I let them take it to the store to chose what they want to buy. With knowledge of #3 and simple addition they're able to tell what they can afford with their $10 note and what they cannot. Another perk of this is that they learn to collaborate and make deals. Sometimes my twins will agree to combine their cash to get something they both want if their individual allowance is not enough
  8. Start sowing the seeds of minimalism. "Mom can I have this?" "No because we already have something similar at home". This passes the message across, shop your belongings before you spend more money
  9. Teach them how to make choices and the concept of opportunity cost. For example, in our cable TV bundle, their 2 favorite stations are on 2 different packages but we're only paying for one package. I explain this to them and let them deliberate and decide which channel package they'd prefer.
  10. Teach them giving by having them take the money out of their piggybank/handbag whenever they want to give to a charity, church or a busker. It enforces the concept that being compassionate and giving to the less fortunate will always require a personal sacrifice
Of course, I'm aware that there's a delicate balance between teaching kids to be responsible with money and scaring them that we're a few dollars away from penury. So far, with these 10 tricks, I think we've stayed on the right side of "financial smarts" as a family.

Stopping to Smell the (Baby) Roses

It a little after midnight and I've just finished feeding my son a bottle of milk. As I alternately rubbed and bumped his back waiting for him to burp, I studied the his face indulgently - the contours of his cheek, his pouty lips, the way he creases his eyebrows whenever a thump startles him from his almost-asleep state. It was past midnight and I was tired and I should and want to be asleep but here I sit instead, leisurely falling in love with my son.

I was surprised when I realized that this emotion felt new to me. Didn't I go through this with the twins? Do I love my son more than my daughters?

Actually no!

It's instead the answer to the question people always ask me "Is it easier taking care of one baby versus two at the same time?" My answer is no, it's not easier. Surviving on 4 hours of sleep in a night feels the same on my body regardless of how many babies I'm taking care of. Regarding taking care of one baby versus two, both are physically draining especially in this initial newborn stage.

What IS different for me though is that the frenzied, rigidly-disciplined mode I operated in with the girls is missing now. I was so scared of being overwhelmed with tiredness while taking care of the twins that all my actions with them in the newborn stage were geared towards being super-efficient almost to the point of being mechanical. I didn't have time to stop and smell their little black curls of hair or tickle their tummies during night feedings because I needed to feed the other baby and catch as much sleep NOW before the next feeding. With my singleton baby (and also being an experienced mom AND knowing that this is my last biological baby), I'm definitely on the slower path of parenting. You could say that I'm stopping to smell the baby roses on this path. That's one of the things I savour about having one baby to care for instead of two.

Here's to enjoying the rest of the week.

Life and Links of 0417

Life in April has consisted of trying to find a new normal for our family of five.
  • Holding onto Mr Nice's carseat while chatting with people in church so I don't leave without him, because I'm so used to just grabbing the girls and leaving
  • Finding and making time to connect with my daughters who are regularly demanding "mommy time"
  • Cleaning, rearranging and decluttering the house
  • Nipping Mr Nice's reflux in the bud with Enfamil Thickened formula - he's a happier baby already after 4 days on this and if he's happy, I'm happy
Reading: Most impactful book I read this month was The Essential Enneagram. I'm a big, dorky fan of personality typing and this ranks as the best I've come across yet. P.S I'm a Type 5; an Observer

Watching: Dave Chappelle's 2017 show on Netflix.

Listening: Hillsong Worship's What a Beautiful Name on repeat. Those words are so moving and powerful!

In other news, here are my favorite links and things from April:

We're already in planning mode for our summer vacation and my money-saving heart is happy to know that our destination has free museums

I'm ok with telling my kids they don't have to share

How many ways can you say "I love you" to your kids? Here's 42 ways

I love to imagine my daughters writing this sometime in the future

I love this dad's sense of humor though I'm thankful he's not my dad

And finally, if you haven't found Buzzfeed Tasty on Instagram, you're missing out

A post shared by Tasty (@buzzfeedtasty) on

Talking to My 6 Year Olds About Sex

The twins are 6 years old and that apparently is the age where all sorts of pointed questions about sex get asked. Add a newborn baby into the mix and the questions roll out even faster and "furiouser". And of course, mommy is the answerer of all such questions. I confess that I've been negligent in preparing myself to answer those questions. Should have read a few books on talking to kids about sex but life was too short and I was too busy.

Regardless of my tardiness in reading up on the subject, I've handled the conversations with a combination of correction, diversion and education. The conversations go somehow like this:

Objective: To fix the misinformation usually got from their peers

Spice: So mommy, are you going to feed the baby with you boobies?
Me: What are boobies?
Spice: Those round things on your chest
Me: Who told you they're called boobies? Tip: Always find out who else has been having conversations about sex or body parts with your kids
Spice: Ryan in my class. He said they are called boo-boos when they're small and boobies when they're big
Me: They're called breasts and yes, I'm going to be feeding the baby with the milk that comes out

Objective: To postpone the conversation until the kids (or you) are better equipped to handle it 

After a candid conversation of how babies get in mommies' tummies
Sugar: How do the babies come out of the mom's tummy?
Me: The doctor takes them out
Sugar: Does the doctor cut the mommy's tummy?
Me: Yes, sometimes the doctor does that.
Sugar: Sometimes? So how else do the babies come out of the mom's tummy?
Me: *Thinking* oh shit! oh Shit! oh SHIT! I'm not ready for this! I should have read the book!
Sugar: *In a louder voice* I said, how do the babies come out of their mom's tummy?
Me: Would you like popcorn chicken or drumstick?
Sugar: I don't really want chicken...*launches into a soliloquy of reasons why she hates chicken*

Objective: Teach them how to name body parts without being bashful

Spice: My baby brother has that thingie in his front bumbum?
Me: Yes, it's called a penis. Boys have penises and girls have vaginas
Spice: Yeah, I once saw ... penis in daycare when he was peeing
Me: OK.

Obviously, I've handled some of the conversations better than others. To be honest, I thought some of the questions would come much later in life... when the girls were closer to 10. I was mistaken.

Have you walked this path yet? Any tips for this mama?

Blogging With Kids

Blogging with kids! 

It's sorta like walking while chewing gum; spit is produced in copious amounts and regardless of that, you have to keep moving forward.

I'm not sure that the analogy above even makes sense but one thing I'm sure of is that sooner or later everyone that's blogging while parenting asks themselves the pertinent question: should I do this? should I blog about my kids? The "Yes" and "No" sides of this equation have been weighed by me over the last 6+ years and both sides are worth hearing.

No, do not blog about your kids because

  1. It invades their privacy especially when they are too young to consent to the information being shared. Imagine little Johnny's future employer or colleagues googling his name and learning all about his potty quirks
  2. It exploits them especially in cases where their photos are used to promote the parents' "brand" in sponsored posts or for some other monetary gain.
  3. It compromises their safety where suddenly random strangers know their names, what they look like, their favorite cereal, where they live etc. Thanks to Hollywood, we all have a fairly healthy dose of paranoia and imagine what all the villians in the movies could do with this information
Yes, blog about your kids because
  1. It's a living childhood journal. I have printed photobooks for each year of the twins' life and they are at the age where they enjoy flipping through the books and remembering when they were babies. A blog can serve the same purpose; as an online journal that kids can one day review with nostalgia.
  2. It captures the parents' voice. Why would capturing your voice as a parent be important? Let me share my personal experience as a daughter. My mother died when I was 5 years old so I really have no emotional database of her voice, tone or personal idiosyncrasies to humanize my memories of her. For the longest time, she was just a saintly figure crowned in a corner of my heart. That is until I found her diary and read her thoughts as a mother written by her own hand in her own voice. Reading the diary of my mother marked a major turning point in my life's journey as a motherless daughter - I went from assuming my mother loved me to knowing definitively that she did because of how she wrote about me in my diary. If you grew up with a mother, this concept may be hard for you to wrap your mind around but trust me, it was a big deal for me. Authoring a blog is a way of capturing some of your essence for your kids in case they'll need it for their emotional memory bank.
So, blogging with kids, yay or nay? From the length of the individual points above, it's fairly easy to see which one matters to me the most. For the first 4 years of authoring this blog, it's purpose was to serve as a guide for other twin moms. Today, it's purpose has shifted a little. I still want to share my learnings as a parent, but I also want to "capture" my voice for my kids. 

Today, I say "Yay" and that's what it'll be until the "Nay" becomes stronger. 


Yes I've been missing in action yet again.

But you see, what had happened was...

I had my 3rd child, 2nd birth, 1st son - all the same baby of course.

Today he turns 3 weeks old and life sure has taken on a new twist. Being a mother of 2 school-age girls is very different from being the mother of 2 school-age girls and a newborn. It's like this baby-mama life is all new to me. I'm having to relearn and re-remember all the things I got right with my older girls while avoiding the bad-mommy moments.

Every child is different and my little man is no exception. I love him to bits and as glimpses of his personality start to emerge, I know my motherhood ride is about to get even more exciting. I intend to enjoy and cherish every moment of it.
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