If you don’t already know, we don’t own a car, although almost everyone would expect we do. After all we got 2 young kids! I must admit there were many times, after the our firstborn TC arrived, that we were tempted to get one. As we held out the difficult times, we soon realized that we didn’t need one, just as we didn’t need the TV. Not even after the arrival of baby TX 2 years after. We’ve been doing good without a car, 3 years on and 2 babies later. I know it would be so nice to have one, but with limited resources, all the more we need to be focused on our family goals – raising Godly, happy and healthy kids, praying hard that they will catch this love from us that we desire their salvation and God’s blessings for them more than anything else. We reckon the souls of our children worth much more than all the money I could earn in the corporate world. Even if it means we don’t have a car, enjoy fancy restaurants, own a big house nor send them for enrichments. Love within the family is far more precious, don’t you agree?
I am so glad we just rode through the tough times, made adjustments to our expectations and lifestyle, instead of committing to a car and a hefty car loan and all the related car expenses. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be a SAHM today. =) Serious. I probably would have to continue working, and then hire a domestic help too, in order to cope! A woman only has 24 hours in a day, not 36 or 48, remember? It would make more sense our home have SAHD, not SAHM. After all, I left the “glam” industry everyone’s dying to get in… But we have to go by God’s formula, not ours right? The world is telling us otherwise, since it does not make sense. God’s ways may not always make sense sometimes, just as it didn’t make sense for Jesus to die on the cross. =) Often, they all just click after we obey.
OK, I know it’s not going to go down well with many if I say that most Singaporeans are just not willing to lower their expectations or lifestyle, for themselves and their children, thinking that they ought to provide for their kids as what the Lims do. I seriously think that’s why many say they have “no choice” but to have double income. They say it is possible “30 years ago”, but they forgot that it is really the quality of life that has improved so much that they are unwilling to turn back the clock despite the higher standard (read: Cost) of living. The solution is probably to manage our expectations and lifestyle. I cannot say that the car is not a necessity, it really depends. But you feel tight on your finances, I do urge you to seriously consider, if you really need it. =)
Now if you are feeling really offended and want to click that “X” on the top right corner of the window and shut me out, please give me a chance to show you that it is possible to take public transport with young children, alone. I do that every week on Mondays to BSF, once every fortnight for a mother’s meeting and every visit to the doctor or as and when necessary. I am going to tell you how I do it. Here goes.
The core, is really to train your children to be obedient. They need to obey instructions and know the dangers of the road. I expect my children to obey not because I’m a sadist but I desire greatly for their safety which they do not yet perceive in their naïve mind. Expect your children to obey you, for their good, never for your own convenience or desires.
1) When TC (older boy) is able to step up and down a bus, requiring me to use only one hand to on to his hand, I take a bus. His motor and balancing skills were pretty good by 2 years old. So parents, please gauge for yourselves your child’s standards.
2) Always put baby in the pouch when going up and down the bus. You will then have 2 hands free. 1 for holding toddler, and the other for anything you might need to carry, such as stroller.
3) Try to plan your trips around nap. Always bring along little snacks and water. Children are often cranky either because they are hungry or sleepy.
4) Avoid peak hours or long journeys if you can. Not so fun cramming with others and keeping track of your toddler while you are holding a bulky stroller.
5) I avoid going out in the late afternoon, not unless they have had a nap. If the trip is from late morning, aim to be back by late afternoon so they can nap properly at home.
6) Plan not to be outside for more than 6 hours each trip. So you can pack light and prevent over-tired melt downs, yourself and children included.
7) Tell toddler that we are going out, and taking a bus, right when he wakes up. Normally TC becomes excited and happy that we are going out. Tell him that if he wants to go out then he must obey instructions and everyone will have a happy trip.
8) While putting on shoes or changing clothes, tell him he must hold your hand when boarding and alighting bus. He must not play at the bus stop, nor wander off on his own at any time. Remind him again he has to obey instructions because it is dangerous if he doesn’t. If he doesn’t obey then we will not be going anywhere.
9) At the bus stop, remind him again he must hold your hand and go up the bus. Then he must sit down on a seat and hold on to hand rails. Nowadays I let TC tap my card and find a seat on his own. He does that happily.
10) Sometimes, toddler may fall, so wear long pants for him. It is ok to fall. Take the opportunity to remind him he has to be careful and try to balance. Remind that is also why mommy tell him he has to sit down and hold on to handrails.
11) Sometimes, kind souls will help. Graciously accept help if they offer to carry stroller, or even hold your child’s hand when boarding or alighting. Remember to smile and say thank you. =)
12) Keep the ride interesting by pointing out all types of vehicles or any interesting sights. Even saying hello to strangers is good, if they bother to chat up the kid, because being occupied will help them stay out of trouble such as climbing on chairs or wanting to crawl on the floor, messing around etc.
13) If kid starts to become bored and wants to get down, remind him he has to sit for his own safety. If all else fails, there is the iPhone! Ride out this time, avoid it the next time because the ride is probably too long for his maturity and age. By 2.5 years old TC can take trips about half the length of Singapore but I won’t want to test him to go for more. Nowadays he can go from end to end but I would avoid doing it alone.
14) Prepare him when nearing the destination that you are alighting. Tell him to wait for the bus to come to a complete stop before coming down from the seat.
15) Remind him again just before the stop that he need to wait for the bus to stop, then he need hold tight to your hand, then tap the card (if you let him and he is tall enough) and if for any reason mommy has to let go his hand, he must wait at the bus stop.
16) Taking train is much easier because I’d just put baby in the stroller, and we’d walk all the way to the train station 600-800m away from our home.
17) If walking to the train or bus stop, again, remind toddler he has to stay close and never wander off. He must stop at traffic lights. Make the walk interesting by discussing what we see. Remind him, red light stop, green light go! Allow him to press on the pedestrian button. TC loves doing that! TC also enjoy counting down with the traffic light if available.
18) One back pack, one pouch, one stroller. Baby and Toddler, we are ready to go!
19) Repeat steps (7)-(10), (14)-(15) and (17) until he fully internalizes it, depending on the child’s age, it may take up to a year. Don’t give up, since their memory is short, we can help them anticipate and know what is expected of them by repeating our instructions in short and clear manner.
20) I reckon you can take 3 or more children if you are able to train them well. I suppose a 4 year old will have good enough motor skill not to require your assistance and can board the bus up and down on his own. Then you can take a baby, toddler and preschooler! I will let you know if I successfully do it. =)
Lastly I would like to add that there is always the option to take a taxi if you think your toddler is not able to handle it or you need to hurry. Do buffer for kids walking slowly and wanting to pee mid journey or sometimes they just want to observe the bugs or step on mimosa. 😀
P.S. Nowadays I let TC find a seat on his own after boarding the bus because his balance is pretty good at 3 years old. I am not yet willing to let him board and alight on his own although I think he is able to do it. Again, remind him what is expected of him and don’t take chances because children forget in the height of excitement. Yes, trips are always so exciting!