Posted by: angiefm | October 31, 2009

Planning for 2010 – Some Initial Thoughts

The fun has begun!  😀  I have started thinking about what we will do next year.  It’s going to be another very exciting year for us (which year isn’t?).  We will be:

  • renovating and moving to our new home in January, February and part of March
  • we are planning to go MAID-LESS after we move (more on this later!)
  • as a result of this, we will have to dedicate more time to household work and cooking which are now handled by our helper


So here are our priorities for the year:

  • Home-management – We need to learn how to manage the home on our own.  Would you believe I am pushing 40 but have never had to do housework?  Shame on me right?  😛  I was only maid-less for a couple of months after we got married almost 10 years ago, then we hired part-time help to do the cleaning and ironing while we continued to go to my mom’s for meals.  Before Alethea was born in Sep 2000, we employed a full-time maid and that was that.  At one point for almost 2 years, when my grandfather was living with us, we had TWO helpers!  What a luxury right?
  • The Great Outdoors – I have been convicted recently (again!) of the need for our children to spend more time outdoors.  This year was a tough year in that department because I had a difficult 3rd trimester, then baby arrived, so we haven’t spent much time outdoors.  We used to swim twice a week, cycle twice a week and evenings were spent at the playground downstairs.  Recently I read this quote from Charlotte Mason: “In this time of extraordinary pressure, educational and social, perhaps a mother’s first duty to her children is to secure for them a quiet growing time, a full six years of passive receptive life, the waking part of it spent for the most part out in the fresh air” (Vol. 1, p. 43).  I feel that Nathalie especially has been deprived of this because by the time she was 2 we already had a primary schooler and turned too academic.  🙂
  • Independence – this word is going to be a BIG one next year.  We are weaning ourselves off full-time live in help, Alethea will continue learning independently (she’s doing GREAT already), Timothy has to be trained to do likewise and Nathalie will start to be responsible for her own reading list now that she is READING!  😀


Thoughts on books for next year (some for mummy!):

Since our main focus next year is home-management and cooking, I figured it would be great to have that feature big in our “curriculum”!  Think Home Ec!  🙂  So I have bought the following:

  • Training Our Daughters to be Keepers at Home (also fondly known as TODKAH).  This is a 7 year programme for mothers to do with their daughters to teach them home-making skills (cooking, sewing, gardening, etc) and to train them in Godly womanhood.  I have printed the whole lot out and Alethea is raring to go!  It is supposed to be for 11 to 18 year olds, but we decided that since we were terrible executors, starting a couple of years ealier wasn’t going to hurt.  Ha ha.
  • Organizing from the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern – this is by far the best thing I have read about organising!  She starts by helping you understand why it is you fail with your attempts and then goes on to show you not just how to organise various functions or spaces in a way that suits YOU, but how to maintain it after.  It is a particularly good read now that we are planning our new home because we have a shot at getting it right the first time round.
  • Cookbooks – TODKAH (that training daughters programme) uses the cookbook Lunches and Snacks and I have bought myself Dinner Survival by Sandi Richard.  This was recommended by a friend in Canada whom I turned to on the subject on maintaining sanity while having to cook for the family.  🙂  I was tempted to buy Once-A-Month-Cooking by Mimi Wilson and Mary Beth Lagerborg, but I don’t think I could ever do it. 

The foundation of our curriculum has always been a good reading list and next year will be no different.  As usual I will take my main cue from the Amblesideonline curriculum‘s reading list and add the usual suspects.  But some of the things that will change are:

  • I will have fewer read-alouds (ie books for me to read to them) for the older children (Alethea and Timothy) for two reasons – their books are getting LONG and I now have more children and less time. 🙂 
  • Instead I will be investing in more audio books instead.  I posted about this earlier, but being the lazy bum I am, I’m going to be buying them, not searching and downloading.  The searching/downloading/burning CDs will just take too much time.
  • I learnt a lesson from the way this year went.  It is very difficult to spread one book out throughout the year, reading a chapter every week or two.  It makes for wonderful variety and prevents monotony, but it is so difficult to manage, especially if you are going to miss a few weeks, or in our case, months!  So I will be reading one book per subject at a time and ticking them off our list as soon as they are completed, then going on to the next.  As it is we have many unfinished books this year which we are trying hard to finish in the next two months.

More on this planning thing later, but it was good to get some thoughts down for a start.

Are you thinking about what you are going to be doing next year whether or not you homeschool?


  1. You are all so lucky.

  2. Am planning to train Zach my oldest to be more independent in his learning too. What were your successes and struggles when you did that with Alethea? Any tips on how to go about this?

    • Hi Serene, I think it is a bit nature and a bit nurture. 🙂 Alethea is naturally compliant and disciplined so that helps. But we also spent the better part of last year and the beginning of this year preparing our kids to go independent after baby’s birth. We did this Charlotte Mason style. Short lessons (we use the timer a lot here), training for focus, switching subjects every 15 to 30 mins to keep things fresh. We also use iFlashbook for Chinese which the kids do on their own. Alethea is better at it. Timothy gets distracted by all the animation so needs to be reminded to stay on track. 😀

      Overall, we spend about 2 hours on the academics. We start bewteen 10 to 10.30 with Bible reading (baby has forced us to be flexible!). Then the children spend between 15 to 20 mins on copywork, an hour on Chinese (they read and practice the lesson from iFlashbook and do their Chinese workbook and practice the new words which Daddy will give them “ting xie” on on Saturday) and half an hour on Math. That takes us till lunch at 1.

      I have to be watchful of wavering attention during that time and call them back to attention. I may ask them to change activities – like take a break from math and get a drink, etc, then have them come back refreshed. Charlotte Mason felt it was important for children to learn to be attentive and I couldn’t agree more! We do this not by making them sit for whole hours, but by getting them to understand what attentiveness is, starting with 5 mins worth of completely attentiveness then working our way incrementally up. That way our children know when their attention is wavering and will ask for a break themselves now.

      We read in the afternoons. I used to read it all, but now each of them reads to me, or we will never complete the readings for this year!

      Hope that helps.

  3. I fully support u to go maid-less! I homesch my 4 kids from 9 to 2yrs with one more blessing on the way in Dec and we never had a helper. My husband and I believe we shld teach our children independence and to have the mindset of helping take care of each other. The 2 older ones are doing great, helping with the laundry, dishes, folding & keeping clothes… Even the 4 yr-old helps out too. Now that my tummy is getting bigger and bending is a strain to my back, it is great to have little helpers to help bathe and change the 2 year-old too. ;> It’s definitely worth the time and effort to teach them these life skills.

    • CONGRATULATIONS! Didn’t know #5 was on the way. Thanks for the encouragement. We are actually very excited about it! 🙂

  4. Must applaud all moms with kids of multiple ages. I have only got two and they are already quite a handful.

    On the subject of cooking, as I have been maidless and in-lawless for the past 4 years, I can testify that simple/quick but nutritious meals (porridge, pasta, noodles, any cooking appliance that takes over the cooking process) is definitely a great help. Takes the stress off cooking and washing up and helps keeps us on task.

    Btw, I only cook 3 times a week, giving myself days in between for a breather. If you have more than 2 kids, do the math 🙂 and decide for yourself if you want to do more or less.

    Hope you find my blabbering useful, Angie.

    • Thanks Amanda. Blabbering is good. I do it all the time. 😀 Right now we have all meals at home except for Sunday lunch and one other dinner. Would like to continue that, but we’ll see how things go when I go solo. 🙂 I do love to cook and western type dishes are a breeze for me. Thing is, hubby likes tasty Chinese food so I’m going to have to brush up on that.

  5. I agree with Amanda on simple cooking! One staple item I keep well stocked in my larder is Heinz diced canned tomatoes. They’re relatively fresh, can be added to stir fried meat or veggies and give a nice color–and they’re ALREADY CHOPPED (time saver!). Keep good spices on hand so you can add garlic powder, basil, etc and make it flavourful. I prefer buying canned tomatoes to spaghetti sauce because the tomatoes don’t have added sugar. Two more cents to add to your bank :). MOre on planning later, on my own blog!

    • Simple cooking? Man I wish I could do that. I have been brought up to think of a complete meal as rice with 4 or 5 dishes AND soup! My mother spoilt us (still does) even though she worked outside the home and we didn’t have a maid!

      My father prefers not to have chicken, and needs his bowl of soup, my brother doesn’t eat fish, I don’t eat (or didn’t anyway) green leafy vegetables, so that usually resulted in a daily feast. We have continued doing that (dinner last night was home-made char siew, long beans, steamed pomfret, baked cod, fried ngoh hiong and a vegetable soup), so this is going to either be difficult on me (having to do all that cooking), or difficult on the rest of the family (having to adjust).

  6. Goodness! You had me in a panic for a moment!! I knew that the last few months have been rushing by, with us moving and all, but I could’ve sworn that my school year just began!

    I was thinking – What?! It’s time to plan for the school year AGAIN!??

    Haha. Then I calmed down and remembered that our school year DID just begin…in September. My planning won’t start till spring next year. 🙂


    Anyway, on your home front, agree with the above suggestions – simplicity rules. And a crock pot is a good appliance to have. 🙂

  7. hi angie

    re: cooking chinese dishes. it’s easy. really.

    i’ve never had a maid and i usually do the cooking (i do have a part-time cleaner so can’t advise on tt).

    with a bit of planning, you’ll have 1 dish in the oven (usually a roast pork/chicken or baked/grilled fish (can be western or more asian depending on seasoning), 1 dish in the steamer (or over the rice), 1 soup in the pot (which can also double as veg if you make veggie soup like watercress or spinach – even seaweed soup is considered a veggie dish in my home) and only 1 dish to stir fry (or not at all).

    i cook abt 3 times a week only, most of the time it’s chinese dishes with rice, 1 night a week is pasta night. i usually cook extra portions and freeze/refrigerate for other days and for lunches.

    on the weekend, i spend a bit more time to do fun dishes like curry (for the adults) or more time consuming things like meat patties, sweet n sour pork, or fried chicken for the kids.

    invest in a thermal pot or a slow cooker – great time and energy (yours!) saver.

    ee lin

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