Life is unpredictable and once you have children, things will probably get even more complicated! Here are some great words of advice from three experienced parents who would like to share their important life lessons with other families with young kids. #MyMumSays #MyDadSays
While tucking your kids in for bedtime each night, you might read them a tale about the resilient Princess Elsa and her sister Anna from Frozen, or the classic favourite Goodnight Moon, or maybe some whimsical stories from Dr Seuss.
If your own parents read you stories at bedtime when you were a child too, then you may remember hearing a few short tales from Aesop’s fables and learning about the great moral messages and life lessons behind them.
One of the more popular fables is about a hardworking ant who wisely saves up food for the approaching winter and a carefree grasshopper who chooses to while away his time by singing and playing all day long.
When the seasons change and food becomes scarce, the grasshopper soon realises that he might potentially starve, so he panics and worries — whereas the ant is all set and doesn’t have a care in the world so can relax and enjoy the rest of his winter days.
From this story, we can learn that it is best to work hard and plan wisely, in order to have a safe and secure future — which applies to all of us (not just ants and grasshoppers!), especially if we have children.
So what other important life lessons are there that you can apply to your family life which will be better for everyone in the long run?
#MyMumSays Always have foresight and plan ahead
The fable of the Ant and the Grasshopper is one of the stories Anne Nong, a Public Relations Consultant and mother of two, vividly remembers reading as a child and she recalls how her mother always told her to strive to be the wise ant who works hard for his own future.
This message stuck with her and she would remind herself that all her efforts will pay off years down the road — which is why she spends her money carefully and sets aside a certain amount to save each month.
“Even though I am pretty tight with the purse-strings and my husband and I both work fulltime so we miss seeing our son and daughter for the most part of the day, we still make it a point to bring our family on a fun vacation each year for some bonding and to spend quality time together”, she says.
She also shares that when she found out she was pregnant with her first child, she was already planning for her little one’s academic future before she and her husband even decided on a baby name!
“Preschool and tertiary education in Singapore is not very cheap, so we knew straight away that if we wanted the best for our child then we should start early. Some may call it being kiasu, but I think it’s just being smart!”, she laughs.
“It’s quite a relief to know that my husband and I don’t have to shoulder the full brunt of our children’s school fees because we can rely on the CPF Education Scheme, which is a loan scheme that allows us to use up to 40% of our accumulated savings in our Ordinary Account, or remaining OA balance”, she shares.
Anne adds, “Should my husband or I plan on pursuing further education for ourselves, it’s good to know that we can also use the CPF Education Scheme to pay up to 100% of the tuition fees.”
Anne’s important life lessons to other parents: “Remember to have a good balance between your work and family. Although it is important to work hard and save up money for the future, don’t miss out on the little things in life, because kids grow up so fast and before you know it, they will be married and moving out. So cherish the special moments before they pass you by.”
#MyDadSays Take good care of yourself first
In one of the variations to the fable of the Ant and the Grasshopper, there is also a dung beetle who finds himself in a predicament when the rain actually washes away his food supply which he had stored for the winter.
So although at times you may think that you have enough, it might take one unexpected turn of events to turn everything upside down.
Zac M., an SMRT Station Manager and father of four, understands the importance of being prepared for whatever life might throw your way.
“There is a history of diabetes in my family. Both of my parents, some of my aunts and uncles and even a few of my cousins who are my age all have it! So I’m worried that maybe one day I might get it too if I’m not careful. It’s very scary just thinking about it”, he says.
Zac exercises regularly and tries to watch his diet to prevent diabetes or other illnesses down the road as he strongly believes that prevention is better than cure, after witnessing for himself how his own parents and relatives have to go through painful dialysis treatments and even kidney transplants.
“The new MediShield Life is quite affordable, it offers better protection and has higher payouts, which is great for my family because we will pay less Medisave or cash for any large hospital bills or outpatient treatments”, he says.
Similar to MediShield, this individual basic universal healthcare insurance scheme covers hospitalisation expenses and certain approved outpatient treatments, such as:
- Kidney dialysis
- Radiotherapy (for cancer treatment)
Following his own father’s personal advice, Zac says, “Since we are Singaporeans, we have access to a good health insurance plan such as Medishield and Medishield Life, so we should take full advantage of it to ease our financial burdens. It’s ok to ask for help sometimes”.
Zac’s important life lessons: “It doesn’t matter how much money you have if you don’t have good health. Even if you can afford to pay all the medical bills and treatments, it is better to watch your lifestyle and exercise so you will not fall sick so easily or develop any serious diseases and ailments when you’re older. Take good care of your health now so that you can live longer to see all your children grow up and have children of their own.”
#MyMumSays Life doesn’t always go according to plan
This line comes from the moral ending to the fable, which addresses the issue of preparing oneself adequately for times to come.
Diana K., a former Pastry Chef and mother of one, has always wanted a big family, but due to difficulties conceiving, her daughter has been an only child for the past ten years.
“My husband and I longed for another addition to our family, and we have tried all methods to help us conceive again, but I guess it was just not meant to be”, she tells us.
However, Diana tries to see the silver lining in this dark cloud and enjoys the strong bond she shares with her daughter, as she herself was not very close to her own mother while growing up and still struggles to maintain a relationship with her to this very day.
“My daughter is my everything, she means the world to me. I love the deep mother-daughter connection that we have and the fact that since she is my one and only child, we have more undivided time to spend together”, she says.
Once Diana and her husband retire, they plan on remaining in Singapore to stay close to family and friends.
“This is our home, where else would we go, right? I have some relatives in Australia and Canada, but I don’t think I would be happy there. It’s fun to go for holidays and sight-seeing, but I prefer living in Singapore because I grew up here. I’m not sure where my daughter will base herself once she grows up, but I hope she stays here too so we won’t be far apart from each other.”
Diana agrees that no one should just ever rely on handouts and is responsible for their own future — such as in the fable, the carefree grasshopper ended up begging the ant for some food to avoid starvation during the winter.
“That is such a cute story! But I don’t want to be like the grasshopper. Even though it’s nice of the ant to help him out, the onus of preparing himself for the future should be on the grasshopper, instead of depending on others”, she says.
With the CPF Lifelong Income For The Elderly (CPF LIFE) Scheme, Diana and her husband will get a monthly payout once they turn 65 (the current payout eligibility age), for as long as they live and can rest assured that they can retire comfortably if they start saving earlier.
“My mother has always told me that we are lucky to have our CPF to look forward to when we retire, because sometimes we might not be disciplined enough to set aside enough money on our own”, says Diana.
If you are interested in preparing yourself for the future, you can easily apply to join CPF LIFE via SingPass and make your application any time between your payout eligibility age (which is currently at 65 years) and before you turn 80 years old.
Diana’s important life lessons: “You might have painted a picture perfect idea of how things should be, but you must realise that life doesn’t always go according to plan. Don’t be too hung up if things don’t go your way — life has a funny way of working itself out and you’ll soon learn to see the reason behind everything. Just enjoy and be grateful for whatever you do have.”
Are you prepared for the future?
Before you got married, you planned and saved up money for your wedding, and then you had to take out a loan to buy and renovate the house of your dreams.
So once you start thinking about starting a family, or already have children, you should explore all the options available to you as Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents from the various CPF schemes to help plan for your retirement, healthcare, education and housing needs.
As parents, it is important to start planning for the future and prepare yourself for any weather in life — from nice sunny skies, to unexpected rainy days or even cold harsh winters.
Are you fully prepared for the future? What is your family’s financial goals and plans? Share your own important life lessons with our readers in the comments section below and remember to use the #MyMumSays or #MyDadSays