A family of 10 made headlines when their father revealed that he only spends SGD300 on groceries weekly to feed all of them. Michael and Karen See, 46, have 8 kids aged between 1 to 16 and the secret to surviving the rising costs of living here is frugality.
The family who lives in a jumbo flat in Marsiling with no helper and their children are taught to be independent from a young age. They learn how to do simple household chores from the age of 2 like clearing rubbish, sorting laundry and cleaning tables. The children also live on hand me down clothes and mobiles.
With a big family, the house ends up being a playground for the children. The Sees also limit screen time for the children and places value on interaction to strengthen familial ties.
In an interview with The Sunday Times, Michael mentioned that ten heads of broccoli, 1 kg of xiao bai cai (chinese white cabbage) is enough for a week’s worth of meals for 10 people. His wife Karen said that they eat 1.5 cups of rice per meal as they are not big eaters.
A typical meal for their family of 10.
Michael is seen here watching his children pick and choose vegetables at a wet market for the week’s grocery shopping.
Even when trying to live a frugal life, Michael will still splurge on food items like salmon because his children love it. He will buy cheaper priced salmon to cope with the rising prices of seafood lately.
It is rare to see a big family today and Mrs See recalled how her mother asked her to stop at 4.
While they initially planned to have 4 children, a miscarriage in 2004 changed their perspective on family planning.
“We agreed that since it’s difficult to conceive and have kids in such a stressful society in Singapore, we should not prevent any more pregnancies.”
Marketing is a family affair as the children are trained from as early as 3 years old to go on grocery runs.
They are taught to do household chores like ironing from 11 years old. Katriel, 14, the second oldest, is seen here ironing their uniforms.
And they have a list of chores delegated to them daily.
Netizens had their say in the comments section. Their responses were largely mixed to the idea of having such a big family in Singapore. Some commended the Sees for raising disciplined children and inculcating life skills in them.
It is important for parents to teach children the value of working together to ensure the household runs smoothly.
While others are concerned over the amount of food the children are eating as they are still growing.
Generally, 1.5 cups of rice can feed up to 3 adults. But perhaps the children are small eaters for now. The amount of food will be adjusted accordingly to their needs as they grow.
Education and medical expenses are one of the more expensive concerns the family should have.
And then there are those who believe that the couple is shortchanging their children.
At the end of the day, what matters is that the Sees seem to be a healthy and happy family. Their lifestyle is not meant for everybody but if one can afford it and ensure that the children are treated fairly, then by all means have that big family.
Reporter’s Opinions: I wish to see Malay, Indian, Arab and other races celebrated the same way when they choose to have big families.
I want to see the same energy and none of the nonsense.
“Oh you should have planned”,
“sO mAnY, cAn YoU aFfOrD iT?”
Judging by the report, this family lives similarly to other families who have a lot of children. The frugality, the delegation of household chores and lifeskills instilled in the children are similar. Maybe the only difference lies in the house size. But having said that, there are families of other races with a lot of children who live in jumbo flats. One of my secondary school teachers is one of them. She has 7 children.
Big families were the norm back in those days because inflation rates weren’t high and cost of living was manageable. Today, you have to factor in education, medical and food to ensure a good standard of living for all the children. Kudos to those who are willing to work hard for their children’s future.
But I do wonder what’s the purpose of the article in the first place especially when it highlights how much the family spends on food. Is it to start a topic on the rising cost of groceries and how we can overcome it? If it is, it was a poor attempt because some families can barely afford spending $300 monthly on groceries and they still depend on the charity of others.
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