updated 4 Sep 2013, 00:47
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Having 8 children is great: S'pore couple
by Foo Jie Ying

When her husband told her he wanted eight children 14 years ago, she had thought he was joking.

Eight is his favourite number.

Madam Zurainee Osman, 41, who had wanted only four children, asked him:

"You crazy, ah?"

But on Thursday, Mr Omar Abdul Rahim, 41, had the last laugh when his wife gave birth to her eighth child - a daughter - at Parkway East Hospital.

At her age, Madam Zurainee's pregnancy was considered high-risk as her seven previous pregnancies made her susceptible to certain health risks, her gynaecologist, Dr Roger Heng, said. (See report on right.)

None of the eight pregnancies was planned, the couple said.

A new addition to the family means Madam Zurainee will have her work cut out for her even more.

Even with a maid, whom she hired after her sixth child in 2010, the housewife can get to bed only after midnight.

"Only after putting the kids to sleep at 10pm can I continue with my other duties," she said.

For her, the trick to managing such a big family is prioritising.

"Cooking and taking care of the children come first, the rest comes later," she said.

Older ones help

It helps that the older children can now take on some responsibilities, Mr Omar said.

For instance, the four older siblings are in charge of "coaching" the younger ones.

"The older ones take over. It's almost like having only four kids to look after. It's not difficult if you know how to manage your time," he said.

With his wife taking care of the family at home, Mr Omar, an interior designer, works hard every day to meet the family's monthly expenditure of $7,700.

On average, they spend $1,500 a month on groceries alone.

"We have to watch how much the children eat. No matter how much rice you give them, they will finish everything," said Madam Zurainee.

Mr Omar added: "When we buy two big packets of snacks, the children can finish it in two days."

While his income is dependent on the projects he gets, he said he has been "lucky" so far.

"Each time there's a new addition to the family, there's a blessing. I always get an increment or a promotion.

"For the past three years, with everybody's help and understanding, I have been getting top sales in the company," he said.

The family's five-room flat in Sengkang can get a little squeezy at times, but they have no plans to move to a bigger place yet, Madam Zurainee said.

"The kids don't mind. The boys sleep in one room and the girls in another. The small one will sleep with us, and in a cot," she said.

"We try to space the children out, but it seems they like to squeeze together when they sleep," she said with a laugh.

The couple's priority is their children's education.

"For us, their education comes first.

Then we will consider moving to a bigger place," said Mr Omar.

A family with eight children is so unusual these days that they often attract curious looks.

"Sometimes I see aunties counting the number of heads in our family. I just smile at them," Madam Zurainee said.

"Most of the time, I get positive remarks about them being smart and knowing how to take care of each other."

The couple have no complaints about having such a big family.

Said Madam Zurainee: "The children are never lonely. They always have someone to play with or to talk to."

To prove this point, Mr Omar asked his five-year-old son: "Would you rather have two or eight in the family?"

Without hesitation, the boy replied to laughter from everyone in the room: "Eight.

If not, only two to talk (to each other)."

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