Planning a flight with young kids in tow? Here’s some tips to help!

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I took an 8-hour flight. With just my 3 kids (aged 2, 4 and 7). Yes, just me. Two 8-hour flights, to be exact. And I’ve lived to tell the tale. It’s been a week since we’ve come back to Sydney (after a short visit back to Singapore), and I think I’ve *about* recovered enough to blog. Barely.

Are you insane planning for a plane journey with your young kids too? We’ve been pretty blessed and have been travelling to and fro Sydney and Singapore a couple of times over the last 2.5 years, and Zoie, especially, has been clocking her airmiles since she was just 5 weeks old (when we made the first move to Sydney).

Travelling with kids is one thing. But where the number of children outnumber the number of adults, it makes things a lot more challenging. Normally, we’d travel as a family, but for the last trip, knowing that I would be doing the trip solo, I had to make a couple of changes, as I could not count on a man-slave husband to bear the heavy load.

So here’s my 5 tips for surviving a plane journey with kids in tow.

#1: Pack light.

And I mean light. For our 2-week trip back to Singapore, I was fully intending to only bring 1 large suitcase, but in the end, I brought two (the second one being very much lighter) as I brought back a new pram for a good friend, and packed my normal Babyzen Yoyo into the luggage. But check-in luggage is one thing…

#2: Lean, mean, carry on luggage.

I am not a backpack person. Like, seriously. I stopped using one of those since I graduated from Secondary School. But for the trip, I decided to use my son’s school backpack (a trusty Ikea computer backpack), where I could stow my MacBook, the kids’ iPads, spare nappies and wet wipes. Fashion sense? Leave it till you go for a romantic getaway with the hubby.

#3: No Trunki. I repeat, no Trunki.

Now, I love my son’s Trunki. It’s so cute, it’s so adorable, it means I don’t have to pack any toys in the main luggage. But unless you have some kind of death-wish, LEAVE THE TRUNKI AT HOME. Jayvon whined and pouted, but I put my foot down. No cute riding-on-the-Trunki-up-and-down-the-airport. Nope. Jayvon got a backpack, which I made sure only had the bare essentials and light enough that he won’t be asking me to carry it. And nope, Xavier didn’t get one, because he WOULD bug me to carry it once he gets too tired.

#4: Wear comfy shoes, but NO BOOTS.

I had this vague recollection of having to remove my boots the last time. And I still wore mine this time. Getting my boots off while piling everything before boarding was one thing. Having to balance while putting them back on, while trying to put one kid back on the stroller, repacking the Macbook and iPads back into the backpack, while the 4 year old waves the bag and goes “Mummy! This is yours” and takes the bag belonging to the person BEHIND? Not. Fun. At. All.

#5: Get a GOOD airline.

I am not affiliated with Singapore Air. I wish they would see this and pay me (haha…), but this is not a sponsored post. I made the rash crazy decision to do the solo flight as I happened to see the lower airfare offered by SQ as part of the SG50 promotions (Singapore celebrates its 50th year of independence!).  So while not as cheap as budget fares, it was the best decision ever. The seats more comfortable, and the kids were happy with the attention by the stewardesses, and the constant flow of food and snacks and apple juice.

And this.

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This is how their new TV/Gaming console looks like (lousy phone, lousy pic, sorry!). Awesome to the max. And touch screen on BOTH the handheld AND the main screen. (Yes, I was catching up on the Insurgence movie). My 3 kids, all iPad-savvy (yes, even 2 year old Zoie. Judge me not) easily understood how to swipe to the program of their choice.

There you go! 5 tips on travelling with kids. Oh, and a #6 bonus tip: Make sure you clear your calendar for the 2 days AFTER your return trip. Cos you will need it. Oh, yes you will. You’re welcome.

Cracked Screen? Find Fynd!

I am a huge user and lover of smartphones, and I have gone through a few over the last few years. HTC, Samsung, Blackberry and my current one – the iPhone. No, I am not loyal to any one brand or phone, though when I was still working full-time and had the luxury of a regular paycheck, I would upgrade to the newest model every year or so.

But now, I’m stuck with my trusty iPhone 5S.

Or at least, it was trusty. Till about 6 months ago, when it slipped past my little girl’s hands and came crashing screen first. Onto the concrete floor. SMAAAAASH! There went… the screen and my heart. And this is a common site for most of us touchscreen, smartphone users. Yes, our phones are wonderful, awesome… till something happens to the screen, and send it straight back to the Dark Ages. Swiping… to no avail. Poking… and no response. And all the while, in danger of giving yourself a cut on the shattered glass.

I was living in Sydney and reluctantly brought my phone in to change that cracked screen. It should have been a quick affair, except after they removed the screen, they realised that… oopsie, they just used up their last piece of replacement screen. And since my phone was lying naked there, I couldn’t find another place to do the replacement. So I had to leave my phone, and came back later that afternoon to pick it up. Inconvenient, yup. But more importantly… it was freakishly expensive! It cost me $240 to get a new phone screen. Yes. $2…4…0.

I did (or rather, the hubby nagged me into it) a lot of “preventive” work. I got a better iPhone casing to guard against more accidental concrete floor encounters. I tried to not let my kids play with my iPhone unless they were sitting down.

But alas… it wasn’t meant to be. And my iPhone ended up getting dropped, once more, onto the tiled floor of the shopping centre. This time, it met the floor at an angle – and this time, instead of having the screen smashed into a million smithereens, now where the screen met the rest of the body of the phone, there was now a gap. A miniscule gap. Enough to see the light off the LED shining out from that gap.

The beginning of the end, really. The touchscreen that sometimes doesn’t respond. Every smartphone user’s nightmare!

Thankfully, it was a week to Singapore, and I decided to see if I could source for a cheaper alternative here. And I did!

Meet Fynd.

Your one-stop repair shop… that goes right up to your doorstep. Yes, like a house doctor. But for mobile phones! It’s a brilliant idea, and perfect for busy executives who are glued to their desks, busy mom whose kids are glued to them, or people who find it inconvenient to travel.

I hopped on their website, and took advantage of their Singlish SG50 promo to book myself a home consult on the very next working day. Depending on your phone model and the extent of your problem, you can easier get a quote – and there won’t be any nasty surprises or hidden cost!

Shaun popped by my house, as arranged, and he managed to change my screen, and was done in under 15 minutes. It was pretty perfect, and I’d definitely recommend Fynd’s services to anyone needing some repair work done to their phones!

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Here’s my repaired phone – and the new LED screen which now gives a few more precious months of “life” to this lil’ device!

Disclaimer: No monetary compensation was received for this post, though I was so impressed by the service & wanted to blog about it, the owner decided to waive off my service fee as his thanks to me!

The Importance of Mummy “Me-Time”

I AM A MUMMY.AND I ALSO AM ME. (1)

I have three gorgeous kids. I love spending time with them. I do. They make me laugh, they make me giggle, they amuse me with their cute antics, and I thank God daily for my three healthy, beautiful babies.

They also frustrate me, irritate me, and have a knack of bringing out the “nagger” in me.

When I was still working full-time, I missed having time with the kids.

And now that I am at home the whole day (and night with them), I got to admit… I miss being alone. You know, I would be able to go to the bathroom without a little boy knocking on the door, screeching, “But I need to peeeeee nooooooooooowwwww Mummy!!” I would like to be able to savour a good meal, instead of having to shovel spoonfuls of my Japanese curry rice down my throat while trying to keep up to Zoie’s pace of swallowing her favourite ramen noodles (which is just one mode – non-stop). I would love to be sitting in a hair salon for 3 or 4 hours, just getting my hair done. I would love to go for a pedicure and a manicure. My friends back in Singapore would be shocked I reckon – but my poor nails haven’t seen the inside of a nail salon for more than a year! *cue the melodramatic music* I have been thinking about getting those adult colouring books, but I’ve put that off, cos I know it will probably sit on my shelf, taking up valuable space, as I don’t really think I have the luxury of sitting down and doing nothing but colouring.  As tempting as that sounds. I have that basket of dirty laundry to do. And that other basket of clean laundry to fold and keep. And once that’s done… whatd’ya know? Another basket of dirty laundry pops up!

But I have to admit, it was easier getting “me-time” back in Singapore. It was a combination of having the security of a monthly, fixed salary, coupled with a LOT of family support to help me look after the kids so that I could sneak off to my favourite hairdresser for a fix, or to have a facial, or to have a cup of Starbucks. Even while working, I enjoyed time with ADULTS (as opposed to, you know, mini-adults) and having proper, stimulating, engaging conversation.

So carving some me-time while here in Sydney has been challenging. Not impossible. Just challenging.

Yes, I am a mummy. But I am also me. And to be a good mum, I also need to be a good me. So having some alone, me-only recharging and renewing and rejuvenating time is important, for my mental state of being.

So how do I manage? On a shoestring budget and in a place where my closest friends are an ocean away?

Well, that’s just it. I manage. Sometimes, “me-time” isn’t about the quantity of time away from kids, it’s really about the quality of time.

A long, hot shower. (And I make sure everyone knows I am going to bathe, and if they need to use the toilet, they’d better do it noooooooow!)

I catch my favourite shows on TV. And getting the Apple TV was probably one of our best buys. That, coupled with a few choice apps on our iPads means that we have access to shows like Suits & Criminal Minds (two of my favourite), catching up on the latest episodes of Masterchef Australia, or even watching Running Man (my favourite TV game show, even if I can’t understand a word of Korean haha!)

Grocery-shopping / window-shopping on my own. And the words “on my own” being the operative ones here. It may just be in my neighbourhood shopping centre, but just walking on my own, without having to constantly keep an eye out for a wandering toddler is heavenly. In fact, grocery shopping with the kids in tow is often an expensive and unproductive one – we spend too much time in the snack aisle and not enough time in the “proper food” aisle. And trying to think of what to cook for the week’s meals can be challenging when your 4-year-old gags when you pick up a tomato, and goes, “Eww, mummy, are you buying a tomato?”

How about you? How is your Mummy “me-time” like?

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This post is written as part of an ongoing blog train, hosted by PrayerFull Mum, and you can catch up on the full list of other mummy bloggers and how they spend their “me-time”!

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Waiwai is a full-time-working-mum to a 7-year-old girl and a 6-year-old boy. She blogs about her parenting journey at PeiPei.HaoHao. Hop over her blog tomorrow to find out how she tries to find some me-time!

Marriage Equality – And Being A Christian Parent

The U.S. Supreme Court has made a history-changing ruling, legalising same-sex marriages.

I am a Christian. I came to church when I was 18, met my husband, had my 3 kids, had a career, made lifelong friends… all within the compounds of the church. The church, God, worship, the teaching, the values have all shaped my life, my outlook on life and my value system.

Wedding Bouquet - mine!

And yes, that’s my wedding bouquet!

So much has been talked about this topic. And emotions are running high, and sometimes some reactions are so ill-balanced, it gives me a perpetual frown while reading it. Like the Canberra couple who’ve announced that they plan to divorce if same-sex marriages are legalised in Australia – but yet, they still intend to live like they’re married, but they apparently feel that such a move in Australia means the very thing that makes a marriage now “has an altogether different sense and purpose”.

Hmm.

Or the recent news about same-sex couples who are forcing or suing their way to ensure they get the wedding that they want, having scant regard for the religious beliefs of these same business owners who might not feel comfortable to provide said service.

Hmm.

What is my stand?

If same-sex marriage is allowed in Australia, and if I have friends who wish to get married, will I go to their wedding? It took probably a minute of reflection, and my answer would be yes. My Christian beliefs might mean that I don’t subscribe to their lifestyle, but as a friend, I can certainly celebrate their “big day” with them. After all, we had close friends who flew in to Singapore, sat in our church, and they are a lesbian couple who didn’t subscribe to our Christian beliefs, and yet thought it fitting and justifiable to blow a huge expense to celebrate our “big day” with us.

There will be some same-sex couples who’d be more than happy to sign on a piece of paper to stamp their commitment to each other. There are some heterosexual couples that do that too. But I also know of other heterosexual couples who are very happy NOT being married, and just being together. Marriage? No thanks, for them. And similarly, I think there will be same-sex couples who are also happy with the status quo.

When Nic & I got married, we had a total of three different “ceremonies”, each to fulfill “marriage” in different aspects. We had the solemn signing of the marriage certificate, so that in the eyes of the law, we were now legally married. We said our marriage vows, exchanged our rings, served communion to one another, lit the unity candle, had a prayer of blessing said over us by our pastor, in front of our church mates and friends… and we were married in the eyes of God. We had a traditional Chinese wedding ceremony, offering tea to our parents and relatives, we held a huge dinner at Orchard Hotel, to also announce to our relatives that hey – yeah, we’re married!

More than just a signature, marriage is still marriage – it is a commitment to stay put, and to stay true. Can a Supreme Court ruling threaten the sanctity of marriage? Only if you let it. I look at my husband, at my kids, and my life has not changed one iota from the ruling.

Do you want to show your kids what marriage is, how to respect your partner, what God intends for a marriage? Well, then show them. By your own marriage, by your own actions, show and teach them.

But let’s not impose. Let’s not impose our religious beliefs on others. Yes, I believe marriage is sacred, it is between a man and a woman – but some people don’t, and they too have a right to live their lives how they want. A country may have  “Christian values” or be steeped in Christian history… but it doesn’t mean that the rights of non-Christians should be overlooked. On the flip side, you can live where, say, polygamy is an accepted practice, but if you do not personally subscribe to it, that is fine too.

As a parent, this is how I will broach this with the kids (as with many other topics). Different people choose different paths. In God’s word, it says we should do this. Not everyone agrees with God (or agrees there is a God), so not everyone does it. But we do believe, and therefore we do.

Everything has changed.

And nothing has changed at the same time.

Parenting is still a matter of instilling right values, and sometimes society doesn’t help. Say, sex before marriage? Others may, others do, but we will teach abstinence. Will the kids listen? I hope so. I hope our love and support and guidance helps them make the right decision, when the time comes. But it is their decision to make, and as parents we can only pray they will make the right one.

 

 

 

 

 

The 5 Love Languages for Children

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Three kids. So alike in many ways. And so different in many ways as well. And if there’s anything that parenthood teaches you, it’s that you can expect the unexpected with them!

If you’ve picked up a copy of Dr. Gary Chapman’s book series on The 5 Love Languages, there’s one in particular for children, and it is definitely helpful in knowing how to love them. After all, it’s one thing to love your kids, it’s another for them to KNOW that you love them, and so knowing the primary and secondary love languages of your children makes it easier for you to cater to them.

I thought most children love to receive toys and presents, and I found that to be the case with my oldest 7-year-old, Jayvon. His primary love language is gift-giving, and so he writes little cards for us, love to surprise his younger siblings with a “Guess what we’re having as a treat today?” and similarly also experiences love when we get him little surprises and toys. When we were back in Singapore and both my husband and I were working full-time, it was easier to go on frequent little shopping trips to pick up the occasional lollies and small toys for him, but now that we’re in Sydney and watching our budgets like a hawk, such “treats” are fewer and rarer in between, so we have to make do, and just surprise him in other ways!

But yet, gifts didn’t rank high on my younger boy, Xavier, and while Jayvon would go wild when we went to the Toy Store, trying to get Xavier to pick out a toy for himself was like trying to extract a tooth without anaesthesia! It was painful to watch, as he would flit from one aisle to the next, fiddling with this and that, and just moving on. Jayvon, who’d chosen his present out already, would even bring “toy recommendations” to Xavier, but things seldom caught my little boy’s fancy! He simply wasn’t interested in getting any toys at all! Oh the horror! Nothing just seemed to catch his attention enough to warrant a purchase. It would seem like he was an “easier” child to please, but to really show him love, we had to know what made him happy and contented, and physical affection was the key for Xavier. He enjoyed his nightly bed-time “rub rub scratch scratch” (or back massages), he loved cuddling up on us on the couch, and he would show his affection for Zoie by taking her by the hand at the childcare centre. She was new to the centre, and refused to let go of his hands in the beginning, and he would sweetly oblige – even when he needed to use the toilet! He got trained in the art of “holding in his pee” because of his love for his younger sister! Haha! We told him he could tell Zoie to let him use the toilet, but he would shrug and say, “But she doesn’t want to let me go!”

And now when it comes to Zoie, being only 2, it wasn’t easy to figure out what her primary love language was, until she began to speak, and seeing how she beamed when she was praised, it became apparent, and her primary love language is words of affirmation. Giving her the thumbs up, praising her for a job well done or for keeping her toys, this made her break out into a wide smile!

What are the other 2 love languages? Quality Time and Acts of Service. And it doesn’t means that we only focus on that one primary love language and ignore the other love languages. All are ways to show affection and love and care to our children. But being able to identify your child’s primary love language will mean that a little more effort in that area will reap a bigger payback!

Want to know what is your love language profile? Or that of your child’s? There’s a simple online analysis to help you. Click here to check it out!