Monday, July 28, 2014

Finding the time to embrace

Ok.. That title sounds a little pessimistic, as though. I'm failing as a parent and not doing enough for the kids.

Nah, this is not the issue I'm discussing today. In fact, I'm going to be touching on two issues: time and embrace.

Time
As a FTWM, everyday goes past like clockwork. From the moment I wake up at 6am, it's one task after another, non-stop, at work and at home, before I crash on the bed at night exhausted. Before I can say that my energy level is back to its optimum, another clockwork day starts, with yet another work shift, and then a second shift at home. 'Sigh' is an understatement. (Read more about my life as a FTWM here.)

I always try to head home from work by late afternoon, but that doesn't always work. I usually end up getting home around 6 or 7pm, and at around 830 or 9, it's time to put the kids to bed. So effectively, I really don't have much time with them. It breaks my heart whenever the kids tell me they miss me. I know I really have to get home earlier.

Earlier last week, I looked at EV straight in her eyes, and told her I was going to come home earlier the next day. She looked at me more intently, and gave me a big hug. She had missed me, missed all the hours of play that I had with her when I was on maternity leave the year before, and when I took time off last year. I told myself that I must keep this promise I gave her.

Kept it I did, and what a great afternoon and evening I had with EV and AA the next day! We had the best, most fun time, making a 'house' out of ice cream sticks, making felt ducks, learning 'A' words and playing the piano. Time passed so fast, I wish it would last longer. I knew I had to do this with them again.

So I'm motivating myself to work harder, and come home earlier from work more often, in order to spend more time with them, even if it means I'll be driven crazy at work. It's all right, because at the end of the day, a smile from EV and AA is enough to transform the craziness into peacefulness and love.

Embrace
EV has liked the song Fireworks by Katy Perry for a while now, and recently, she's been belting out Let It Go quite often too.

Now, I admit. I don't like either song. Firework's lyrics is somewhat meaningful, but it's overplayed. Same with Let It Go. Plus, I don't like the way Elsa is portrayed in the animation as she sang the song, how she was all covered up in winter clothes at the beginning and as the song progressed and she became more confident, she transformed into a 'sexier' Elsa, complete with a high slit and heavy make up. It's like telling kids that in order to be confident, one has to look a certain way? Not exactly something I want EV to learn. She must be confident, no matter what her appearance.

So usually, when either song is playing, or she sings either song, I would ask for her to switch it off, or stop singing. I don't ban it, but I restrict it.

Then recently, I got an a-ha moment. Since I love EV and who she is, should I also embrace what she likes too? Shouldn't I respect her preferences? Shouldn't I model to her what it means to love and respect each other, no matter what the differences? At the same time, I can also teach her about the bigger lesson of confidence and not let how you look affect your confidence, because each person is unique with his or her strengths. I can also slowly teach her about the influence of external sources like the media, how it affects our perception of things. In the same way, I should not restrict what she reads and sees, especially in this internet age when she can have easy access to lots of information, but be there to teach and advise. By doing that, I'm fulfilling my role as a guiding light showing her the ways of the world as she grows up, while respecting her as an individual with her own thoughts, feelings and opinions. I think that only throug this, I can help her to face the world in future, which it believe is going to be more challenging than it is today.

So the next time she starts singing Let It Go at the top of her voice, I will tell myself not to stop her. However, if she does it too often, I will probably limit her. Because she also needs to learn to respect others, in this case, me. But it depends on me to model to her first. To love and respect family, friends and other individuals one may meet in life. Love their individuality, respect their differing views. Embrace them for who they are.

Finding time to embrace
Which leads me to the issues at hand. I need to work even harder so that I can have even more precious time with EV and AA, to teach them embracing people they love, they care about despite their differences. Two key words guide me on this journey: love and respect.

Love+Respect

Linking up with:

A Juggling Mom Motiviational Monday

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Thank you for reading. If you like this post, please do connect with me on FacebookInstagram and Twitter, so I can share our fun adventures, thoughts and exploits with you. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Easy breezy with Drypers Drypantz

{Advertorial}

In a previous post, I had shared about my experience with the new Drypers Drypantz. I've shared that AA likes this new revamped Drypers Drypantz (he has been wearing Drypers Drypantz since he was one year old). But did I share that I like it too?

I treasure my me-time, whether it's five minutes in the toilet hiding from the kids, or the quiet of the night after the kids are asleep. Because after becoming a parent, quality me-time is harder to attain, more valuable than ever. Because EV's and AA's needs comes first. In fact, I'm rushing this out now while waiting for EV to finish her Abacus class, and will likely continue later after I've put both kids to bed.

So it's important for me to get pants diapers that give me greater peace of mind whether we are at home or outdoors. Easy to take out, highly absorbent, and most importantly, extremely comfortable for AA's backside. This way, I have less worries, more convenience, and more me-time! Yay!!!

Just the other night, we went on a evening family visit to Marina Barrage. AA was wearing his favourite Drypers Drypantz, and I had a spare in the bag. Believe it or not, AA didn't have to change at all, until we went home. He was so happy and comfortable, that even I could breathe easy, happily snapping pictures of the kids and slowly strolling along.

Drypers 2 1
In fact, the ease I'm experiencing now makes me wish I had changed AA to Drypers Drypantz when he was 6 months old, or around 7kg. It's so easy to change his diapers. No need to use those diaper changing stations anymore, but my dear AA still insists on getting changed on one.

Though this post is sponsored, I can really honestly say that I like the new Drypers Drypantz. AA has used it for a couple of months now, and I’m still impressed how comfortable he is in them. To put Drypers Drypantz to the test, I actually made AA wear his usual diapers and then the new Drypers Drypantz, and observed him. With his usual diapers, AA was scratching his waist and groin after a while, and those areas became visibly red. The waistband was plastic-y and was causing a lot of tight discomfort. When we removed the diapers, there were visible pressure marks. Given that AA has sensitive skin, anything that irritates his skin is not good at all.

With the Drypers Drypantz, he didn’t scratch at all, and continued playing happily. Comparing the waistbands from his usual diapers and Drypers Drypantz, the difference is clear. Drypers Drypantz’s Comfort Fit™ waistband is much softer, very stretchable and the cloth-like material is more breathable. It also didn’t put pressure on his little tummy. No wonder AA didn’t feel tight and uncomfortable. There were also no pressure marks, and since he wasn’t feeling tight and scratching, there was no redness. His sensitive skin wasn’t aggravated.

Drypers 2 2
Thanks to Drypers Drypantz’ Comfort Fit™ waistband, AA can now enjoy maximum softness and comfort. The new Drypers Drypantz is not only easy to change, it also aids his movement. He’s a happy little toddler, and I’m a happy mummy who can breathe easy.

New endearing mascots!!

Have you seen the new Drypers Drypantz mascots? These little ambassadors of ‘softness’ and ‘breathability’ are just so cute and endearing!

Drypers DPZ Breathe Easy Media Images Campaign Mnemonic
Airy is a colourful little pinwheel that embodies breathability and better air circulation. Drypers Drypantz’s extra breathable waistband helps reduce pressure formed on the skin at baby’s tummy and waist area, creating a more comfortable fit for baby.

Softie is a fluffly little cloud that embodies softness and comfort, just like the unique technology which goes into making Drypers Drypantz’s waistband extra soft, gentle and comfy on baby’s skin.

Breathe Easy with Drypers Drypantz today!
Log on to Drypers' Facebook page to request for FREE samples, or look out for it in-stores!

Special promotion!
Specially for the month of July, Drypers Drypantz can be purchased for a special trial price of $10.95 per pack at participating supermarkets and hypermarkets. This works out to be only 29-35 cents per piece (depending on pack count). Sizes available: M44, L36, XL32, XXL28.

Breathe Easy Breeze Facebook Contest
Drypers has launched a ‘Breathe Easy Breeze’ game on their Facebook page.
Here is some information about the game: Control Drypers’ “Airy” mascot using your mouse to help “Softie” turn plain diapers into Drypers Drypantz diapers! Convert 12 diapers to Drypers Drypantz in the fastest amount of time.

Every week, the top scorers stand a chance to walk away with fantastic prizes! Prizes include $100 cash vouchers and tickets (worth $88 each) to Lunchbox Theatrical Production’s “Bubble Magic” show, happening in early September 2014. So hurry! Join the contest now!

Disclaimer: We received Drypers Drypantz products and monetary compensation for this advertorial. It is based on mine and AA’s personal user experience, and all images are my own.


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Monday, July 14, 2014

Writing process peek-a-boo

I have actually been blogging for a longer time than this current blog shows. I first started blogging around 2008 or 2009, I can’t really remember, and in those days, my posts were mostly about my ‘swinging’ adventures as a single.

Toddly Mummy signals a major change in my life as I entered into parenthood, and it first started off as a way to keep my overseas relatives updated with news of EV, who’s the first of her generation on both her parents’ side. So you can imagine, she created quite a stir when she was born.

Why ‘Toddly Mummy’? Firstly, I’m a mummy, of course. I also feel that as a mummy, I’m always learning on the job. I’m no expert and I have to ‘toddle’ my way through parenthood every day.

So you can say that this blog is my digital diary of not only my parenting journey, but also of EV’s and AA’s experiences of growing up. From the fun to the funny, to the sad and angry. From the learning we do at home to the adventures we embark on.

Of course, having a journalistic background also means I do itch to write about things other than parenting and kids, but related. That’s where the reviews come in. If anyone wants me to do a review, I do insist that it’s relevant to me or EV or AA first and foremost. Afterall, this is a mummy’s blog. Other than that, it depends on my personal interest in the item and whether I have the bandwidth to do anything.

Having my blog also allowed me to meet wonderful fellow mum bloggers like Shermeen, who introduced me to this Writing Process Blog Hop. Mum to a boisterous 2 year old boy, she spends her day marketing and promoting the accounting profession. She writes a lot about how she find ways to balance her life as a FTWM, as well as her challenging journey to motherhood. I really like the name of her blog Meeningfully, which is meaningfully adapted from her name. 



What am I working on?
I’m doing some minor retouching to the blog’s overall look. Nothing drastic like a whole blog makeover. In terms of writing, I’m working on some reviews, as well as a couple of new posts about my parenting experience. It’s going slow and steady.
On the home learning front, EV, AA and I are working more with cardboard. Currently, we are transforming a cardboard box into a farm.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?
I don’t think what I do is different from other parenting blogs where I share about our experiences as a family. What is different and unique is that it is about our experiences and no one elses.

Why do I write what I do?
Because I like writing. Because I like to express myself in words. I started my blogging journey with a blog that’s about only me, where I go to pen thoughts and frustrations that I have and challenges that I face. That journey has now evolved to include more people other than me, my family, and it is similarly filled with our thoughts, frustrations and challenges.

Writing 1
Some quiet time at the library doing my writing.

How does my writing process work?
I’m a FTWM, so I would usually blog after the kids are asleep while on my bed, or when I’m commuting. I usually work on drafts, and take a few days to craft out the actual posts. Sometimes, when I have the rare opportunity to have some me time, I like to head down to a library, and with a cup of bubble tea and some snacks, I'd do my writing there.

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This Writing Process Blog Hop is a travelling blog tour that takes place on Mondays.

Next week, Wai Wai from PeiPei.HaoHao will be joining this blog hop. Waiwai is a full-time-working mother to a 6-year-old girl and a 5-year-old boy. She blogs about her parenting journey, DIY crafts, simple cooking and fun activities at PeiPei.HaoHao.






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Thank you for reading. If you like this post, please do connect with me on FacebookInstagram and Twitter, so I can share our fun adventures, thoughts and exploits with you. 

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Interview: Jaclyn of My Imagination Kingdom

One of the new online book stores that we prefer is My Imagination Kingdom. We did reviews of two parenting books here and here. Last year, My Imagination Kingdom also interviewed MummySay in its 'Reading Aloud with Mummy Bloggers' interview series.

This week, we speak to founder Jaclyn, about her inspiration behind setting up My Imagination Kingdom.






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Please tell us more about My Imagination Kingdom. How did it come about?

It really started when I began to notice how the popularity of tablets and smartphones was changing the dynamics between parents and children in Singapore. All around me, I saw how parents were using technology devices to keep their children occupied. You could see it on the trains, at the dining table or even at family gatherings.
It bothered me that our young children today are being brought up on a diet of Angry Birds and Disney’s Mickey Mouse Clubhouse instead of being introduced to the wonderful worlds of Roald Dahl and Julia Donaldson. Gone are the days when you would see a child buried behind a book, so engrossed that they would remain quiet all by themselves.
I remember being a child like that once, myself. When I was young, you would see me walking around everywhere with a book in my hands. Every single book I read transported me into an entirely different world from the world I lived in. It was fascinating, inspiring and absolutely delightful. That then prompted me to think about the possibility of nurturing the same love for books amongst our young children today.
I started doing more research and realized that there is indeed the lack of a robust selection of children’s booksellers that cater to the reading needs of parents and children in Singapore at the moment. And so with the vision of sharing my passion for reading with young families like yourself, I started My Imagination Kingdom.

Who are the people behind My Imagination Kingdom?
At the moment, My Imagination Kingdom is run by myself. I have a full-time job in the advertising industry and I run My Imagination Kingdom at the same time.
I have always been an avid reader and still am one. But in particular, I have always had a soft spot for children’s books. Having grown up voraciously consuming them, I find that children’s books have a charm and intellect to them that deserves more credit than we give. The hidden lessons and parallels drawn with the real world are always cleverly brought to life with the help of metaphors, animals, illustrations and plain old storytelling. All these are unique characteristics of children’s books that you don’t often find in adult literature. And that’s what keeps me motivated every day to find that next gem which we can introduce to our readers through My Imagination Kingdom.

There are many brands of online book shops specialising in children’s books in the market. What makes My Imagination Kingdom different?
When I first started My Imagination Kingdom, I did a lot of research about the benefits of reading and how it impacts the growth and development of the child. And what I found, time and time again was the fact that reading to children, is one of the best ways for parents to bond with their child. And in this day and age, there are very few other activities that would offer the same level of quality bonding that reading aloud to your child provides.
With that objective in mind, we set about designing our online store to help parents fulfill that goal. Our books are first of all, categorized according to the recommended reading level for a child. For parents who are shopping online for a book for their child the first time, this helps guide them in the process quickly and efficiently.
Besides categorizing the books according to the recommended reading level, we also classify our books based on certain themes. Perhaps you might be looking for books that are suitable as bedtime stories, or books that are award-winning. If you’re such a parent, themes will help you to find what you’re looking for.
Since our main goal is to get more parents to read aloud to their children more often, we also have a dedicated section of books that are targeted at parents. Books that are curated for this section will offer resources, tools and techniques that will help parents in their reading aloud sessions.
Finally, we also maintain a blog where we interviewed mummy bloggers about their experiences with reading aloud. Through these articles, we hope we can provide valuable insights for parents to encourage them to read aloud more often to their children.
As you can see, the whole of My Imagination Kingdom is really greater than the sum of its parts. Put together, you have an online store but also a platform that is genuinely committed to the goal of helping parents to read aloud to their children. And that is not something that is offered by any of the other online stores specializing in children’s books at the moment.

What would you say are the benefits of shopping for books online, as compared to visiting a physical book store where one can touch and feel the books, or going to the library?
Before I answer this question, I would like to say that when I started My Imagination Kingdom, I never saw our online store as a competitor to the library or a physical bookstore. I feel that all these are important elements in a child’s reading ecosystem. The public library offers parents and children a selection of books that they would never have access to on their own. The physical book store offers children the opportunity to own their favourite books and gain access to it whenever they want to in their home library.
I see My Imagination Kingdom as a complement to these other elements. For parents that need a guided shopping process or a quicker/less time-consuming method to finding the books they need, our online store is the perfect solution for them. Through the online platform, they can read reviews of the books written by other parents or children so it can further assure them about the suitability of the book they intend to buy for their child. The reason why technology devices are often used to occupy the time of children today is because parents are so time-poor most of the time. By shopping online at My Imagination Kingdom, we help to facilitate the buying process so that parents can truly concentrate on the important things that matter – reading aloud to their children.

Recently, you interviewed several mums about their experiences reading aloud to their children. What inspired you to start that interview series? Does it resonate with your own beliefs to?
As you know, I’m not a mother myself at the moment. I wanted to find a way for our readers and parents to connect with other parents who understand the struggles and challenges of making time for reading aloud. No matter how much research I do, it would never be able to replace the invaluable experiences that mothers would have accumulated. And that’s why I started the interview series.

I understand that you are planning to have a family soon. What would you say is your parenting style? What is your belief when it comes to helping a child learn?
I haven’t really thought about this question before! But now that you’ve asked, let me attempt to answer your question.
First of all, I don’t think there’s one single type of parenting style that’s right. Depending on the temperament of the child, and the personality of the parents, the most effective parenting style would probably differ from one situation to the next. Having said that, whichever parenting style is adopted, it is important that the child always understands the reason behind any actions that are taken by the parent. Whether it is a reward for something done well, a punishment for bad behavior or even something that the child observes the parent doing, the child must always be taught to understand what is driving the parent’s action.
And that brings me to the next point about helping a child learn. A child learns through mimicking others. And for a young child, the key people they will be mimicking against are their parents and the people/characters they are exposed to in their daily lives. If a child sees an adult smoke, they are likely to pick up the actions of holding something between their fingers and inhaling it. Similarly, if a child watches a character on TV engaging in a certain behavior, they are likely to simulate that in their daily lives after watching the show. So I believe strongly in the thought of “leading by example”. In addition, for lessons or parallels that I would like to impart to the child which I cannot demonstrate because we have yet to experience it in our lives, there is no better way for a child to learn about it than to read about a book’s character doing it. Whether it is having the courage to stand up for what you believe in, or being confident of who you are and where you came from, children can learn about all this and more through books.

What three things do you think is most important for kids to learn in today's world?
The first thing, is the idea that we are one human race at the end of the day. With all the wars that are being fought (both big and small in our lives today), we seem more divided than ever as a human race. We forget that though we are different in many ways – our skin colour, our religion, our beliefs, our history, we are still very much the same in many others. We share the same biology, the same wants and the same home - Earth. If our children today do not learn this one important lesson and stop fighting amongst ourselves, we, the human race will be the cause of our own downfall.
The second thing that I would like them to learn, is that although we are all one human race at the end of the day, we are, funnily, different in our own unique ways. And the most wonderful thing about that is, if we are able to teach our children to respect each other for our differences, we will find so much more to celebrate in our differences. There’s so much we can learn, and so much we can take and give each other because of our differences. On top of that, not only should we learn to respect each other for our differences, we should also learn to respect all the living and breathing things that share this one planet with us. Because a human being is different from a lion which is different from a whale which is different from a tree, we all have our parts to play in order to co-exist in the same world together. Respect all these living things for who they are and how different they are from us. Because without even one of those elements, our existence on this planet could be threatened.
Finally, the last thing I’d like them to learn, is the power of one’s imagination. One of the most amazing things about the human brain is the ability to imagine something that isn’t present or even in existence at the moment, and have us behaving as if it were real. When we imagine slurping a bowl of hot noodles when we’re really hungry, our mouth starts wetting and our stomach starts churning because our body is behaving as if we’re really slurping a bowl of hot noodles. What this tells us, is the fact that no matter how impossible something may seem, if you think about it hard enough, you can literally make it come true by the sheer force of human will. So dream, and make sure it’s big, because only when you dream big, will you be able to make something big happen.

As a parent-to-be, what is the one thing you think parents should know, but don't?
Having done my research about the impact of technology devices on the lives of children, I am surprised that most parents don’t know this fact. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that “television and other entertainment media should be avoided for infants and children under age 2”. I look at the young children around me today and most, if not all of them have had exposure to their parents’ smartphone devices as soon as they have the ability to grasp objects and pick them up. At that age, the recommendation is for them to interact with the world and people around them in an authentic and physical manner. Board books, especially are a great way for them to do that. So yes, I wish for more parents to be made aware of this very simple fact.

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Thank you, Jaclyn.

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Thank you for reading. If you like this post, please do connect with me on FacebookInstagram and Twitter, so I can share our fun adventures, thoughts and exploits with you.