Hey Millennials! Don’t Say No To Having Kids

Yes you want an awesome career, make lots of money and travel the world. You feel that kids are disgusting and irritating, I heard it many times from young millennials passing such remarks at other people’s kids causing a scene near them. And in my mind I’ll bless them and wish them all the best.

Before I had mine, I dream of having many cos they are so adorable to look at, so comfortable to squeeze and hug, so much joy to play with! And then you have your own, things are just not as dreamy as I had thought. But hey I have no regrets and I really adore my two girls. They are my most important purpose in life and everything I do I have them in mind. Things just isn’t the same when you are a parent.

You become a better being, you learn new level of tolerance, you are able to multi-task better, do things more swiftly and has new sights on what the future may bring. Yes it is like magic, you just know! You become more calculative and learn to manage your money better, so much so that your life turn to become of a better quality and much more happy too. Your heart is full, all the time.

You may see no good reason for you to have your own child now cos the idea is just too much burden and stress. But later in your life my dear millennials, you will look back at your life, your purpose and you will regret.

Why am I so successful in my career but I feel empty inside? Why am I not happy with my abundance of wealth and everything that I have worked hard for all my life? Even my most loved pet isn’t giving me much joy anymore. What is missing in me?

Family.

I have met many successful single ladies many who have passed the stage to be pregnant, married couples for years without a child, and even couple of very eligible bachelors who are too occupied with their career they missed the chance to have their own family. The look in their eyes when they see their friends with their own children, you can sense the loneliness and jealousy.

When you have built up a stable work business but has no one to return home to share your fruit of labour, that emptiness in you will be louder than your bank account. (Ok very bad analogy but you get what I am trying to say right?)

From a (almost millennials) gen-X to the millennials. Don’t say no to having kids because you cannot envision that stage of life yet, dont say no because your peers are all saying so, don’t say no because Yolo. Because you-only-live-once don’t say no to having your own children, your own family. Don’t break the circle of life your parents, grandparents and great-grandparents etc etc has built till today. If they had the same thinking as you back then, where will you be now?

So don’t say no. Say maybe. Maybe one day I will.

Damn I feel like an old granny now. But really my dear younglings, children bring a lot more good than bad. Going to head home to squeeze my two darlings tonight. What about you?

Disclaimer: two of the above are mine, littlest boy is my nephew.
Disclaimer: two of the above are mine, littlest boy is my nephew.

Zara – The Girl Who Doesn’t Give Up

Let’s talk about my youngest and the one who doesn’t give up. Or more like #NeverGiveUp!

Zara is the more dominant and determined daughter among the two who will insist on getting whatever she wants whenever she wants. One who never take no for an answer. Many times I do try to take control of situations where I want it my way, and guess where these usually end? Hysterical crying little one! Zara always seem to win.

Unlike Zara, the elder sister is less aggressive but she will be reluctant to do things that she is not confident at. Like reading and being the centre of attention. She do have her never give up times – like that Sunday where I refused to bring them into the indoor playground after her weekly Eye Level class. She repeated “I want to go playground” multiple times from 1pm till 130pm! I kid you not!

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With such spirit and determination, I hope they will apply it the same when they enter the Singapore education system. 10 years of unavoidable school where they will be taught so many subjects that I do not find necessary after I am out in the real world! “Oh why do I have to learn this? I am not planning to be a politician what!” That was my exact sentiments when I was doing history and geography in school.

Over the past weeks, I have seen the stress and pressure of some P6 students and their parents, in my own home (my husband tutors a few of his ex-students) and on my Facebook feed. Both my husband and I agree that we will not pressure our girls to be top in school, or must hit our set targets. Like how my parents had brought me up, just do our best and pass the exams. It’s just one of the many passages of life as a Singaporean child. So chill and just do it!

I know this is just us thinking what we feel is right at present, that first PSLE in our household is still a long way to go, and with the changes and all that’s going to be taking place over these years, maybe things will be better. I look forward to a day where every child is seen as individual and they can choose what to pick up in school and what to drop since they really don’t like it. No matter what the future be like, as long as they grow up to be good ladies (like Mummy!), everything will be alright.


Photo credit to Lemon-film

From a recent panel discussion I attended, experts shared that the most important thing for a growing child (and every human being too) is to have breakfast! So simple right?

Having proper breakfast and eating habits are one of the factors in bringing up resilient healthy happy kids.

But this daily important ritual is not something we practice every day. Every morning the rush to get everyone ready for childcare and me to work is just too crazy already. Where got time for breakfast??? The girls in the household all feel that the 20mins more snooze is more satisfying than time for breakfast.

This must be addressed and improved in my family. Mummy me must remember that not all breakfasts are created equal and should look for healthier breakfast choices that are low in Glycemic Index (GI). Food with low-GI releases energy slowly and prevents the sugar level from rising or dropping too rapidly, helping us feel full, longer.

A bowl of cereal or a slice of whole grain with a cup of Milo with low fat milk is sufficient for a quick morning charge. For kids even if it’s just that small cup of Milo will do too. You know how kids always say no to healthy food but is ok to down that cup of yummy Milo. Oh and I am looking forward to the day where I see Milo truck all over Singapore for FREE (thanks to Nathan)!

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I hope our new morning routine will get better as we work on it together. Onwards to nurturing resilient girls who will never give up, just like Mummy!

If you would like to find out what went on during the panel discussion with Milo, you can check out this live recording from that morning on Facebook.

Mummy Knows Best – Things Only Mums Will Understand

Zara and her precious tutu

Sometime in June, we went through our first “cold turkey” treatment with one of our girls. We got Zara to kick away her habit of sucking her precious pacifier, and it took us 5 days. It wasn’t planned (one evening I just decided to “throw” her pacifier out of the window) and I think we did pretty well at working on this new milestone together. Zara no longer ask for her “tu-tu” and we now have one less thing to pack when we head out.

The journey of motherhood is never once a dull moment, everyday is filled with new adventures – be it fun, frustrating or just simply out of your imagination. This journey requires me to learn new skills and pick up new knowledge (or new tricks) every day. The term “Supermum” wasn’t coined out of fun, it really takes a super hero to become the best mum for our children.

My friends who aren’t a mum yet always ask how it is like being one. And those who are preganant with their first child are curious at what’s to come. So here I’ve put together some of my personal experiences and hope it will enlighten those who have yet experience them and to share a laugh with those in the same shoes as me.

Things you will only understand when you become a Mum.

The moment when you saw your baby for the first time.

What is that???

The first time I saw Ayra fresh out from the push, that’s exactly how I felt. What is that??? You mean baby looks like that? No way!

Of cos the thought goes away almost instantly when you hold the child in your hands, that first touch was just magical.

Breastfeeding looks easy when other mums are doing it, till you try it with your newborn.

OMG! Why is it so frustrating just latch on already!

And I ended up going for the next best alternative, expressing and bottle feeding. Less stressful but I think it is even more tiring because having a baby latch on means mother-baby-bonding time (hence more love less tiring) but expressing is just you and that annoying sound of the pumps.

When your child decides she is big enough not to wear diapers.

Half way through dinner, “Mummy I want to pee.

When you are half way through your journey in the MRT, “Mum I want to go toilet now! Urgent!

When you are about to reach the cashier after queuing for the past 20 mins, “MUMMY! I need to go pee….

When your first child runs a high fever of 39.8 in the middle of the night.

“Oh no! What happened? Ayah wake up now, we need to send Ayra to KKH she’s having a high fever!”

When your second child runs a high fever of 40.7 in the middle of the night.

“Oh dear, poor baby are you ok? Come let’s bring you outside and sponge away the temperature. And let Mummy give you medicine ok?” And you always have got that pink (or orange) medicine at home for standby, because fever in kids is so common.

And this list can go on and on… a parent’s learning journey is for a lifetime and there are always new things we need to learn and experience. I will continue to learn and share as long as I’m a mum, and that’s for life.

Just chill and be happy cos Mum you make me giggle!

Remembering these and more at Cetaphil Baby Experience

Together with a panel of experienced practitioners and other mums, I attended the very first Cetaphil Baby Experience in Singapore, a fantastic opportunity for parents and would-be parents to get the inspiration and information for the first few magical years of parenthood, and at the same time, meet other families. The high tea setting was lavish and inviting, and as I was sitting in the ballroom, I could see the audience really getting into the mood of the fun filled event.

The half a day workshop brought together a panel of childcare experts: Pediatrician Dr. Ong Eng Keow, from Mount Alvernia Hospital, Senior Lactation Consultant Ms. Kang Phaik Gaik from Mount Alvernia Hospital, and Nutritionist and Breastfeeding Consultant, Ms. Sylvia Kang. 

Photobooth with cute props for all guests and friends at the event

I found all the different sessions by the infant and childcare specialists to be informative and it sure brought back lots of memories from the earlier days of my mummy journey. With my youngest coming to 3 soon, and having gone through many milestones together with both my girls, I was nodding my head with agreement during the sessions by Dr. Ong Eng Keow, Pediatrician and Neonatologist, International Child and Adolescent Clinic from Mount Alvernia Hospital.

The first 30 days of your baby’s journey in this world is filled with many unknowns and new adventures. During those days, Google search was my best companion but I always read all the guides and content for references only because you really cannot trust everything online 101%, so always read with some doubts and double check or verify with other sources before you decide what should be done best for you and your baby. For anything unsure, always consult your PD or a doctor.

Parents and parents-to-be being very attentive to the talks at Cetaphil Baby Experience.

The highlight of the session would be the baby bathing demonstration explained by Ms. Kang Phaik Gaik, who is a Senior Lactation Consultant and Head of Alvernia Parentcraft Centre. The demo brought back memories when I first bathed my girl on my own. A few tips for first-time parents, which were shared at the event –  always be confident when handling your baby in the bath, because one little tremble or uncertainty can be felt by the little one and things may just get a little crazy once the baby starts to cry. Always have everything you need at arm-reach and support your baby’s neck when handling her. Practice is the only way to get better at bathing your baby, so don’t be afraid and just keep doing it. Singing kids songs will help calm you and your baby down too! Try it!

And of course, we’ve been using Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleaner since my firstborn and also during my confinement. Even up till today, we are still using it and my girls love the new Cetaphil Baby Gentle Wash and Shampoo. They use them in childcare and for our regualar trips to the pool. Love how they smell so fresh and nice after their shower.

If you missed the Cetaphil Baby Experience, here is a little video to catch up on the experts who were there and the different sessions that happened. Thank you Cetaphil for inviting The Loving Mum to their first Baby Experience event in Singapore. If you would like to find out more and be kept in the loop for future events, join Cetaphil Singapore on Facebook and sign-up for their newsletter.

This article is brought to you in collaboration with Cetaphil.

Officially a Full Time Working Mum Or Not?

Since adulthood, whenever you catch up with long-time-no-see friends or relatives, one of the questions they confirm will ask is so what are you doing now? As in where are you working? For the past couple of years, my answer has always been “Oh I work for myself, you know… digital and social media kinda stuff?” Then come the puzzled looks and I can almost see all the question marks floating over their heads. “Oh you know? Online publishing and advertising?” Ohhh…

Still puzzled.

Then the next question will usually be, “So you work from home? That’s so good.” Ermm… at this point I’ll usually just shrug my shoulder and try to change the topic.

Working from home is NOT good!

Everyone who works 8 to 9 hours in the office will tell me that they envy me because I get to work from home. At first (about 2 years ago) I thought so too, and really did enjoy the flexibility to be able to work wearing my giant-worned-out-tshirt and boxer shorts and being able to just let out fart grab a quick nap whenever I have to. After your work starts getting kinda crazy, juggling multiple accounts and projects at one time, you start to realize working from home is NOT GOOD AT ALL.

Because home is where you do EVERYTHING, I ended up spending 70% of my time at home working. That’s more than 12 hours every day, and there’s like no-day-no-night please. In the morning, after sending the girls to school, my fingers will start typing non-stop on the keyboard right up till 5pm where I had to prepare dinner and fetch my girls from childcare. Thereafter a quick dinner, wash-up and spending some time with the girls, I will be back working away on my keyboard till 2am in the wee morning. And then the cycle repeats itself EVERYDAY! No weekends for work-from-home-mums ok? And I totally forget what it means to be on leave, on medical leave or just being away from office. All these terms just didn’t exists in my clients’ book nor my own.

Working Full Time Vs Working for Self

For the past one year, I’ve been working with a team at Alvinology Media. Thanks to the 101% trust from the big boss, I run the show well and managed to bring steady projects for the team. And I must say, the past one year has been the most hardworking period for me since I became a mum. It must be the desire to be able to run an agency again that pushes me, and the pressure to bring in enough to feed my team and myself that kept me going. And so I’ve been working full time on the team for a year already.

But a recent conversation with the big boss saddened me. He thinks I’m not committed to the company full time yet! WHAT???? 

According to Ministry of Manpower, a person who works for more than 35 hours a week is considered as working full time. So I am working way beyond the full-time definition can?

Working full-time in my context means I commit myself to producing and completing what I have to for my clients and assigned projects. I may not be physically seated at a work desk 35 hours a week, but the time committed to doing proposals, managing projects, communicating with clients, meetings, running errands etc all these surely add up to more than what is lawfully defined as working full-time.

I still consider myself as working for self, just because I am able to manage my schedule flexibly and is able to make decisions for the team and company (thanks to the empowerment given to me).

Say goodbye to coworking space
Say goodbye to coworking space

Officially with a Proper Setup

Though we have been running Alvinology Media for one year now, I still feel that there’s a lack of officiality because we are neither here nor there. The team works remotely and I sometimes feel like a lost sheep in between meetings as I have no place to work. Things will change officially from tomorrow.

We are officially moving into our very own office!

Together with our extended family of companies, we will be entering the next milestone of our agency life. A proper space with carpet (LOL!), our own furniture, a space for meetings, for learning and discussions. I can finally hold a proper meeting with my team with stable Wifi, screen for projection, space for brainstorming and walls to paste post-it notes on!

I miss having our own offices!

Previous office for 24seven at Upper Serangoon Shopping Centre
Previous office for 24seven at Upper Serangoon Shopping Centre
DICE Studio at The Modules
And the space we had for DICE Studio at The Modules

With this new milestone in life, it’s going to be my third baby, one that is still in the infancy stage and waiting to bloom and blossom. Am thankful for the opportunities the big boss, my team and our clients have given us. And the years ahead is looking even brighter! It’s going to be one hell of a journey and I’m super pumped!

Our new home before we took over, and now empty waiting to be filled with our creativity and adventures

Go team AM and OUS!

Watch this space as we transform and bring you bigger, better and awesome work and content. Stay tune!

The Girl Who Doesn’t Smile Turns Five

My first born turns 5 today! The quiet princess who is otherwise known as “the girl who doesn’t smile”, a title given to her by other kids. It’s not true that she doesn’t smile, she just doesn’t smile all the time! Ayra since young has been the shy girl who’s afraid to express herself when with unfamiliar people. Up till today, at 5, she’s still the same or perhaps a little more confident but still very wary of how people see and think of her.

The Perfectionist

Ayra doesn’t want to do things that she is not confident with, she refused to read because she’s uncertain if she’ll be right. She gets frustrated way too easily whenever she do something that’s not up to her own standard. When in front of unfamiliar people, she choose to stay reserve and hide behind a shield; the shield that prevents others to read what’s on her mind.

The Artist

Ayra loves to paint and draw. Give her a set of colours and paper, she’ll draw you a beautiful princess, a pokemon or a family portrait sometimes with additional friends she like from her class. Let her pick doing her homework from English class or to paint, she’ll happily focus on painting pictures after pictures (so that there will be no time left for homework).

The Caring Sister

I’m glad Ayra is growing up to become a very caring and sensible elder sister. The two sisters are always looking out for one another and have their unique way of loving the other. Of course there are plenty of fights, snatch and cries, but everything resets itself after a short or long nap.

The Sensitive Girl

I make her cry, a little too much. When I fail to fulfil my role as her Mum she will be very upset and often meltdown happens. At the moment of anger (or just because I’m too occupied with task on hand) I will raise my voice at her just so she stop repeating her request. And always almost immediately I regret how I handle it. Seeing her break down and cry pains me. But I do it over and over again, the subconscious simply choose to forget all these emotional tortures for both Ayra and I. Sorry Ayra for making you upset so many times. Mummy will learn to control myself, but please also try to learn to listen to me and not make me keep repeating myself till the point it pisses me off.

The Girl Who Doesn’t Smile

Those who rarely get to interact with Ayra will only get to see that expressionless face of hers. That’s just her being her. But once she warmed up to you and finds you less threatening, she will open up and be comfortable with you around her. This is when you can see the other (rare) side of her which only close family members get to experience. The happy and cheeky girl.




Today, Ayra turns 5! The best 5 years of my life because of Ayra and Zara. Mummy loves you! 

Let’s dance!

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Behind Every Flat Lay Is Lots of Mess And Backache

Most popular photos you see when scrolling through many visual feeds these days are flat lay shots (top down photos). Have you ever thought of the process behind how to take a nice creative flat lay? What you see is really just the pretty side of things, what’s real is the mess and things one do for a nice flat lay photo. These are usually not shown publicly and the ordinary everyday people probably can’t imagine.

I am no expert in flat lay photos because I just don’t have enough opportunities and time to shoot proper YET! Things will change soon as I am beginning to explore more of this new way of photography with my team. With my limited experiences and lots of research online, I shared some pointers with a group of friends over at Canon Imaging Academy. It was a fun afternoon and I’m happy many of them picked up useful tips and were able to apply them into their own creative visual feed.

Before the sharing session I did some trials at home on my own and after an hour of back stretching, knee bending and neck aching actions while styling putting random things to fill up the white mahjong paper on the floor, I only managed to get 2 to 3 decent shots that can be used for posting online! OMG!!! Why is this so difficult??

How to take flat lay photos at home by The Loving Mum
This was what went on behind the scene… see the mess outside of the white paper and my feet!!! LOL!

Flat Lay Quick Tips

Use basic background, or something simple so that it doesn’t clutter your entire photo.

Go with natural light, lots of it. Else prepare a few lamps to shine on the area you want to shoot.

Fill in gaps, but leave enough space between every object.

Keep the frame (Square or not) full, take note of corners and sides if you want to have a fuller looking
shot.

Think about the hero piece, which is the main object in your flat lay?

Play with different size props, and you need to start building a box of props! Flat lay is all about PROPS!

Pick things that look good from top, example a cup of black coffee vs a cup of latte, or a closed black notebook vs an open notebook filled with writing.

Enhance your photos after you got it right – cos lighting control in the actual shoot can be quite a challenge.

Ideally is to shoot in RAW format and post process after.

Use a tripod so you can ensure your photo is always sharp and clear, and it’ll help relieve those back and neck stretching actions too.

Epic lunch the other day with new friends. #TLMeats #flatlay A photo posted by Claudia Lim (@claudia10) on

Taking flat lay photos at restaurants and cafe is even more challenging and at times one need to have very thick skin in order to get a decent shot! I have personally not tried doing any styling when dining out but once I was at a media tasting together with two young foodie, I was impressed at their determination and effort. Kudos to Wei Kai and Zong Han I managed to get some nice flat lay photos that day.

How to take flat lay photos at home by The Loving Mum
The things we do for a nice top down shot at a cafe…

Equip with the right gear

A nice photo is a combination of nice objects, nice styling, good lighting and a good set of equipment. Personally I love shooting with my Canon PowerShot and DSLR, but for a flay lay where you want everything in the frame to be in focus, sometimes a very good camera on the mobile phone may just be what you need. Unless you are planning to print the photo out for display, then you will require a decent camera.

If you are looking for a camera for flat lay photo taking, then ensure that the camera has got a screen that can be tilted at least 180-degree so that you can view what’s in the frame while holding your camera up high. Alternatively find one camera that allows for wireless connection to a mobile phone for remote shooting. This way, you can mount your camera on a tripod, placed on the table and still be able to view what’s in frame and activate the shutter from the mobile phone.

Get a steady tripod that allow you to use with a tripod arm. This is on my to purchase list.

Hope the above tips are useful! Check out what my fellow friends who attended the session have shared:

Things My Three Year Old Is Teaching Me

Zara officially turns three today.

Flashback to the day she was planned to come into this world (few weeks before she was due because of placenta previa) – the c-section procedure where you can hear and feel everything happening in the bright and cold operation room, that first cry of joy, the first touch with her in my arms and my first kiss on her tiny forehead. That day was magical and an emotional one for my husband and I.

Now a three-year-old, my little adult, who so often emits that strong mature aura that frightens me. Over these years I have learned and is learning so much from her. My pride and joy, my dearest baby girl Zara, thanks to you I’ve got a teacher that shows me what is it to live life with less stress and agony.

It’s ok to cry.

She is the drama queen in the house and in class. Every little thing that frustrates or irritates her will make her cry, and sometimes drive her crazy. She will cry, even if it’s just a short while, and there after she’ll be fine like nothing has happened. Learning from her anytime anywhere also can cry character, I have learned to sob and melt down when I have to. Whenever I have too much bottled inside me and didn’t know how to react I will just let myself go. After releasing those bottled up emotion and thoughts I get my focus back and am able to move forward. So cry when you want to, it helps one forget and move on.

Kickback, slither and lepak!

Zara sure lives up to her Chinese zodiac sign! A slimy slithering snake who is always ready to curl right into her act whenever wherever. The Mummy and Grandma are her favorite targets – slithering and twirling herself all around our body like a snake with its prey. She would throw herself in the most relaxed and bo-chup manner just to get that stretch or comfy rest on her back. Thereafter she’ll give a very satisfied smile to show how much she’s enjoying the moment in the comfort of our embrace. I do that whenever I can too, and it sure feels damn shiok.

Demand And You Shall Get It (Most of the time)

Being the youngest in the house usually means she get whatever she wants and is able to do whatever she want to do. Most of the time the girls will be keeping themselves occupied with toys, books or the iPads. Once a while, the girls will fight and cause havoc just because Zara wants whatever the sister is playing or using. Or the other way around. Usually when that happens, the one who cry the loudest or demands first win.

As we grow older, we somehow forget how to ask or demand for things. We have learned to take on responsibility on our own and avoid troubling others with our demand. But sometimes we really neeeded that extra help to make things work or a demand from family or friends to make oneself happier. I’ve learned to never be shy or afraid to ask for something, as long as it is legit and no harm caused, just ask and usually you’ll be surprised how much support and help you will get in return.

A big hug a day keeps bad thoughts away.

Every day we hug, a great big teddy bear kinda hug, for comfort. That few seconds of touch makes all bad happenings, thoughts and emotions go away. It is that magical. When Zara is feeling down, I’ll give her a hug and she would throw herself into my lap and surround herself with Mummy’s love. These contacts not only help calm her but also makes me forget my bad day and how tired I may be after a long day out for work.

Thank you Zara for teaching Mummy these little things and more in life, thank you for your love and hugs. Happy Birthday my feisty princess. Let’s grow old together. To an awesome year ahead!

Love Mummy.