Things I Learned When Travelling Alone With My Daughter Ayra

Fifty Shades of Tiredness

Travelling with a pre-schooler takes a lot more energy and patience than I imagined.

The worst meltdown was on day 4 which lasted a good long 45 mins, I was lucky it happened in the hotel room. It was initiated from our train trip back from Bondi Junction and turned massive the moment she plonks herself down in the room. I did my best to control myself and keep breathing… “I want Mummy to hug me…“, that’s all we needed to get through the painful struggles.

Day Tour Is Exhausting

When a day tour is planned, prepare activities, for us, it would have been the iPad and food. Hungry and exhausted little one can really drive you crazy when stuck in an hour plus long bus journey. Unfortunately, I didn’t prepare either of them for our planned day tour, I had to pep talk every time we start our ride in the bus. I think I came up with 1001 reasons how we were going to have a great day if she would just rest and nap whenever possible.

Just Go With The Flow

Don’t bother to plan an itinerary, what you do depends greatly on the mood of your pre-schooler. Just go with the flow and go slow, it’s ok you don’t get to visit every place you planned to. Avoid purchasing too many tickets before the trip and keep to just the main highlights, perhaps one attraction every two days.

Be Overprepared

Never underestimate the weather… 11 degree is too cold for our summer-trained body. 3 layers and we were still shivering. Should have bought that Ultra Light Down from Uniqlo! And we almost hit our personal freezing point on the fourth night while walking back to our hotel from Darling Habour.

Promises Not!

When the little one made a promise, don’t take it seriously. “Ok fine! We go to the playground then we go dinner.” – Never happened. We ended up spending too much time at the playground and grabbing a quick bite from McDonald’s instead of a lovely dine in dinner by the harbour.

Stay Away from Social Media

Live in the moments for real and not just capturing and posting about it online. In the past, I used to have the habit to check my mobile and want to post everything I do instantly on Instagram. This trip, I make a conscious effort to keep my mobile away and focus on our time together.

One hand holding onto my girl and the other my compact camera, we lived in every moment together and I capture shots and videos without putting in much thought or planning. Just turn on and shoot. Looking through the photos and videos captured, I double confirmed that perhaps all or most of the “Instagram-worthy” aka well framed and posed shots of kids travelling are lots of hard work and pep talk. Wouldn’t this be too much a hassle just to capture that one great shot? Unless of cos, your little ones are mini supermodels, well trained to respond to “Look here, smile (and pose)!” That’s exactly what I did too but it never worked on Ayra. Just look at the shots I got!

“Ayra look here! Smile! Look here!!!”

Not happening! My girl is just as stubborn as the mother!

Like Parents Like Child

Ayra is very much like me when travelling – She keeps everyone in mind and ensures she buys something for each of them. At the shops, she’ll browse around and go… “This can give to my friends… this I think meimei (Zara) will like… hmmm I think I want to buy this for…“. This is her distributing her loots after our trip at Luna Park.

With one and a half day more to go, it’s time to get something for me perhaps?

Ayra is very much like her father – the moment she stepped into the hotel room, she must have the TV turned on. And it is very difficult to get her to turn it off and head out!

Video Calls FTW

Always have a connection even if you plan to stay disconnected during travel. Because sharing moments and experiences with the sister back home is lots of fun via video calls.

Every day we will stay connected with family back in Singapore via Whatsapp video call. Thanks to unlimited 4G Wifi powered by ChangiWifi (www.changirecommends.com), we called anytime anywhere without worrying we will exceed our data roaming or the need to top-up credits etc. We shared our time on Blue Mountain, view of the Sydney Opera House, travelling in the double-decker train and a lot more happy times with our loved ones during this trip.

With unlimited 4G Wifi also makes waiting in a queue a lot more bearable for the little one, who kept herself entertained with videos on YouTube. That’s us waiting in line for our Scenic Railway ride.

Break a Routine

Travelling could also be one of the best way to break a routine, like wanting milk in a bottle every morning and night. Or the need to hold a hanky to sleep. We survived so far, 5 Days 4 Nights, with Ayra and she has never asked for either of them. Not sure if she will start the routine again when we’re back, but I really hope she has grown out of it.

We are on our final full day here in Sydney and will be flying back tomorrow afternoon. We both miss our family very much and Zara has been upset too without her sister around. Can’t wait to land back home and give a big warm hug to Zara!

Sydney 2017: Preparing My First Solo Trip with My Daughter

The much-anticipated trip for my elder daughter is soon approaching, with less than two weeks to THE day, I am starting to get just a little bit nervous about this whole solo-travel-with-my-girl plan. I have not planned out the exact itinerary yet for the 6 days in Sydney, but I’ve been doing my research and started preparing for the trip since the day I made the flight and hotel bookings. This trip is going to make a big hold through my bank account this is for sure!

After my first visit to Sydney last year, I knew my next trip is going to be another mad shopping spree. Even before we fly off, I’ve already started shopping because this is the first time I’m flying solo with my daughter, her first 7-hour flight to a potentially 15 to 17 degree country and our first navigate-with-google-map and long-hour road trip adventure.

So here are what I’ve planned and prepared so far…

For better in-flight experience

To ensure Ayra is comfortable and be able to sleep through the redeye flight to Sydney, I’ve gotten the children’s airplane bed, BedBox for her from Taxibaby.sg. I first learned about the BedBox by JetKids when a friend shared the demo video on Facebook. I thought I’ll never need one because I had no plan to travel anywhere more than 4 hours with my kids when they are little. And this happened! HA!

From our previous flight to and from HongKong, I noticed that Ayra couldn’t sit comfortably on the plane, her legs were not long enough to touch the floorboard and when laying down reclined, she slept in quite an awkward position. With the BedBox, Ayra will be able to stretch out her legs and be in a more comfortable position. Hope this will help her to sleep soundly through the flight into Sydney so we can both be refreshed and ready for our first day of adventure.

bedbox-inused

For safer travel in cars

We will be travelling quite a bit on cars and private vehicles around Sydney, and Ayra will need to be in a booster seat! For this, I didn’t need to worry as we already have two very compact and travel-friendly boosters which I’ll be bringing along to Sydney. If you’re wondering how I am going to fit a child booster seat into my luggage, here’s how ours look like. Can you even spot it in the photo below? LOL!

Meet mifold, the most advanced, compact and portable booster seat in the world! mifold grab-and-go booster seat is 10x smaller than the regular booster. Instead of lifting the child higher in the car seat, mifold brings the seatbelt lower to fit the child shifting it from their stomach to their lab and away from their neck. We have been using the mifold booster seats in our family car and the girls have come to get used to it (as long as they are occupied with toys or the ipad).

For constant connectivity

Having been introduced to the Wifi router from Changi Recommends, I cannot leave Singapore without one! Connectivity is even more essential and important for this trip since I’m alone with my precious daughter. The last thing I want is to lose connectivity and get lost in the big city. With unlimited and constant Wifi connection and the ability to connect up to 5 devices on the ChangiWifi router, we will be able to stay connected and use our phones and tablets to navigate around Sydney, Ayra will be able to catch her videos when we take breaks at cafes and I’ll be able to catch up on some emails and work when I can (I SHALL abstain myself from work when I’m in Sydney).

The last time I was in Sydney, the ChangiWifi was loading faster than the Wifi in my hotel and the airbnb I stayed at!

For capturing happy travel memories

I have been battling with the decision to bring which camera to Sydney for the past one month or so. I didn’t want to carry around a heavy and bulky camera because I know there’ll be time when I have to carry Ayra when she’s too tired to walk. I didn’t want to just bring any compact that may potentially not give the best quality shots for this first-in-our-lifetime-adventure! So… I gifted myself with a Canon Powershot G7 X Mark II for Mother’s Day!

This is compact enough to fit into my small sling pouch and yet powerful enough for superb photos and videos! I’ve been carrying the Powershot G7 X Mark II everywhere I go since I got it last week and I’m loving it.

For time-saving and lower costs

Two of the places I confirm will be bringing my girl to are the Blue Mountains and Sydney Tower Eyes. To save time queuing for tickets or finding a trusted tour package, I booked ourselves through Changi Recommends attractions and tours offering.

Purchasing attraction passes/tickets and tour packages on Changi Recommends is very convenient and easy. And because it’s recommended by Changi, it should be among the best right? If anything goes wrong, you can come back and complain loh! ermm… you can always provide your feedback when you’re back in Singapore!

I’ve had good experiences with Changi Recommends when we visited HongKong last year, so I know I can trust them lah.

For unforgettable experience at Vivid Sydney

One of the major deciding factor to visit Sydney was because of the huge line-up of activities and attractions at Vivid Sydney! If you are travelling during the period from 26 May to 17 June, be sure to check out Vivid Sydney website and download their mobile app! I’ve got so many items bookmarked in my profile I hope Ayra will have enough energy to go crazy chasing lights with me when the sun sets in Sydney.

So I’ve got about ten out of the one hundred and one things I plan to do with Ayra in Sydney planned out, I shall leave the remaining 90% of the trip to our sense of exploration and adventure with Google Map and Foursquare.

Next on my to do list… get more warm clothing for Ayra and the luggage packed.

Sydney here we come!

Home Decor: DIY Terrarium Kit with Masons

I always fail at growing plants. I even killed a cactus many years back due to lack of I-don’t-know-what-also! My mum, on the other hand, loves planting and she grows many different types of plants in her small house. My girls had been wanting to try their hands on planting at home after doing so in childcare. So I did what most mums will do, I let them try to create their own Terrarium. These things don’t die so easily right? And they take a little effort (I suppose) to maintain.

We got the DIY Terrarium Kit from Masons Home Decor and created our own terrariums. It didn’t go as well as I planned and the completed piece of “art” was really the result of child’s play. We shared some photos on Instagram earlier…

masons home decor is giving 15% discount for all our readers who would like to shop at their online store. They have many different types of products ideal for home decorations, party decor and also for the festive seasons. If you are keen to create your own terrariums too, can go check out the premium kit that we got. Some shots of the kit below for your reference…

[box]Use code “TheLovingMumXMD15” for 15% off your cart.[/box]

The kit came in a huge box that contains everything you need to create two terrariums.
Everything is neatly packed in the big box.
Part of the stuff from the premium kit that we used for the first terrarium.
Use the box lid to content the stuff when planting, to minimise mess!

And here are our creative DIY Terrariums…

[box]Don’t forget you get 15% off when you use code “TheLovingMumXMD15” at https://www.mason.com.sg.[/box]

Have fun!

Here’s What You Get at the Free Workspace at Sengkang CC

Yes! It’s FREE! 100%! No membership fee, no subscriptions and no costs to use, drink the coffee, have some snacks and even hold your meetings. This is probably the best discovery and one that I really shouldn’t be sharing cos this may cause an influx of entrepreneurs living in the North-East to work here. But good-thing-cannot-don’t-share right?

The workspace@Sengkang CC is located on the fourth floor of the Community Club. Initiative by Mr Teo Ser Luck, he announced in February on Facebook that one of the rooms at Sengkang CC will be renovated to a workspace for working adults, entrepreneurs or anyone that needs to use an office to work, have meetings, print documents, stopover while waiting for children, to read, get cable news etc. There is a study area on the same level and now adults have a workspace too. A great initiative indeed to help the community. I hope this will be implemented across more Community Clubs in Singapore.

workspace@Sengkang CC has open-concept work desks, semi-private work area, lounging area, lockers, pantry with free coffee, tea, water and even snacks to power up our work engines. There are two meeting rooms, one that sits about 6 and the other up to 8/10. There’s high-speed broadband, pay-as-you-use printing and scanning services and even tablet stands for those who need to use them.

I’m very impressed by the decoration and style of this free workspace. To sign-up, all you need is your business card and they will issue a membership card to you.

Here are some photos were taken when I first visited… nice right the space?

The Meeting Rooms

Well stocked up Pantry

If you happen to spot me working here, don’t be shy to say hi ok! Would love to meet you. 🙂

For enquiries, you can contact them at 6715 7029. The last I checked, the workspace@Sengkang CC operates Mondays to Fridays from 9am to 6pm 9pm. Closed on weekends and public holidays.

Angry Mum Go Away!

I am angry every day.

In the morning, I get angry when I try to wake my girls and they refused to budge. I get angry in the day due to lack of time to complete all the things I need to for the day. I get angry in the evening because the girls don’t want to feed themselves and refused to finish their dinner. I’m angry again at bedtime because the girls refused to sleep! I’m angry even when I’m the only one awake late into the night because I still have 999 things on my to-do list for the day… for the week… for the month… “WHY SO MANY THINGS TO DO?!

I’ve never wanted or thought to be a perfect mum. Because I know I will never be. I’m such a lazy mum that gets distracted very easily and spent too much time worrying about everything in life, at home, at work and the kids.

My girls, especially the youngest, is starting to be like me. They are always so angry at each other, angry at being forced to do things, angry at our constant reminder to get moving, angry at having to do their work from school and even angry at being asked to go out!

A few days ago I read this post and my mind went blank. My girls are angry so often because of me! I reflected back to how I had been communicating with them, how I shooed them out of the room because I was trying to work on a proposal. I shouted at them when they dropped their food over dinner, I gave them the devil stare when they refused to follow my instructions.

Strangely, I only get angry and mad at my girls. But I don’t show anger when faced with angst moments at work or with peers. Is this the norm? Do other mothers feel and behave the same too?

I want to stop being an angry mum.

I am The Loving Mum! Yes, I do love my girls too much, but I haven’t been loving myself (nor my husband) as much as I used to. This is probably one of the reasons why I am forever angry.

This year, on Mother’s Day, I pledge to change and stop being angry. It is going to be very very very tough, but I am going to do it. I am going to take more effort to be aware of how I talk, react and express my emotions towards my girls. I will not let the anger side of me surface as much as it had been. I will step back and take deep breaths before I react to situations when I am around the kids. I will do my best to become a peaceful mum and slow down my pace a little a day. I will love myself and my hub more, do things that make us happy and always try to sneak time off just for us.

If you are reading this and if you ever see me being angry, please remind me of this post. Remind me to stay peaceful. Help me get the angry mum out of me.

Happy mother’s day to all my friends who are mums. Hang in there and feast on all the chocolates you want this weekend! We deserve it.

BeautyPlus_video_20170512193948.mp4

Celebrate Moments That Matter This Mother’s Day

Being a full-time working mum isn’t exactly the easiest job on earth.

I often find myself in a challenging juggling act – managing the heavy demands of being literally on-call 24/7, for my clients and team because of crazy deadlines, and being a present mother and wife for my family. It takes a great deal of persistence and a lot of strength to pull through my everyday. I try to live as lightheartedly as I can and navigate through the journey of motherhood and building a business.

Being busy doesn’t mean I neglect my family. I try to make every moment fun with my two babies and hope to build beautiful memories for my family. We spend a lot of time crafting, colouring, making things and just rotting around the house. We really are quite a lazy bunch of humans. LOL!

Photo credit to Canon Singapore

Doing what I do at work, and my love for capturing moments with my loved ones, this year, I gifted myself, for Mother’s Day,  a brand new PowerShot G7X Mark II, because it was time for my personal G1X Mark II to retire after serving me well the past 2 years.

I’ve been asked many times, which is the best camera to get and why. Seriously, the best camera for anyone depends on which camera you have beside you when you want to capture that precious moment. It could be your mobile phone or a compact camera that you bring along everywhere you go.

I use the huge DSLR at work and also recently added the Canon PowerShot EOS M5 to the work routine. These are great cameras that help my team delivers very professional quality work. But to carry them everywhere I go is not ideal and also my team is using them to shoot very often lately. So my new friend the G7X Mark II will be my BFF wherever I go. And just in time too for my upcoming trip to Sydney with my eldest!

If you are a mum who, like me, likes to capture memories with your family and loved ones, it’s time to consider rewarding yourself with a new camera too!

Photo credit to Canon Singapore

This Mother’s Day, let’s celebrate the love and sacrifice of all the mothers out there; mums who have tirelessly poured into our children’s lives – teaching, inspiring and giving. Flowers and chocolates are nice gestures of showing gratitude but there’s a more meaningful and purposeful way to express our thankfulness and love – capturing moments in time by spending quality time with our family and preserving them with precious photos taken with a Canon camera.

If you’ve already got a camera, how about getting yourself a printer too? Don’t get me started on the reasons why every family should own a printer! I’ve got two at home and used them on a weekly basis! My girls love flipping through photo books, scrapbook and even my journal because they love laughing at how tiny and funny they looked when smaller.

Photo credit to Canon Singapore

Get a complimentary bouquet from Dawn Q. with every item purchased from Canon’s Mother’s Day gift guide and a free Shiseido gift set along with a personalised Shiseido skin indulgence (skin consultation and luxurious makeover) with the purchase of selected Canon products from their e-shop. I’m waiting for my camera and free gifts to arrive! This promotion is valid till 18th May 2017. Get your Canon products now and receive these special gifts.

Canon Mothers Day Guide

Thanks to the nice folks from Canon Singapore for the above beautiful photos of me with my girls. It is so so rare to have photos of me with my girls, because THIS.

Stunning Photos and Videos with Canon EOS M5 Mirrorless Camera

I first met the Canon EOS M5 in December last year over dinner, and I wasn’t very attracted to it then. But when I got to try it over a few weeks since March this year, I’m getting quite attached to this upgraded model from the EOS M3 I bought some time back. The camera is faster, better and steadier when shooting video. If only it was a full-frame mirrorless, I would have bought it right away. For now, I’m still sitting on the fence and may eventually buy it for work purposes.

Here are some of the reasons why you should consider the EOS M5 as your next camera upgrade, and photos taken with it by me. Disclaimer: I’m not a professional, so don’t expect magazine spread quality shots ok!

Versatile EF-M18-150 IS STM kit lens

The kit sent for my review came with the EF-M18-150 IS STM, the range of this lens is suitable for everyday, anytime, anything also can shoot kinda lens. I could capture the happiness in my girl without getting wet when she was far from the edge of swimming pool. If you zoom into it, you can even see clearly the water droplets around her hair in the shot below. [Click here for the full resolution shot]

Zara having fun in the revamped pool at SAFRA Yishun over the weekend

The zoom lens, even when zoomed into the maximum, gives me very good control and stability when shooting with a single hand.

Hula girls enchanting everyone with their beautiful moves at Aloha Party to celebrate the reopening of SAFRA Yishun last weekend.
Ayra attending her first swim class with FINS Swim School at SAFRA Yishun

Fast and Steady Won My Heart

The Canon PowerShot EOS M5 packs with Dual Pixel CMOS AF gives me very fast autofocusing in every shot, making photographing kids much easier. I can tap anywhere on the touchscreen to pick the focus point with my left finger while framing the shot with the camera on my right hand. There’s no need to wait nor feel that you will miss a shot because autofocusing is really quick on the camera.

Superb Low-Light Shots

You can shoot at up to ISO 25600 on the EOS M5, giving you superb low-light control even without the use of a tripod.

Brunch at Wild Honey and these cheese buns were super delicious!

Steady Video without any Gimbal nor Tripod

I love shooting videos with the EOS M5 and the new EF-M18-150 IS STM lens. With the combination of IS (image stabilizer) lens and in-camera stabilisation, shooting movie is very steady even when on the move. I’ve created a reel of randoms shots taken on the move with the EOS M5 and the EF-M18-150 IS STM.

The Canon PowerShot EOS M5 is at the top of the existing mirrorless line-up for Canon. If you need an all-rounded lightweight and yet powerful and stable camera for photos and videos, you can consider this camera as an upgrade or a companion for your Canon DSLR.  Find out more about the Canon EOS M5 on Canon’s website (I suggest you check out the brochure for more detailed writeup), and you can purchase it online at Canon online shop and have it delivered for free to your doorstep. There’s $80 online warranty cashback promotion and mother’s day free gifts too if you buy online. Psst… have you spotted our mini feature on their website?

Can my fairy godfather please grant me a Canon PowerShot EOS M5 Kit please? I’ve been an awesome mother right?