Our rite of passage – P1 Registration

July 18, 2017 in Kids / Parenting

P1 Registration – the rite of passage every parent in Singapore has to go through. The process itself is not for the faint-hearted, especially for those parents who have to register after Phase 2A. I’ve been monitoring the vacancies on the MOE website since the exercise started and it’s not doing any good to my blood pressure to say the least.

It was about 4 years ago when I started getting more exposure to the intricacies and sometimes painful processes of getting their children into a school of their choice during catchups with friends. But because I didn’t want to be labeled as ‘kiasu’, I didn’t bother to find out how this whole system works. On hindsight, I realised I was being silly. It’s a fine line between being kiasu and being well-prepared. About 2 years before my turn to register, I finally pulled my socks up – chewed the information on MOE’s site and even went to join the kiasuparents forum.

To play this safe, I wanted to be able to register the cub at Phase 2B.

Thought of trying for option (c) as that would give us more options in terms of school choices. To gain more clarity, I went to different community centres to enquire with their staff about the requisites and definition of active community leader and learned that we are not likely to fulfil the requisite of 2 years of grassroots service. Totally dropped this option when I realised that some of my shortlisted school(s) do not fall under the constituency where we belong even though we are within the 0-2km radius because of how the “lines” of constituencies are drawn.

We are not connected to any clan or church, hence option (b) is not available for us.

That leaves us with option (a) under Phase 2B. Some of the shortlisted schools I enquired with do not take parent volunteers (PVs) anymore, so the list was further narrowed down to the few that accept parent volunteers.

Tip to share: do enquire early with schools when they open registration for parent volunteers as different schools have different cut-off dates for PV registration.

Next is the million dollar question – which school to try for? I have my own criteria:

Distance

We are hoping that we don’t have to spend unnecessary traveling time which can be better spent clocking in more sleep for the kids and us!

Also, we are safer with the school that is within the 0-2km radius of our place should we have to ballot. (Crossing fingers we don’t have to!!)

School with Religion

A school with religious background is preferred to fulfil their spiritual needs during their primary school journey.

Bilingualism

The cub is coping pretty well with Chinese language so far after years of learning at Berries. Hence, I hope to find a school with a good focus on his Mother Tongue so that we would not waste his efforts on building up the foundation in Chinese language.

Boys School vs Co-ed School

I was leaning towards a boys’ school because I wanted to send the lil’ dragonlady to my girls’ school when it’s her turn. It would be so cute to have her wearing the same uniform I did!

But the husband preferred that the both of them go to the same school so that I don’t kill myself with the logistics. Realistically speaking, he’s right especially since they are so close in age.

After considering all these factors, only one school stood out in my comparison chart. Let’s call this School A. Still, I wasn’t sure if it was the right decision. I felt a compelling need to pray about my decision, and I did. I prayed hard for God to give me clear signs.

And I think He did. I had a not-so-pleasant experience via email with the Vice Principal (VP) of School B soon after. Then some other negative news of School B surfaced around that time as well.

School C’s VPs were a little strange – during the interview to be a PV at their school, they kept going on about how they do not have school bus service for my location, which was the least of my concerns!

With School A, I really enjoyed talking to the VP during the interview and had great vibes of the school when I visited. The weeks that followed, I had a few people from different parts of my life sharing about random information about School A which were all positive.

After sharing these with the husband, we decided on School A. It felt right after I made the decision. That’s how I ended up as a parent volunteer for School A to get into Phase 2B for registration.

For the past year, I had to wake up at 615am (WAYYYYY earlier than the time I have to wake up for work!) for traffic duty every Friday of the school terms. Whenever my (crazy) schedule allows, I request to help out at school events. It was getting a little stressful when I realised in March I still had some hours to hit before I could achieve 40 hours by 30 June. There’s usually not much to help out with after the exams in May, so I needed to get all my hours in by April to be safe. Thankfully we managed to in the end, with the husband pitching in to help in between his work commitments.

All our effort and time for the past year so that we can get our firstborn into School A through Phase 2B this week. Wish us luck!

Mothers Make It Work

June 7, 2017 in Lifestyle / Parenting

I was a stay-at-home mom (albeit a brief one) and a full-time working mom. Currently, I’m a part-time working mom who does work in the office and sometimes, at home (WAHM?). My conclusion? NONE of these options alleviate mommy-guilt. Sorry to burst your bubble here.

Part-time working mom may seem like an ideal role for many of us mums who want to achieve work-life balance. I am grateful to have this option as it gives me an identity other than a mother and allows me to keep up with trends in the real working world more easily.

However, this is not a have-it-all arrangement. There is still a constant struggle trying to meet the needs of both work and family. There will still be days I need help with the kids from the husband or my parents when I’m stuck at work or badly need some me-time. There will still be days I need help and understanding from my colleagues when I can’t stay back after work or pitch in more due to family commitments.

PTWM is a very lonely role, to be honest. With lesser hours at work, I no longer have the luxury of time to chat and snack with my colleagues when we take a break from our spreadsheets. Instead I need to up my productivity and clear as much work as I can when I’m in the office.

Because of how my hours are arranged now, I don’t get to go to work with the Husb anymore. That means giving up the only time we can have proper conversations with each other without a kid or two interrupting us. Gotta work on that.

My non-working hours are planned around the kids’ schedules because well, that’s why I needed lesser working hours in the first place. I do have little pockets of time in between our crazy schedules, but it’s too short to have decent catch-ups with friends. Thankgod for WhatsApp group chats, or I would have lost all my friends by now!

By the time weekend arrives, I’m ready to keel over. BUT! There are homework to be done, events to check out, movies to watch, family dinners to have, etc. To find time to sit down, paint and not have someone interrupt you with “Mommy! Mommy! Can you ________?”, is Mission-still-Impossible. Believe it or not, my 6yo and 5yo still barge into my bathroom when I’m in the midst of whatever you do in the bathroom.

When things get too overwhelming (which happens fairly often), I will pep-talk myself, remind myself why I’m doing this, or treat myself to something nice to keep me going. Yet despite all the madness I put myself through every day, I know I will look back at my empty nest one day and be glad I was there with them most of the time for the good and bad.

At the very least, I know the kids have plenty of good memories from our drives – we talk about everything, laugh about silly things or smelly farts they let out in the car, the pretty or odd things we notice outside the window, etc.

In case anyone is wondering if the kids are suffering from all the enrichment classes, they are not. It’s a long story why we subject ourselves to such torturous schedules, but rest assured that we as matured parents have given this lots of consideration and discussed with our kids who give their feedback regularly, solicited or not.

Sharing my mantra to every mother out there – Do whatever works best for you and your family. 尽力就好。At the end of the day, you are the one bearing the consequences of your decisions, not your 三姑 who commented that you should/should not stay at home for your kids. Come what may, we moms will make things work!

This post is part of the ‘Mothers Make It Work!’ Blog Train hosted by Owls Well.

To read other inspiring stories please click on the picture below.


If you would like to travel to the previous stops on this Blog Train and read more interesting birth stories, you can start with this one here by June over at mamawearpapashirt.

June is a work-at-home mum to 3 kids. She is a writer and trainee educational therapist who is passionate about helping kids with learning needs. Her idea of self-care is drinking a good cuppa and enjoying a good book. She is constantly exploring calm and positive ways to parent her children.

Next week on the Mothers Make It Work blog train, we’ll be returning to Owls Well to find out about how to manage societal pressures on working moms from guest poster Twinklystarz!

Twinklystarz is an expert tightrope walker, balancing work life in one hand and home life in the other. She has two boys (her hubby and 3 year old son) who bring her much joy.

Bangkok 2017 – Why Centara Grand

May 24, 2017 in Kids / Lifestyle / Travel

Since I’ve had a few friends and IG peeps asking about the hotel we stayed in Bangkok this time, thought I’d share in a post here.

Length of stay and activities during our trips are obviously the main considerations when it comes to looking for accommodation. As for Bangkok, I have to take into account how my kids (ok, & myself) are not quite used to walking for extended duration under sunny and warm conditions. Read: the lesser we have to walk in the heat, the better.

The main purpose of my Bangkok trips is to replenish my inner wear (WACOAL!!). Hence, proximity to the departmental stores is my priority. Because I’m bringing the kids along with me this time, I made plans for them to visit Kidzania Bangkok and Sea Life Bangkok Ocean World – both are located at Siam Paragon.

As such, I decided to return to Centara Grand. This swanky-looking hotel is not only linked to Central World that houses two departmental stores – Zen and Isetan, it is about a 10min walking distance to Siam Paragon from the hotel’s taxi drop-off point. There’s a linked sheltered bridge walkway from Central World to Siam Paragon as well, which is great for wet-weather or super-sunny days.

Right outside Central World, there are now sheltered bridge walkways to Big C supermarket and Platinum mall. For the uninitiated, Big C supermarket is where you can buy in bulk sanitary pads, instant noodles, and toiletries at much cheaper prices. The staff will pack the bulk purchases into carton boxes – so don’t worry about squeezing everything into your luggage. The customer service counter is right outside the cashiering lanes. Just make sure you label properly before checking in the carton boxes!

Sharing this tip I posted on my IG previously here – we usually head to supermarkets first when we travel to stock up on necessities like bottled water. For those traveling with kids, always get your important supplies first such as milk, diaper, kids-friendly snacks so you don’t have to worry about roaming on unfamiliar grounds to look for these when the kids are tired and you have snacks to keep them happy till you get back to the hotel.

Back to the linked walkways. Platinum Mall is a wholesale mall with one level of children’s clothes and accessories, one level for the men, and the rest dedicated for the ladies. Don’t fret yet, you get wholesale prices when you buy at least 3 items in a shop usually! In the good ol’ days, prices can be slashed up to 30-60% with bargaining. But in the last few years, the locals are so accustomed to foreigners and well aware of their purchasing abilities, they don’t budge much (if they budge at all). Example, they will probably offer you 190 baht from 199 baht if you ask “can cheaper?”

For those familiar with Central World, there used to be heaps of roadside stalls outside the mall selling plenty of local delights at local prices. I have heartbreaking news to confirm – they are truly gone.

In place of that, there is a market with stalls selling some local delights but at tourist prices (read: MUCH more expensive than before!). I really miss the salt- coated grill fish, chicken rice and ah ma’s paad thai.

So anyway! With just 4 days and 3 nights in Bangkok, I didn’t think we would need a hotel that’s very kids friendly or focused, since we won’t be spending much time in the hotel. Location and service matters the most to us. With good service, anywhere can be kids friendly imho. And so far, our experience with Centara has been great. Add that to a bath tub in the room and a decent swimming pool, I’m glad to report that the kids are satisfied.

Concrete Collage Workshop with Kids

May 16, 2017 in Good Things Must Share / Kids / Lifestyle

I know I’ve said this many times in the past year but I’m really enjoying this stage when the kids are still oh-so-cute and we can hang out and do interesting activities together. Some time ago, I brought the kids along to try our hands at making a Concrete Collage at a really pretty space at Rochester – DW Workshop. The place has unfortunately closed for now, but I thought it was too fun an experience I had with the kids to not jot it down here.

Except for the cutting with huge pen knives, the kids did pretty much everything themselves with the guidance of a very patient facilitator.

Checking out the tools we will need

Preparing the concrete mix

Mixing of cement powder

Preparing the mould

Buffering

Creating collage from old magazines and own drawings to customise our block.

The collage is then printed on paper, cut and pasted on one side of our block with some mod podge.

Distressing the collage

Finally, choosing the right plant!

TA-DAH! Pretty cool eh.

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