Dear New Expat Mama, Welcome
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It's almost exactly two years to the day that we made our move from the UK to Singapore official. Tis the season. Expat's will be coming and going all around the world right now and over the next couple of months or so. Removal firms will be booked, boxes packed, and lives condensed into twenty foot metal containers ready to be shipped to a new life somewhere. School places will be frantically sourced, leases negotiated, and visa's stamped. Sometimes it's a new life just beginning, sometimes it's an old life being rediscovered.

To mark the beginning of "expat season" we've compiled some lovely snippets of advice from the expat mama community all over the world about this life, which are all (or at least some) of things I wish people had told me two years ago...

Thank you SO much to all the contributors! Some of them are very familiar names from The Expat Mama Meets interview series, and some of them are making their The Expat Mama debut! And of course, if YOU have anything to add please drop me an email at theexpatmama@gmail.com 


_I’d relax and make friends slowly rather than trying to invite everyone for dinner all at once! I’d also decorate the house as soon as we get there. Making it into your home makes you feel so much more settled (2).png
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_I’d relax and make friends slowly rather than trying to invite everyone for dinner all at once! I’d also decorate the house as soon as we get there. Making it into your home makes you feel so much more settled (4).png
Quote of the Day (3).png
_I’d relax and make friends slowly rather than trying to invite everyone for dinner all at once! I’d also decorate the house as soon as we get there. Making it into your home makes you feel so much more settled (2).png
_I’d relax and make friends slowly rather than trying to invite everyone for dinner all at once! I’d also decorate the house as soon as we get there. Making it into your home makes you feel so much more settled (1).png
Quote of the Day (2).png
_I’d relax and make friends slowly rather than trying to invite everyone for dinner all at once! I’d also decorate the house as soon as we get there. Making it into your home makes you feel so much more settled (3).png
Quote of the Day (1).png
_I’d relax and make friends slowly rather than trying to invite everyone for dinner all at once! I’d also decorate the house as soon as we get there. Making it into your home makes you feel so much more settled (5).png
Quote of the Day.png
_I’d relax and make friends slowly rather than trying to invite everyone for dinner all at once! I’d also decorate the house as soon as we get there. Making it into your home makes you feel so much more settled and.png
_I’d relax and make friends slowly rather than trying to invite everyone for dinner all at once! I’d also decorate the house as soon as we get there. Making it into your home makes you feel so much more settled (1).png

Indoor Singapore: The Artground at Goodman Arts Centre
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As the temperature starts to creep up in Singapore it can sometimes feel somewhat challenging to entertain little people without stepping inside another soft play. And it gets really expensive really quickly! If you haven't already discovered The Artground at Goodman Arts Centre then now is a great time! Firstly it's FREE and air conditioned. If those aren't two very convincing reasons to head east, then maybe the newly designed play space, Rolling @ TAG will tick your boxes. Or there's the upcoming 100 and 100 More festival coming at the end of May. Oh and, in case you STILL need talking into this, there's a very nice cafe just a stones throw away (Cafe Melba).

 

About Rolling @ TAG

Within the main building of The Artground, Rolling @ TAG is basically an indoor play ground for little and big kids (although it's aimed at ages 0-12 years, but whatever). But when I say playground, I don't mean in the traditional sense. It's been designed by Japanese artist Daiya Aida and provides prompts for play, but doesn't lead the play. There is a cosy nook for sitting, lying and chilling out that is protected within a structure that clearly resembles a climbing frame. So kids can sit back and watch whilst still being right in the thick of the action. Or, you know, the adult(s) can sit back and relax whilst kids clamber around them. In that sense it's really nicely thought out, and even though an age range of 0-12 years seems quite vast, I can see how the space is appropriate for a crawler or a pre-teen with a tonne of energy to burn. The space itself is incredibly simple with a focus on curves and, surprisingly enough from the name, the motion of rolling. It's fun, I won't lie. And I don't know who was having a better time running up the curved wall and sliding back down, there were definitely some grown up's channeling their inner kid when we were there this morning. Yes, I saw you, you Ninja Warrior wannabe's. 

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It's quite a cool concept actually, to have a space for child's play, literally, but where there are no hard and fast rules about how the space should be used or interpreted. And I think that might have something to do with the fact that there were quite a lot of kids causing mayhem this morning, and yet there were no accidents, no tears and the only tantrums were to do with having to leave at lunchtime (Clara....). The kids, left to their own devices, figured it all out for themselves. Which is the beauty of childhood and play time isn't it? 

 

Visit Rolling @ TAG

Date: 18th April - 19th August 2018

Venue: Goodman Arts Centre, The Artground (ground floor) how to get there

Opening hours: CLOSED Mondays & Tuesdays, 9:30am - 5pm Wednesdays & Thursdays, (;30am - 6pm Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays

Admission Charge: FREE

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Flying Solo: Refusing To Become A Statistic
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This time last week I was on my way home from home. Flying back to Singapore after a week in the UK. I can’t decide if that journey happened yesterday or ten years ago. It feels like both. When I close my eyes I’m immediately back to Monday night somewhere in the sky over Europe. and then when I open my eyes I swear that journey and the week since has robbed me of several years of my life. It’s surreal, really. And the post you’re about to read, this post that I’ve written and re-written many times now, is not the post I ever thought it would be. It never crossed my mind that I would EVER, ever be giving a first hand account of the danger of solo travel as a woman. It’s unthinkable, actually. I thought I’d be writing a post gloating about my first child free flights since 2010, and how spa-like economy can feel when you don’t have travel weary little kids hanging onto you and off you for fourteen hours straight. And one of my four flights was like that. Another was like sardines in a can, but uneventful. Then there was the flight that ended with an arrest. And my final flight I spent too terrified to close my eyes for most of the ten hours. As anecdotal evidence goes, it’s not exactly looking great stats-wise, is it? The flight was a busy one on a Monday late afternoon. It was part one of my journey back to Singapore, and the shorter leg. I was in the middle seat of three. To my left was an older English lady, retired probably, definitely older than my mum. And to my right was a youngish man, half Turkish half Bulgarian, maybe around my age. Then there was the aisle. Across the aisle were two burly northern blokes, all tats and muscles, but - and I don’t know why I made an effort to pay attention to them when I first got on, a premonition perhaps - they had a calmness about them. And then to the far right, in the window seat, was another lady who I didn’t much notice initially. In economy seats it’s near impossible to completely ignore your seat neighbours. I mean, those seats are COSY. So the English lady and I immediately chatted to one another, she gave me her old copy of The Daily Mail, I asked for a pillow for her. You know how it goes. Whereas the man on the other side of me, even from the start, seemed jittery and uneasy. Actually, he made ME feel really uneasy. He was also quite big, not as in "big" meaning fat, I mean as in tall. His legs were cramped in, which I kind of felt sorry for him about. So I was maybe a little more forgiving then, on reflection, I should have been when it came to his man spreading. I don't know, maybe I'm finding excuses for him, or putting some blame on myself?

It was a a fairly quick flight, about four hours, so our evening meal was served quite promptly after take off. Lady to my left had red wine, I had a coke, and he had something alcoholic that was mixed with water and turned cloudy. Arak maybe? Or Ouzo? I don't know, but he knocked back a couple of those in quick succession. Maybe he was a nervous flyer? Anyway, somehow he just kept on going. We were only a few rows from the back of the plane, where the alcohol was stored, and where the only two economy toilets were. So he made himself known to quite alot of passengers it turns out with his constant getting up for refills, barging his way through the toilet queue. The booze made him ballsy though. Like SERIOUSLY. I mean he asked me for my number. And then pestered me for it. And then he asked me to have sex with him. On the plane. Just quickly. All in broken English with some wild hand gestures to emphasise EXACTLY what he meant. In case I didn't know. But, I definitely did. And plugging my headphones into fake watch a crappy film, eyes fixed firmly on the screen, offered me absolutely no relief from his advances either. He would just unplug my headphones for me. 

Now I'm British. I don't like to cause a scene. So his requests were politely, but firmly, turned down. Over and over again. Until he was literally leaning over me to the point that I was then leaning over the lady on my left. That was when we both knew he was trouble. Aren't women patient and forgiving? We, or I, should have known as soon as he decided my leg space was also his leg space. 

And then it all took a much more invasive turn. He didn't have a firm grasp of the English language but MY GOD did he have a firm grasp of my legs. And I can still smell and hear his face right next to mine as he started blowing into my ear, presumably to make me turn my head toward him to tell him to stop. Again. Only for him to start trying to kiss me instead. At his point, and with the seatbelt lights back on ready for the descent, something inside me snapped. Enough was enough, I felt scared and violated, and I knew that this guy, fulled by airline booze and an ego, was not going to stop. 

I don't clearly remember the next moments. It happened so quickly. But I do remember my shouts and cries for him to stop and not touch me were the catalyst. The two burly guys across the aisle from us sprung, literally SPRUNG, into action. The drunk guy was hauled off me, I was out of my seat and tumbled into the row across, and one of the men took my place, and another sat next to me. So I was now in the middle seat of the row opposite, with a very shocked woman on my right who had somehow managed not to notice anything untoward during the flight until the seat swapping kerfuffle. And then on my left was one of the burly guys. A bodyguard it turns out, on his way back to work in Baghdad. Then drunk guy was back in his seat, having had a firm talking to (again) by cabin crew. He was also flanked on his other side by the other burly man, another bodyguard on his way back to work, who had put himself in between drunk guy and the elderly lady. The plane then circled above the city a couple of times, and the bodyguard on my left kept me talking, ignoring the cursing and insults being thrown my way. There's a reason why some people go into particular professions I suppose. He was amazing. Immediately soothing, easy to talk with, and the most reassuring presence in a moment of absolute chaos.

I wish I could say that was it. That's what happened on my awful flight. But drunk guy wasn't done yet. Something riled him up again, and then the fists came flying. But he picked the wrong people to try and have a bust up with. And, obviously, the wrong time and place. The two bodyguards had him on the floor at the back of the plane in a heartbeat. The last I saw of the drunk guy was him being taken out sideways as his fist was coming towards me. It's surreal. And I won't pretend that I was even a bit brave in the situation. I cried like a baby. And I shook violently. Was it adrenaline or just terror? I don't know. But someone else carried my handbag off the plane for me, and two other people kept me upright. I remember that much. The kindness of strangers is unrivaled sometimes. As I was being helped off, the Police were already on board. It was only ever going to end one way for the drunk guy. And that's his fault, and for their part, the airline's for fueling him up with free booze. 

It's not over yet either. The airline have only now, a week after the flight, apologised to me. But their apology is appalling. It is this:

"Dear Ms. Emily ABBEY,

 

We have received your messages and we are sorry to learn about the inconvenience that you experienced during your travel with us on the (details removed).

 

First of all we apologize for the late reply as the file had to be forwarded to several departments in order to achieve detailed information regarding the complaint.

 

"Customer Satisfaction" is on the top of the list of our priorities at Turkish Airlines. İt is to emphasize that any harassment is certainly not acceptable for our Airline.

 

According to this we would like to underline that due to the importance of the human being factor in the sector which we serve, our prime goal is to provide comfortable and safety journey to our valued passengers from the beginning of the travel till to the end.

 

Foremost, we would like to let you know that all Turkish Airlines personnel, particularly our cabin crew, routinely attend professional training courses to improve their behavioral and communication skills, body language, diction and in-flight safety techniques.

 

In  order to prevent any inconvenience that could occur during the flight, our ground staff is also trained in accordance with the Civil Aviation Regulations for implementing the necessary procedures.

 

Although all our staff try to minimize all inconveniences that might happen during a flight, undesirable events may occur out of our control from time to time. We do appreciate how difficult it can be to experience such an inconvenience. In such a situation the related staff had tried to be helpful as soon as possible under present conditions. We learned from the cabin crew that the related passenger was reported to the ground staff and was  picked up by the police on arrival.

 

However, we regret that you felt uncomfortable due to this incident. Please be informed that your criticism has been conveyed to the related section in order to be taken into consideration in order to prevent similar complaints recur. The related staff has been warned in order to be more attentive while fulfilling their duty in a more customer-caring & professional way.

Since the efforts of Turkish Airlines are directed towards providing our esteemed passengers a superior level of service , our passengers' criticism and compliments are considered as the most valuable help to our efforts and incentive for our staffs' further performance.

 

Once again, please accept our deepest apologies that you have experienced out of control.

 

Yours Sincerely,

Customer Contact Center

TURKISH AIRLINES INC."

 

I'm curious to know, would YOU accept this apology? Because I'm not. It's really murky when you start googling passenger on passenger sexual assault on flights, let alone when they're (probably) the direct result of a passenger being given access to seemingly unlimited free alcohol. At least, the alcohol seemed pretty free flowing on this particular flight anyway, which the airline hasn't taken responsibility for in my opinion. This article about sexual assaults on planes often going unreported really resonates to be honest. There was little to no support offered by the airline at the time or afterwards. If I want to prosecute the man, then that's between me, him, and the police force of a country I do not live in, have no legal right to be in and do not speak the language of. The airline will not even tell me if he is being prosecuted for his drunken behaviour. I have no closure to this. And I'm not alone, far from it in fact, there are SO many news articles online of women who have been through similar and worse on commercial flights. But the excuse of "it's hard to prosecute" doesn't fly (get it?) with me because there were SO many witnesses. I can tell you their seat numbers and what they looked like, but the airline know who they were. They could choose to assist with this. But they won't, because it's not good PR is it, to admit that what they're calling "an inconvenience" to me was in fact an assault, or an attempt at, under their watch, caused in part by their alcohol. 

 

At this point I don't know who to go to next to follow this up. The Turkish Police? The Civil Aviation Authority? I have no idea where to start, but I'm not going to stop. I won't be silenced by Turkish Airlines terrible customer service and lack of transparent policies. They can hide behind the Montreal Convention which doesn't cover airline liability for emotional damage or any molestation of a passenger that doesn’t produce physical injury. I've done my reading and research, the system is flawed, massively. And Turkish Airlines are happy to go along with that. So please think twice before booking with them. I certainly will NEVER travel with them ever again.

Managing The Mental Load Of Motherhood and Modern Life
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It's been a while. I know. I'm sorry. I've just been trying to stay afloat. That's all. There are no exciting updates, no news, no trips anywhere, nothing. Nada. Zilch. It's just been that overwhelming feeling recently of not keeping on top of life. You know how it is? The fridge gets refilled, but the laundry gets forgotten about. You know? One step forwards, two steps back. And I know what you're also thinking, "girl doesn't have a (proper) job". I KNOW. Honestly, and this will make no sense to anyone but myself possibly, but I swear I was more organised when I seemingly had less time. Yes, I worked full time as well as everything else, but I also more hot cups of tea available. Coincidence? I think not. Besides, I do WORK now. It's just 99% of the time the work I do is behind the scenes of family life, and obviously unpaid. And it's abit bonkers because in any other scenario, if I was anyone else I would be paid. Not much perhaps, but something's always better than nothing. Even paid work as a freelancer has taken a back burner since the beginning of 2018. Because, seriously, LIFE. It's the mental load. If you're not familiar with the concept of the mental load, there was a BRILLIANT comic go round a while back. And my goodness was it relatable. I mean, it's called You Should've Asked. Need I say more? Anyway, not to throw heaps of shade at my husband - or indeed any man - but I am, at age 29 years and 11 months, succumbing to the mental load. And if ANYONE, not pointing any fingers, tells me that I should have just asked for help / support / a team mate / a hand etc then there miiight be an issue. Well there's no might about it actually. We have an issue. And I know, I know. I'm just at home with the kids. WHAT have I got to complain about? I can just write a few more lists. After all I am the project manager of what we shall somewhat grandly term Abbey Family and Properties Ltd. Oh and I do happen to love a list (so much that I wrote about them. Weirdo.). But I am top of the pecking order around here. Sort of. At least, as the PM I should know everything that has been done, needs doing, needs replacing, need adding to a list, crossing off a list, or outsourcing (including recruitment of said outsourced service provider).

Ironically I do actually hold a qualification in project management - what feels like a relic from a previous life at this point. Which it's own twisted way proves the point of this entire mind meltdown altogether. A professional project manager is a well respected job. Well respected also, often, equates to well paid. I'll try not to focus too heavily on the monetary element to this. But I will just make one ever so quick point. I am working in a business model whereby the most under of underlings (the micro-managed small children) get paid for their chores. I do not. And, let me just gently remind you, I am at the top. I'm Le Grande Fromage as my dad would say. I'm the MANAGER (insert a gold name sign here please). 

Spoiler alert: there's no gold name sign

Oh but wait. I'm also the do-er. As in, I plan, I manage, and I do. Even when I don't, I do. Abbey Family and Properties Ltd is an equal opportunities employer - hollaaa - and my male subordinate (hi husband!) shows excellent initiative in the area of washing up. I really can't fault him. Except that he can only complete his task if the Head of Acquisitions (hello, yes that's me again) has ensured a never ending supply of tools required to complete the task. So even though I don't (often) have to get my hands dirty, so-to-speak, I do have to keep in close contact with the Head of Housekeeping. Luckily that's a very easy relationship to manage because guess what...? ME AGAIN. It is no miracle that household sundries just appear. Although, even writing that did make me think about this viral vid. Alas there is no magical self-clearing coffee table here either. 

If you read the comic I linked to earlier in this post about the mental load issue (and if you haven't you absolutely should), then I'll stop right now. I'm not going to write out every last little thing I think about and do and how my husband doesn't. Unless instructed to of course. Because that's not helpful. Aaand it's also all quite familiar and obvious to my largely female readership. However, I will say this. BS (that's before Singapore), when one of the plates dropped - when my brain had reached mental load capacity - and something was forgotten I was FAR more forgiving. I felt everyone else was FAR more forgiving too. Doing a 2am dash out to the 24 hour Sainsbury's petrol station for toilet roll / calpol / tomorrow mornings brekkie was almost a badge of honour. Like, LOOK at how busy I am. LOOK at how I'm doing EVERYTHING. All these plates are spinning, and even when it goes tits up I STILL HAVE A PLAN. Because I'm Super Woman. Super Mom. Super Wife. I felt like I had to be absolutely frazzled to be seen to be doing A-okay at life. It's all a bit mad, isn't it?

Whereas now, with my fairly nonchalent approach to homeschooling, and frankly non-existent approach to domestic chores, I'm a whole lot less frazzled. My vitamin D intake has shot up, but for some weird reason, so too has my levels of self criticism. I thought it would be the other way round. I thought balmy sunshine, lazy afternoons at the beach with my kids and watermelon saturation would leave me a whole lot more kind to myself, about myself. I mean it sounds pretty nice doesn't it? But there's no 24 hour Sainsbury's petrol station here. When we're out of toilet roll, we're out of toilet roll. And who's fault is it for not keeping on top of household essentials? The Head of Housekeeping. ME. And when the chain of command breaks, who is it that is ultimately answerable to the client? The Project Manager. And who is the PM? Yep...me. It's never-ending, and it's also enough to make me wonder, "is it time to get a "proper" job again?" Am I just not set out to be a modern stay at home wife and mother....?

Rain, Rain Go Away.... 21 Ideas For Kids When It Pours In Singapore
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Because there's rain, and then there's Singapore rain... Please note this post is not sponsored by ANY of the products or brands listed below.

 

1. Softplay

Why: Kids + softplay (adults + coffee) = easiest few hours entertainment. Just. Remember. Socks.

Where: Various locations across the island. We can personally recommend the following:

GoGo Bambini

Explorer Kid (cheapest we've found)

The Polliwogs

Amazonia (they sell wine)

Cost: Varies depending on location / age of child / day of the week. Check each website for more information, but in general expect to pay somewhere around $20 per child (plus extra if you forgot socks).

 

2. Cinema

Why: Another easy way to kill a couple of hours or so, just remember to bring an extra layer as the cinema's here are VERY air conditioned (read: Baltic)

Where: Various locations across the island. The main players are:

Shaw Theatres

Cathay Cineplexes

Golden Village

Cost: Check the websites above for more info, but expect to pay somewhere around $15 per person for a basic no frills ticket.

 

3. Puddle Jumping

Why: FUN, and Peppa Pig. Also, no special equipment required and suitable for all ages. No raincoat? Pick up a cheap plastic poncho from Daiso, team it with sandals / Crocs and you're good to go.

Where: Anywhere! Parks and playgrounds are fun, but even a stroll around your neighbourhood should produce a puddle big enough for a jump or splash. For a full list of parks in Singapore check the NParks website.

Cost: Free

 

4. Singapore Botanic Gardens / Jacob Ballas Children's Garden

Why: Obviously not for you if you don't fancy getting a bit damp (there are storm shelters but little else). However with the cooler tempeartures and just a light drizzle this place is brilliant for tiring out little cabin fevered legs.

Where: 1 Cluny Road 259569 (nearest MRT is Botanic Gardens)

Cost: Free (National Orchid Garden is not free)

 

5. National Gallery of Singapore / Keppel Learning Centre

Why: Even on a miserable grey day the National Gallery has all the light. And all the chocolate, banana and pecan brownies.

Where: National Gallery of Singapore, 1 St Andrew's Road 178957 (nearest MRT is City Hall)

Cost: Keppel Learning Centre is free, exhibitions are ticketed (please check the National Gallery website for prices and to book)

 

6. Trampolining

Why: Because, energy needs burning off as quickly as possible

Where: Various locations across the island, the main one's being:

BOUNCE

Katapult

Amped

Cost: Varies per location, age of customer, day of the week etc. Please check each website for further information.

 

7. Rock Climbing

Why: Completely indoors and with a Starbucks opposite. 

Where: Climb Central, Kallang Wave Mall 397718 (nearest MRT is Stadium)

Cost: Price varies depending on what equipment you require and whether you're booking classes. Check the Climb Central website for more information.

 

8. Cafe Hopping

Why: It's a Singaporean past time, and when in Rome - or Singapore - etc...

Where: You can barely walk one hundred metres in central Singapore without falling over coffee shops

Cost: $7 (ish) for a coffee in a franchise. Less, MUCH less, in a hawker centre.

 

9. National Museum of Singapore

Why: Beautiful building, great cafe and all (at least some) of Singapore's modern history in one place

Where: National Museum of Singapore, 93 Stamford Road, 178897 (nearest MRT is Bras Basah)

Cost: Free for Singaporeans, Permanent Residents and children under 6. Ticket cost's apply for everyone else. Please check their website for more information.

 

10. Gardens By The Bay

Why: It doesn't matter what the weather is outside, the dome's are the same (rain free) temperature year round

Where: Gardens By The Bay, 18 Marina Gardens Drive 018953 (nearest MRT is Bayfront)

Cost: Free however entry to the domes and the OCBC SuperTree Walkway is not. Please see the Gardens By The Bay website for more information on ticket prices.

 

11. Ice Skating

Why: Because if you think it's cold outside then...

Where: A couple of options on the island:

Kallang Ice World, Kallang Leisure Park (nearest MRT is Stadium)

The Rink, JCube, 2 Jurong East Central 609731 (nearest MRT Jurong East)

Cost: Expect to pay in the region of $20 per person (incl. boot hire) for a 2 hour session 

 

12. ArtScience Museum

Why: Future World, that's why.

Where: ArtScience Museum, 6 Bayfront Avenue 018974 (nearest MRT is Bayfront)

Cost: Price varies slightly depending on residency status, so check their website for deals. Plus, term-time only, kids go free with a paying adult on Fridays.

 

13. Library

Why: Edutainment at it's absolute finest, and also free

Where: Various locations across the island. Please check for your local library, although the Central Public Library has an excellent children's section complete with a tree house!

Cost: Free to enter, however depending on your residency status there may be a cost associated with becoming a member. Please see the website for more information.

 

14. ION Sky

Why: Very centrally located, and an excellent bribe if you have shopping to do first

Where: 2 Orchard Turn, Level 56 238801 (nearest MRT is Orchard)

Cost: (slightly complicated, sorry!). Technically it's free, however you need to have spent $20 at ION Orchard to exchange a valid receipt for entry. This can all be done via the app, and the tickets are valid for 30 days (so you don't need to shop and use the ticket the same day). There are other terms and conditions, so please check the website for more information.

 

15. Zoo

Why: Some animals don't mind the rain, and a tram pass means you don't even have to walk. 

Where: Singapore Zoo, 80 Mandai Lake Road 729826

Cost: You can manage a day out (for a family of 4) including food for less than $150, buying an annual pass will bring this down more, as ever, check their website for more information and promotions.

 

16. Make Your Own Pizza

Why: Healthy(ish) entertainment AND a meal prepared, either buy ready made bases from any supermarket or make your own

Where: At home (sorry)

Cost: Negligible with a well stocked food cupboard and fridge

 

17. IKEA

Why: I've said it before, I'll say it again. Free soft play for an hour and meatballs. Just remember to bring ID if you want your kids to use the free soft play area.

Where: Tampines or Alexandra (check for free shuttle bus services to both from various local malls and MRT stations)

Cost: Free (to enter and to play in the supervised Smaland)

 

18. Bowling

Why: Retro indoor fun for all the family

Where: Various locations across the island, a few of the big deals being:

Kallang Bowl

SuperBowl

Planet Bowl

Cost: From about $2.50 a game, but check each outlet's website above for exact prices

 

19. S.E.A. Aquarium

Why: Because it's probably the wettest place in Singapore where you don't get wet (see what I did there?!)

Where: 8 Sentosa Gateway, Resorts World Sentosa 098269

Cost: Buy online to take advantage of promotional prices, but if you reside in Singapore (PR, EP, DP etc) remember to flash that ID card to get cheaper tickets anyway

 

20. Cookery Class

Why: Life skills...?

Where: There are various cookery schools across the island, but our tried and tested preference goes to The Providore where Finn took a great class with Namita from Indian Spicebox. Check The Providore's website for future classes and costs.

Cost: As above! Check the website.

 

21. Make Your Own....

Why: Because, Pinterest.

Slime (Borax free)

Playdough

Where: At home (again, sorry)

Cost: A few extra ingredients on the shopping list later and the cost isn't terrible.

 

Other ideas include the Singapore Flyer, Diggersite, Kidmando, and various other museums found throughout the island. Maybe I'll do a part 2 at some point...

Motherhood: The Power Of A Photo & The Importance Of Taking It
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The Power Of A Photo

If you're a follower of my Instagram, you'll know how much I love a pretty photo. But, scroll down my feed, and you'll notice two little faces appearing ninety nine percent of the time. The other one percent being instaquotes. I'm a sucker for 'em, what can I say? But it's SUPER rare for me to actually appear in any photo's with my kids, and ever rarer for those pictures to have all three of us in them. And - I think - all but one are arm stretch selfies anyway. At some point in the future my children will rightfully wonder where their mother was their entire childhoods. Clue: who took all the photo's?

And I'm FAR from alone, as instamum Sophie Cachia reminded us all last year "Dear men, take the photo. Take the god damn photo." Because it's not the posed moments that we, as mothers, will want to remember years down the line. It's the everyday. The bedtime story snuggles when the kids are still small enough to snuggle two a piece on our lap. Or the hours spent playing dress up's on a rainy day. Or when the kitchen resembles a bomb site but a tray of misshapen cookies is proof of time together well spent. It's those everyday moments, completely insignificant if not for their significance in the memories of our children, that prove the power of photo's.

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Meet The Photographer

So, with that in mind, you can imagine how delighted I was when Stacy Christian - an expat wife and family photographer based here in Singapore - got in touch. And being a Mum of four little ones, she totally gets it....

Please introduce yourself and tell us a little more about your expat life!

I grew up just outside of Atlanta, Georgia. After marrying my husband, he joined the Navy, which took us to Hawaii for almost 6 years. It was there that I became the total beach snob that I am now. It is also there that I became a mother to four kids - a singleton and triplets. Hawaii felt like we were living in a different country - it was such a beautiful experience, and the perfect prep for expat life. We had plans of moving to Singapore well before we found out we were having triplets, and we decided we weren't going to let a few babies change those plans. We moved to Singapore when the triplets were 18 months old, and have loved our time here! Such a great place for kids - and bonus - you never have to waste half your days dressing them for cold weather! 

What exactly is lifestyle photography?

Lifestyle photography is personal, honest, meaningful photography. There is no posing. There are no set props. It is simply documenting what your life looks like in your current season. It focuses more on the emotions / personalities / quirks of your family rather than trying to mask those exact things like more traditional photography. My goal with lifestyle photography is to document a family in their everyday, natural element(most often in their home), and show them that what they have already is beautiful and perfect. It is an opportunity to capture raw emotions that will keep you smiling for years to come. 

I've never had mine or my kid's photo's taken professionally before, what should expect and how can I prepare?

If you've never had your family's photos taken, NOW IS THE TIME! Your kids are growing up fast, and before you know it, you will have a hard time remembering what on earth happened during these long, exhausting days. Lifestyle is most definitely the least intimidating style of photography (in my opinion), because most of the time, you are reading books or playing with your kids, and hugging on your spouse. So easy. The only preparations I would suggest is to make sure the kids are fed and rested, and you are wearing comfortable clothes that you can be moving around in easily. Husbands / Dads are usually the least excited about getting their pictures taken, but I PROMISE I make it easy for everyone. 

What are your top tip's for making the most from a lifestyle photography session?

There are a few tips that can make a lifestyle session go smoothly. If it's in your home, I would suggest taking note of when and where the best light is. I love using natural light, so knowing those things helps when scheduling the shoot. Also, I won't say you need to deep clean your house(I told you it's HONEST photography), but I do recommend picking up any clutter that might be distracting. Maybe the most important tip of all would be to relax. I know it's intimidating to be in front of a camera, but the images will be so much better if it shows that everyone is relaxed and having a good time. 

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My Advice...

No one asked, I know. But I'm going to give it anyway.

  1. If you usually wear your hair up, don't decide to wear it down. You won't feel like you, you won't feel relaxed, and you'll have an album full of photo's of you pushing you hair off your face. NOT the plan.
  2. Similarly, if you don't tend to wear much make up day to day, don't suddenly crack out a Kardashian-esque contour. Just pep yourself up as you would any other morning, whatever that does or doesn't involve.
  3. Don't stay up drinking til 2am the night before. Just....take my word for it.
  4. Make sure the kids have a ready supply of drinks and snacks, although dealing with a grumpy kid is the reality of motherhood, it's not all that you want to remember.
  5. And, just as you want to feel relaxed, so do your kids. Don't stress about what they're wearing but make sure they're cool and comfortable. Same goes for you.
  6. If you're having a play shoot like we did, perhaps plan out which toys you can all sit down to play with for long enough to get some sweet photo's. We went with the fairly timeless reading books, wooden train set and Lego. Although techno wizkids also managed to sneak some tablet time in too.
  7. Accept the need for light, even if it means having the day curtains open and the neighbours in the opposite tower gawping in. The final images will thank you for it.
  8. If you (or the kids) are having an energy slump then whack on some music and have a dance (or dance fight, as we ended up having). Not only will you all end up smiling and laughing again, but the photo's capture the moment perfectly
  9. When you do get the final images through DO NOT stare at all your flaws. You're the only one who see's them.
  10. And above all else LOOK at the way your kids look at you and make physical contact with you at every opportunity, and their happiness to be near you and to see you smiling back at them. THIS is what your kids will remember of you. Look at you for a moment through their eyes.
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Contact Stacy Christian

Website:www.stacychristianphotography.com

Email: stacychristianphoto@gmail.com

Facebook:facebook.com/stacychristianphotography

Instagram:instagram.com/stacychristian

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Disclaimer

Please note that we enjoyed a Full Portrait Session at home as a collaboration with Stacy Christian Photographer. The content of this blog post is not influenced by that, other than the use of the final images gifted to us by Stacy as part of the package.