Socially distanced but digitally connected. That pretty much sums up what happened globally when COVID-19 hit us in 2020. Who would have imagined that in order to stop the spread of the virus, we have to isolate at home, get quarantined, and go as far as having lock-downs across cities, states and countries. It was no different here in Singapore.
In April 2020, the Singapore government announced a circuit breaker, a partial nation-wide lockdown, where non-essential workplaces including schools had to close and move online. Prepared or not, eLearning became the default learning mode where students had to quickly adapt to digital learning.
But guess what, our children proved how adaptable they are as they rose to be digital natives like fish to water. I saw my daughter navigating video platforms like Zoom, and Teams with ease and I even had to take a lesson or two from her.
To cope with social distancing, she took to playing games online and chatting with friends on WhatsApp and Google hangout. Entertainment choices were at her fingertips ranging from streaming channels, YouTube, Spotify and the list goes on.
While I saw how technology was a saviour to keep us entertained and socially connected to the world outside, it could have potentially been a curse if there were no ground rules with a free for all pass. It is one thing to read news and articles about how technology can draw us and suck us into our devices, making us oblivious to the ones next to us, and it was another to see it unfolding in my family.
I was particularly disturbed that it drew us apart as a family because we were so caught up about being connected with everyone else online. What an irony.
So even though I saw many benefits from a digital lifestyle, enough was enough and we decided to dump our devices and head outdoors instead. We picked up cycling as a family and explored places on our wheels. We cycled on familiar routes in the city and got more adventurous with longer routes along the coast. It was refreshing for body, mind and soul and became a new family activity that we looked forward to on the weekends.
Being in a lock-down made us appreciate nature so much more and it was a much needed respite with all the negative news on escalating COVID cases here in Singapore and around the world. Our weekend cycling adventures gave us something to look forward to and it bonded us tighter as a family of three.
It made me realise that even though our children may appear to choose their devices over us, it’s up to us as parents to draw the boundaries and offer them an alternative. An alternative which the whole family can be involved in while building deeper connections. An alternative that is healthy, wholesome and it never hurts if it’s lots of fun too!
Parents, let’s win the war to win the hearts of our children to strengthen and protect our parent-child relationship instead of leaving them to their own devices, literally. In a world where things have thrown us off balance, we can be the stabilising force in our kids’ lives to give security and hope as we look forward to the day when we stamp out COVID.
What activities did you start with your family during COVID-19?
If you have a kid at home, chances are you’ve probably watched Zootopia. It’s a story about how an unlikely bunny, became the first female police officer in a male dominated environment. But this is not about the movie itself.
This is about the movie’s theme song; “Try Everything”, by Shakira.
When the school term started, I pinned up motivational quotes and growth mindset visual reminders on my daughter’s notice board. I’m big on inspirational quotes and I believe that positive reinforcement helps to shape our thinking and behavior.
Since she was so hot about the song “Try Everything”; I printed the lyrics and made it her theme song for the year. She promised that she’ll similarly have a, try everything attitude and not give in or give up easily.
Sounded promising doesn’t it?
However, barely a month into the school term my 8 year-old was all ready to throw in the towel and decided that she’s done with trying because school work is so difficult. When I questioned why she didn’t attempt to do her assessment books which I bought as a supplement to her school work, she answered nonchalantly, “I have no idea how to do it”, and ended it at that. So much for teaching her about having a growth mindset and where’s that try everything attitude that she promised?
What made me furious was not because she didn’t know how to do it which is acceptable if she’s not learnt it in school. Rather it’s her lack of efforts in trying because she assumed that I’ll dish out the answers to her. That to me is simply unacceptable and I ranted about it on Facebook.
Turns out I was not alone and many parents had similar struggles with their kids.
So what’s a mum to do?
We lead by example by not giving up on our kids and trying different approaches to see how best to get to them. It can be a tricky balance between encouraging and pushing our kids finding out how we can change their attitudes and how they have to be responsible for their own learning.
These days, I’m also teaching my daughter that there’s no shame in failing because now she has discovered what is wrong. She can be one step closer to what’s right. And in the process, I’m reminded to praise the efforts she’s taken rather than the results themselves so that she is undeterred even when she has to take on more demanding tasks.
How do you encourage your kids to try tackling a new or challenging task?
With the rise of dual income families, the roles of mums and dads have become less conventional where roles are no longer confined to one gender. What used to be a typical arrangement of dads shouldering the financial responsibility of bringing home the bacon and mums staying home to be the main caregiver of the children have evolved over the years.
It’s undeniable that fathers bring another dimension of parenting in the family and while they do things very differently from us mums, they hold a very important role in raising and shaping the kids. A recent conversation with a girlfriend made me even more appreciative of my husband and led me to think about how as wives, we can give them a hand to be a more involved and active dad at home.
Biology is the least of what makes a father
Recognizing our differences
I used to complain about why my husband thinks and acts so differently from me on many matters, especially when it comes to parenting; but I’ve come to recognize that our diversity is what allows my child to have a broader perspective and richer experience from her interactions with both of us. Now I no longer jump to conclusion about his way of doing things and am also more open to other possibilities, a trait that I want my child to embrace as well.
Dads impart confidence
I could be stereotyping, but in our home, hubby is the one who taught my child how to cycle, ice skate, attempt wall climbing, amongst other sports. Dads tend to encourage kids to go faster, higher, further while mums tend to be cautious and protective.
When I found out that my daughter learnt how to paddle on her two wheel bike by going down a slope, I almost flipped and was about to lecture my hubby on the potential dangers when my daughter interrupted and assured me that she had her helmet on while she mastered how to cycle on her two wheel bike that afternoon.
Dads think differently
As mums, we build relationships by being open to our problems, showing empathy and being caring. While dads are all about loyalty and trustworthiness when it comes to friendship. These are all important qualities and both spectrums teach our kids how to develop healthy friendships with their peers.
Anyone can be a father. But it takes someone special to be a Dad.
Dads show affection differently
Dads may not be big on hugs and kisses but they demonstrate love nevertheless with acts of service like ferrying the kids to school, taking the kids out for their favourite dessert and giving them high fives.
And speaking of affection, did you know your man is more likely to be a more involved dad when they’re in a loving and supportive marriage. Marriage like parenting is a partnership where both parents have a role to play.
Practical ways to support your man
Here are some practical ways on how to get your man more involved with the kids
- Encourage one on one time: Go for a car ride to pick up dinner on weekends, read a bedtime story together, build the craziest Lego creation. Discover what common interest your child and hubby has and nudge them to spend time together without you hovering over.
- Attend a school event: Suggest that daddy takes a day off to attend that sports meet or school excursion that your child has been looking forward to.
- Do chores together: What’s even more sexy than a man helping with household chores is getting the kids involved, like washing the car together, hanging the laundry or setting a challenge to see who fold the dried laundry the fastest
- Be a teacher: Give dads a chance to help kids with their homework too. They may not have as much patience as us mums, but they may fare better than us when it comes to maths and science.
- Recognize their efforts and praise them: Dads need all the encouragement they need to be a more involve parent. If they’ve taken efforts to do so, praise them for it and they’ll more be more likely to do it more often.
How do you help your children’s father be a more involved dad? Tell us in the comments so we can get to know your family.
This is an original article by World Mom Susan Koh from Singapore.
As mothers, we hear these questions on a daily basis
Why must I go to sleep when I’m not tired mummy?
Why do I have to go to work while you stay at home?
Why can’t I marry Daddy when I love him as much as you?’
There are days when I get asked innocent questions by my daughter that make me chuckle inside, like why can’t I marry you or Daddy when I love both of you so much? Then there are some days when her questions fumble me especially when it comes to the injustice, pain and suffering that she witnesses in the news and it’s hard for me to try to explain.
I’ve thrown all sorts of responses at her questions. They are sometimes right and sometimes wrong answers. Just for fun, I’ve even given absurd responses while I can still get away with it. She is naive and none the wiser at 6 years old.
While some of her questions call for a logical and scientific reply on how things in the world work, I’ve slowly come to recognize that there are “”why questions that call for a heart response.
Why can’t I sleep in your room anymore?
Why do I get to spend so little time with you during the day?
Why can’t I stay up late to chit chat with you a little more mummy?
While my natural responses is to give answers like
“Because you’re a big girl now”
“Mummy has to work just like you’ve got to study”
“You’ll get tired if you don’t sleep now”
they don’t quite address what her heart is longing for, which is
Affection, attention and love
After all if I were to put myself in her shoes, I’d feel disappointed to only see mummy for a few hours before bedtime. I know I can be the worst person to be around if I’m feeling tired after work. It is then that I shoot her replies like, “Give me 10 minutes”, when I secretly desire to have dinner, shower and run off to sleep. Unfortunately each time I turn down her invitation to play, to hear about her day at school or to see a drawing that she made, I’m sending her a message that she doesn’t matter.
I’m not talking about revolving our lives solely around our little ones to the point that they feel entitled and spoilt; but rather being conscious that our responses frame their identity when we neglect their little hearts.
These days, I’m learning to tune into my daughter’s emotions and be a more spontaneous mum by responding with
When she asks me to take her to the playground after work
When she requests to go out during the school holidays
When she asks to stay up for 5 more minutes just to tell me about her day
When she asks for movie night and we curl up in front of the TV with chips and popcorn.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying let’s throw schedules and routines out of the window and just give in to our kids whims and fancies. Schedules and routines are important to keep a child regulated so they know what’s expected of them.
Instead, when we surprise our kids by saying Why Not when they least expect it, it makes it even more special and memorable. That’s how I intend to keep building my daughter’s memory bank, with lots of spontaneous, crazy fun moments.
This is an original article by Susan Koh for World Mom’s Network
Being a working mom is not an easy feat. You are constantly on your toes both on the work front and on the home front where you need to give both your 101%. But while it may have it’s fair share of challenges, I’m glad to be a working mom in Singapore where the marketplace recognises the value of what women can bring to the table.
In the past, it’s not uncommon to hear how employers will show gender preference towards men who are perceived to be go-getters, sharp and gets things done. And what’s unsaid is that men will not disappear for a good four months when a baby comes along. And their hesitation to employ women doesn’t end there as the mother is usually the one to drop everything at work if anything happens at home, especially when there are young kids at home. And even with female employees, they often get by-passed for promotion and get lower salaries than their male counterparts.
As a small nation whose only resources lie in our human capital, we simply cannot afford to allow this bias to prevail in our society where women take a back seat when they start to have a family. The journey to overcome this gender discrimination at the work place has taken a long time. With efforts from both the state as well as employers the results are encouraging with 76% of women in their prime working ages of 25 to 54 years are in employment in Singapore.
But what really worked was the mindset that women can have their place in the workforce and are equally capable and dedicated to their work as well as their families.
As we celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8th, I hope that all women will have equality in employment opportunities as we continue to strive for gender equality in the workplace to transform the society to be fair and inclusive.
Picture credit: https://www.tafep.sg