Viva L’italia – Italy with and without kids

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I very seldom write about things that I do without kids because I am focussed on all things parenting. However, If you read my previous post on travelling without kids, the husband and I like to sneak away for holidays without the kids. Two days without kids is just so so different from just two hours!

I felt inspired to write about our recent trip to Italy because we really enjoyed ourselves, and also because I can imagine that it is somewhat a great place to bring the kids…but maybe when they are able to take long flights and a LOT of walking without whining too much and spoiling the experience. I hope you will find some of the tips useful.

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No haze around these parts!

We flew to Rome via Bangkok on Thai Airways because it was cheap and Singapore Airlines was exorbitant. Some people prefer to break up their journey, but when we touched down in Bangkok, the plane took forever to taxi, then we had to take a bus to the terminal. Not a problem. Except that itself took us almost 45minutes. And then because the signage could be a lot better (we couldn’t even find boards with departure info?!), it was like a treasure hunt to find our next departing gate. Then from the gate it was another bus to the plane, and when we landed, you guessed it, bus again! And I haven’t even told you about our return journey…. And trying to navigate the Thai Airways website which looks like it was designed in the 1990s, sigh.

MMmmmmmm.

MMmmmmmm.

We landed in Rome in the early morning, around 6am and met our driver whom we booked through Rome Shuttle Limousine. It cost us €55 flat to get to the city. We were a group of 4 adults plus luggage, so I wasn’t sure if we could take the normal taxis. 2 of our friends arrived the day before, took a normal taxi, and they have no idea how their fare came up to €75 (but paid anyway). We have heard some warnings about the taxi drivers, so if you are travelling with kids, I would suggest prebooking a transfer for ease of mind. Once we were in the city, I did see that they have MPV taxis which can take up to 6 passengers; luggage is apparently free for the first piece and €1 for each subsequent piece. And the brief encounters that we had with taxi drivers within the city, was all good.

On arrival at the hotel, we had breakfast, washed up and got ready for our tour. We tailored a private tour with CAF Tours for the 6 of us, that came with a driver and a guide, who both spoke English. The guide was a spritely old Italian who had travelled widely, and even could speak a little Bahasa as he lived in Kuala Lumpur for several years! He was nearly 80, but was full of knowledge about the city, and could navigate the long queues at the various destinations so well, which was a blessing in the intense heat. The driver looked like the older brother from Everybody Loves Raymond, and was always in a suit. You do NOT want to drive in Rome yourself.

Roman Forum

Roman Forum – you can clearly see the Temple of Caesar, where his body was cremated.

Our first stop was the Roman Colosseum and the guide had all our tickets ready, so we squeezed past most of the crowds easily. I really can’t imagine how anyone else could have the patience and tenacity to queue for a long time in the blistering heat, just to get in. I saw a parent with a toddler on a back carrier seat in a longer queue, and although it had a shade, it still looked tedious for both parties, and I wondered how much a toddler would take away from seeing ruins after expanding all his energy in the queue? I’m sure if I had brought the kids, I would have shown them photos, clips, maybe even movies (but most are quite gory?) but even then, there is so much history to take in.

St. Peter's Square

St. Peter’s Square at an event (Actually it was the Voices in Prayer event for Christians  of all kinds)

On this tour we covered the Circus Maximus, Roman Forum, Spanish Steps (apart from the shops, it didn’t seem so interesting?), Capitoline Hill, Trevi fountain, a short stop at St Peter’s Square, and the Pantheon, and Campo de’Fiori. Yes, we did that all in 6 hours! And we even squeezed in an audience (if you call being amongst a few other thousand people an audience) with Pope Francis and Andrea Bocelli and Don Moen, etc.

Pope Francis.

Pope Francis. What a spritely lively man! He looked like he was going to high-five the crowd, and I bet he probably would have if he had the chance! Btw this photo was NOT zoomed in.

It helped that there was a driver and the days in summer are long. We didn’t have to navigate the public transport system or do lengthy walks. I suppose for some people that might be half the fun, but we only had 2.5 days in Rome, so it was a good way to pack in all the sights. We ended the tour on the first day by having the driver drop us off at our dinner venue, and easily cabbed back (together, in a MPV taxi).

Cue brief chord of choir of angels.

Cue brief chord of choir of angels.

The next day, we had a leisurely breakfast, a little bit of shopping in the late morning, then made our way to Vatican City with our driver. Our guide met us there, and again we hardly had to queue to get in. He spent quite a while talking to us about the history and art of the Sistine Chapel before we proceeded through the museum, with him sporadically explaining some artifacts. I say sporadically because there are just SO.MANY. artifacts it’s like they just chuck ’em all over the place! We finally made it to the Sistine Chapel, which was completely mind blowing to think that it’s how many hundred years old and still looks so vibrant (after the touching up)? Eventually we made our way to St Peter’s Basilica, where we awed at the La Pieta, and attended mass. You’d think that since 99% of the attendees were tourists they could at least do the mass in English right? But ok, it was a test of how well you know your mass rituals :)

Lovely views everywhere!

Lovely views everywhere!

Even with a driver, there was really a lot of walking to do, and I think only Mittens would have been interested enough and willing to walk to have survived it. I also think a guide would be useful when you have kids around as I’m not terribly knowledgeable in Roman history, and the history is so rich! I doubt I could concentrate on looking after the kids and trying to research historic information on my phone or trying to recall what I’d read and giving them a few hundred “I dunno’s” to all their questions. I would definitely do a guided tour if I had the kids!

On the third day, we took a train to Florence. We’d heard a lot about dodgy activities at the train station and Rome city as well, so we were on high alert most of the time. I do think that because we were in a larger group, and possibly because we were with a guide, we were less easy targets. But for this simple fact, I think it would be quite tiring to have to be constantly guarding your belongings, while watching out for the kids, while trying to enjoy the sights at the same time.

Most amazing coffee ever from a small coffee store at the Florence market. Actually a lot of the coffee was so good!

Most amazing coffee ever from a small coffee store at the Florence market. Actually a lot of the coffee was so good!

In each city we stayed in subsequently it was smaller, and safer, and we felt more at ease too. From Florence to Siena to Monticchiello. At Monticchiello, population 90-100, we arrived around 6 or 7pm, and discovered that there was no one at our B&B, and it hadn’t even been locked. In fact it seemed like not much around was locked!

Our little B&B

Our little B&B in Monticchiello

From Florence we rented a car and drove to Siena, stopping at a vineyard along the way. We had lunch at the Antinori vineyard and I saw a few couples with young children (even a mother breastfeeding). We didn’t prebook the wine tour, so there were no slots available, but I think that kids would be able to easily manage a lunch and a tour here. Thereafter we spent one night in Siena (lovely town, highly recommended!), then briefly visited Montalcino, and moved on to Monticchiello (there isn’t even a wiki page on Monticchiello because it’s so small!). We also did a wine tour at Banfi, and they have nice large areas, pretty suitable for children. We would have loved to have had more time to explore each town, but there is really so much to see! Everywhere! We had to skip Pienza, where the famous pecorino cheese is from.

On our last day (sob!), we drove to Montepulciano to have lunch, parked the car once we reached the town, saw a church and decided to walk in, and discovered a few of Michelangelo’s works at this Chiesa di San Bagio. See what I mean, about them having so many artifacts that they’re just all over the place?

After lunch in Montepulciano, we drove to Assisi, which is one of the most breath-taking towns because you drive towards it on level ground, and get to awe at the beauty of this old medieval town, and visit the tomb of a slightly famous saint, St. Francis of Assisi. After spending a few hours in Assisi, we drove about 2.5 hours directly to the airport where we spent the night at the Hilton Rome Airport hotel and dropped off the car with Avis, across the road from the hotel. A few friends had advised to return to Rome city by train on the night before heading to the airport, which is probably doable too, but I didn’t see the point of hassling with luggages and trains again when you can arrive at your own time own target in a car. And to be honest, after a whole trip of quaint hotels and B&Bs, the Hilton was a welcome change, although the service was far below expectations.

Assisi

Assisi

The next morning we left the hotel at almost 10am for our 1350 flight. It was a short walk to the airport from the hotel, but arriving at Terminal 3, after a lot of walking up and down and getting very little help (and a lot of attitude) from all the staff there, we realized we had to check in at Terminal 1, wait for the check in to be open, queue again for the tax refund (amidst a LOT of confusion and cacophony from the mainland Chinese, also trying to do the same). That took us almost 2 hours. After clearing immigration, we had to take a bus to the G gate area, and then another bus to the plane after that. Ok, sure they’ve had a fire at the airport in the last few months and everything is a little chaotic, but seriously? I have not taken so many buses on ONE trip ever. And if I had to lug three grouchy kids….well thank goodness I didn’t! I would seriously consider flying out from Milan the next time.

We had 6 adults and 9 bags packed into a VW Sharan all the way. And we were comfy enough! Luckily we're good friends and don't mind a little squeeze :)

We had 6 adults and 9 bags packed into a VW Sharan all the way. And we were comfy enough! Luckily we’re good friends and don’t mind a little squeeze :)

Also if you’re planning on buying duty free goods at Rome Fiumicino Leonardo da Vinci airport, and you’re buying liquids like oh, balsamic vinegar? Don’t forget to ask them to seal the bag for you. We totally forgot about this and in transit at the Bangkok baggage check we were asked to throw it away. Yes all 10 bottles we had bought for presents for people. Fortunately the transit desk lady advised us to exit customs and re-check it in, and fortunately also I had a foldable bag with me. So the husband visited Bangkok for all of 30 minutes (or more) and went through customs to re-check-in the bag. Fiumicino now tops my list of most disliked airports, right before Frankfurt (although I have not been to Frankfurt in almost 10 years). Moral of the story, buy your stuff along the way and not at the airport. The cheese at the airport was also almost twice the price, making it almost the same price as what you get here at home.

Sorry for that rant. Here’s a few other things you should be aware of, and things you would love, when bringing kids to Italy:

Watch out:

  • There is a lot of walking in the cities
  • There is a lot of driving to the smaller towns (although it is manageable if you are hopping from one town to the next)
  • The cobble-stone streets are not pram friendly
  • As we’re not familiar with the roads, it could be tricky driving, navigating, and handling kids at the same time. On this trip we would have a driver, a navigator, and an extra navigator with Google maps on hand. And with no kids, it was relatively easy :D
  • The flight connections and airports were not the easiest, let’s not even talk about child-friendly!

What you’ll love:

  • The food is fantastic! My kids enjoy pasta, cheese and beef very much, oh and of course gelato (who doesn’t?), so I’m sure they could be very VERY happy in Italy. In Tuscany we had their bistecca all a fiorentina almost every night, the kids would have loved it! After a week of all Italian food and NO Asian food, I came back and was still raring for more Italian food.
  • The history! It’s really history coming alive – even for us adults it was so hard to fathom how (a few) buildings could be thousands of years old, or how even an ordinary B&B could be a few hundred years old. And to visit (so many) sites of religious significance is another thing altogether.
  • The vast expanse of open space and breath taking views

If you have survived Italy with your children, I would love to hear about it!

Oh, the glorious food of Italy! (And of course, the wines too)

Oh, the glorious food of Italy! (And of course, the wines too)

Already August?!

It’s August! I haven’t been keeping up with the blogging recently, there have been so many things going on, with work, with the kids sleeping late and waking early (I’m getting a raw deal, I’m convinced), photo books to organize and print for our last extended family holiday, a long overdue for a blog makeover (I finally created an interim one), and holidays to organize…

Some friends have half-jokingly said I should turn my blog into a travel blog, which I would certainly not mind doing if I had the time and money to do so! We are planning a trip each month until the end of the year (one without kids, the rest with), so maybe I should change my blog angle to parenting + travel, eh? ;) Planning the trips are also taking up a bulk of my free time, and sometimes there can be so many choices it gets mind-boggling and ey-crossing, but no (first world) complaints from me there :)

And of course, August is quite a favourite month of mine because it is the birthdays of both my country and myself! Not on the same day, and I’m not yet 50, but it’s still nice to have a month of celebrations :p Happy Birthday to us!!

Mummy’s Me time: Travelling without kids

Mummy's 'Me-Time'

When Mummy Danessa first asked if I wanted to join the “Mummy’s Me time” blog train, I was hesitant. I’m not a big advocate of “me time” or even date nights – I prefer to head out for dinner with friends (as a couple), or just chill out at home with the husband when the kids are asleep, especially with some good wine. Or if there is no husband, good wine helps anyway!! Most of my errands are of necessity – hair cuts, massages because of a sprained back, facials so that I can look a little bit decent, etc. I can’t even be bothered with doing my nails because it always takes so long and will be gone soon enough.

Not only that, sometimes arranging the logistics with the babysitters (if necessary) is a whole task on its own! I seldom leave all 3 children with my helper alone, at the most it would be a half hour while they’re in front of the TV and I’m out getting groceries. And since the kids are in school, I feel bad if I have to head somewhere when they’re not in school.  And although we are lucky that both my mother and MIL are usually somewhat free, I try not to bother them too much. Sometimes I also feel that for short errands, it’s like when you take leave at the office –  there could be much preparation, and when I return I have more to do to make up for lost time, because I often find things in chaos! Here’s a wonderful little post I recently read on the misconceptions of “me time”.

But of course everyone needs to have some kind of indulgence, and it might sound contradictory to all I’ve mentioned, to tell you that my ultimate me time is going on holiday without the kids!

We have been extremely lucky that despite having three kids, the husband’s parents have been willing to help us out while we are on holiday. Last month when we went to Malaysia with the boys, we left Scout with them, and I really had peace of mind because she would have the attention from NaiNai and YeYe ALL to herself. My MIL speaks only Chinese and Cantonese, so I always jokingly (but very very thankfully!!) say the kids are at Chinese camp when they stay with their grandparents. And indeed, we all agree that Scout is speaking a LOT more Chinese than either of the boys at her age!

Before we left for Bali in January, I was a little apprehensive about how they were going to manage with school runs and all, but a few days before I left, my MIL called me to say that she would stay over while my FIL would come during the day to help entertain them. My helper would continue doing the laundry, and other household duties etc. Thankfully their schools are all within walking distance, but knowing that she was getting geared up really put my mind at ease. Often my BIL and SIL will also chip in and bring the kids out on the weekends, from Sentosa to ice skating, to McD’s and everything else that kids love to do. We are so grateful for one and all!

Earlier this month, we again went on a couples retreat (with 2 other couples), to Italy, where for over a week we were able to escape the ordinary life, and feasted our eyes with masterpieces and ancient relics, emptied our wallets but filled our bellies, hearts and souls. We learnt so much – from the locals, and from each other, and from the many holy places we visited. We were also blessed to “run” into Pope Francis (and catch Andrea Bocceli and other great artistes singing at the same event!), so I think it’s safe to say that it was time well spent apart from the kids, to catch a breather while exploring new things, and a trip that will be etched in our minds for the rest of our lives. I also noticed how a week away was really much more relaxing for everyone (even though some still had to attend to work matters on and off) than just an evening out, although those are good too!

I’m pretty sure if we didn’t have kids we’d be traveling a lot more, to more exotic places and have done a lot more than we can do now. But I’m grateful we even get the chance to leave the kids behind, I know not all parents get to! Sure, some time is taken away from our young children, but I am with them the whole day so I feel less reluctant to leave them than if I were a full time working mum. Who’s to know what will happen in the future, how long or how we will live? We like taking some time out to travel while we are still (relatively) young, and relatively able bodied. We have already planned our next abandonment, oops!!! ;)

Do any of you abandon (heh) your kids for couple holiday time too?

 

Click here to read more on how other Mummies spend their time recharging!

Mummy's 'Me-Time'

 

 

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IMG_20141211_183234Next up on the blog train is Mummy Lynn! Do hop over to read all about what “me time” means to her. Lynn is a SAHM who loves to spend time in her kitchen cooking and baking. Apart from that, she also devotes her time to planning and creating teaching resources for her daughter, Faith, and to organize playdates for her. She believes that play matters for children and adults alike and tries to spend time in the outdoors as often as she can.

 

Giveaway – Sparkanauts Leyun 乐云 Chinese Programme

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It has been a while since our last classes at Sparkanauts, but we have still been occasionally using their bonding packages and flash cards at home. I love how their material is quite timeless and relevant to all ages! Today, Scout wanted me to sing one of the songs from the class (the “Mystery box” song), and Mittens, who has sat in the room maybe 1-2 times in the last 2 years, said “That’s the Sparkanauts song right?”. I’m simply amazed at how much leverage I’m getting out of the classes!

Sparkanauts recently surprised me by introducing new Chinese classes. Actually I was surprised but at the same time not surprised because they are an innovative lot, and always coming up with new programmes or improving current ones!

The Leyun 乐云 Chinese programme officially launches in August 2015, and Abacus has attended one of their previous Chinese classes, and thoroughly enjoyed it! As always, their classes involve a lot of music and movement, and gross motor play, which is what the kids love. I really think all learning environments should really include lots of physical activity as Sparkanauts do!

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This was the set up of the previous Chinese programme. It looks totally unlike any Chinese class right??

Here is some information on the new LeYun programme.

Curious Class (乐班)
Age Group : 18 months to 30 months old
Parent Accompanied Class: Parents (grandparents/ helpers) assisted class
Duration : 75 Minutes
Frequency : Once a week

Available Classes:
Tuesday: 3pm & 4.30pm
Wednesday : 1.30pm
Thursday : 2.45pm
Friday: 2.30pm 

Program Objective : The child will be exposed to the mandarin language in a natural environment. They will enjoy speaking, singing and reading in mandarin as they are introduced to the language in a fun environment.

Program Synopsis : Children will learn the mandarin language through a holistic approach. Children will be engaged in a good range of physical, intellectual and social activities while being introduced to different mandarin words, songs and music.

What to Expect

  • Thematic learning
  • Mandarin Music and Movement
  • Rhythmic Sing along
  • Gross Motor Play
  • Dramatic Show and Tell
  • Craft
  • Story Time
  • Snack Time

Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 11.17.01 pmWitty Class (飞跃班)
Age Group : 3 years – 5 years
Non Parent Accompanied Class
Duration 
: 60 Mins
Frequency : Once a week

Available Classes:
Wednesday : 5pm
Thursday :4.30pm
Friday : 1pm

Program Objective : This program adopts a story-based learning approach to engage the sense of fun and adventure in your child, helping them to learn more about the world around them. They will be introduced to key words (nouns, verbs, adjectives)  on a weekly basis that will enable them to read the book of the month. Children will be introduced to basic mandarin strokes and successfully write commonly used mandarin words in this program.

What to Expect

  • Book based learning
  • Mandarin Music and Movement
  • Gross Motor Play
  • Introduction to chinese Idioms
  • Writing in mandarin
  • Craft

Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 11.17.14 pmBilingual Class  (双语班)
Age Group : 3 years – 5 years
Non Parent Accompanied Class
Duration 
: 1.5 hours
Frequency : Once a week

Available Classes:
Tuesday: 1pm
Thursday: 1pm

Program Objective : This program adopts a story-based learning approach to engage the sense of fun and adventure in your child, helping them to learn more about the world around them. Children will also be introduced to the story in English and their comprehension skills are further developed during the English segment of the class. They will be introduced to mandarin key words (nouns, verbs, adjectives)  on a weekly basis that will enable them to read the book of the month. Children will be introduced to basic mandarin strokes and successfully write commonly used mandarin words in this program.

What to Expect

  • Book based learning (English and Mandarin)
  • Mandarin Music and Movement
  • Gross Motor Play
  • Introduction to chinese Idioms
  • Writing in mandarin
  • Craft

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Giveaway!

I have 3 trial passes the Sparkanauts Le Yun programme to give away, valued at $48 each. The giveaway will end on Wednesday July 29th! Please click on this link to enter the rafflecopter – all you need to do is to visit the Sparkanauts page; or share the giveaway on Facebook; or do both for more chances to win!

In conjunction with the launch, Sparkanauts are having a promotion, from now till 31 July 2015 all the Chinese trial classes are going at a special price of $10 instead of the usual $48, which is a fantastic deal, if you ask me. There will also be a promotional price for class packages signed up during this period. To register, please email info@sparkanauts.com and attend the trial classes before 31 July 2015 to enjoy the special offer.

 

Sparkanauts

SAFRA Toa Payoh
293 Toa Payoh Lorong 6, #02-01
Singapore 319387
Contact: +65 62590307 / info@sparkanauts.com  

Staycation: Ascott Raffles Place Singapore

My nephew celebrated his birthday earlier this year in a suite at the Ascott Raffles Place. I thought it was a fantastic idea to celebrate the birthday in a service apartment (it was in a Finlayson Suite, 108sqm), because it had a kitchenette and enough space for a family celebration! More space than we usually have in our little pigeonhole homes.

Since we were there for the party, we decided to stay over as well. We booked a 1 bedroom room and stayed in the Collyer Suite, which is 52sqm, a lovely size for a family. In case you think we were trying to be chi-chi, all rooms here are called suites. I love the whole vibe of the building – both the interior as well as the Art Deco heritage of this building (which was the former Asia Insurance Building) amidst all the new modern less soul-full buildings at Raffles Place. You can read about its history here. It also still contains the world’s first high rise mail chute from the 1880s, and a “crown” installed at the top of the building to mark the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II! Read more about the restoration of the building here on the architect’s website.

 

It is a small property, with only around 7 units on each floor, so it feels very cosy. They have an interesting swimming pool which we didn’t swim in because it was far too windy and chilly for my liking for the kids – I’m always worried they might catch a chill from swimming! We also liked the live band playing in the evenings. We didn’t get to try The Royal Mail restaurant, but I have heard good things about it.

Here are a few more photos of the room, taken by Abacus:

The kids hardly have a chance to hang out at Raffles Place, so one evening we scooted around the Marina Bay area, and the next day we had breakfast at Lau Pa Sat. It was nice to be able to walk around the area on the weekend when it was much more deserted than weekdays. Imagine trying to use a skate scooter around the CBD on a weekday?

Ocean building raffles place

Overall it was a lovely stay that is quite boutique, very unique, and throws in a little bit of history.

Appreciating Your Child seminar at Rise and Shine Carnival (with discount code)!

I have previously written (and also here) about a very moving book entitled Appreciating Your Child. I am definitely no super mum, and some days I feel very overwhelmed. Often I will recall Professor Zhou Hong’s philosophies to help me see the big picture, the end goal, and to keep me on the path of parenting that I want to be on instead of getting pulled under by the small stuff. His principles are very practical, and I strongly recommend the book to everyone. It is readily available in our local libraries. There is also an interesting article based on the philosophy, entitled 4 Ways To Love Your Child Better.

Professor Zhou Hong has a daughter who is deaf, but focussing on the child’s strengths and positive traits to inculcate a healthy self-esteem in the child, she was able to excel far beyond her “normal” peers. It is a very inspiring story.

This year the Rise and Shine carnival is back, and they will be conducting an Appreciating Your Child seminar that I am VERY VERY excited about! There have been many workshops based on the Appreciating Your Child approach, and I have always wanted to attend the workshops, but alas they are always in Chinese, and Chinese not being my strongest subject, Let’s just say, I’ve been struggling with kindergarten Chinese, so of course I didn’t attend them.

So this year’s Rise and Shine Appreciating Your Child seminar, will be held partially in Chinese, which I think potatoes and bananas like myself should be able to handle. Or maybe I can rope in a few friends more fluent in Chinese to help be my translators :D

Some highlights of the seminar are:

  • How you can build good relationship with your child as a first step towards nurturing better behaviour.
  • How you can focus on a child’s strengths to build healthy self-esteem and thereby encourage better behaviour?
  • How to communicate with your child so that they will listen?
  • How to look for the underlying source of the bad behaviour and address the root of the misbehaviour

Find out more information on the Rise and Shine website here.

DATE: Saturday, 29 August 2015
TIME: 11:00am – 2:00pm
VENUE: Suntec Convention Room 303 – 304

For my readers who are interested in signing up for the seminar, there is a 30% discount using the code MUMMYED. The code expires on 9 July 2015, so please do hurry!

Ris and shine carnival

Apart from the Appreciate Your Child seminar, there will also be:

  • The largest parenting symposium
  • Famous speakers addressing a wide ranging issues on raising kids from 1 – 12 years old.
  • Huge expo featuring the best enrichment and preschool programmes at exclusive discounts!
  • Over 100 FREE Activities to entertain and excite your little kids
  • Over 50 Trial Classes for kids to explore and identify their interest and potential
  • The largest toy and book fair with products up to 80% OFF!

The previous years that we have visited the Rise and Shine Carnival, it has always been super crowded. So do book your workshops early, and try to go as early as possible.

What: Rise and Shine Carnival
When: 28-30 August 2015
Where: Suntec Convention Centre
More info here.

 

 

Why we are co-sleeping advocates!

Last week I wrote about sleep training. Today, here are some of my thoughts on co-sleeping, after starting the kids on their own.

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Aww aren't they angels when they're sleeping?

Aww aren’t they angels when they’re sleeping?

A while ago, the boys’ aircon stopped working. It had been threatening to do so for a while now, so on occasion, the whole gang would be camping out in my room. Scout in her cot, Mittens on a mattress on the floor, and Abacus on our bed (because there’s no more space for any more mattresses!). It’s a bit of a squash and a squeeze, but I have to admit I enjoy having them all together!

An article on the benefits of co sleeping has been doing its rounds on Facebook, and recently I’ve also been reading How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm by Mei-Ling Hopgood, which talks about how some cultures prefer their children to be more independent from birth (including sleeping by themselves), whereas some cultures keep their children as close to them until they’re much older. Here also is a lovely article on Milla Jovovich, who apparently loves co-sleeping with her 2 kids. Do a quick google and you will find many millions of other articles advocating co-sleeping.

 

With both boys we started them off in their own cots in their own rooms. It wasn’t difficult going over to feed them (or maybe I was younger then), and it was nice having our bed all to ourselves. At the moment they share a room, but the boys still like to have someone in the room when they’re falling asleep. And they still like sleeping with us. On occasion they’ll both huddle onto one bed to fall asleep together (but one might wake up crying if the other has kicked him while sleeping…). Often, the husband will camp out with them in their room. Sometimes it’s because I make him, so that I get some peace from the snoring :)

Scout has slept in our room since birth, not really by choice and more by necessity due to lack of space. We have her cot right next to our bed but when she was a baby more often she slept with us on our bed (using The First Years Close and Secure sleeper). She doesn’t move a lot during the night, as compared to the boys, which means she is at a much lower risk of falling off the bed, and I have not been head or face butted or kicked during the night, otherwise I’d definitely have had her in her cot. Once while sleeping Mittens slammed into my nose so hard I was in pain for a few days and could even feel it while I was eating. These days, she chooses to sleep in her own cot, even though it’s still next to our bed. Btw, our bed is flanked by the window on one side and her cot on the other, so there is much less risk of falling.

So having been on both sides now, my opinion is that there is nothing wrong with co-sleeping. Sure it might be a squeeze, but there is nothing more precious than waking up in the morning to those little faces. Unless you get kicked in the face often, then you probably need a Plan B.

The article above mentions that co-sleeping gives children the sense of security, and security is very important in meeting the emotional needs of a growing child, as well as an important component in growing their intelligence. Also, as I mentioned in my previous post, I know from experience that even though they might start out as babies in their own rooms, they will always want to have mummy or daddy around until they’re much older. Who wouldn’t? Even I would rather have someone else in the room with me rather than sleep alone!

In our family, often the hubby ends up sleeping with the boys while us girls are together. With 3 young kids it’s a feat if we get through the night without a single child waking us up! It’s also common for parents of 2 or more kids to split up and sleep with a child each, and also for families to all sleep together in the same room. I know a few families of 5 who do this, mostly all on mattresses on the floor to avoid falls. My husband often jokes that we could live in a 3-room flat since we only really need one bedroom!

Some people say good habits are inculcated from young, but if you ask me, bad habits are things like smoking, littering, gambling, being rude, spending too much time on your mobile device (oops) etc. Isn’t it natural for children to want to be within the security of their parents, even when they are sleeping? Of course, if your child doesn’t mind sleeping alone, then congratulations! You “strike Toto”! But if he doesn’t, well, the days are long, but the years are short.

Pick an arrangement, or come to it by trial and error, that suits your family’s needs, and enjoy their childhood while it lasts. Eventually the kids will be willing to sleep in their own beds, and sometimes they might surprise you. Don’t read too much into what the “experts” say, be it friends, kaypoh aunties, or famous authors, because it’s your family and you, you’re the real expert.

What are the sleeping arrangements like in your family?