Monday, October 31, 2011

Hong Kong Trip - The Hotels (Part 1)

Recently, we spent a memorable family holiday in Hong Kong. While it was supposedly a five-day trip, effectively we stayed only four days, given that we had arrived in the evening and took an afternoon flight home.

But guess what? In that short span of time, we had stayed in three different hotels! And it was all part of the plan! Before you start thinking it must have been tiring, since we had a toddler in tow, I must say that it's was in fact the opposite, we (including the little one) actually enjoyed the hotel-hopping! We had moved from a mid-range hotel near the shopping and commercial district in Causeway Bay to a luxury hotel that offers panoramic harbour views to one that makes every child's (and even adult's) fantasy come true.

The First Stop

Map - Hotel is circled in pink on the right (copyright Metropark Hotel)

The first hotel we stayed in was the Metropark Hotel Causeway Bay Hong Kong (what a mouthful). We found this hotel through a Chan Brothers promotion. There were various hotels available and after doing some research, my hubby decided to book this one, as it is "conveniently located in Hong Kong's leading commercial, shopping and entertainment district - Causeway Bay".

Getting there

We took the Airport Express to Hong Kong Station with the plan of taking a cab from there to the hotel.

However, we were greeted by a long queue for cabs. One MTR staff explained that there were few cabs coming due to a bad traffic jam. After finding out where we were heading, he directed us to take the free Airport Express Shuttle-Bus (service no. H2), that would bring us right to the doorstep of Metropark. The bus was a small one, and there was only one other passenger on board. I didn't time to see how long the journey took but the ride felt like between 20 - 30 minutes.

After our trip, I revisited the hotel's website and realised we could have also arranged for pick-up at the airport (approach the hotel's airport service counter B17 at Arrival Hall B).

The Hotel

The entrance to the hotel is at the ground floor; the front desk is located one floor up, which can be accessed via the lift or escalator.

The hotel decor is modern and sleek, with staff all speaking pretty good English and were polite and helpful.

Harbour View Room (Copyright Metropark Hotel Causeway Bay Hong Kong)

We booked a Harbour View room (sorry but we totally forgot to take pictures!) but were a little disappointed that it wasn't exactly a spectacular view. The room was relatively small, and bathroom only has shower facility and no bathtub. We also requested for a baby cot, which they sent to the room only after we went out. There was also a plate of cookies in the room, complements of the hotel. I thought that welcome gesture was a nice one. But there was no complementary water given.

Why We Like This Hotel

We loved this hotel for one obvious reason - great location. The nearest MTR Station Tin Hau was just less than five minutes walk away. Along the way, there were shops like Watson's, Welcome Supermarket and 7-11, where we bought our daily supply of bottled water. We also discovered a restaurant that serves some pretty good dim sum just next to the Tin Hau MTR.

Besides that, places like Times Square and Sogo Department are just about bus-ride 10 minutes away, with free hotel shuttle service available (though we never used the service).

But here's more reasons why we think this is such a good hotel - food!

We discovered that just further down from the hotel were many little eateries and restaurants. From Japanese, Vietnamese to Western cuisine and a dozen of dessert shops, you will be spoilt for choice!

Local Chinese fare...

Japanese cuisine....

Western food....

Cafes and bakeries...

Dessert shops!

Not forgetting a quaint little shop selling home decor stuff

These are just some of the eateries that I managed to take photos of. There were a lot more than this. Apparently some of these opened till late, since we were strolling around the vicinity at 10-ish and they were still operating. We checked out the place again the next morning but many of these were not opened yet. 

Here's pictures of how the place looked like in the day:

The second tall building from right is the Metropark Hotel 

We think this hotel is a gem find and is possibly one of our favourites (for that price range) in Hong Kong. 

How about you? Which are some hotels you like in Hong Kong?

Thursday, October 27, 2011 Giveaway - Have You Joined Yet?

Tolalu is an online shop selling personalised gifts for children. The site currently offers 350 products in 13 categories such as story books, calendars, activity books (under ‘Fun and Learning'), growth charts and many more. You can refer to my previous post about Tolalu here

Here are some samples of items from each category:

Clockwise from top left: stickers, jigsaw puzzle, wall stickers, growth chart

Clockwise from top left: story book, activity book (under 'Fun & Learning'), notebook, calendar

Like what you see? Here's the good news:

You can win a $30 Tolalu voucher for your child! 

To participate,  all you need to do is leave a comment here, sharing with us who you would like to get gifts for and what items you are interested in e.g. stickers, notebooks etc. This contest is open to readers residing in Singapore. Do note that $7 will be for delivery charges

There will be TWO winners for this giveaway! 

The giveaway will end on Sunday, 30 October, at 11.59pm Tuesday, 1 November at 11.59pmSo help spread the word and join the giveaway now! 

NOTE: If you have already participated in the previous post, you don't have to re-enter the contest. 

30 Oct '11:  A reader just informed me about having problems entering the contest as she couldn't find the comment box. If you would like to join the giveaway and encountered the same problem, you may participate by emailing me your information. My email is:
Because of the feedback, I've also decided to extend the giveaway till Tuesday, 1 Nov, 11.59pm. 

Organising the Medicine Cabinet

I've slowed down considerably with my decluttering and home organising project. Getting the momentum up is a little challenging after the family holiday and catching up with work post-holiday. So I decided to start with something small - the medicine cabinet.

Before: It's untidy and things were not easily accessible.

The tools: A rack from Daiso adds an extra shelf and makes packing neater. 
I also bought two white plastic containers, which were also from Daiso (see pic below).

After: Things are neater now and more easily accessible. One of the white containers hold the vitamins the family takes in the morning; all I have to do is to take it out before breakfast and put it back after use.

It's a small start and I'm happy to get things going again! I hope to get the project done before Christmas and look forward to starting a new year with a really neat and clutter-free home. How about you? Have you been doing some decluttering as well? Any great tips or tools to share?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pantry at the Stables

I’ve fallen in love with the Riders Café after my first visit there a few months ago.  I have to say I’m drawn not so much by the food as by its quaint location and lush green surroundings, which makes for a great getaway from the city.

So when I read that Marmalade Pantry has opened up a new outlet there, it gives a great reason to visit the place again.

On a slope just a little further from Riders Café is Pantry at the Stables. It's housed in the same building that was previously Mimolette. The good thing is Marmalade offers a different vibe from its neighbour, so you can choose from either of the restaurants, depending on your mood. 

The white walls and chairs accompanied by ceiling fans lend a Mediterranean feel to the al fresco area. Take a closer look and you'll also see a row of wooden beach chairs on the far right.

The indoor area (air-conditioned) exudes an urban chic ambience with warm, cozy lightings and wooden furniture in natural colours.

Our table by the window; I love the cheery yellow flower.

We were there on a Sunday morning for brunch. Given the popularity of Riders Café, I decided to make a reservation the day before, just in case the place is equally crowded and I don't like to wait.

When we got there, the restaurant was relatively quiet. But by the time we left, it was about 80% occupied, with most of them taking up the outdoor seats. Many of the guests were expats, perhaps they had popped by after an event at the Saddle Club (parking was really bad that day as cars clogged up the whole place).

Top: tomato soup with cheese toasties (from children's menu). Bottom: Eggs of Any Style (I opted for scrambled egg) - comes with sausages, baked beans, baked tomato, sauteed mushroom and bread.

Desserts is a must at Marmalade; I like their red velvet cupcake.

Overall, we found the food quite tasty, but not something to rave about. Service wise, we were a little disappointed. It took three tries (with three different wait staff) before they finally understood that we just wanted tap ice water. I choose not to think that it was because we didn't order sparkling or still water that they pretended not to understand our request (I'm not a water sommelier and don't see the point of paying so much for water - I'd rather spend it on coffee or some other drinks).

We might come back another day, perhaps during the evening, as I'm really curious how the whole place will be like when the sun sets and darkness descends. I also read that Marmalade is planning to set up a children's play area, so that's another reason to be back.

Pantry at the Stables
55 Fairways Drive
Tel: 6467 9328

Opening Hours:
Tues to Fri: 3pm to 11pm 
Sat & Sun: 10am to 11pm 
Closed on Mondays

Monday, October 24, 2011

We Got Our Tolalu Products... Here's Your Chance to Get Some Too!

After about a week's wait, the Tolalu products I ordered have finally arrived!

In my previous post, I mentioned that the invoice stated a five-day delivery period. I was getting anxious when five days gone passed. Then I received a call from the company on Saturday morning and the staff asked if we would be at home and said they would send the items by noon.

After the call ended, I looked at the phone number and vaguely remembered there were two missed calls while I was away on holiday. I checked my mobile and one of the numbers was indeed the same as the one I just received. I had rang the other number when I was overseas and was told it was a printing company. But it was late when I returned call so most of the staff had knocked off and she couldn't find out who rang me. So they had been prompt, just that we had missed each other.

Anyway, this is what I ordered:

The package when I received it

Notebooks for my little boy!

Honestly, it was quite a tough decision as there were so many cute stuff. I settled for the notebooks because the rest are either not suited to his age e.g. puzzles, or he will most likely end up tearing them apart, such as the activity books.

Kenan enjoys drawing (ok, let me correct that - most of the time he asks me to draw for him), so the notebooks, which come with blank pages, is a good choice.

These are the two notebooks I got for my boy

The little boy examining his gift with great interest

Like what you see? Here's the good news:

You can win a $30 Tolalu voucher in 
a giveaway on this blog! 

To participate,  all you need to do is leave a comment here, sharing with us who you would like to get gifts for and what items you are interested in e.g. stickers, notebooks etc. This contest is open to readers residing in Singapore. Do note that $7 will be for delivery charges

Here's another piece of good news: 

There will be not just one but TWO WINNERS

The giveaway will end on Sunday, 30 October, at 11.59pmSo help spread the word and join the giveaway now! 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Enjoy Your Child

We've just returned from a family holiday and though it's just a short trip (4 days to be exact), I can't believe it can be THIS TIRING. It must be a sign of ageing.

Throughout the trip (which I'll share more after sorting through the tonnes of photos), I didn't have access to the internet and like coffee drinker not getting her daily caffeine fix, I felt like I was experiencing the withdrawal.

But God knows I needed that, to just be with my family and not think about anything else. With the entrapment of modern technology, don't we sometimes end up being physically there but not fully present, as our attention get diverted to our iPhones, iPads and other gadgets? I'm guilty of that ever so often and this trip was a good reminder to be more present with those I love and to spend time on what truly matters in life.

And some thing else touched my heart.

On the flight to our destination, the lady beside me initiated a chat. She talked about her business and her children, and then to my surprise, praised Kenan for being very well-behaved.

Well behaved? I almost started telling tales of his mischief and tantrums, but decided not to bore her with the details. Later, she enthusiastically showed Kenan photos of her cat and dog, to which he showed no sign of interest. I felt bad about it, because she obviously adores her pets. Our conversation came to a halt when meals were served and I got busy feeding Kenan.

About half an hour later before she closed her eyes to sleep, she turned towards me and said, "Enjoy your son".

Enjoy my son? I'm not quite sure if I ever used the word 'enjoy' to describe parenting Kenan, especially not when I've been feeling frustrated lately dealing with his increasing tantrums. While he has brought me lots of joy, I never quite thought of being a mom as an enjoyment.

For the rest of holiday, the words of my fellow passenger echoed in my mind. Slowly, I saw the wisdom of her words. It felt like a message God wants me to hear, and this is what I learnt.

That as a parent, I should learn to be more relaxed and accepting - be it towards his playfulness, his messing up the house, or his so-called 'difficult' behaviours. After all, he's just doing what ever little child his age would do.

And very soon, he will be all grown up and I'll miss these precious moments when he's just a sweet and sometimes playful little boy. When I look back at these times, I believe I will forget all about the mischief and tantrums and only remember with fondness his cute and endearing ways. Like how he now thank us (using baby signs) when we buy things for him, how he rains kisses on me when he knows I'm angry with him or how he simply loves to stick to me and thinks the world of me.

Thank you, fellow passenger and mommy, for those wise words! Yes, I'll learn to enjoy my son, have more fun with him and enjoy the parenting journey.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Work & Entrepreneurship Series: A Leap of Faith

The following article was first written for and published on the website Mums @ Work. It's reprinted here with permission.

A Leap of Faith

She had wanted to start a business after her first child was born, but various concerns deterred her from pursuing that idea. But two years later, after the arrival of her second child, Jennifer took the plunge and set up her online shop

“After I had my second child, my desire to venture out on my own grew stronger. I felt it was the deciding moment for me – it’s now or never,” shares Jennifer Teoh, 30, a mother of two girls ages 2 and 4. “I just realised that I got to start somewhere and sacrifices are inevitable,” remarks the first-time entrepreneur. This realisation helped her overcame her concerns, and a sister who runs a successful image consultancy firm gave her the inspiration she needed. 

Taking the leap, she resigned from a well-paying job as a senior tax accountant and stepped into unfamiliar territories in pursuit of her entrepreneurial dream. In January this year, Jennifer launched Shopping Paradise, an online shop that sells mainly kids’ products ranging from skincare to apparel.

Overcoming challenges
As a one-man operation, Jennifer spends about six to eight hours a day on her business.

“I work during the few hours in the morning when my elder girl is away at school, when the girls are having their naps and at night after they have gone to bed,” she says.

Having a supportive mother helps too. “I could safely leave the girls in the hands of my mother when I need to work,” she adds.  The weekends are usually reserved for the family.

Half a year into the business, she notes that running the online boutique is a totally different experience from her previous role as an accountant.

Besides the initial challenges of finding reliable suppliers and getting herself familiar with the importing procedures, she also has to handle the customers, which every business owner knows is no easy task.

Once, a supplier forgot to ship out her orders but she had told her customers that the products would arrive in three weeks’ time. “I had to inform all my customers on the delay and seek their understanding with the matter. However, when I eventually received the shipment, I realised that the supplier did not send me the complete order,” she recalls.

In the end, she purchased the same items from alternative sources at higher cost and delivered to the customers who had already paid her for the products. Reflecting on the incident, Jennifer says it had taught her how to deal with unexpected situations, as well as managing customers’ expectations and in not over-promising the customers.

Service matters
Being in the retail industry, Jennifer feels strongly about providing good service, such as being quick to respond to her customers’ needs and giving them a good shopping experience. She reckons that excellent service is one good way to set herself apart from the competitors.

Hence when asked what has been the greatest satisfaction she derives from her business, it’s unsurprising that she says, “My greatest satisfaction is when the customers are very happy with my service and I know that I’ve met their expectations!”

To market her business, she uses various means like creating a Facebook page for her e-shop and participating in forums but the most successful marketing technique she opines, is through personal recommendation, or word of mouth.

“People tend to be more sceptical towards online shopping as they do not know the seller personally. However, if they knew Shopping Paradise through word of mouth, I feel that they tend to trust me more readily when dealing with me,” she points out.

As a start up, one of Jennifer’s current business goals is to create more awareness for Shopping Paradise. She also hopes to do so through working with other businesses or participating in parenting or baby events
Looking back on her own journey, she feels that all has been worth it. “I sacrificed a well-paying job to be a mumpreneur. But the satisfaction of building a business, having more control of my time and being to spend quality time with my children is much more important than the well-paying job.”

Advice for Aspiring Mumpreneurs:
  1. Having family support is very important. Discuss the decision with your spouse (and your parents, especially if you need their help with looking after the kids) before making the decision.
  2. Having an open mindset is important when you start your business because it will be easier for you to adapt to changes.
  3. Do proper research on your business, such as which direction you intend to go, how you intend to conduct your business etc. Although there will always been some uncertainties, at least you are minimising them.

I hope you have enjoyed this story. 
If you (or someone you know) have taken a leap of faith to pursue your passion and are now doing something you love, I would very much like to hear your story. Please email me at and share with me your experience!

Stay tuned for more inspiring stories and articles on work and entrepreneurship.

Saturday, October 15, 2011 - Personalised Gifts for Children! (a sponsored post)

I always remember the first time I received a personalised gift. It was a pen with my name engraved on it and I thought how very special it was.

So when I was introduced to, an online shop with personalised gifts for children, I got really excited.

Introducing the website

Once you enter the site, you will be prompted to enter your child’s name.

As soon as you type in the name, you will be directed to the products page, where your child’s name will appear on all the items. This will help you visualise how the final product will look like.

The site currently offers 350 products in 13 categories such as story books, calendars, activity books (under ‘Fun and Learning), growth charts and many more. 

I found the prices reasonable – it ranges from S$8 for bookmarks to S$40 for story books. There’s even a ‘Free Products’ category where you can print out sheets of pictures for colouring or simple games like a maze or joining the dots.

I also like the Chore Chart, which I think is one cool way to motivate a child to help out with the house chores. The product description states that the chart can be cleaned and rewritten. By the way, the Chore Chart is one of the products that allow you further customisation by inserting your own photo:

The other products which have this feature are the puzzles, notebooks and place mats.
Anyway, the products are so cute that it took me a long time to decide what to get.



Activity books under 'Fun and Learning'


After placing the order, I received a confirmation email. According to the invoice, the delivery will take 5 days. Delivery is free for orders of over S$60 and it takes an average of 3 to 5 days to deliver.

By the way, Christmas is just round the corner. If you are wondering what to buy for the little ones, personalised gifts will certainly be a good idea. And if you can't decide what products to choose, you can always get a Gift Card and let the one you are giving it to pick what they like. The gift cards, which will be sent via email, range from S$25 to S$200.

Well, I’m really excited to see how the actual products look like. Are you curious what I bought? I'll post the picture once I get the items, so stay tuned!

Monday, October 10, 2011

What You Should Know about Fluoride and Caring for Your Child’s Teeth

As a mom, I confess that I am less concerned with my son’s dental health as compared to other areas of his development such as physical and intellectual development.

But some things I learnt from hearing an interview with Dr Rashid Tahir, paediatric dentist from The Kids Dentist on radio Live938, made me realised that I need to start paying more attention to my son’s dental needs. I was especially intrigued by what he said about the use of fluoride toothpaste (my son is now using a non-fluoride one). So I invited Dr Rashid to share more about the use of fluoride and children’s dental health.

Copyrighted © The Kids Dentist

1. Share with us about the use of fluoride in dental health.
Many studies have shown the effectiveness of the use of fluoride in toothpastes in reducing dental caries i.e tooth decay. Toothpastes are recommended by dentist because it is an ideal vehicle for fluoride delivery to individuals every day. Therefore toothpaste is not meant just to give a nice flavour when brushing teeth.

Fluoride has also been shown in recent years to be most effective when applied topically to erupted teeth hence the effectiveness of toothpastes (it used to be thought that fluoride should be ingested to be incorporated into unerupted teeth). Now recent evidence support the minimum concentration of 1000ppm f ion in toothpastes, applied topically to be effective. The point to note about the effectiveness of fluoride in preventing tooth decay is that it is concentration dependent rather than dose (in terms of milligrams) dependent. I think this makes sense because of the topical effects of fluoride - we need a certain concentration of the ion around a tooth to promote remineralization of enamel, hence resisting dental caries.
2. At what age can children start using fluoride toothpaste?
When teeth first erupt, they have immature enamel which makes them prone to dissolution from acids caused by plaque bacteria leading to dental caries. That's the best time to have fluoride around the teeth as soon as the tooth erupts. If you ask fluoride experts, they will say use fluoride right from the start when the teeth erupt. If you look at fluoride guideline in UK and US, they will say that too.

I normally say that parents should clean the gum pads of babies without teeth with a towel and when the first teeth erupt, they can use the towel or finger brush. At this stage, I don't always insist on toothpaste. I ask parents to use a toothbrush from about one year old. That's when I recommend using fluoride toothpaste.

3. What should parents know about using fluoride toothpaste?
When your child starts brushing with bristle toothbrush, usually from one year old, my recommendation is to use a 1000ppm f ion toothpaste and just use only a smear so it minimizes undesirable effects of using fluoride.

However, it is now very difficult to get 1000ppm f ion toothpaste in Singapore. Children's fluoride toothpaste in Singapore has a concentration of 500 ppm f ion (almost all adult toothpastes are 1450 or 1500 ppm f ion) - which recent evidence has shown to be ineffective. If you pick up children's fluoride toothpaste in the UK, US and Australia, most now have minimum concentration of 1000ppm f ion. In my practice I have stopped asking the use of these low-fluoride toothpastes because firstly, evidence says they are not effective (in preventing caries). Secondly, the kids will swallow them and the fluoride swallowed is cumulative and can have undesirable effect.

4. What undesirable effect is there with the excessive use of fluoride in young children?
Fluorosis, which are white opaque spots on teeth. Some parents are not even aware of these opaque fluorosis spots if not highlighted by the dentist.

However, we should note that excessive consumption of fluoride is dose dependent i.e. amount milligrams of fluoride swallowed on daily basis, and this can be easily controlled in young children by using only a smear. Also, after 30 months old, the risk of a child having fluorosis is minimal as all the front incisors are fully developed (exposure to excessive fluoride while the teeth are forming under the gums can cause fluorosis, which usually appears on front incisors rather than molars).

Dental caries in permanent teeth for children at 12 years old in Singapore is one of the lowest in the world. In contrast, we have high decay rate for primary teeth - 26% in children ages three to four. Why is this so? The avoidance and use of low fluoride toothpaste - which has been prevalent for the last 15 to 20 years.

So we need to compare the risk of having dental caries in very young children and the risk of fluorosis. The problem of having young children with diseased teeth who need dental treatment is that they cannot cooperate and will most likely need to be managed in the operating room under general anaesthesia.

5. What do you think of the use of non-fluoride, nicely flavoured toothpaste?
I don’t support the use of nicely flavoured, non-fluoride toothpaste in children. First, it defeats the purpose of using toothpaste i.e. to protect teeth. Second, you are teaching your child to swallow toothpaste because of the nice flavour. Third, they cost a lot and do nothing for your kid’s teeth.
6. Is there a toothpaste you know that has concentration of 1000ppm f ion?The Elgydium Junior toothpaste for ages 7-12 years. It is available in some pharmacies in Singapore. Parents will also be able to get other 1000 ppm F ion toothpaste locally but they will need to look for them. Remember to just use smear for very young children and never buy toothpaste when the fluoride concentration is not clearly stated on the packaging.
7. What can parents do to protect their children's teeth against tooth decay?
Prevention of tooth decay basically involves three areas. First, reduce the plaque bacteria around teeth e.g. through brushing and flossing (but this is often challenging for parents of young children ages 1.5 to 3 years old). Second, reduce sugar frequency. Think of how often a child gets sugar a day - morning breakfast of cereal or bread with jam, and Milo or formula milk; mid-morning snack of cookies; after school candies; afternoon tea of cakes or biscuits with drinks like soya bean or vitagen; bedtime drink of Milo or formula milk. See how many times a child gets sugar a day! Third, increase the resistance of teeth to decay by using fluoride.

Thank you, Dr Rashid!

About Dr Rashid Tahir
Dr Rashid Tahir is a trained paediatric dentist and has been providing oral health care solely for children since 1997.

Dr Rashid completed his graduate training at the University of London in 1998 when he was conferred a Master of Science with Distinction in Children’s Dentistry (Pedodontics). He also won the 3M Dental Postgraduate Prize for being the best student in his cohort.

He was an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Dentistry, National University of Singapore (NUS) and consultant at the National University Hospital Dental Centre from 2002 to 2006, before setting up The Kids Dentist at Camden Medical Centre. He still enjoys teaching paediatric dentistry to dental undergraduates and goes back to NUS as an Adjunct Senior Lecturer.

He is the founding and current President of the Society for Paediatric Dentistry (Singapore) and continues to be dedicated to the advancement in the field of paediatric dentistry.

He is the proud father of 2 beautiful young daughters and aims at making dentistry fun for kids!

Other relevant articles:

Friday, October 7, 2011

'Art of War' - Mommy's Strategies in Dealing with Toddler Tantrums

Being a WAHM means I’m with my boy almost all the time. But at this stage where he’s beginning to exert his independence and the fact that he’s reaching the so-call terrible twos, you can imagine the daily battles I have to face. Sometimes, I think he must have taken a few courses in ‘How to Say No’ and ‘How to Be Assertive’ while in the womb (or else, it can get kind of boring in there, doesn’t it?).
If you can’t think of what that entails, here’s a list (the compressed version) of our everyday battles: 
  • Refusing to brush his teeth
  • Refusing to nap when he’s obviously tired and cranky
  • Refusing to change diaper, especially when he has pooped – sometimes midway through the changing, he would kick his legs furiously and a few occasions, his feet landed on the poop.  So these days, it’s a team job – the helper will try to distract him (or to hold him down when required) while I change his nappy.
  • Refusing to bath or insisting on bathing in a bathtub when all I intended was a quick shower
  • Refusing to get dressed after his bath – he prefers running around naked; a few times, he even ran to a corner and pee!
  • Playing with things I told him not to (like with the bathtub in picture above)

The list goes on and on, and getting him to accomplish some of these tasks has become an exercise in patience and creativity.

But motherhood is all about on-the-job-learning. So in this new chapter on toddler tantrums, I’m happy to have discovered some useful strategies, and I'm hoping to get more creative as we move along.

Tactics and strategies I've used:
  1.  Distraction, distraction, distraction. When he starts a tantrum, such as insisting on having something which I’ve told him a firm ‘no’, I will distract him with something else quickly. It’s works almost all the time.
  2. Offer options/ alternatives. When he started going into the kitchen daily to take a small metal pot to play, I began looking for an alternative. I found an old rice cooker inner pot (my helper scratched it so badly I feel it’s not safe for use) and asked him if he would like to play with that. He happily took it and no longer goes to the kitchen to find the small pot.

    For this tactic, I usually give minimal options – mostly up to three choices - so it doesn’t turn into another battle.
  3. Make it fun. Kids love having fun right? So if he refuses to do something, I’ll see if I can turn it into a game e.g. he refuses to put on his clothes, so I say mommy can’t decide what he should wear and asks him to help. I’ll then bring out two, three pieces for him to choose and while he’s at that, I’ll point out the colours or pictures on the clothes and talk about them to distract him further.
  4. Use reward/bribe (I do it sparingly). Give him a reward when he complies with something but I try not to do this too often so he doesn’t get the idea that he can bargain with me. I do this with the major battles e.g. when he refused to sit in the car seat (for safety reasons, I insist on this) or to take medication, I’ll use his favourite food/fruit as a reward (I’ve learnt to carry snacks when we go out, more as a form of ‘bribe’ just in case there's a major outburst).
  5. Compromise. Instead of saying ‘no’, sometimes I think a compromise works wonder e.g. it’s his bedtime but he insists on reading. So I tell him we’ll read together a while and then he will go to bed.  So five to10 minutes later, then I’ll tell him time’s up, we’ll read again tomorrow and the lights will be off.

Regardless of the tactics, it’s important to recognise what battles are worth fighting in the first place. Things like safety and health, I won’t compromise. But when he made a mess of the house, I just learn to be more relaxed about it and remind myself he’s just a little boy and he wants to have fun. Before bedtime, I'll get him to help pick up the toys and put them back in place. 

Instead of having two of us upset, it's my goal to deal with the tantrums with as little drama as possible. It's easier said than done, since I'm quite impatient. However, compared to getting my boy to obey everything I expect of him (which is not possible to begin with), it's even more important for me to create a supportive, encouraging, positive and happy environment. 

At the end of the day, I believe one fundamental step to managing the tantrums better is in being able to control my own emotions and knowing how to respond positively in the situation, and I'm working on it.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Work & Enterpreneurship Series: Inspired to Action

Last week, we featured Adora and her children’s craft business. In the article, you would have also read a little about her mom Fiona’s business Blue Moon Valley - an exclusive spa-booking service for registered members. Launched just in April this year, it currently has about 100 members and seven Spa-ticipants.

When I first heard of her venture, I thought how clever her idea was. Then I learnt about the genesis of the business concept and can’t help but feel admiration for her.

Not Willing to be Victimised
Like some spa lovers, Fiona had experienced being pressured into signing up for packages and was a victim of sudden spa closure that caused her to lose money. But instead of moping around, she was motivated to do something to right the situation. That’s when Blue Moon Valley was born.

Today, it’s my great pleasure to share with you an exclusive interview with Fiona, where she talks about her entrepreneurial experience and about Blue Moon Valley.

Interview with Fiona

1. What main challenges did you face when starting your business and how did you overcome them?

It was a challenge putting various disparate parts of the business into an organized whole, particularly on a shoestring budget and dependent on friends and family’s voluntary contributions of time and effort.

One main principle I have is to conduct my business with a conscience and integrity. People first, money later. But it's a struggle because pride cannot pay the rent, and the bottom-line needs to be watched. The business environment too, is inevitably driven by monetary motivations, so I’m swimming against the current. I keep the rudder in place with Confucius’ “do unto others” dictum and stay true to myself.

2. How do you go about marketing your business? What has been the most successful technique or channel?

By word-of-mouth and friends’ recommendations. Blue Moon Valley is basically conceived out of pain and frustrations suffered by spa-goers, it is FOR spa-victims, BY spa-victims, so I believe that the most successful channel, will be where we reach out to fellow sufferers. They know the pains and exactly how it felt, they will appreciate the remedy that is offered.

3. What have been some satisfying moments in your business?

I’m very happy whenever a new Spa-ticipant signs on because it means members have more choices, and also, when members or people I speak to praise our programme. It’s very heart warming because it means both spas and members validate Blue Moon Valley’s objectives.  

During discussions with the spas, I learnt about the difficulties they faced and realized that I could add value to both sides. My objectives became more mature: to re-connect and mend the rift between members and spas, and that's when Blue Moon Valley evolved to become the well-rounded, sophisticated programme it is now.

4. What can people expect from joining Blue Moon Valley, what are the benefits?

Blue Moon Valley provides members with flexibility as well as freedom of choice – they have the flexibility of mobility among Spa-ticipants and have a repertoire of treatments to choose from. At the same time, we protect members from undesirable practices and tactics, such as hard-sell, senseless pre-payments, forced commitments and money lost due to spa closures.

My vision is to build Blue Moon Valley as the better way to spa – safer, smarter, savvier.

5. How does the programme work?

Members can enjoy their treatments in four easy steps:
Step 1: Join Blue Moon Valley as a Member (membership is renewable yearly)
Step 2: Browse through our treatment menus online
Step 3: Make your booking and payment through us
Step 4: Enjoy your relaxing treatment (facial, massage, manicure, pedicure etc.)! 

6. What insights have you gained in your entrepreneurial journey thus far?

When they say it’s not the destination but the journey, it’s true! Along the way, I got to know so many nice people and make new friends. I discovered a lot more about myself, for example, I’m smarter than I think! I’ve gained more confidence and more courage.

7. What’s your advice for women who aspire to start their own business?

I would encourage them that it's never too late. Believe in what you do. Have that “fire in the belly” kind of burning passion. Turn every “no” into a stepping stone that gets you closer to “yes”.

Listen to those who disagree with you, there may be truths in what they say, perhaps they can see something that you are too engrossed to notice.

However, do not over-romanticise and be carried away by daydreams or wishful thinking. Cold hard facts such as rejection and operational expenditure, are very much a part of reality. I liken the cold realities to taking care of architecture foundation and infrastructure, and pursuing one’s dreams as the interior décor and soft furnishings one can create within.

Lastly, don't lose sight of the people you love and who love you. If you're doing all these for them but in the course of it you neglect them, then you're better off not doing it.

Inspired by Fiona's story and her sharing? Want to find out more about Blue Moon Valley? Check out the following:


Note: If you (or someone you know) have taken a leap of faith to pursue your passion and are now doing something you love, I would very much like to hear your story. Please email me at and share with me your experience!


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