Letting our children author their lives

Sophie on Talking Point with presenter Steven Chia and friends talking about sharenting.

Mummy, “You should change your name to Sharon and your surname to Ting. You know why? Then you’ll be Sharon Ting, get it, get it?”

Sophie shot me a smug look and chuckled. She was clearly amused by her witty joke after we finished filming an episode of Talking Point with Steven Chia.

The Talking Point topic? Sharenting.

Are you guilty of oversharing?

Sharenting is a new urban dictionary term coined to describe parents who overshare about their children online. As a parent blogger, I’m definitely guilty of doing that since the day Sophie came into our lives 10 years ago.

We’ve shared photos of Sophie just minutes after she was born.

We’ve posted her first cry, first smile, first step.

Her first Birthday, Christmas, Chinese New Year.

The day she went to the infant care, childcare and then to Primary One.

As I look back at all my social media posts, I’ve lost count on the number of posts about Sophie.

Besides being a proud mum, who thinks the world of my daughter, these posts are a visual reminder to me. The cute, funny, silly, happy, precious moments that Sophie brought to our lives and I want to share them with others as well.

The internet never forgets

When it comes to sharing photos of our children online, there are bound to be different camps on the matter. Some avoid it like plague and wouldn’t even have a social media account let alone post photos of their kids. While others like myself, are more active online and view it as a form of sharing is caring.

Am I not afraid of leaving our digital footprint online?

I’ll like to think that we are no celebrities and I’ve been careful not to reveal too many personal details that will compromise our safety.

The parents listening in on our kids as they were being interviewed.

I was asked on Talking Point if I would remove all posts on Sophie from social media if she asked me to down the road. My short answer was no, because those photos and posts are also a part of our shared memory as a family.

For now, Sophie still enjoys being featured on my social media accounts and we even brainstorm of interesting content together. Of late, we’ve even done videos, thanks to IG stories and IGTV.

However, I know a day will come when Sophie will prohibit me from sharing about her on my social media accounts. The time when she steps into her teenage years and want to reclaim her own voice online.

While I’ve always exercised discretion and avoided posting anything that embarrass her, I realised that we have very different yardsticks. This year, her Mother’s Day card to me is also not on my Instagram as she feels they are too personal to be shared.

In fact, Sophie has told me that I need her permission before I post things about her and that was pickd up in the CNA article too. I think that’s only fair since my daughter is turning 10 year old and starting to value her privacy.

Letting our children author their lives

While only a small segment of our interview made the final cut on the programme, what I hoped other parents get to hear is how we as parents will have to let our kids be the authors of their own lives instead of telling it through our lenses.

 

“We have to let our kid be the authors of their own lives, instead of telling it through our lenses.”

It’s not uncommon to hear how people have a different impression of Sophie from what I shared about her online and in person. I wonder if I’ve misrepresented her or perhaps even curated a persona of her from my point of view. I can see why it’s so important that others don’t prejudge Sophie without even knowing her in person.

All these reflections have made me take a step back to think about why and what I want to share online going forward. Eventually, it’s all about respect, even our kid’s boundaries and space online.

I know I wouldn’t want another narrator while I write the pages of my life. And that’s going to be my guide as I focus lesser on Sophie in my social media and blog posts. Will I still be a parent blogger? I don’t know at this point because I want to balance sharing authentic experiences while respecting Sophie’s wishes.

But one thing’s for sure, I’ll still be taking lots of photos for her, of her and together with her for our memory bank 🙂

PS: If you missed the Talking Point episode on TV, you can catch it on Toggle here and hear what Sophie had to say about her over zealous sharenting mum 🙂

 

 

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Things to do in Johor Bahru for families

It’s no secret that my family makes frequent trips across the Causeway as there are lots of things to do in Johor Bahru for families. After all, with weekend movie tickets at S$3 (RM9) and arcade games at S$0.30 (RM1) per game, what’s there not to love about JB?

If you have not made any travel plans for the school holidays, you can still plan for a staycation in Johor Bahru. Not keen to stay overnight? Then opt for a day trip.

Read on for my top ten list of things to do in Johor Bahru for families.

Things to do in Johor Bahru for Families

1. Catch a movie

We never miss a chance to catch a movie whenever we are in JB. With our strong currency exchange, we paid S$9 (RM30) for three of us on a Saturday, when we would have to fork out S$12.50 – S$13.50 per person in Singapore.

And while you are there, why not try a different movie experience at Beanieplex where you get to sink into a beanbag pod.

Tickets are RM50 per bean bag and Beanieplex is only available in TGV Cinema at Bukit Indah and Tebrau City.

Beanieplex at TGV Cinema. Photo credit to TGV Cinema

You’ll be able to find cinemas in major malls and these are the popular ones are:

  • TGV in Bukit Indah and Tebrau City
  • Golden Screen Cinema in Paradigm Mall
  • Cathy Cineplex in City Square Mall
  • MBO in KSL City

We personally like GSC in Paradigm Mall very much as the cinema is so new (opened in Dec 2017).  Plus, they even have 4DX for a more immersive cinema experience! But I’m not too sure if I want my chair to be rocking throughout the whole movie.

 2. Ice skating

Blue Ice Skating Rink in Paradigm Mall is one of Sophie’s must go in Johor Bahru. The ice here is pretty well maintained and yes, no artificial ice here unlike the one over at Austin Heights Adventure Park.

They resurface the ice every three hours, so it’s best to check the timing before heading in.

And the best part of it all? You get to skate to your heart’s content with UNLIMITED skating time for only RM24 for weekdays and RM28 for weekends.

Do bring your own socks and gloves if you do not wish to pay additional RM5 per item. If your kids have not learnt how to ice skate, you can even sign them up for classes here.

Blue Ice Skating Rink

Address: 3F-30 Paradigm Mall Johor, Jalan Bertingkat Skudai, 81200 Skudai, Johor, Malaysia

Opening Hours: 10am-10pm

3. Rock Climbing

If your kids prefer something more adventurous, they can have a go at rock climbing or wall climbing.

Camp5 Indoor Climbing Paradigm offers a 1 day visit pass at RM36 for adults, RM16 for Youths between 8-12 years and RM25 for Juniors (13-17). Kids under 8 years old are free!

They have changing rooms with toilet and shower facilities. Stow away your belongings easily in lockers that are provided free of charge in the changing rooms, but remember to bring your own locks.

Photo credit to Camp5

Camp5 Indoor Climbing Paradigm

Address: Paradigm Mall, Jalan Skudai, 81200 Johor Bahru

Opening Hours: 10am-10pm

 

Rocky Basecamp in Tebrau City is another great option for the whole family. There are fun climbing walls for kids aged 4 years and up.

Parents who have always harboured secret ambitions of taking part in Ninja Warrior can now challenge themselves at the ninja warrior obstacles. Little toddlers are not forgotten here and they can run free be at the playground!

Rocky Basecamp

Address: F102A & B, Level 1, AEON Mall Tebrau City, No 1, Jalan Desa Tebrau, Taman Desa Tebrau
81100 Johor Bahru

Opening Hours: 10am-9:30pm

4. Arcades

We usually keep a good arm’s length from arcades in Singapore as they can be so addictive. But in JB, we let loose and allow Sophie a few games because it doesn’t break the bank.

You can find an arcade at City Square Mall on level 4. Sophie (who is 10 this year), finds it too childish as the games are more kiddy and prefers the larger one, Palo, over at Tebrau City.

One of the cheapest game we’ve played is table hockey at RM1 (S$0.30)! On the average each game is around RM3.

Palo Arcade at Tebrau City

There are also arcades within the children’s department in AEON departmental store in Bukit Indah and Tebrau. Little kids will like it here as they have kiddy games and rides for them too.

  1. Theme parks

Everyone should be very familiar with Legoland, Sanrio Hello Kitty Town, Thomas Town and Angry Bird Activity Park in Johor Bahru.

READ ALSO: Angry Bird Activity Park

But did you know that a new theme park has recently opened its doors? That’s right, Sea Life Malaysia, has just opened in May 2019, right next to Legoland.

Here you’ll find a touch of LEGO’s DNA where there are LEGO mini-figures and other LEGO sea creatures as you embark on a educational journey inside SEA LIFE Malaysia.

  1. Water Parks

For those who prefer to be in the water instead of watching fishes, you can head to Legoland Water Park  or Austin Heights Water and Adventure Park.

We love Legoland Water Park and easily clock 6-8 visits over the years. Now that Sophie is soon becoming a tween, Austin Heights Water Park is more fitting for older kids age 9 years and up.

Legoland Water Park

Austin Heights Water Park

And as parents, we can’t be happier as ticket prices for Austin Heights Water Park are about half the price compared to Legoland Water Park!

Austin Heights Water Park

Legoland Water Park

Above 120cm RM70 Adults RM157
Children (120 cm

& below)

RM70 Children/ Senior RM128
Children 3 years old RM12

7. Indoor playgrounds

Families with little tots will be delighted to know that there are many indoor playgrounds for your pick.

Fanpekka indoor playground in Aeon Tebrau City. Targeting children aged aged 2 and above, this Finnish concept indoor playground provides lots of open-ended educational playtime and you can read more about it from madpsychmum’s review.

Fanpekka

Address: Jalan Persiaran Desa Tebrau, Taman Desa Tebrau, 81100 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia

Opening Hours:  Monday to Sunday 10:00am – 10:00pm

 

Another must go for those with young kids is the newly opened indoor playground, Kiddomo Discovery in R&F Mall, Johor Bahru. From their photos, the playground looks huge with 15 different interactive stations for children of all ages.

There are colourful ball pit, baby play gym, creative studio and so much more. We will be going there this June school holidays and we can’t wait to share about it after our visit.

Ticket prices for Kiddomo Discovery

Kiddomo Discovery
Address: Level 2, Tanjung Puteri, 80300 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia

Opening Hours:  Monday to Sunday 10:00am – 10:00pm

8. Visit the bookshops

If you are a Popular bookshop member, bring it along to Johor and enjoy discounts with the same card. Sophie used to stock up on her Geronimo Stilton books each time we went to JB.

We like buying Chinese story books as the selection, especially at Harris bookstore is wider. You’ll be able to find Popular at City Square Mall, (Harris Book store) Tebrau City and Paradigm.

Another bookstore chain not to miss is MPH. We bought the Science Adventure magazine set here at a discounted price and there are many gift sets and titles which make good gift ideas.

  1. Visit the Fun Fairs

In Malaysia, they have a travelling fun fair, Euro Fun Park, which we always look forward to. We managed to catch it in JB once and another time in Penang.

Do check their Facebook page for their schedule and don’t miss it when they are in town.

 

  1. Café Hopping

You can’t leave Johor Bahru without visiting some of their instagrammable cafes. Here are some of our recent discoveries include People and Places where their Quesadilla Brekkie is a MUST order along with their famed coffee.

Quesadilla Brekkie from People and Places cafe

Mok Mok Brunch and Bistro and Bloom by Mok Mok are two of my favorite cafes now. You know how Instagrammable cafes disappoint you when their food fails to match their aesthetics factor? These two cafes don’t disappoint at all.

They have similar menus and their signature items are their rice bowls, pancakes and egglet desserts.

 

With so many things to do in Johor Bahru for the family, you don’t have to worry that it’s just about grocery shopping and cafe hopping. Don’t miss these posts where I share where to stay in Johor Bahru and places to eat across the causeway.

 

Getting to JB

Where to stay in JB

Fun Things to do in JB

 

Enjoyed reading this post? Do like my Facebook page to get more family friendly travel updates. You can also follow me on Instagram (@ajugglingmom) for more travel and parenting posts. Follow us on all our travel adventure at #Taystraveldiary.  

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Improve Composition Writing with Big Ideaz Online Course

Feeling baffled when your child scores poorly for composition even though they are avid readers? You are not alone.

It is a common myth that just because a child enjoys reading, they will naturally write well.

If you are looking for ways to improve your child’s composition writing but dread another logistics hassle, here’s a convenient alternative – Big Ideaz Education online writing course.

Big Ideaz Education Online Writing Academy

Hui Ing, a former English primary school started Big Ideaz Education with a goal to impart writing techniques and develop primary school children’s writing skills through her online writing courses.

When Hui Ing approached me to enrol Sophie for the online writing course, I was so relieved because I was pulling my hair out every day trying to coach Sophie myself.

Big Ideaz offers three online learning classes according to your child’s level, namely:

  • Junior Writing Academy – P4-P6
  • Writing Academy – P4-P6
  • Write Now- P4-P6

Sophie is most suited for Writing Academy, as it is structured for upper primary students writing the PSLE format composition with three pictures given.

What to Expect in Big Ideaz Online Writing Course

Here’s a quick overview of what you can expect from the online writing course.

4 video lessons of approximately 5 to 10 minutes are released every month. At the end of the lessons, there are writing assignments to be completed.

Here’s Sophie sitting through the first video lesson on writing the introduction.

I sat through the initial lessons in with Sophie and found that each lesson had a comfortable pace with bite-size take-aways. The lessons were progressive and new lessons were like building blocks, adding more depth to the earlier lessons after she has grasped the technique to improve her writing.

I liked the framework “SAFE”, to guide students as they write their introduction.

SAFE stands for Speech, Action and Feelings or Emotions.

Image credit from Big Ideaz Education

Image credit from Big Ideaz Education

Sophie’s assignments are marked by experienced former Primary School teacher and returned within 5 workings day from submission.

I liked that they always provide encouraging and constructive feedback to help Sophie improve her writing. Their suggestions are also succinct and to the point, giving students and parents an idea on how they can further develop their writing skills.

Here are some samples.

As a parent, the feedback gives me a clearer picture of how Sophie can improve her writing. Notice that there is no need to use superfluous and bombastic phrases and what Sophie needs to work on is to  describe each picture to have a more developed story.

The advantage of such online course is the easy learning accessibility from home where Sophie can turn on the computer to learn any time and the onus is on her to be disciplined.

We targeted to do the lesson weekly so that Sophie develops a habit of writing regularly. But there are times when we forget, bringing me to the cons of an online programme.

Getting the most from an online writing course

As an online writing course, this programme has its limitation and may not be suitable for every child. In the FAQ section on Big Ideaz Education’s website, they are very upfront to point out that different students have different learning styles.

As parents, you need to assess if your child is able to work well at home and can learn independently from videos and presentations. This course is suitable for students who need a structured programme to get them to write weekly at home.

After a month and a half, Sophie preferred to be in a class where there’s human interaction; to ask questions on the spot and get feedback immediately. Hui Ing also provides weekly live writing classes, but her location is too far for us.

I also provided feedback that parents may want the option of selecting modules, allowing students to zoom in on areas they need help. This is especially useful if the exams are approaching and students need to brush up on certain writing techniques.

I’m glad that we gave this online writing course a shot and picked up valuable writing techniques. Hui Ing was very gracious when I offered my feedback and she even told me to go ahead to write an objective blog review of the course.

Discount for Big Ideaz Education Writing Academy

Hui Ing has kindly extended a 10% discount for all my readers.

Simply apply this discount code upon checkout for Writing Academy : AJUGGLINGMOM. The discounted price will be applicable every month.

June Holiday Creative Writing Workshops

In addition, there’s an upcoming creative writing workshop happening during the June school holidays.

Slots are filling up fast, so head to the link to find out more.

 

There are so many free resources that you can check out on their blog and Facebook page, so do give them a visit and don’t forget to like their page.

 

If this article has been useful, here are some other articles on Composition Writing and Primary School learning.

 

*  A Juggling Mom was offered complimentary classes to write this review. No monetary compensation was received. All opinions and photos are mine unless otherwise stated.

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Dear mums of one, you are not alone

Dear Mums of One,

This Mother’s Day, I want to tell you that there is no shame in being a mum of one. Don’t ever allow anyone to make you feel less of a mum because you just have one.

Despite what people assume that our only child will be lonely, it’s not true because they have us. All of us.

Our undivided attention which they don’t have to share with another sibling.

Our only child never has to worry about favoritism and having to compete for your affection.

Society tells us that we need to have a big family to be complete. Do our part and contribute to nation building. Be fruitful and multiply. To try for a boy if we have a girl. To try for a girl if we have a son.

But a family of three can just be as complete.

Three is just as complete

Dear mothers of one, I know it can be lonely to be among families with 2, 3 or more kids.

Perhaps you had set your sights on a bigger family. But with each passing year, that hope get dimmer and dimmer.

The worst is having to put up with endless questions.

Why are you not having a second one?

Don’t you think your child will be lonely? Why are you being so selfish?

Why, why, why.

Oh if only they knew your struggles and how hard you tried.

You are just as Mum

Dear mums of one, if you find yourself questioning your worth as a mother, pause and stop.

You don’t have to feel any less of a mum just because you have one. Be at peace if you’ve chosen to settle for one. After all, you don’t owe anyone an explanation for your choice.

If 3 works for your family, no one should question that and make you feel guilty about it.

Being a mother is the toughest job in the world and everyone has our victories and struggles, whether we have our hands full or one child. Ultimately we are all just doing what’s best for our families. And always remember that Motherhood is rewarding and fulfilling,  regardless of the number of children we have.

I know that because I’m a mum of one and I couldn’t ask for more.

 

Celebrating Mums of One

This Mother’s Day, I’ve invited other mums of one to share their stories on being a mother of one child. Mothers, let’s all celebrate our special day and rest in the fact that you’re the best mother to your child.

“A child birthed by another woman calls me mum today and we are forever family. Through loss and grief, I’ve gained much more on this bittersweet journey. Adoption has been God’s plan right from the beginning and is at the heart of the gospel. I am privileged to experience and understand the magnitude of God’s unconditional love through my personal adoption journey.” Denise and Kayli

 

Thanks for sharing your story on adoption Denise. You have shown that biology is the least of what makes someone a mother and you are an incredible mum.

“We have always envisioned a big family with 3 or more kids but then it was not to be and we ended with just one. Despite what others may say, one is just right and perfect for our family. And that is enough.” Rosalind with Zachary.

Rosalind is an incredibly woman of strength whom I respect so  much. She is the founder of Angel Gowns Singapore and started group when she lost her baby. You are such an amazing mother Ros and Zac is blessed to call you mum.

“Being a mum of one doesn’t make me less of a mother than a mum with many kids. My worth as a mother doesn’t depend on the number of children I have. My worth as a mother depends on me being present for my daughter, imparting to her the values I hold dear, supporting her dreams and making sure she feels loved every single day. That to me is more important than the number of kids that I might be blessed with.” Ai Sakura and Lil Pumpkin

 

Ai Sakura is a fellow parent blogger and our girls are the same age. She’s an example that girls can be strong and she’s raising a fine young lady. Ai blogs at Sakura Haruka

“You are my 49% and daddy is my 51%, after all I’ve love him many more years than you. My heart is too full to have another baby. I want to have enough time for both daddy and you. With only one kid, it gives me enough energy to not only be your mother, but also your teacher, friend, playmate, story-teller and comforter. ” Iris and Ian

 

Iris is a sweet friend of mine who’s son is also 10 this year. I love how she always shares such precious moments with her family travelling and exploring new places and I aspire to be a fun mum like her.

 

And of course one from your truely 🙂

Show your Support for Mums of One 

Before you leave, I wanted to share the inspiration for this blog post. While the ladies featured have found peace and joy being mothers of one child , the same can’t be said for all mums.

Earlier this year, a reader messaged me to share how she had suicidal thoughts because she felt so judged and condemned by her family for being a mother of one child. My heart broke because it shouldn’t be this way and it stings because I had such condemning thoughts as well.

I know it doesn’t sound rational, but I struggled with such feeling of inadequacy for a long time and only reconciled with the fact that I’ll only have Sophie last year. No one should ever have to feel lousy or ashamed for being a mum of one, regardless if they choose it or it was by circumstance.

Stop the Shaming and be Uplifting

This post is for all mums of one to know that they are not alone. There are many other women who are mothers to one child and you have a community behind you.

If you know of an incredible mother of one, share this article with her to celebrate her and let her know that she’s an amazing mum.

I’m planning to set up a community group on my Facebook page where other mothers of one can connect and support each other as we wear our badge of honour with pride. Do drop me a DM if you’ll like to be a part of it.

 

To all mums, Happy Mother’s Day. Go ahead and celebrate your special day because to the world, we may be a mother. But to our family, we are their world.

 

If you enjoyed this post, you may like these posts where I share my heart about parenting.

Enjoyed reading this post? Do like my Facebook page to get more sharing on parenting. You can also follow me on Instagram (@ajugglingmom) for travel and fun places to go with your family.

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My scars do not define me

The long ugly scar that runs down my abdomen is a visual reminder of a surgery I never wanted. An operation that robbed my dreams of ever having a son or a second child to cradle in my arms.

As my birthday approaches, I take stock of life by doing self-reflection. They say that to move forward in life, you should not be looking over your shoulder at the past. But without seeing how far you’ve come, how can one truly appreciate where you are standing now?

My birthday last year was spent in the hospital. The last place I’ll ever imagine myself to land up in especially after returning from a blissful vacation for two with my husband.

But the physical pain after the operation was nowhere near the heart wrenching anguish where I will not experience being pregnant again. The recurrence of fibroids has grown aggressive over the years and there was no way my body could take any more operations.

“Just remove your womb. It’s all for the better,” my doctor advised very matter of fact. (more…)

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