The Playful Parents

Wander. Wonder. Wow.

March 24, 2014
by theplayfulparents
2 Comments

My Life as Milk Mom: Extended Breastfeeding

Ah. Breastfeeding. One of the perks of being a mother. Or not.
What images of a woman does the word ‘breastfeeding’ evoke?
I guess the answer to the question really depends on who I’m asking.

Now, get this, I’m talking about breastFEEDING i.e. a mother using her breast as a food source for her children.
I’m not talking about breastFEASTING.

It never fails to shock me that our society seems to confuse the two.
Is it because we have become so used and desensitized to the sexual objectification of the female body that we cannot comprehend how Nature has equipped our aesthetically amazing form to also Nurture young human lives?

Judging by the controversy that this Time Magazine cover raised, I would think yes.
Then there was this whole other cyberstorm of protest when Facebook deemed photographs of women breastfeeding as obscene.

Unlike Time Magazine, who obviously needed a controversial headline, I would never go as far to state that breastfeeding is only for the dedicated Mother. Motherhood is really way more than being just providing milky sustenance to a child. Really. I think it is awful for anyone to insinuate that or think less of any mother who does not breastfeed her own child, whether out of volition or condition.
In return for my respect of all mothers, nursing or not, I do ask that you also respect my story.

With that out of the way, let me share with you my experiences as Milkmom.

My Time As MilkMom
If you’ve been following this blogtrain, you would have noted that I’m sharing about a breastfeeding journey that has hit, and still going past, the 48 months mark.

48 months = 4 years.

The reality is, I’ve gone on longer than 48 months.

My eldest is 5.5 years old. He’s almost 100% weaned. He doesn’t need to nurse for sustenance of course. He actually doesn’t nurse at all anymore. And while I cannot recall the exact date he weaned off nursing, I do think he’s nursed well until he was 4, and almost nearing 5.
My second is 3.5 years old. He nurses to nap every few days, and I’m working on weaning him off nap-nursing. He still gets up too often in the night to nurse. We co-sleep most nights. I don’t know when i can succeed weaning him off but I hope it is soon because frankly, I want freedom. Yet, I am not sure how that would feel. I’ve heard stories from friends who cried when they weaned off their last child. And I’m pretty sure right now that I’m not having another.

Some Breastfeeding Lessons I’ve Learnt

#1. Breastfeeding is a personal choice.
This needs very little explanation. Your breasts, your choice. My breasts, my prerogative.

#2. No two mouths are alike.
After nursing my firstborn for 24 months by the time my second was born, I had thought I would have a breeze with the second. Was I wrong. Gravely wrong.

I had the same breasts I used to nurse Lee.
But baby Zee had a different mouth and different suckling abilities.
He had a weak suckle according to the lactation nurse, and then I wondered if it was because I didn’t bond with him enough prenatally.
To compound those post-natal ‘rubbish imaginations’, my presumptuousness about breastfeeding ease, and hence being almost nonchalant about it, my secondborn landed up in hospital in a very critical condition. He had critical jaundice. He was placed under 5 UV lights and had 6 hours to have lower serum biribulin levels. If not, he would have to undergo the blood exchange procedure.
I cried buckets and buckets. Thankfully, after a 3 day stay in hospital, Zee’s jaundice was under control but it would take me 6 weeks before his jaundice finally cleared.

 #3. Breastfeeding is natural, but it doesn’t often come naturally to a mom.

In the hospital, it was taking me 40-60 minutes each feed to latch Babe Zee and he wasn’t suckling well.

How can anything natural be so hard to do?!!

For the first 4 weeks of Zee’s life, I had a challenging time trying to nurse him. He drank mostly breastmilk from the bottle. My firstborn did not take to the bottle. But Zee had no issues.( And that I believe was because I had used NUK instead of Avent. )
However, I really wanted to be able to latch Zee. I just felt that the bond of breastfeeding was different from bottle-feeding and I really wanted to be able to nurse him as I did for his older brother.
My first month with Zee was a very tearful one. I resorted to seeing the lactation nurse at Mt Alvernia. And a dear friend, mother of 3 and breastfeeding advocate, came to my house. When Zee was almost a month old, Serena came and spent TWO hours with me trying to help me latch him.

I was hungry and tired and frustrated. I wanted to cry and scream.  Baby was hungry, tired and frustrated as well. He was shrieking.
But there was no way Serena let me bottle feed him.  So we pressed on.
How can anything natural be so hard to do!

But finally, after 120 minutes of a battle, I latched him on. And for the first time in 4 weeks, Zee and I finally bonded through nursing.
I didn’t think after almost a month of bottles, Zee would be able to nurse. But he did. And he has been since.

 #3. Just as there is nothing wrong with nursing, there’s nothing wrong with nursing for comfort.
I’m not providing any medical opinion save my personal conviction. For what it’s worth, let me tell you I’ve faced my share of ‘criminal’ persecution for choosing to nurse my child.  In the early years of my motherhood, we lived in Macau. And it was just incredible just how many negative comments and stares I got when the locals found out I was nursing.

I will never forget how this museum security guard, in her 50s, looked at my little 3-month-old sitting in my sarong sling and said in Catonese, “You’re such a pitiful thing. Ask your mother to give you formula milk.” She proceeded to tell me how malnourished my son look by pointing to what she said was an oversized forehead. My son then was in the 95 percentile of growth charts.
Of course as my firstborn grew older, I’ve also been made to feel terrible about him nursing for comfort.

By the way, the World Health Organisation recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and then “continued breastfeeding along with appropriate complementary foods up to two years of age or beyond” . Back to my boys, they have gone beyond 2 years of age and I continued nursing them.
The key reason, I guess you can say, I was a weak-willed mom.
Weaning has been a LIVING NIGHTMARE.
So I guess I chose the easy way out, trying to limit my exposure to their shrieks and tears.
I’ve also come to see that breastfeeding is NOT breastfeasting. Children’s minds are innocent.
Young children who still want to latch on to their mommies for comfort are not the same as men burying their faces in bosoms of women.
So really, I would appreciate it if the public gets some education before opening their mouths and making mindless and perverted comments like ‘Eee.. How old are you already? Still drink Mummy’s milk?’

Yes, eventually children who are nursing at 3 or 4 or 5 will wean off. They are not going to develop into sexual perverts. And they are NOT perverts for wanting to nurse for comfort. And their mothers also do not have the Jocasta complex.

#4. Breastfeeding benefits both child and mom.

Often, in our very child-centered world, we forget that not only is breastfeeding beneficial for children. It also holds health benefits for breastfeeding moms. These benefits include being a natural birth control method (98% effective), reduces breast and ovarian cancer risk in later life, weight loss and lowers obesity rates.

I loved that I lost my pregnancy weight pretty quickly, eat and not grow fat while nursing.
Most of all, I loved not having to deal with my monthly periods! I was period-free for 4.5 years ( 5.4 years if you include the months I was pregnant with my firstborn.)

Oh! But it doesn’t work well as a birthcontrol method. I conceived my second boy even though I was still actively nursing, and had no period.

#5. Breastfeeding is intimate.

It’s very hard for me to describe just what it feels like to be able to nurse my children.
But while there have been frustrations and pains, it has also been rewarding. It’s a special bond I’ve shared with each of my children. I just wish I had taken photographs of those moments.

#6. Breastfeeding is personal.
And again, I end off with this. Because it is a personal decision and an intimate experience shared between Father, Mother and Child within a family, it is better for us to reserve our comments and judgements about breastfeeding for our own consumption.
Yes, there is a whole body of medical research out there to show for the benefits of breastfeeding and breastmilk over other forms of milk.
However, let us not forget that everyone is different.
Our choices and values are different.

Finally…
But I do have this to say to any new mother:
Breastfeeding is one of the privileges we are given as a woman and mother.
I really do think it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience every mom ought to try at least once.
While sometimes challenging and just plain difficult, it is worth giving your best shot.
The experience of holding a wee babe in your bosom, the milk flowing out of you into his body and seeing that liquid plump him up – priceless.
But when all nursing attempts seem to fail, do not feel like you’re a failure or are alone.

Seek help from lactation nurses or from the Association for Breastfeeding AdvocacyBreastfeeding Mothers’s Support Group  or from other moms like me.

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March 13, 2014
by theplayfulparents
0 comments

This Thing Called Tape

If you’re one who says ‘I am NOT creative’ or ‘I cannot craft’ or ‘I just cannot stand the mess crafting makes!’, have I got a thing to share with you.

Now, before I tell you more about my latest play tool discovery that I’m adding to my Organic Play Parties {My Home Edition}, let me tell you my lifelong encounter with this wonderful invention called ‘tape’.

Eons back, when I was younger and still just a daughter, I had a mother who would  magic-tape all the wrappings on presents. And I would marvel at just how this magic tape could lift off from about every conceivable surface without leaving a mark or rip.

Years back, when I was still young and just a new mom, I began to realise how a mom’s life – especially a mom to active boys – needed the sticking powers of tape. Once, I was almost about to turn into a fearsome shrieking Momster  over my then-tot ripping his new toy cereal box, my dear Australian mummy-buddy, Nat, jumped in with some of those super sticky tape to bring back peace and joy again.

As she quite rightly put it, “There’s nothing some good old sticky tape can’t fix!

So since my household now has not one but TWO boys, I’ve always got sticky tape handy.

Mama! My book is torn? Where’s the tape?
Mama! I broke my crayon. Where’s the tape?
Mama! Didi broke my cardboard robot arm? Where’s the stape?
Mama! I broke my crayon. Where’s the tape?
MaaaaaMaaaaa….. I cut my own hair! Where’s the tape?!!!

Afterall with tape so cheap and easy to use, it’s really easily our favourite choice of fix-it-all.
Tape-  can really hold a Mummy’s universe together.

Now, with all the progress we’ve made with R&D and technology, is it any wonder now that sticky tape isn’t just sticky tape any more?  Well, as we had the good luck of discovering last weekend, not all tapes are created equal.
What’s more?

 

Tapes Can Colour & Beautify My World!

Yep. You can even use tape to do art, to craft and …. to play!

My boys and I were invited by 3M to a private craft tea party to have some fun with its new line of tapes aptly called ‘Scotch Expressions Tapes’.

It’s tapes! It’s craft! It’s play! It’s tea! It’s mom-kids bonding time! What’s more? It’s 3M – an icon from my childhood days.
Being a great fan of playing with craft stuff, how could I resist?

Needless to say, my boys and I got on a roll. We’ve since spent many hours since Saturday decorating and making things!

We’re a Family That Sticks Together!

My oldest son, Lee, 5.5, was so enamored by the gorgeous colours and prints of the tape that he literally went crazy grabbing at the many different packs of tape on display for us to use. You would have thought he was in a candy shop.

He chose a PINK ( yes, he’s a boy but his fave colour is pink) chair to decorate. Instead of decorating the given cardboard  rocket template to be stuck on the back of the chair as instructed, Lee had to transform it into a ‘Rocket Booster Jetpack’ for wearing on his back.

Lee’s Jetpack with ‘Toilet Roll’ Boosters

Di Di also needed a ‘Rocket Booster Jetpack’ of his own but they ran out of cardboard templates. And fortunately, quick-thinking Mama here transformed the paper plate angel wings into rocket boosters. ( Just had to say that because I’m so darn proud of my surprise crafting-on-my-wit’s-end smart-thinking!)

Zee Man’s Super Power Rocket Booster JetPack!

And so over the course of the afternoon and the many past days of playing with this thing called ‘Tape’. I’ve come to learn that Not All Tapes Are Created Equal.

I’m pretty sure almost every crafty Mom has already some of those washis at home. But ashamedly, I have not really played with real good quality washi. *Ahem* I’ve only started buying these cheap washi versions form Daiso at the start of the year… and those always seem to leave a sticky residue on my scissors! Well, you can’t really blame me for wondering what’s all the fuss over paper tapes, can you?

BUT THEN….
Not All Tapes Are Created Equal.

So after playing with our box of complimentary 3M Expressions Tapes, I’ve learnt some useful facts about Tapes. I’m sharing them here just in case anyone else like me is still *ahem* a little ‘suaku’ a.k.a. clueless about Washis and wah-got-what-other-tapes-there-be.

3M Expression Tape Range
Top Row: Washi Tape in 2 different widths
Bottom: Masking Tape
Right: Expressions Magic Tape

  • 3M Magic Tape is still one of my favourite sort of sticky tape. As its name goes, it is really like magic! Sticky but lifts so easily without stick-marks. It also tears off pretty neatly by hand.
  • Coloured Scotch(R) Expressions Magic Tapes are THE tapes to go for if you want a pearly sheen to your projects. I thought I would hate the plasticky-feel of the tape but after some tries,  I’m so wrong. I LOVE IT! Check out my above photo on how these tapes really put a polished finish to the paper-plate Rocket Booster JetPacks for little Zee!
  • Washis are  paper-based tapes. Works like magic too in how they can stick and peel and re-stick again.
  • Masking tapes work like washis but come in a larger roll. Super handy for decorating projects with a lot of surface to cover!
  • Washis should just be renamed ‘WOW-shis’ because no matter how much you screw up in sticking all sorts of schizophrenic colours and prints together, the end product still seems to make any audience go ‘WOW!’
  • Just Brilliant for Cardboard Projects! You know just how much I love cardboard right? Yep. Love enough to create and host Singapore’s 1st Cardboard Creativity Festival. However even in our cardboard-crazy household, I have truly found painting cardboard to prep it for crafting one of the most detestable things. But now with my discovery of these tapes, I think I’ve found crafting enlightenment! No more messy paint! No more wasted hours waiting for paint to dry or  sulking over soggy cardboard from too-wet paints.
  • You Can Fantasize About Tapes! It’s true. I just cannot stop fantasizing now about how wonderful it would be to be able to get a mountain of these marvellous 3M tapes for families to make cardboard magic at this year’s Voyage of Dreams and Organic Play Parties! Wouldn’t you just love to craft up cardboard magic with some of these trim beauties too? But I digress.
  • I’m now an official TAPE Evangelist!

Tape isn’t just confined for craft projects you know?
You can even dress up gifts, utensils, and even jewellery!
How’s that for being economical?

Need new shoes? Washi-fy them.
Need new accesories? Washi-fy your own?
Need new stationery? Washi-fy the old.
Now, is there anything we cannot washi-fy into something wonderful?

Tape Fashion

There are more ideas found on My Activity Room.
I’m told that 3M Expressions Tapes will be soon sold at selected POPULAR Bookstores and other leading retailers in Mid-March – which is anytime now!  Prices range from $3.90 to $6.90 for individual rolls, depending on type. And economical 3-packs for Magic Tapes retail at $9.90.

I know, they don’t sound very cheap. But I think they’re a pretty good investment considering how a little goes a loooooooong way, and you can do so many things with them!

By the way, there are also two upcoming Make Amazing workshops you can find  too happening during the School Holidays.

  • March 15-16 at POPULAR Northpoint
  • March 21-23 at POPULAR Bras Basah

And for any reason you miss these sessions, and want a good dose of play even after the school holidays, be sure to sign up to be on my Organic Play mailing list!

Meanwhile, we’re still not done washi-fying with our chairs! I’m converting their chairs into dual-function PLAY & STUDY chairs. How so? Can you guess?

Racing Down The Washi Field

Well, stay tuned as I update you on the finished products of our Washifying Project!

Disclaimer: We were invited by 3M to a Make Amazing craft and tea party, and received a set of complimentary products for the purposes of this review. However, all opinions expressed here are 100% my own. And you know, I am always selective about the products and experiences I share on this blog.  

 

OrgPlay Party

February 20, 2014
by theplayfulparents
0 comments

Singapore’s 1st Organic Play Party: Sign Up Now!

Finally! I’m launching Singapore’s First Ever Organic Play Party on March 29, Saturday.
If you’re keen to sign us, please take a few minutes to read the following.

{Edited: 20 Feb 2014, 6pm.}

What’s Organic Play?

Well, this is a term I’ve coined ( I love inventing names!) to describe Play that is Organic in Nature and Spirit.

Organic  in Nature – Connects all participants (a.k.a. Players) to Mother Nature, to ourselves and with each other.
Organic  in Spirit – Encourages Players to lead the course of play, to listen to each other and to be willing to go with the Creative Flow of the play

What’s This Organic Play Party About?

A 2-hour session of Play, Play and More Play for parents with children aged 3 to 8.
But more than just another Free Play event, it’s an Experiment, Exploration and Exchange.

An experiment in how we can transform public spaces into playful places for all.
An exploration to see how we – you and I – can transform everyday spaces and objects to extraordinary experiences using nothing more than our imagination and presence.
An exchange of our stories, our abilities and our dreams with each other. Because everyone has something special to offer in making this world a better place.

In 2014, there are 4 scheduled Play Parties every quarter.
Each quarter, we’ll be exploring different sorts of play.

My Partner & Supporters

To create and deliver these playful experiences, I’m working with Early Childhood lecturers and 1st year trainee teachers from ITE College Central. These young students are very brave to be taking on this challenge of planning and facilitating Singapore’s 1st Organic Play event.

Great thanks must be given to these organizations for their funding that has allowed this to be a FREE entry event for all.
These Supporters are People’s Association, Tampines Central Community Centre and Residents’ Committee.
Tampines Central C.C. is also the main registration agent for the party.

LAUNCH PARTY DETAILS

Date:
March 29 2014, Saturday
Time: 10am – 12pm (Please come by 9.50am to sign-in.)

Where? Stage at Tampines Central Park. See map here.

What to Expect:
Be ready to get creative, messy and imaginative with our literary & nature-inspired play.

Wet Weather Advisory:
Outdoor play will continue in light drizzle. So please have your wet weather gear.
In event of heavy rain or  a thunderstorm at 9am,
the event will then be shifted to Tampines Central CC, MultiPurpose Hall.

Important Notes:
While participation is offered at no cost to the public, we have limited spaces available.
As such, we would appreciate it if you only sign up for your immediate family members.
Being a parent-child activity, we also strongly discourage the presence of domestic helpers.
Should you be unable to attend the event after registration for whatever reason, please do inform us as soon as possible.
This will enable us to offer others the tickets.
We will not hesitate to blacklist registrants from future events if they fail to inform us of their inability to attend.

KEEN TO COME PLAY WITH US?
So of this sounds like an experience you will like to sign up for, do register your interest now.
Click here to register.

For Schools & Organizations:
If you are interested in signing up for this on behalf of families in your community,
or if you’re keen on hosting similar parties for your school community, please drop me an email: party@theplayfulparents.com.

February 10, 2014
by theplayfulparents
4 Comments

Love Notes

If you’ve read my recent Notes on Disobedience and Defiance, you will know I’m on a personal challenge and quest to redirect my tongue towards more profitable uses. You know, like not using it to lash at my kids (and poor hubby). Instead to use my words to build them up especially when they are most trying (my boys, not so my hubby).

In addition to these ones you saw on my previous post, I’ve found up a whole bunch of lovely note templates you can print out for free.
So I thought I would just do a post to share them. In the Western world, it seems such ‘Lunch Notes’ are rather popular!

It’s a wonder we haven’t caught on to it even with the Bento-bug biting. (Oh! I do NOT bento because I have simply neither knack nor patience for it. )

{ via Buttoned Up}

 

{via chiquitamoms}

{ via Fresh Picked Whimsy }


{via My Sun Will Shine}

 And look at a whole other list of what I’ve found!
Bumper list of 25 FREE printable lunch notes.

Here’s a swell idea!
How about throwing in a good dose of humour to these love notes too?

{ via All For The Boys}

Joke Lunch Notes like these:


{ via peoniesandpoppyseeds}

Check out more joke lunch notes here…
capscreations
thegunnysack

School Lunch Joke notes to last a year
kirstendukephotography

Do you write any love notes to your dear ones?
If so, what sort? Any tips?
If you have never tried, why not try doing some today?

 

www.ajugglingmom.com

February 8, 2014
by theplayfulparents
8 Comments

Notes on Disobedience & Defiance

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Time does fly.
When I watch my children or listen to them speak, I sometimes marvel at the sort of grown-up things they do.
But more often than not, I seem to get more exasperated by what seems to be their constant fights.

Di Di provoking the older one by sticking his butt, literally and figuratively, into whatever his brother is doing.
Then the Kor Kor , in spite of being older at 5.4 yo, retaliates instead of showing restraint. Thereafter, the entire household seems to descend into chaos.
The latter, I admit, is purely my fault since I am the only (expected) mature adult and yet, my response to all the tears and screams and whines are anything BUT mature.

I sent my boys to bed in tears last night but not before I gave the eldest a horrible tongue-lashing.

His face crumbling in tears, but more so, I think his heart crumbled. Then, I was really too mad to care about his little heart. I thought or rather felt, my hurt feelings and frustrations were valid and in need of ‘sulking’ healing time.

I was, and still am, fed up of his whines and feet-stomping and flopping-like-a-dying-fish. I was, and still am, mad that he keeps choosing to show the WORST side of himself in public- hitting me, pulling my bag down and causing me to fall backwards and so on.

And his trying to blame-shift? Completely makes me explode.

Other than having my own self-control blow up in my face, I just feel this gloom and doom that we have just ruined the sweet toddler somehow and now he is just quite an impossible 5-going-on-15.

Doesn’t help that I get comments from folks like my own unmarried brother thinks we are not doing enough to discipline him. And it IS frustrating and discouraging and did I mention, plain exhausting?

To realize my own inadequacies ( I am really one of the last persons you would have expected to be mom, let alone a SAHM. Patience and gentleness tips the list of my weaknesses.) while having to grapple with the enormity of my parenting tasks overwhelms.

So I woke up early this morning at 5.30, feeling frustrated, clueless and perplexed.

I need to reframe the situation so that it will not be merely MUMMY vs BAD KID.

I so badly desire to raise wise and mature boys able to regulate their own behaviors and evaluate their own choices.

And surely, screaming and feeling so angry with my own children is just not healthy in the long term. Neither is my feeling like a Mom-failure.

So I mustered up the courage to confront my own weakness and confess my own crimes to God. And I need to ask forgiveness of my boys later for hurting them with my words and actions.

I went to dig up readings about how to deal with wrong behaviors posted by a dear mom friend last year. Ginger Plowman has quite a compact and handy guide to common childhood misbehaviors.

And as I was digging these up, I chanced upon a set of colorful lunch note templates.

So I decided that perhaps I could use my words to restore, reassure and affirm my children by writing little love notes for them.

It was so hard for me to get the first love note started for my firstborn. That was probably because I was still focused on how he hurt me. But then as I tried my darnest to recall his sweet and wonderful moments, the words flowed. I could see his strengths again.

But don’t misunderstand me, his younger brother is definitely not a more well-behaved child. Di Di actually provokes a lot more fights and quarrels at home. He doesn’t, however, whine as much… And whining really gets to me A LOT FASTER! I know it seems
really unfair. I will be working on this issue too.

Anyhow, I think I will spend some more time writing up love notes to each of my children. I hope to give them a little
Note each day or so. Or perhaps when my mood is the blackest or when I am
maddest, I can use them to tell them that I still love them even when my mouth refuses to say those words.

Living With Squirts

January 24, 2014 by theplayfulparents | 0 comments

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A mom who lives with two young ‘uns finds it necessary to head outdoors, every now and then, armed with a squirt bottle or two. Oh! A big empty bottle would be an invaluable addition to the fun. Encourage brotherly love and sibling partnership as they endeavour to use their squirt guns to knock that Big Bad Bottle over.

Home’s Tea-rrific

January 22, 2014 by theplayfulparents | 2 Comments

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One reason why I just love the luxury of playing chef, nutritionist, teacher and parent of two bouncy boys is that I get to have indulgent teas with my children. For no apparent good reason except that we are all in need of some sweet smackeroos.

January 20, 2014
by theplayfulparents
4 Comments

Breaking Free of Addictions: Update

Since my last post where I mentioned that I was going to go on a self-imposed unwiring challenge a.k.a. cyber detox diet, I have been continuing my battle with my social media and Internet addictions.

In November 2013, I felt as if my need to attend to virtual responsibilities had overtaken my desires to attend to the daily realities of my life, my children and home.

I was spending far too much time
online in the name of personal growth, homeschool research, maintaining
relationships, building networks and what-not compared to just living the life
I have.

I was escaping the mundane and the undesirable portions of my life ( a large portion had to do with maintaining a decent home. I rather google and ogle at immaculate Martha Stewart and Apartment Therapy homes than get off my bum to sweep.
Then I was that Mumster who shrieked at her kids for asking her for help to fix a Lego toy all because I was trying to post my comment on someone’s FB status.

I
Simply
Couldn’t
Didn’t
Want
To
Continue
Like
This.

I cannot say I have finally broken free of my self-indulgent affair with the virtual world, but as my other self-help book I am reading terms it, I am making ‘imperfect progress’.

And imperfect progress is still progress, yes?

And we ought to celebrate every little
Victory, yes?

I didn’t faithfully stick with my 14 day Unwiring challenge. But instead those 14 days have stretched out to 40 days it seems, but I sure hope I don’t need 40 years to get out this destructive desert.

Now, while I may not have a completed challenge to boast of, I am pretty pleased that I still did manage to do key unwiring challenges such as:

1. Intentionally schedule personal meet-ups with friends. I had several one-on-one dates with girlfriends, playdates, group meet-ups with longtime friends I haven’t seen in a while, and of course, trying to revive individual dates with my husband and boys. We also hosted two Christmas parties.

2. Find accountability partners (all three whom I still keep in touch with and give an account to them of how I am doing)

3. Wrote down my desires for how I want my children to remember me 15 years on ( and as you can rightly guess, none of that includes a mom who spends more time obsessing about a screen than her children’s toenails)

4. Reducing my aimless cyber-wanderings per day ( calculated by a total monthly hours / 30 days, that is. I still fail miserably and fritter away hours in a single night. Not proud. But let me focus on the little victories, eh?)

5. Listing down the things I need to get done on the computer before I switch it on. And refraining from opening my Facebook and email when I need to work. This helps to greatly reduce distractions. I am ADD. I AM HIGHLY DISTRACTABLE! And sometimes I lie to myself with the ‘this is my research!’ excuse.

I still haven’t made this a habit yet so I need to continue intentionally remind self to do so.

But those times I mistrust myself enough to write down the laundry list, I am really much more effective and disciplined in my Internet usage.

Lesson here:
When rehabilitating self, it pays to NOT trust self.

6. Restrict handheld gadgets to scheduled times of day. I tried to limit myself to when kids are napping or sleeping. But I struggled a lot with this. So what I ended up doing was to leave my iPhone at home when I took them
out for playground or sports time.

7. Selective use of iPhone: only calls, IRIS bus checker and emails ( forgot passwords to some so cannot access from laptop). But now with my laptop infected with some malware I am trying to fix, it looks like I am going to need even more boundaries set up to prevent myself from lapsing back to my bad habits of constantly having iBalls instead of using my natural eyeballs. And yes, I am currently blogging from
my iPhone.

I need to not just make a list of things I need to use my iPhone before I pick it up: I likely need the next tactic.

8. Control usage with a timer. As one who has burned multiple dinners and pots because of my indiscriminate Internet usage, I cannot overemphasise
the absolute importance of using a timer.

Now, my timer is going off on me.
As I ought to respect the boundaries I am setting up to protect myself and my loved ones, I am finishing off here.

Before I do, I wonder if you would share any tips on how you prevent gadgets and anything virtual from intruding and overshadowing your real life?

If you have yourself broken free of a similar social media or Internet addiction, please do share how you achieved victory.

I so do need the encouragement.

Resized Organic Play Logo 1

November 25, 2013
by theplayfulparents
6 Comments

Organic Play Co-op: Now Open for Sign-Ups

In 2014, I’m embarking on yet another exciting journey to bring the Wonders of Nature & Play to more families with young children (aged 8 and under) in Singapore.

By the grace of God, I’ve received a wonderful opportunity to pioneer a community-based project in North-East District of Singapore. Our Organic Play Co-op aims to use Play to promote opportunities for authentic family bonding as well as nurture the creativity and resource-appreciation in our children. We’re due to launch by Feb 2014.

After some weeks of much thought, prayer and ‘testing of water’ with parents and industry professionals through various networks, I will like to present to you my latest baby – Organic Play Co-op.

Inspired by foreign networks like Children & Nature, Play England, Playgroup Australia, I am proposing a bold approach to bringing the benefits of Play and Playful Family Bonding to our local communities.

I have already some 10+ families who have expressed interest in joining this group. I’m currently working with two industry partners with solid Early Childhood Education experience to develop a pilot structure for us to start with. A community organisation has also expressed interest to support this. But more about them when things are finalized in the next month or so.

So, What’s an Organic Play Co-op?

Why This Co-op Initiative?

Being from a single-income family, raising two young children in one of the world’s most expensive cities to live in, I know what it means to feel ‘financially inadequate’ to provide my children the ‘best possible learning experiences’. I know what it feels like to be excited over what seems like an amazing programme for my young ones, only to be a little more than dejected when I see that I cannot afford that $20/hour class and $300 camp fees. Sometimes, I wonder if I would make a better parent if only I had more disposable income on my hands.
I know, from speaking with other parents I meet, that I’m not alone in feeling like this.

I do not believe good nor great learning experiences should come at such hefty price tags.
I do not like to see children denied of beneficial growing-up experiences because they cannot afford it.
I would like to see every child and family, especially those with financial disadvantages, having the opportunity and access to  Play.
Most of all, I believe that EVERY ONE – yes, YOU and I – have something we can offer to each other.

What Happens At A Co-Op?

1. Everyone Has A Gift to Share. Everyone matters.

My hope is that this will be a group that thrives on every parent’s contribution of time and/or expertise. By expertise, I do not mean you need to possess an ‘official certification’ of that expertise. Your hobby interest in bugs or baking? That’s an expertise already!

And if you don’t know what ‘gift’ you can share yet, no matter. Join us! And we’ll be sure we can help unearth your hidden talents.

2. Every Family Can Join.

I want to keep activities going on a ‘Maximum Fun on Minimum Budget’. This means, as far as possible, I’m going to keep costs as low as I can. Ideally, I would like to see no financial barrier to people joining. There are so many ways we can do this. And with your brains and resourcefulness, I’m pretty sure we can do this. And if you know anyone who could really benefit from participating in such a programme, but lack limited means of either time or cash, let us know! We can always think of ways to make things happen.

3. We’re A Community.

This means, we’re not about doing fun stuff just once and then goodbye. I will like to see this co-op as the gate to us meeting new friends and forging new friendships. I hope we can become a network of support, inspiration and encouragement for each other. Parenting can be so lonely, but it doesn’t have to be. Sure, making new friends can be scary. But I invite you to come with the courage to share. However, if at anytime you feel that we’re not meeting your needs, you’re also welcomed to leave. No hard feelings.

What Do We Do When We Meet?

Similar to playgroups or parent-child programmes, we will have a rough schedule of activities for each session.
However, being an Organic Play Co-op, these activities will often be more open-ended in nature to allow for participants to develop their own possibilities for play in a way meaningful to themselves.

Here are some ideas already pinned onto my inspiration board:
1. Messy play
2. Loose parts play. (See Teacher Tom and Let The Children Play)
3. Outdoor & Nature play ( Fancy jumping on log cookies or building a tent out of vines? See here)
4. Culinary Life Skills
5. Woodworking
6. Ropework e.g. knotting, lashing

For 1 – 3, I’m working with two industry partners I mentioned earlier to design the first series of activities.
For 4 – 6  I’ve on board two fathers who are professionals in these fields.

We’re about letting this co-op grow organically. So there is the great likelihood that our activities will change and morph along with the members ( like you!) of this interest group.

Who Can Join?

  • Families( Parents and their children. Grandparents are also welcomed!)
  • Educators who will like to contribute their time and expertise to lead programmes (useful for an action research project, perhaps?)
  • Organisations who believe in nurturing families, children, creativity and Nature-rich experiences
How To Join?
Please do sign up to join our mailing list. We’ll be sending out updates through the email channel for easier co-ordination.

You’ll find the sign up form on the right-hand side bar of my blog.
Alternatively, this is a link to sign up too.

An Important Sidenote
I’m doing this on a voluntary basis, and do not receive any form of remuneration for this.
I am also a Homeschooling mum with no domestic helper. As such,  I do seek your understanding if I do not reply to your queries as promptly as you like.

Don’t forget to SIGN UP for our Organic Play Updates before you leave here!
And if you know friends who will love to be part of this, do share this with them.

Looking forward to sharing joyful and playful times with your families real soon.

November 23, 2013
by theplayfulparents
0 comments

It’s Oh-So-Quiet

It’s been a while since I’ve actively updated my blog or my blog Facebook page.
Because you’ve been such wonderful supporters of me and the causes I support here, I thought I should let you know the reasons why.

I’ve forced myself to go on this tech rehab programme to break my internet addictions.
It’s not just Facebook. It’s everything related to the computer and iPhone and iPad.
I think I need major help.
And so, I’m reading this book, The Unwired Mom, by Sarah Mae, and doing her 14-day Unwiring Challenge.
Well, except that the 14 days on my time is really on a more rubbery clock. I embarked on this last Monday, and I’m still pretty much stuck on Day 4! Though, I must put  in a little word of encouragement to myself for doing the more advanced challenges like scheduling real meet-ups and dates with important people in my life – like my husband, kids and friends.
The internet and the computer are like my personal black holes.
I cannot seem to pull myself away from it as often or easily as I like.
Why does my 5-minute often turning into 500 minutes instead?!
Okay, 500 mins is a little of a stretch, but you get the idea.
I feel like the internet has become some form of escapism for me, and I DO NOT LIKE THAT.

I turn into a monster too often, trying to protect my ‘me’ time when I get caught up reading something interesting on the net and my boys are trying to get my attention for something that is in reality far MORE important than the ‘comment I need to type NOW’.
So for someone who really believes in the importance of low-tech, hi-imagination and connectedness play… I’ve fallen a far, far, faaaaaarrrrrrrrr way down to the cesspool of Cyberdom.
Or for me, CyberDOOM.

Please do not misunderstand me. I’m not saying that the internet and all the technological advancement that has placed such wired connectivity into our palms in the form of iPhones and iPads is evil.
It’s just that I’ve come to realise just how little self-control I’ve lacked in this area.

So for now, I’m going to be trying to go on strict, as strict as I hope to get, sort of cyber diet.
I’ve been tempted in the last 10 days to disable my Facebook account- but that would prove too scary for me, just thinking of how I would manage to get all my contacts over into the regular modes of communication like phone or email or snail mail. And how in the world will I manage my blog FB page?
I’ve been tempted into taking down my entire blog just so I will have this ‘uncontrollable urge’ to indulge myself in writing and doing stuff I want to do, instead of stuff I NEED TO DO for my family and *bleah* household chores. (Yes, seriously, I rather be working on my projects than on housework. That is NOT something I’m proud of admitting but I have to in order to begin breaking down these bad habits of mine.)

But well, it’s not that I need to totally disable all my internet access accounts.
It’s MY self-control and boundary issues.
It’s MY internal compass that needs to be re-examined and calibrated right.

So that I can live more aware of what’s important, what’s vital and what’s non-negotiable.
So that I can live a more intentional life to focus on these things that will last for eternity.
So until I can get myself sorted out over my tech-abuse tendencies, I’m going to have to restrict my computer and iPhone/iPad usage a lot more.

Meanwhile, if you really need to contact me, you can still email me OR call me. However, I’m also trying not to be that obsessive about checking emails ever so often. But you can be sure I will check emails at least once a day, and reply as soon as I can.