How to handle sibling rivalry and fights

I had a good talk with the kids this week about fighting and sharing. (For the record, I am still getting used to my role as mediator in family fights.)

When it comes to sibling fights, first there is usually the question of ownership. Then there is the question of who got the toy first. Then, as Vera puts it, “but he always get his way. I never get mine” — the issue of fairness.

I looked at Vera when she spoke those words, and it was a picture of a disgruntled little girl who’s been trying to be “good” and “the big sister,” but who inadvertently felt trampled upon at the end of the day. Her need to feel loved and heard had not been met. So it’s no wonder that she couldn’t feel the joy of relinquishing her rights in order to create peace in the home.

If we dig deeper, beyond the “who owns it”, beyond the “who came first”, the heart of the matter is actually the intangible stuff, stuff such as love, selflessness and patience.

These virtues are at stake here.

Why don’t I want to share MY toy? Because I want it and I want it now. I come first. Me. Me. Me.

Why can’t I wait to take my turn? Because I want my way. NOW.

I realise it’s a lot harder to focus on the intangible things, and so easy to play judge and decide who’s right because “he’s younger, he doesn’t know” or “you’re the big sister so you should give in.” But as in all family squabbles, it’s important not to take sides. The truth is it takes two hands to clap, and two selfish hearts to fight.

I also realise that little brother needs to learn that not everything bends his way just because he’s small (and loud). And he needs to learn how to wait.

Patience – the art of waiting and coping with your emotions so that you don’t blow up.

Selflessness – the art of moving over so that you give some room in your heart for others.

Things that even us adults struggle with, so what more young children?

We held a family discussion and drew some boundaries on how to share, and how to wait for your turn.

This is helpful as it sets out some boundaries for the kids to follow, some tips on what is helpful to say, and what’s not. For instance, ignoring the person’a request for the toy isn’t helpful. Saying “go away” or “I came first” isn’t helpful. “Can you give me 5 minutes? I would like to finish this song.” works better.

Of course, this will need some repeating, and heaps and heaps of practice in the months and years to come.

But perhaps more importantly (as a good friend reminded me one morning) is help them see the why.

Why should we bother with sharing? Why is it important not to fight? Why work hard at keeping the peace?

Sharing means less tears.
Sharing means more joy all around.
Sharing means we love more, hurt less.
Sharing means a peaceful home.
It also means that we are becoming the boy / girl that God wants us to be. And this is probably the most important reason of all.

Once they are able to see that we’re on their side, and that we’re working towards the same goal, it will help to motivate them to keep trying.

How do you manage sibling rivalry at home? Any tips to share? 

duo_share

A lovely Easter brunch at Xperience, Sofitel So

We had a lovely Easter treat at Xperience restaurant and bar at the newly established and very swanky Sofitel So. There were specially planned activities for kids. And of course lots of easter eggs, and Joshie’s all-time favourite item – balloons!

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Brunch began with a generous entree buffet. These cute little eggs were filled with truffle egg custard, pretty inviting don’t you think?

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The seafood spread was just awesome – king crab legs, lobster, Australian and French oysters, prawns, sashimi, smoked salmon and tuna. I really enjoyed the crabs; the meat was one of the sweetest I’ve ever tasted. The hubby preferred the lobster and tucked into the seafood heartily.

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We were even treated to foie gras and truffle siew mai – dim sum with a French twist! This had an extraordinary but exquisite taste.

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Josh was happily chewing away at a variety of breads and breadsticks.

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Executive Chef of Sofitel So, Anne-Cecile Degenne, doing what she does best.

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Check out these delicate desserts. I loved all the chocolaty treats!

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By the time we got to our mains, I tell you the truth, we were already 70% stuffed. The hubby ordered the lobster and scallops laksa risotto. It was really full of flavour and the scallops were as juicy as they were decadent. I went with the wagyu short ribs with truffle gnocchi and I really loved it too. The short ribs were so tender they almost melted in my mouth.

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Halfway through our meal, the kids were whisked away by cheery hotel staff. Little Miss was treated to some face painting.

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She adored the Elsa design on her arm. But of course.

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While JJ got himself a spiderman balloon sculpture and a sword sculpture.

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Then the great easter egg hunt began.

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Super happy with his spoils.

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Because the kids were kept occupied, we could enjoy our main courses in serenity and peace. (Josh was also fast asleep by this time, thankfully.) So I would say given the wonderful feast, and the fun activities, plus a spot of quiet for us parents, this had all the makings of a memorable easter Xperience. Thankful, and will definitely be back for more!

So_easter2

We were invited to the So Easter brunch by the lovely folks at Sofitel So. All opinions and pictures my own.

Love never fails

Vera surprised me one evening with this drawing of the hubby and I. It had a bold caption: Love never fails.

There were flowers in a vase on a table. A big cross stood out in the middle of the table.

It reminded me of this verse in 1 Corinthians.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

I asked Vera why she chose to draw the cross. She said it means that Jesus is in the house.

I then asked why she chose to write the words “Love never fails.” She said it was papa who gave her the idea. She originally had in mind some other words to write, but she thought daddy’s idea sounded better.

I was glad for this gentle reminder to keep God in the heart of all things, including our humble home.

As for everything else, Love never fails. His love, that is. Our human love may wane or fade or grow cold over time and trials. But His love never does.

Love_never_fails

 

 

Inspiring mumpreneurs: Elaine Kim, co-founder of CRIB

I met Elaine Kim briefly when a mutual friend introduced us at a meeting. When I found out she was the co-founder of CRIB, a Singapore-based social enterprise which aims to empower women to become successful entrepreneurs through networking, matchmaking and business incubation, my interest was piqued and I wanted to know more.

When I interviewed her, I found out that she was much more than just co-founder of CRIB. She is also a doctor in palliative care and co-owns bridal boutiques in Hong Kong and Singapore. She shares more about her entrepreneurial journey here…

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Elaine with her husband and their two lovely boys

1. What inspired you to start CRIB?
My co-founder Tjin and I are both entrepreneurs and at her birthday party a little over a year back, we were discussing bringing our kids on a play date on a weekday afternoon, and realised how fortunate we are to have fulfilling careers as well as flexibility and control over our time thanks to entrepreneurship. Building a successful business is very challenging however, especially for women, so we wanted to build an ecosystem to help them meet their needs.

Unless you start, nothing will happen.

2. Women tend to place limitations upon themselves, whether self-imposed or by others. How did you overcome your own mental barriers?
Women tend to have a lack of confidence in starting a business. I overcame it by just going ahead and making a plan, taking a first step and taking the plunge. Unless you start, nothing will happen. I was also very fortunate  to have a supportive and encouraging husband. In addition, a huge factor was that I had co-founders to complement my own skills and to share the workload and weight of owning a business with.

Specific to CRIB, our biggest challenge is raising the capital to fund our programmes and operations. We are a not-for-profit and aim to be financially self-sustainable, but as is the case in many a start-up, raising the initial seed funding is the hardest. But again, we have to make a plan, make our first steps and take the plunge , and I trust we will overcome any challenges.

I have learned to separate time at work and with kids to be more productive when working and give the kids my full attention when I’m with them.

3. How do you balance managing a business and family?
I’m incredible blessed to have a lot of support-  a supportive husband and family, good business partners, a great team at the hospice, good helpers at home, and 2 easy-going sons. Also I work really hard, while being committed to taking advantage of the flexibility and control I have with my time to make family a priority, eg working at the hospice while the kids are at school and planning business meetings during my sons’ nap time so I maximize the quality time I have with them.

4. How do you involve your children/spouse in the business?
My husband is a venture capitalist at Amasia, and has years of experience in the finance industry working at a hedge fund and Goldman Sachs, so I always turn to him for advice on investment and financial matters.  I try to bring my children with me whenever I can , but I also have learned to separate time at work and with kids to be more productive when working and give the kids my full attention when I’m with them.

5. How would you encourage other mums who are thinking about starting their own business?
Just take that first step and see where it leads! And join CRIB, helping women to start and grow businesses is what we are here for. Many of our CRIB society members join even when entrepreneurship is just an idea they are contemplating – and CRIB is good place to explore further.

6. What gets you going every day?
As a Christian, my faith, the desire to live according to the plans God has for me, be a blessing to others and make a positive impact through what I am doing gets me going every day.

7. What is your favourite part about working on CRIB?
The incredible people who are part of CRIB, from my passionate co-founders, Tjin, Marilyn and Mei, the growing CRIB team without whom none of our plans can become a reality, our growing community of CRIB society members, our inspiring board advisors and the panel of mentors who are successful entrepreneurs themselves.

Thanks, Elaine and the team at CRIB, for working to enhance the business environment for women in Singapore!

Check out CRIB and its offerings here!

A weekend at Pan Pacific Singapore

We recently spent a weekend at Pan Pacific Singapore. Here’s how it went…

Day 1

10am – Mad, happy packing for our staycation. The kids are raring to go, and keep asking, “are we going yet?”

2pm – We are treated to an in-room check in and introduced to the room and hotel stay privileges. The best part is that we get to enjoy Pacific Club up on the 38th floor. The guest relations officer tells us the extra bed (for Vera) and cot (for Josh) will be brought to us soon.

Pan Pacific Singapore

2.15pm – The kids (and the big kid) test out the bed by jumping on it.

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2.20pm – Test over. Seems like the bed passed. Daddy explores the mini-bar and makes himself a cup of Nespresso. His usual part of the whole checking out the room routine.

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Panpac_nespresso

2.35pm – While we are busy unpacking ourselves into the room, Vera’s deep into this Bible Story Mazes & Puzzles for Kids book (aff link). I’m glad we brought this along.

Kids' puzzlebook

2.45pm – We draw the blackout curtains because it’s time to let the kids nap, which we knew was going to be extra hard since everyone was so excited.

2.50pm – The extra bed and cot arrives. Thankful the room is large enough to fit them comfortably. I leave daddy to nap the kids as I’m due to get a 50-minute deep tissue massage at St Gregory Spa. It promises to stimulate the deep tissue, improving circulation and releasing tension – sounds like exactly what I need.

3.02pm – I stop to smell the orchids on the way to the pool and spa.

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Am greeted by two bright and chirpy welcome officers. They introduce me to my masseuse who walks me to the massage room.

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4.10pm – I finish my massage and feel as light as a rag doll. The masseuse was detailed and applied strong strokes where my body appreciated them most – the sore neck, shoulder and calf areas. She was also discreet and quiet throughout the time, so I could really relax my body, mind and soul.

Pan Pacific - enjoy a massage at St Gregory

4.20pm – After being treated to a lovely Griffiths aloe vera tea to refresh myself, I walk back to our room on the 26th floor. It is pitch dark when I arrive. The daddy tells me the kids only fell asleep at 3.45pm. (Looks like the holiday late night schedule has begun.)

4.30pm – Hubby goes up to the 38th floor to enjoy complimentary afternoon tea and some peace and quiet. I wander about the room in semi-darkness (with the help of a desk lamp), and try not to be jealous.

Panpac_tea

4.40pm – Hubby sends me the above pic, with the message “This is shiok!”

5.15pm – The kids rouse from their naps. We decide to head out to Marina Square for dinner. On the way, we pop in to an interesting dinosaur exhibition made entirely of balloons.

Marina Square balloon dinos

8.45pm – After a romp at the indoor play area of Marina Square, we head back “home,” tired and happy. Josh is the first to get his bath, while his sister monkeys around.

9.40pm – Lights out!

Day 2

8am – Rise and shine! We hurry down to Edge, the hotel’s main breakfast buffet area. You can also enjoy champagne breakfast at Pacific Club, but only if you’re without kids, or have kids who are above 12 years old.

It’s still relatively early so there’s no queue. We get seated beside the egg station. Ooh, the smell of freshly fried eggs.

Panpac_omelette

8.30am – I fetch another round of fishball noodles for the kids and get to wander around a bit. I discover the restaurant actually has my favourite childhood snack – tutu kueh! I try to introduce it to Vera but she says it tastes funny. (Facepalm)

Panpac_tutu kueh

 

9.20am – We arrive back at our room on the 26th floor to see that it’s being cleaned up. (These guys get started pretty early!) So we walk back down the hallway to the “floating” room to sit down and relax. I thought it was the business centre but later find out the actual centre is on level 22.

9.30am – Daddy whips out the iPad and the kids gravitate to it.

Panpac_level 26

11am -I put Josh down for a nap, while daddy brings the other two for a swim. I catch a snooze with Josh since I’m feeling a little under the weather.

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12pm – The kids return from their swim and are playing in the bath. Josh is up too.

12.30pm – We head to Suntec for lunch and find the whole place swarming with people visiting the IT show. We duck into a Japanese ramen place for cover and some ramen.

1.15pm – JJ falls down at the restaurant and suffers a bloody gash on the knee. We run to the nearby pharmacy to look for some large plasters. The daddy finds some waterproof ones and we buy that. I also get some Piriton for my drippy nose.

2pm – Back at the hotel, we manage to convince JJ that he’ll be like Baymax if he puts on the plaster. He is convinced (thank God). After the plaster is slapped on, he also gets a chocolate treat. He’s then happy boy again.

2.15pm – The kids enjoy a short TV time.

3pm – We try to get everyone to nap. Even Vera, as she’s going to have a date night with daddy to catch Beauty and the Beast at Marina Bay Sands. I’m feeling feverish, so I fall asleep too.

4pm – Daddy wakes up and decides to head to Pacific Club for tea and some reading.

5pm – Everyone is up and ready to go! Vera puts on her dress with glee. The rest need some cajoling to change.

6pm – We grab a quick dinner at the foodcourt nearby as daddy needs to bring Vera for the musical.

7.25pm – The duo heads to MBS and I head back to the hotel with the two boys.

9pm – I convince JJ to pretend he’s asleep so that Josh can fall asleep. (The trickiness of rooming in together…) 10 minutes later, Josh is down. Hurray!

Panpac_sleeping

9.29pm – It’s interval time at the musical and the hubby calls to check on my fever. He also sends me a pic of them posing with the Beauty and the Beast backdrop.

Beauty and dad ;)

9.38pm – I treat JJ to a pre-bedtime snack of raisin bread that we got from Bread Society. He tucks into it happily, while I make myself a cup of organic chamomile tea, from the room’s complimentary stash.

9.50pm – I brush JJ’s teeth and wait for him to fall asleep. Then I get up to finish my tea and read a few pages of my Jenni’s book: Simple Tips for Happy Kids. I figured the light-hearted pages filled with practical, doable parenting tips and quotes would make a good staycation read.

simple tips for happy kids

 

Day 3

8.30am – We all wake up late today. By the time we get to the restaurant, there’s already a short queue.

9am – We are seated, and I immediately get some prata (nearest) for the kids. Then I head for the fishball noodle station. Daddy gets juices and bread. After that, we tuck into some fresh cut fruits. (With kids and a bit of practice, we can be very efficient with food.)

11am – Yey, splash splash!

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11.50pm – Heading back to the room after the swim, a little glum.

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12.20pm – Daddy is mad packing while the kids watch TV and Josh calls the receptionist to chat. I pretend to be busy taking photos.

hello? room service?

12.42pm – Josh gets bored of chatting on the phone and tries to help papa pack instead.

Panpac_happy_packer

12.55pm – We enjoy a smooth hassle-free check-out and head for home. Grateful.

Panpac_home

Thank you, Pan Pacific Singapore, for a sweet and memorable weekend.

PS. From now till 31 December, the Pan Pacific Hotels Group is offering a SG50 Staycation promotion to mark the nation’s milestone year of independence. All Singapore citizens and residents will enjoy complimentary daily breakfast for two persons and a S$50 daily accumulative in-house credit which can be used for selected hotel services and outlets. More details here.

The stay at Pan Pacific was sponsored for the purpose of this review. All opinions and photos are as usual mine.

Daddy and daughter meets Beauty and the Beast

The daddy and Vera had a magical date night watching Beauty and the Beast.

This is the first time that the award-winning Broadway musical hit has landed on Singapore shores. It is also incidentally Vera’s very first musical. We thought for quite a while before deciding to let her watch it, as it would mean a very late bedtime. But in the end, she enjoyed it so much that we were glad with our decision!

We interviewed Vera to find out what she thought about the show…

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Vera, who do you think is the star of the show?

I like Belle. She’s really beautiful. I also like the candlestick (referring to Lumière) because he’s so funny. He kept asking the Beast to “be a gentleman, be a gentleman!”

I also like the clock (referring to Cogsworth). He looks so funny, with that funny face and hair.

Lumiere the candlestick

Why do you think Belle fell in love with the Beast?

Because she thinks the Beast loves her, and he really does.

So why does the Beast love Belle?

Because she is so pretty! And…he is not at all handsome.

But in the end he transforms into a handsome prince right?

Yes! But he’s got long hair!

And that’s weird?

Yes, very weird…

Hilary Maiberger plays Belle and Darick Pead plays the Beast – both are a couple in real life, which explains their chemistry on stage.

Were you scared at any point in time?

Yes, I was scared when the bad guy came on stage (referring to Gaston, the bad boy who wanted Belle for his own, at all costs). He wanted to catch Belle’s father. And Belle doesn’t want to marry him, but he forced her to marry him.

Is that why you cried?

Yes, because I don’t like Gaston. He’s so bad to Belle and her father.

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What about Belle? What do you like about her?

I like Belle because she is funny.

Why is she funny?

Because she reads so many books.

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If you were Belle, would you marry the Beast?

Of course not, he’s not handsome at all!

But Belle married the Beast…

(She ponders for a moment) Ya…Okay, I may marry the Beast too, but only if he was kind and good to me.

So the Beast was kind and good to Belle. That’s why she married him?

Yes.

Is there anything you like about the Beast?

I like that he reads books with Belle. And he keeps asking her to “read first.” So funny.

BB1

Be Our Guest

And of course, I also had to get the daddy’s opinion…

Me: So why do you think it made a good daddy and daughter date?

Daddy: Well, because she’s the beauty.

Me: And you’re the beast?

Daddy: No, I’m the best. (grins)

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is showing at the MasterCard Theatres, Marina Bay Sands, from now until 3 May 2015. Performance times are Tuesday – Friday: 8:00pm, Saturday: 2:00pm and 8:00pm, and Sunday: 1:00pm and 5.00pm. Tickets start from $65, and can be purchased from Base Entertainment Asia, Sistic, and Marina Bay Sands. Don’t miss it!

We were sponsored a pair of tickets for Beauty and the Beast for the purpose of this review. All opinions are erm, my 6-year-old daughter’s. Photo credit: Base Entertainment Asia.

Keeping love warm – Thoughts from our 7th anniversary celebration

Every wedding anniversary is a time to celebrate the years that have been marked, the milestones that have been ticked off, the accomplishments…

But it is also a time to think about the future.

What kind of life do we envision? Who do we want to become, and stand for, as a couple?

In a couple of years, the kids won’t want to be around us so much. We won’t be needed so much. We will finally have some free time.

What will we do with each other then? Will the flaws show up? Will we start to nitpick? Will we get bored?

~~~

anniv_teapot

So we celebrated our anniversary over the weekend. It was at our usual spot, the place where we tied the knot. We visit every year, and it’s interesting to see how they’ve continued to do up and enhance the venue and its offerings year by year.

We decided to order the afternoon tea set. I ordered a black tea with a strange name. We sat and ate and chatted for two hours.

Towards the end of it, I realised that my tea was still warm! I examined the tea pot, and lifted up the shiny metal cover. Underneath was some kind of rubber insulation material. Ah-hah. There was the simple magic to keep the tea pot warm.

I thought about marriage. There is so much at stake within a marriage, and yet marriage itself is so much at risk these days.

How do we keep the love warm? What are the insulators that will help us defend ourselves from the many temptations?

In the past, divorce used to be taboo and frowned upon by society. That in itself was a deterrent for married ones to be too quick at calling it quits.

Today, there is pornography and all manner of sexual addictions, there is the temptation of affairs both online and off, there are financial stresses and burdens on young couples, there is the ever present lure of work and shrinking of leisure and family time.

Let’s be honest, it is hard.

We need to take a long hard look at how we are insulating ourselves from the elements. What is our rubber insulation hidden under a shiny metal cover?

  • Are we working on our communication?
  • Are we aware of our own negative attitudes?
  • Are we making time for sex and intimacy amidst our hectic lifestyles?
  • Are we giving attention to each other even while having to give so much attention to our children?
  • Are we leaning on God for help in the areas where we are weak?
  • Are we showing appreciation for the things that he does?

Over the warm tea, we evaluated ourselves and where we’re at. We both agreed that over the past seven years, we’ve been so caught up in the whirlwind of parenthood that we’ve neglected to really put in the work on our marriage.

Our role as parents will diminish as the years go by, as our children grow in independence and responsibility and prepare to face the world as adults. However, our role as husband and wife remains for life.

This year, I hope that we’ll work on creating more quality moments together, and seek to understand more than to judge and criticise. I will work on being a better partner, and on learning how to complement him better.

My prayer is that we’ll not just be life partners, but partners in life, for life.

What are some ways you keep your love warm?

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