Masks MUST be folded in the ziplock bag

Glad to know that my practical “ziplock bag” tip that I shared during the live session was added in the MOE video, and is going around.

It was the simplest solution to ensure Kate doesn’t place it on the table during recess or stuff it into her bag before heading for PE.

The back-to-school memos from their schools have clear instructions about mask handling, including asking parents to provide mask case/ziplock bag, labelling them and folding the masks properly. Very helpful for all parents.

However, I’ve seen some infographics going around stating tips such as “Give your child a large ziplock bag so they do not have to fold their mask.”

That is INCORRECT.

Here’s why.

Your healthy child wears his mask to school.

During recess, he removes it and places it UNFOLDED into a large ziplock bag.

(For the sake of simplicity, we’ll refer to the inner/outer sides as clean/dirty sides).

The dirty side would have come into contact with one side of the ziplock bag.

After recess, he opens the ziplock bag and takes out the mask to wear.

The empty ziplock bag, with both surfaces touching, would transfer the germs from one side to the other.

During PE, the child opens the ziplock bag and again puts the UNFOLDED mask inside.

The clean side of the mask would now be contaminated!

Here’s another scenario.

If a child is slightly unwell or asymptomatic.

He wears his mask to school. Droplets from his mouth and nose would be in contact with the inner side of the mask.

If he doesn’t fold it before placing it in the ziplock bag, the whole bag would be contaminated.

The next time he places the mask back on his face, both sides would have his germs.

THE RIGHT WAY is to FOLD THE MASK in half INWARDS.

Fold mask in half to reuse
Mask hygiene and handling is super important.

Don’t forget:
* Wash hands before and after handling of mask.
* If both sides look the same, sew their initials on the outside or use a permanent marker.
* Do not stuff masks straight into your school bag or pocket if you are going to reuse it.
* To throw used mask away, fold it inwards, and fold it in half again, and use the straps to secure it before throwing it in the bin.
* Wash and rotate a few ziplock bags to keep it clean, dry it thoroughly before reusing.

Instruct them by showing them slowly, explaining why you are doing certain steps, and let them run through the whole process themselves until they get it right. Give them lots of encouragement and praise and don’t forget to have a big dose of patience!


Here are 7 tips to get your child ready to return to school.

About MummyWee

Michelle Choy is an Occupational Therapist by day and mum of 6 by night. Besides the already very demanding job of managing 5 teenagers and one 6-turning-16 tween, she is also Founder of The Little Executive, a nurturing centre to develop children in areas like resilience and adaptability, to survive today’s volatile world. She also makes time to volunteer with children and the elderly in her community.

Behind the scenes of MOE’s AMAA + my 7 tips

Goodness, that was the strangest live session I’ve been on.

What went wrong?

The TIMING was unfortunate.

When MOE announced their plans to reopen schools, cases have been going down and staying at single digit.

However, just before our Ask Me Anything About (AMAA) session, out came news of the 3 preschool teachers testing positive and numbers went up to 13.

It caused a knee jerk reaction, which resulted in a flurry of anxiety amongst parents.

Perhaps what MOE needs is a professional PR strategist!

At that juncture, many parents were not interested in hearing about Back to School tips.

We see how Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is played out here.

If parents’ anxiety about survival – life and death, health and safety concerns are not met, they are not ready to discuss the next level.

Such a mismatch of expectations and the 3 of us panellists took the bullets.

Our session was about Preparing your child for THE TRANSITION BACK TO SCHOOL.

Some parents did not read the topic.

Or, they simply equate MOE session = can ask anything pertaining to school.

It didn’t cross their minds that in that 1 hour, we have to stick to the topic for the parents who tuned in for ways they can prepare their kids for the transition.

If MOE had a crystal ball and Team Incredibles, they could have quickly pivoted, postponed our session at the 11th hour, do the crazy backend arrangements and work till 3am to get a new session in place titled Ask Me Anything About WHY SCHOOLS ARE RE-OPENING IN PHASE 1 with our Education Minister and his team in the hot seat, ready to answer all the pressing concerns parents had.

Only after that should our session follow.

But alas, hindsight is 20/20.

I really feel for the team. They put in so much effort, sincerely wanting to engage parents to allay their fears. I wonder, why do they even bother to try so hard to reach out to parents. Then I look at the responses and 600 people gave Like/Love while 100 gave angry faces. Which means 85% of parents appreciated the session. Good to know.

A shout-out to the parents who bothered to give encouraging comments and likes, thank you! And to those who asked questions politely and respectfully, thank you for doing that. Aren’t we role-models for our children?

A great lesson for me indeed. Now I truly understand how easy it is to tear others down, especially for our teenagers and young people who are on social media a lot, and the kind of damage it can do to their self-esteem.

We have a lot of work ahead of us before we can become a gracious society, both offline and online.

Luckily we are seasoned warriors and can continue with a smile and do what we were meant to do for those who wanted to hear. These weekly AMAA sessions are usually filmed in the studio, and the remote sessions came with its own challenges.

At the tech rehearsal, the directive was to keep it relatable and to share our advice as parents. That was the tone of these AMAA sessions.

During the actual live session, the comments came fast and furious, and it was hard to sieve out the questions from comments. We were fed the questions to address and were unable to see the hundreds of comments being typed in.

We could only do our best πŸ™‚ Thank you to those who reached out to let me know the session was beneficial and you picked up lots of helpful tips. I’m really glad to hear that.

School will be reopening next week, and some parents are asking if HBL can be optional.

If MOE said yes, who will the burden fall on? Teachers, right? They would have to prepare two versions of lesson plans. A set of learning materials for the classroom and another online set for HBL. That’s like working double shift! They would have to teach a full day in school, and in the afternoons, deal with the kids who are on HBL. Viable? I think not.

However, let me share with you what happened many years ago. My P2 daughter had a classmate with HFMD. We were not informed and one day she mentioned that 9 of her classmates were on MC. I was shocked! I emailed her form teacher and as feared, they were all down with HFMD. I made the decision to keep her at home because I had 5 young kids, a baby and elderly folk at home. The early HFMD strains were very severe. Thankfully I did, because more kids fell ill. In those days, there were no safe distancing measures, no mask protocol, kids were not reminded to wash their hands regularly, and there was no transparancy. In fact, I feel more reassured now than at that point in time.

I took on the responsibility of keeping up with her school work and thankfully she had a classmate in the same condo and the helpful girl would drop off her homework every day at our door. I taught her myself so that she wouldn’t lag behind and give her teachers additional work to help her catch up.

My advice. If you are super anxious, keep your preschool kids at home for the first day, week, or even a whole month if you have the resources. Let those who need the childcare support go first, and with a smaller number, teachers can facilitate them better into a proper routine because there are going to be a lot of changes for the kids to adapt to eg they need to sit at their own desk 1m away from their friend, what they can’t do, what they have to do (wear mask & wash hands regularly) and once they get used to it, things should be smooth.

For Primary school kids, well. If you feel strongly about not letting your kids step out of the house, no one is holding a knife to your throat. We are in a pandemic. These are your children.

Can HBL be optional? Cannn. You be the HBL provider lor. Simple as that. The onus would then fall on you. Email their teacher to let them know, ask parents in your class chat what topics were covered that day, which page homework to do, teach them yourself and be considerate not to further burden their teachers.

I did a survey with my parents. On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being I do not feel safe at all letting them out of the house and I prefer to do HBL for Term 3, to 10 being I’m worried but I want my kids back in school and I’m assured that the school is well-prepared to receive them.

The majority said they were between 5-8.

I am certain Principals, VPs, HODs, teachers, support staff and cleaning staff are doing their utmost to get the school compound and SOPs ready to receive our children back safely.

We can never THANK YOU enough for your dedication and perseverance as you do what needs to be done, quietly, day in, day out.

But re-integration HAS TO BE a multi-pronged approach.

And it starts from the home.

WE THE PARENTS need to do our part to teach our children how to take care of themselves and to be socially responsible, and teachers will take over when they are in school.

Here are some practical tips on getting your child ready to go back to school.

1. Mask / Face shield
Points to consider:
– Mask VS Shield. Masks offer more protection. But if your child has medical or skin condition and is unable to wear mask, they need to at least wear a shield.
– Cloth VS disposable: Cloth seems to be more comfortable and breathable, and better for the environment.
– Wearing for such long hours: Comfort is key. As it is something she has to wear daily, I’ll invest in some good masks for Kate. Ask around for mask recommendations. My friends who have tried various masks have shared with me some brands which are thin, effective, and comfortable. Good for our weather. Will provide the info in FB.
– Homemade vs big brands: I love to support local anytime, but for masks, it takes trial and error to get the fit right. Manufactured ones have been tested and certified for their effectiveness. But be wary of unsupported claims as many mask ads have been surfacing. Don’t forget to check how many washes it is effective for. Eg I’ve found a mask for $15 which can take 150 washes. Some are only good for 30 washes.
– Get the ones with adjustable straps for a snug fit
– Practice wearing their mask, starting from 1 hour, increasing the duration each day.
– Buy minimum 2 masks for each child and wash it daily. Some material dries very quickly, in less than 4 hours.
– Put 1 or 2 extra disposable masks in a ziplock bag in their schoolbags just in case.

I’m certain we can train our kids to do what needs to be done. Yes, it is not going to be easy but instead of focusing on what our kids can’t do, shift the mindset to how can we get through this. Mask wearing is here to stay. It is through such that this generation of kids can build resilience.

#2 was telling Kate about her school trip to Vietnam, where our JC students were complaining about trekking up the mountain and having their feet frozen in winter. Until they met the kids who hiked up daily to get to school. They were wearing slippers and had abrasions and frostbite, yet still cheerful and happy they can go to school.

Perspective.

2. Personal hygiene

– Get them into the habit of frequent and proper handwashing. Nag them until they get used to it.
– Cut their fringe if it brushes their face, or use more clips to keep hair in place
– Tie their hair tight, or wear it in a braid so it stays in place till they get home
– Wash hands immediately when they reach home. Better still, get them to change out of their uniform / shower before having lunch.
– Adults as well. When we get home, before hugging them, best is to have a shower first. For this period, avoid sharing plates even within the family, if parents are going out to work.

I had a neighbour who was a nurse. Her son was down with HFMD and she was worried that her other young kids and grandparents would get infected. She was very strict about hygiene, and isolated him in a room. She told the other kids that they were not to go near him, no playing, no touching and when she brought food in to him and fed him his medication, she would wash her hands and change out of her clothes. No one else in the family were infected.

3. Recess

– Pack food if possible so they don’t have to queue or handle money. I give Kate rice with Japanese sprinkles and vegtables eg brocolli, cauliflower, cherry tomato. Her snack box is filled with fruits that can keep well like grapes, blueberries, strawberries, bananas, watermelon to boost her immunity.
– Teach them how to remove their mask properly and keep practicing until they get it right. Wash hands, remove it carefully, fold it with the clean side in, put it in a clean ziplock bag, wash hands again before eating.

4. Sleep

Sleep is the most important aspect to ensure they don’t fall sick and their immunity is kept high. Most kids have been having a late bedtime during the holidays and it is time to gradually tune back their body clock.

– start by moving bedtime gradually eg 9.30pm for a few days, 9pm, 8.30pm, 8pm. A proper bedtime seems to be the hardest thing for parents to instill!
– aim for 10 hours for lower primary school kids and 10-12 hours for preschool kids.

My kids never fell ill even though they were in childcare where it’s easy to catch all sorts of bugs. They slept at 8pm, drank lots of water, had fruits & veg and stayed happy and stress-free.

5. Alternate weeks of HBL

– keep consistent schedule even on weeks when they are at home
– prep them in advance that once school resumes, even during HBL, no more long hours of watching movies or playing on their gadgets.
– back to school checklist:

* Ensure uniforms and school shoes are not too tight or short
* Get a haircut, prepare black hair accessories
* Pack their school bag and get stationery ready
* Storybook
* Thermometer (check that it’s working)

6. Our kids are watching

If you are feeling frustrated, keep it between the adults. Our children don’t need the extra baggage. Let them go to school with a positive mindset. They take their social and emotional cues from us parents, try to stay calm so they don’t pick up your anxiety.

7. Reflect, give closure to this phase

To close this chapter, talk with them about how we all started out feeling uncertain, fearful even, but we overcame so many hurdles together, bonded as a family, as a community, overcame challenges with HBL, gained new skills. They can look back on this time and use these coping strategies when they face adversity in future. A good way for them to remember that they are a part of a bigger community and to remind them to be grateful is by making cards to show their appreciation to their teachers.

Some kids may be feeling very anxious about going back to school. Be more understanding and gentle, don’t be so quick to scold them, and encourage them to express what they are feeling.

Everyone has to play their part if we want a successful Phase 1.

Parents returning to work have to do the same things we are asking our kids to do. Mask on, keep your distance from others, no sharing of food with colleagues, hand washing regimen, so we don’t carry back viruses to our families. I think wives need to nag husbands just as much as the kids to wash their hands! And to keep handphones in their pockets. Or is it the other way around πŸ˜‰

As we emerge from our homes, and gradually reintegrate into society, numbers will go up. Don’t panic. Stay calm and clear-headed.

MOE is not a Total Solutions Provider. Everyone has to step up. Employers need to do their part and allow a more flexible work arrangement to help parents with this alternate HBL schedule. We need all parties to step up and say “this is what I can do to help.”

And please. Parents, if your child is feeling unwell, keep them at home. We are only as good as our weakest link.

But parents will be saying, it’s my employer! So employers, please, be more understanding.

Employers need to allow parents to WFH to care for their child if they are sick. We cannot have situations where parents have no choice but to be socially irresponsible and drop their kids off at childcare or school even when they are ill. Slight cough or sore throat, also must stay at home. This is one of the greatest fear parents have.

Colleagues may have to step in. Take it as doing national service. We need to operate on trust.

Eh, maybe we need to go one level deeper. Customers, clients, if you are told that the staff is on leave because they need to tend to their sick child at home, please, don’t complain. Be understanding. We don’t want the sick child to go to school and spread their germs all around right?

Heartwarming headline: “Bubble tea long queue, but customers patiently wait in line, knowing they are short of staff due to sick child at home.” Can we show some unity and solidarity?

If our parents gave us $100 billion dollars as a lifeline, wouldn’t we all be doing our part to ensure the house doesn’t collapse? We really need to up our #resilience and #fortitude.

The better and quicker we get through Phase 1, the earlier we can move on to Phase 2. Let’s get on with this, folks.

The only way to get through this is by standing together and being proactive. Instead of giving unhelpful comments like “do you know how pathetic the soap is in schools?” flip it over and think about what we can do to make it better.

In Kate’s Whatsapp class chat, just before the circuit breaker, one mother immediately volunteered to provide a bottle of hand soap for the class sink. Other mothers said they would be the next in line once it ran out.

That’s the spirit we need. And that’s what we want our children to witness.

We can be bigger than this crisis.

Let’s be sensible, share helpful tips with one another, and spread positivity, not fear.

P.S. Wow parent, you made it to the end of this long post. I know right, so much to do to get the kids ready. But I have great faith in you! I’m sure together, we can get through this!

Stay safe, stay strong, stay sane πŸ™‚

About MummyWee

Michelle is an Occupational Therapist by day and mum of 6 by night. Besides the already very demanding job of managing 5 teenagers and one 6-turning-16 tween, she is also Founder of The Little Executive, a nurturing centre to develop children in areas like resilience and adaptability, to survive today’s volatile world. She also makes time to volunteer with children and the elderly in her community.



Lessons learnt during the Circuit Breaker

Just like the rest of Singapore, we slowed down, spent time cooking, baking, and came up with creative versions of snacks. Our new favourite is digestive biscuits with Biscoff crunchy spread topped with ice cream. Try it!

Whenever the kids are bored, they would congregate in the kitchen and we seem to be eating round the clock. #1 has successfully brewed her first kombucha tea! She’s currently trying to brew a mango and passionfruit version.

When we see some yummilicious desserts on IG, the girls would gamely try to make it. We can open a home bakery soon, eh? As for the boy, he spends way too much time gaming but rationalises that Minecraft helps with creativity and he is bonding with his friends and there’s teamwork involved. He’s been patiently teaching Kate how to play it and they both tell me gleefully that “Isn’t it good mum, that we are getting along nicely?” Ah well, it’s the holidays anyway. I have decided long ago to pick my battles. Right now, I need peace in my household.

For many families, the bonding time together is something we will remember and treasure.


Kate put it so well, “This is the best time ever!”

To her, having the whole family home with her every single day is all she needs to be contented and happy. Oh, to see the whole through the lens of a child.

The hubs deserves a CB Medal – “Best person to be stranded with”. He was still working but managed to serve up restaurant standard meals daily. He loves to cook and does it very quickly. Hmm, perhaps we could open a Home Restaurant – hubs cook, kids make dessert, I entertain.

He was also Mr DIY. Our water pipe burst and the toilets couldn’t be flushed and he sweated for hours, problem-solving with his box of tools until everything was working well again. The air-con leaked and he got up there to fix it. Not only that, but he cleans up thoroughly after he is done! Finally, I appreciate all these monstrous-looking equipment lying around the house.

I have always been daunted by technology but decided to face it squarely and get comfortable with it. I learnt to access one platform at a time, both for work and to help Kate navigate HBL. We fumbled through it, failing time and again, but every morning, she would say, “Mum, let’s try again today!” Love her indomitable spirit.

POSB reached out to me to share my parenting advice on managing HBL with their parents, but the studio session turned into a remote one. Can’t be helped, just have to stay calm, figure out new tech skills, and it was enjoyable!

One big takeaway was that I’ve found a better way to help parents. I’ve been running parenting workshops for years and the biggest challenge for parents was to find time to attend and they tell me they wished they had come down and learnt all of this earlier. With online sessions, they can do it from home at their own time. Now to figure out how to get my workshops online!

I am embracing this whole new world that tech has opened up. Such a dinosaur. But better late than never right?

So much so that when MOE asked me to join their panel to share from the parent’s’ perspective about Transitioning back to school, I didn’t hesitate and said Yes! I am feeling empowered and want to keep learning and overcoming my technical handicap one step at a time.

Tune in to MOE’s Facebook page tomorrow Thursday, 21 May, 8pm where Ms Liew Wei Li, Deputy Director-General of Education (Schools) and Director of Schools, along with Ms Beatrice Chong, Divisional Director of Curriculum Planning & Development will be taking questions live. So join us, and ask away! (I’m just the sidekick.. I’m sure parents have lots of questions for them regarding the new announcements made yesterday about returning to school).

I’ve been using this time constructively to keep up and I joined my first Webinar. Wow. All so foreign to me, but I’m getting the hang of it. I signed up for a Webinar for SG businesses by IMDA, Webinar for education providers by DBS, Webinar for parents with teens etc and it’s mind-blowing how technology has made so many things accessible.

With the extra time on our hands, we’ve been exploring all sorts of things. #4 is studying for her O levels, and to de-stress, she spends time on her hobbies and is launching her jewellery brand.


Kate was inspired and decided to start her own business too. She made cute little bookmarks and played around with Canva to create her own ad posters. She said, “I’m going to sell these and give some money to the poor people.” You  go, girl! A tiny entrepreneur with a big heart. We’re behind you all the way!
This episode has definitely re-defined what is possible. We have embraced a growth mindset, stretched ourselves, and emerged all the better for it.

We can walk away with many valuable lessons from this experience and change the way we look at things. I’ll be asking a lot more why not? in the months ahead πŸ™‚

About MummyWee

Michelle is an Occupational Therapist by day and mum of 6 by night. Besides the already very demanding job of managing 5 teenagers and one 6-turning-16 tween, she is also Founder of The Little Executive, a nurturing centre to develop children in areas like resilience and adaptability, to survive today’s volatile world. She also makes time to volunteer with children and the elderly in her community.

8 Skills your child needs for the Virtual Classroom

With our recent HBL and WFH situation, both children and adults had to quickly grasp how to communicate and work effectively with one another via screens.


There is no doubt that with the advancement of technology, new avenues of communication are now easily available. It is amazing how #1 could still continue with her UK internship in the comfort of her own room. Of course, there are limitations with the practical modules, but virtual classrooms will allow all sorts of learning opportunities for our children.

For adults, we are getting comfortable with remote meetings with our colleagues, bosses and customers. These are skills we take for granted but our children may not have them yet.

I remember listening in on Kate’s live lessons and her teacher could hardly be heard over the din! Some students will keep unmuting themselves and chat about random topics instead of paying attention.
These are 8 skills children need to develop for the Virtual Classroom:

1. Screen confidence
Being able to speak clearly and present themselves confidently, not mumbling or hesitant to speak up.

2. Focus
It is not easy to maintain focus during an online class because you can’t see or hear everyone clearly. Are they able to pay attention even when it is not their turn and to listen attentively to what their classmates are sharing? Or are they distracted with others in their own environment or fiddling with their toys?

3. Following instructions
Being able to listen to what the teacher is saying, remembering the steps and doing what they are supposed to be doing.

4. Communication
Being able to join in the conversation appropriately, listening respectfully to the views of others and participating fully.
Virtual Classroom
5. Independence
Being able to handle the activities themselves, without needing the help of their parents.

6. Social etiquette
To be properly dressed for lessons, sitting up at a table and not snacking while their teacher is teaching.

7. Resilience
Having a growth mindset and persevering when faced with difficult questions or other challenges and not giving up.

8. Being mindful
Even though they can’t see their teacher or friends they have to be mindful of what they are saying, and not veer into inappropriate language or topics.

Our children are suddenly thrust into the virtual space, and they need to be guided along. Once they learn how to be a good learner, they can learn almost anything, from any programme in the world!

This May school holidays, we are running 4 exciting Virtual Camps to equip your child with these skills the fun way!
Virtual Holiday Camps
Stomp along with Dinosaurs, Make ice cream with your favourite Frozen characters, Go on a virtual vacation with your new friends or Brush up on your Reading and Writing with movement and craft.

With our small group setting, our energetic educators are able to provide a safe and nurturing environment to guide your child along as they navigate and become proficient with remote learning, all while having a blast!

In our Virtual Classrooms, students will be interacting with their educators in real-time, via laptops or tablets, enjoying activitie such as Scavanger Hunts, Exciting Games and Puzzles, Interactive Story-telling, Movement activites and Art & Craft.

Click on TLE’s Virtual Holiday Programmes for more details!

About MummyWee

Michelle is an Occupational Therapist by day and mum of 6 by night. Besides the already very demanding job of managing 5 teenagers and one 6-turning-16 tween, she is also Founder of The Little Executive, a nurturing centre to develop children in areas like resilience and adaptability, to survive today’s volatile world. She also makes time to volunteer with children and the elderly in her community.