Living life with a brimming heart

Being in hospital wakes you up. To life.

I had such a scare 2 weeks ago. Went in A&E due to a severe allergic reaction to a heat pack where I struggled to breathe (sounds bizarre right, it was placed on my skin and I didn’t even ingest anything!) and ended up staying for 8 days.

At one point, the doctors were alarmed with the test results pointing to an internal bleed and it was one test after another to find the site of bleed or clot.

It was a pretty terrifying time of not knowing what is wrong, and it didn’t help with the covid restrictions, making it all the more lonely without family around.

However, the silver lining was that the scans picked up several other issues that I needed to see to before they become bigger problems.

The whole thing started because of a pain behind my ribs, and my daughter gave me a heat pack to try to relieve the pain. Any movement like a cough or sneeze or turning in bed caused sharp pains, and I couldn’t even take proper breaths.

Being stripped to your bare functions, the only way is up.

It makes you grateful for every single thing that we have, and not to take anything for granted. Being pain free, able to move about, that is such freedom!

so glad to go home!

The time in hospital became an unexpected gift.

For the first time, I could rest. My body and mind.

Time stood still. No agenda. Nothing on my schedule. I was alone, with my thoughts and prayers.

I’ve been running non-stop since I had #1. People assume I’m an over-achiever or type A personality, but I’m not!

When you become a mum, the wheels start to turn, and there is no PAUSE button.

And somewhere along the line, I lost myself. Many a day, we were struggling to keep our heads above water.

And here I find myself, 23 years later, finally being able to pause because I am in hospital. Having the luxury to stop, take a deep breath, and recalibrate.

It seemed like not so long ago that we held our firstborn in our arms. And now she has graduated. She is the same age as when I had her! She’s been working hard curating an online museum for her final project and was feeling stressed. And we had a good laugh when I did a “in my time..” Sometimes, shifting their perspective helps them know that they can rise up to the challenge.

In my final year overseas as an Occupational Therapy student, I was attached to a hospital for 2 months. It was physically and emotionally draining working with burns patients, a lot of heavy lifting, and I remember a gentleman who was in my care and he suddenly passed away in the middle of the night. His wife and children were flying in to be with him, but never got to see him for the last time. Heart wrenching.

After work, I went home and cared for my little one, who was still not sleeping through the night. The hubs and I had decided to have a second child as we thought that 2 years was a good age gap.

I guess it was all too much for my body and I had a miscarriage scare and the doctor told me to take it easy.

What were we thinking, right?! My classmates used to look at me in disbelief. This heavily pregnant petite girl, with a toddler in tow, walking around campus, trying to get all my work done before I went into labour.

That momentum never stopped and one thing led to another. The 6 kids, our first failed business, my blog, starting The Little Executive and being a parent coach.

It was never about setting out to achieve anything, nor was it about making money. I just feel compelled to help. My mind is always bustling with ideas on how I can better reach out to parents and children, and this has been my focus for the past decade.

Suddenly being stuck in hospital, with shocking scares of internal bleeding, a lump found, elevated cancer marker, falling blood count, it jolts you.

Not being able to see Kate and the other kids, simple things that are suddenly taken away, it refocuses you to the real priorities in life. Work becomes the last thing on your mind. All you want is to be well again. To be healthy, so that we can be here with our family.

I look at things differently now. Every moment we have with people we love is so precious.

It reminded me of a personal story a lady shared with me. She lost her young son to cancer, but what was beautiful was that they spent every waking moment enjoying life with him in the months before he passed on. How many of us parents live like that? We never imagine our kids being taken away from us, and we go through our days with a lot of yelling, unhappiness, unresolved conflict.

I don’t want to go through my days living a life of dull routine.

I want to live a life where my heart feels like it is bursting with love and joy! Where every day feels like a miracle of life.

I remember living like that, before the responsibilities of being a parent, challenges of making a marriage work, financial worries and chronic sleep deprivation pushed me into a zombified state. Where the pressures of keeping a business afloat occupies your mind constantly.

I need to acknowledge that we have come a long way. I live my days with calm, no more a screaming momster, I make time for self-care, and both the hubs and I have learnt to become better parents.

It’s time to take the next step, to not just get through our days, but to live it with passion and a heart brimming with life! Both the good and the bad.

I want to wake up in the morning and jump out of bed! Simply because it’s a brand new day!

And to shout it on the mountain top, that

Life IS a miracle. Every moment of it.

Haha, not sure if anyone can relate.

But I’m determined to find that magic back!

About MummyWee

Michelle Choy is an Occupational Therapist and mum of 6. She is also co-Founder of The Little Executive, a nurturing centre developing resilience and executive function in children. She is a Parent Coach and her signature Mummy Wee: Parenting Secrets courses help parents navigate this challenging journey. She is an Award winning blogger and is regularly featured on national TV, radio and print media. Get her FREE guide: 3 easy ways to get your kids to do exactly what you want them to do without nagging, shouting or caning.

Bespoke Perfume Workshops at Maison 21G

We were invited to Maison 21G for a Family Perfume Workshop and my girls said that it was the best workshop ever! The ambience was posh, service was excellent, and product definitely very unique and much needed!

I was very keen to customize my own perfume because it’s not easy to find the perfect scent that I really really like. I don’t want it to be strong and overbearing, and I also don’t want to smell like someone else in the same room!

I wanted a signature scent that was me, which gives me a spring in my step as I walk out my door to take on the day with great enthusiasm and confidence.

Upon entering through the glass doors, we were transported into an elegant atelier where strong scents hit you.

We were warmly welcomed by Amanda, and the workshop commenced with a short introduction about the world of perfumery which was quite interesting.

The usual Eau de parfum fragrance concentration is 20%, while Maison 21G has the highest level of perfume concentrate in the industry at 21%. This basically means that it can last longer and take you through the day. In comparison, Eau de toilette is 12% and Eau de cologne is at 5%.

Do you notice that your perfume changes slightly throughout the day? That is because all perfumes have 3 parts to it. Top notes are like first impressions and lasts about 30 minutes while heart notes which makes up the character of the perfume lasts about 6-8 hours. Bottom notes has the longest and most complex molecular structure, which is like your soul, or the impression you leave behind.

Maison means “home” in French, and everyone is welcomed to feel at home, where you have total freedom of self-expression to create your very own scent according to your desires, whether you want to feel light and fresh, sophisticated or sexy!

Maison 21G specialises in clean perfume which are made with natural essential oil blends. Their fragrances are freshly blended by hand, and are preservative-free, cruelty-free and vegan which is great for sensitive skin and noses. They are also transparent and sustainable in the sourcing of natural ingredients. Definitely a brand that resonates with my environmentally conscious young adults!

After the presentation, the fun began!

We started with a Personality quiz. That helped to narrow down some suitable scents for each of us from the 35 individual scents.

We were advised to choose between 3 to 4 different scents. We had to resist the urge to be too “greedy” as more is not better!

I wanted something for the day, which could be grounding yet sophisticated, and with a zing to inspire me. Something that when I spritz on in the morning, I get invigorated to get to work or whatever event I have for the day. Haha, sounds like a tall order?

Amanda was a great help in guiding us, and she did understand the scent I was envisioning.

At one point, my girls got slightly FOMO when they sniffed each other’s chosen scent. I heard them going, “what did you put in there, it smells nice!”

With her expertise in the combinations of the perfumes and in reading people, she helped us to settle on our final scents. Once that was decided, she calculated the exact weight of each scent which was to be added, as different percentages would bring out a different end result.

Now, it was time for us to take our seat at the very cool science-lab looking section of the atelier. Very carefully, we filled our perfume bottles with the exact measurements of the essential oils as per the formulation.

Ta-da! We now have our very own signature scent! Such a thrilling feeling!

It was very interesting to observe how each of my girls’ creation reflects their personality! The youngest chose one that was light, fresh and reminds me of the ocean. Another chose a floral, sweet, happy scent with jasmine. The older one chose a more complex, warm, comforting scent which had honey and almond.

Mine was a lovely scent which is grounding and sophisticated yet with refreshing and motivating notes.

It is such an indulgent experience to have an exclusive scent made just for you! Truly, a touch of luxury in a bottle.

If you want a custom perfume in Singapore, now is the chance! I have a very generous promo code for you! Just mention mummyweeblog to enjoy 21% off all perfume workshops and 15% off all online products.

This workshop is the perfect gifting idea for Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, Ladies’ Day out, your wife’s birthday (calling all dads!) or even a team building event. Grab your people and create your own unique scent!

Family Atelier $350 (2 adults & 2 children, 1.5 hours, $80 per additional child)

Private Love Atelier $350 (2 pax, 1.5 hours, 2 glasses of champagne)

Private Creation Atelier $150 (1 pax, 1 hour, up to 8 people)

Team Building Atelier $150 (1 pax, 1.5 hours, 1 perfume, up to 50 people)

Bridal Atelier $150 (1 pax, 1.5 hours, 1 perfume, up to 8 people)

Maison 21G

Flagship Store

77 Duxton Road, Singapore 089536

Ion Orchard

2 Orchard Turn, #B2-48, Singapore 238801

BHG Bugis Junction

200 Victoria Street, Singapore 188021

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 7-turning-17 tween, she is also co-Founder of The Little Executive, a nurturing centre to develop children in areas like resilience and executive function. She is a Parent Coach and her signature Mummy Wee: Parenting Secrets courses help parents navigate this challenging journey. She is an Award winning blogger at Mummy Wee Blog and has been regularly featured on national TV, radio and print media.

Not just one mindset to the top

If you are getting all stressed about the frenzy and nitty gritty details of the new PSLE scoring, and want a breath of fresh air, this is for you.

First, pause and take a deep breath. All that anxiety is not good for you, nor your child.

Let me share the story of my daughter.

She was a diligent child, paid attention in class, and did her homework. We had 5 young kids then, and with no time nor desire to be her tutor, we were completely hands off, except to provide encouragement.

Here grades were consistent and there was no reason for her to have tuition.

Until 3 months before her PSLE.

She scored Bs and Cs for her Prelims and I thought she needed additional help. On hindsight, it was a waste of time and money. Her SAP school had set the exam papers so tough which seemed an unnecessary and demoralising strategy.

For the PSLE, she scored 3 As and 1 A* which to us were excellent grades, all by her own efforts over the past 6 years.

However, it surprised us that even with straight As, her aggregate was 230. With the T-score system, the value of an A became discounted because there were too many students with high scores.

Actually, the biggest change with the new grading system is doing away with the T-score, and students will no longer be measured against how well they do in relation to their peers in that cohort.

It will follow the O and A level system, where the grades will be based on their absolute standards, NOT in comparison with their peers.

Anyway, back to my story.

We looked at her aggregate and chose a school with COP of 228, which was 2 points below her actual aggregate, so that she would get in quite comfortably. It turned out to be a very good school in our opinion, with a Principal who led with a heart, and very caring and dedicated teachers who went the extra mile.

She made it to a JC and there, she studied hard, played hard, and took on a plethora of extra activities like mission trips, public performances and headed countless committees.

Somehow, she managed all her responsibilities as well as her studies.

She scored straight As and was amongst the top scorers in her JC.

Many friends and relatives congratulated us, like it’s some kind of badge of honour that she was well on her path to becoming a successful lawyer or doctor and was also offered the provisional PSC scholarship based on her grades and extra-curricular activities.

Honestly, I am as proud of her achievements as I am of my other daughter, who will be graduating very soon with a degree in fashion. The funny thing is, her sister who pursued fashion had a higher aggregate for PSLE than her.

We encourage our kids to follow their passion and find their purpose, rather than conform to our pre-set expectations of the path we want to force upon them.

We didn’t immediately narrow down the top courses based on her eligibility but kept her options open and explored courses based on her interest.

It was a toss between law or liberal arts at Yale-NUS. She is clearly an arts student. She enjoyed literature, taught herself to play 7 instruments and loves performing arts. After her A levels, she went to Artfriend, bought some materials and produced paintings that were pretty amazing for an amateur!

Life-like doggie

We attended several open houses, spoke to artists, musicians, arts graduates and concluded that she could keep these interests as hobbies. She applied to law schools both in Singapore and in the UK and we finally decided that it was best to study locally as we still have 4 younger children to support through University. It turned out to be a wise choice due to the current situation.

She started school and told us how she was the only one who scored so low at PSLE haha. The majority of her classmates had scores of 270 and above.

It is not that she is a late bloomer, but most of them had tuition all the way from primary school till JC.

It was an intentional choice I made right from the start and was prepared that my kids would not have that kind of perfect scores like their tuition-aided peers. I wanted them to have a balanced view of life and to develop other skills. They learnt to be independent, self-directed learners, and spent a lot of time exploring and creating.

I aimed to give them a happy childhood, and was always mindful that the mental health of our children are just as important.

I am deeply concerned about the mental health issues and suicide cases amongst our young people. There are many contributing factors – the impact of social media on their self-esteem, high academic demands, expectations of parents, grappling with teenage issues of relationships and identity. I shudder to think that the severity and finality of taking one’s own life has been lost on this generation of young people, and the impact it will have on their parents and family. The almost nonchalant response of peers towards a life lost is chilling.

We all need to take a step back and look at the big picture. How can we bring the stress levels down? No one can fix this problem alone. Not MOE, not the parents, not the schools, nor the counsellors.

The only solution is if we can come to a consensus that making mental health a priority cannot be compromised, and that underpins everything else.

I try to support my children where I can and keep a lookout for their breaking points. We want them to do their best and not waste their potential, but not at the expense of their mental health.

Success to me means that they are always willing to try, to keep going forward, to learn from their mistakes, lend a hand to others, be a good person, develop other interests, enjoy the journey, and know when to push forward and when to rest.

this sweet child made me my fave biscoff cake once her exams were over

Being in law school is no joke. The amount of content they have to pore over can be overwhelming and they study long hours. She relaxes by baking and is getting quite good at it! We joke that if the day comes, when she becomes jaded by the profession or of having no work-life balance, she can do the trendy thing and become a home baker.

Kate will sit for her PSLE in 3 years’ time.

I am unperturbed by the new changes because nothing very much has changed fundamentally. Not the curriculum, not the exam questions, nor the number of places in each school. Yes, it all sounds rather confusing and we have to get used to the new numbers, but I view it as being similar to the O level system.

Will I re-strategise and do anything different from my 5 older kids?

The answer is no.

I will just be more careful in choosing her 1st choice school, and ensuring that it will be within the COP based on the past years because there will be a much larger number of students in that same band, vis a vis vying with students with the same aggregate in the old system.

I am indeed heartened to see some parents staying calm and level headed and not adding to the noise surrounding this change.

Ultimately, we don’t want our kids to be just book smart but to acquire all-round skills and the resilience to help them navigate life and the future workplace.

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 7-turning-17 tween, she is also co-Founder of The Little Executive, a nurturing centre to develop children in areas like resilience and executive function. She is a Parent Coach and her signature Mummy Wee: Parenting Secrets courses help parents navigate this challenging journey. She is an Award winning blogger at Mummy Wee Blog and has been regularly featured on national TV, radio and print media.

Mother’s Day Hair Makeover at CINQ

I’ve been living with my boring long hair for years, easy to clip into a bun and not bother about. But Mother’s Day is coming up, and yes, I deserve some pampering and a brand new look!

Where better than the salon celebrities head to, in the heart of town. CINQ is Singapore’s Leading Hair Studio and they take pride in not only ensuring that customers get the look they envision, but they will tell you the honest truth if a particular treatment is not suitable for you and is going to ruin your hair.

That kind of integrity and brand ethics, I’m all for.

I was placed at the expert hands of Tristan and he suggested I try a bob as my hair is nice and thick at the top but straggly at the ends. I haven’t had a bob since like 20+ years ago when I had my first child! I hardly had time for a long shower, let alone a trip to the hairdressers, and just kept the most low maintenance hairstyle.

We scrolled through some images and I pointed out the ones I liked. He advised me that a graduated bob at the back would be harder to maintain as it grew out. Not only that, his opinion was that a square cut bob would suit my personality and overall look better, and he read me rather accurately! He said that as I was more the grounded, not flamboyant type of person, the cut he would suggest for me would be more classic instead of edgy.

I felt comfortable with him and was happy to leave him to do his magic!

My daughter wanted some soft highlights to liven up her hair which she had coloured previously. She knew exactly what look she wanted to achieve, and discussed with the colourist, Jackie, to ensure the colour would work well on her hair. Many a times, we like a particular look but the result ends up very different because of our individual hair texture and colour. That’s where we need the experts to advise us.

She chose an ash grey colour and it turned out beautifully. Subtle and nicely blended in. It’s also versatile which affords her different looks when she ties up her hair or fix it in a bun. Most importantly, she loves it!

For me, I didn’t want any fancy colour streaks, but because I have very dark black hair, she suggested we go with red highlights to brighten up my complexion. I do have a pale complexion and my wardrobe consultant used to advice me to experiment with brighter colours, instead of the earthy colours that I gravitate towards.

Tristan was right, and the chic bob suited me well! Paired with the subtle red highlights, my hair now looks less dull and has more volume.

Somehow, a hair makeover can make you feel amazing and happy! I walked out of the salon feeling lighter, fresher and rejuvenated! It’s like all that “auntie” vibe and mental load has been snipped off as well haha. Best of all, my older girls said I look great!

Kate was the funniest. She has always preferred long hair and was shocked that I cut my hair. It was the first time she saw me in a bob since she was born! She kept asking me why did i change my hair? A moment later, she came to me and said, “Actually, mummy, your hair is quite nice.”

And when I posted my new look on my personal FB page, my lovely dear friends inundated me with “stunning”, “loving your new look” comments that really made my day hee hee 🙂

Well, now I’m motivated to spare a bit more attention on my appearance! The past 20 years have been the qet-ready-as-fast-as-you-can-no-time-to-waste mentality but I think it’s finally time for me to embrace me. Not mummy-Michelle, but ME! Thank you, Tristan, and the team at CINQ for this wonderful makeover!

Hooray to all mothers! Let’s celebrate motherhood, and take time for ourselves, in whatever self-care that works for you. The lovely people at CINQ would like to pamper all mums this Mother’s Day, simply quote Mummyweeblog for 20% off all hair services from now till 31 May 2021. Grab your girlfriends, gift your mum a treat, or make this a bonding time with your older kids or sisters. Enjoy!

CINQ

6 Scotts Road, Scotts Square, #03-16, Singapore 228209

Tel: 66360100

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored review. All opinions are my own

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 7-turning-17 tween, she is also co-Founder of The Little Executive, a nurturing centre to develop children in areas like resilience and executive function. She is a Parent Coach and her signature Mummy Wee: Parenting Secrets courses help parents navigate this challenging journey. She is an Award winning blogger at Mummy Wee Blog and has been regularly featured on national TV, radio and print media.

Executive Function skills for PSLE students

We ran a series of Executive Function workshops for Primary 6 students to get them ready for the PSLE and it was clear that this is a missing piece of the puzzle in their exam prep.

The months leading up to the PSLE is crucial, and they need to be able to manage themselves, not get distracted by other things and to focus on their revision. Parents who have gone through this milestone with their older kids realised that it is getting the kids to start on their revision and to stay focused are the hardest part! It is not easy for 12-year olds to get organised, draw up a plan and stick to their revision schedule.

These are all Executive Function skills, and children need to be taught these skills explicitly. Over the years, we have noticed how our own TLE kids who work on these skills weekly are way ahead of their peers when they join us at our P1 Prep camp.

We asked the P6 students how they were feeling about the PSLE and almost all said they were stressed. Either because they felt that the workload was too much and the work itself was too difficult, or that it was hard to focus on revision when they would rather be on social media or play games on their gadgets. Some were stressed because they were afraid that their parents would scold them if they did not do well.

We helped them to gain the awareness that they could be in control of their own thoughts and actions. This was a powerful realisation for them! They realised that while their impulse may be to check their notifications on their phone, they could make a decision if they wanted to give in to their impulses, or use new strategies to stay focused on their work instead of constantly being distracted.

The students were very honest and admitted that they spent long hours playing on their devices especially when their parents were at work. It was heartening that by the end of the workshop, they were motivated to try harder.

We introduced them to an interesting activity using plasticine, and it helped them to think of all the things that they needed to exercise more self-control in.

Parents with P6 kids know that by this age, it is futile to keep nagging and forcing them to do what we want them to. They need to want to achieve it themselves, and that internal drive is what will spur them to push on despite the challenges they will face.

We guided them to see the strengths they had, to encourage them and show them that they can do it! Some of them shared that their parents only nag or scold them, and that there’s no point in studying because even if they improve a little, their parents will still not be satisfied.

Parents need to play a part too! It is a long and demanding year for our P6 kids, try to affirm and celebrate their small wins. If they come home with a 10% increase in their marks, give them a pat on the back and tell them how proud you are for the effort they have put in. The next step will be to aim for another 10% gain for the next test, and the next.

They were given hands-on challenges to develop their Growth Mindset. It was not easy to build the tallest tower and many faced failure when the tower collapsed and they wanted to give up. I heard many versions of “Ms Michelle, it’s too hard. I don’t want to try anymore.”

I kept encouraging them, and asked those who were successful in building it up very high to share their strategies. One boy explained: “You need to start with a strong base, then at the parts when it is weak and starts falling, you reinforce with more plasticine. Settle that part first before moving higher.”

That was such great advice which his classmates could learn from, and it ignited a fresh wave of motivation in the kids who gave up. Sometimes, when the project seems too huge and daunting, we need to break it down into more manageable chunks.

Isn’t that helpful when we are learning something new as well? Get the foundations strong, don’t neglect the weak links, and keep pushing forward. I loved how simply he put it.

They learnt that to tackle the PSLE they need to have that same resilience, to persevere even when the work is hard or when they face all sorts of other challenges. To aim towards daily improvement and keep moving towards their goals.

By the end of the workshops, they felt more encouraged and empowered knowing that they could control their minds and that the outcome is in their hands, and they were excited to put into action all the new strategies they have learnt.

My hope is that one day, Executive Function skills will be a part of every school’s curriculum because not all students are fortunate enough to have parents who can afford to send them for enrichment classes.

Many of my TLE parents who are MOE teachers themselves see the change in their own children and have been trying to raise awareness with their HODs and Principal because they have witnessed that if kids don’t pick up these skills in the primary school years, the gap just keeps getting bigger by the time they reach secondary school.

My amazing Executive Team

While we continue our mission to help as many children as we can to develop this strong foundation, the good news is, if you have a child taking PSLE this year, we have launched this same programme at The Little Executive so that all Primary 6 kids can have access to it.

It runs as a 2 day camp during the June school holidays, 10 & 11 June, 9am-5pm, $620. For my Mummy Wee readers, mention that you got to know about this camp from my blog and you’ll get a 5% discount! Hope to meet some of you soon 🙂 More details and to register: https://www.thelittleexecutive.asia/holiday-camps

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 7-turning-17 tween, she is also co-Founder of The Little Executive, a nurturing centre to develop children in areas like resilience and executive function. She is a Parent Coach and her signature Mummy Wee: Parenting Secrets courses help parents navigate this challenging journey. She is an Award winning blogger at Mummy Wee Blog and has been regularly featured on national TV, radio and print media.

Apple Watch with FamilyConnect

Kate is in Primary 3 and this year she needs to stay back after school for 2 days, one for CCA and the other for Chinese remedial. Normally, she takes the school bus but we decided not to top up for the after-hours school bus service as we work flexible hours and are able to pick her up ourselves.

What we did not expect was the huge crowd of kids being released at the same time, and it was hard to locate her and we needed a way to communicate with her, especially when it rains.

Apple Watch Series 6

We don’t give our children a mobile phone until they start Secondary 1 so a smart watch is the next best alternative.

The timing couldn’t be more perfect as Starhub has just launched a new FamilyConnect plan at $8 and that solved the problem for us. Kate gets her own number, and there is no contract which means I can terminate it anytime. Do note that it has to tag along an existing Starhub plan, and the amount will be added to your bill. The $8 per month includes 1GB and 50 minutes talk time. That’s more than enough for her, and I find it more convenient than doing the pre-paid top up card.

I took Kate along to Starhub and she was super excited to choose her own number! She couldn’t wait to announce it to the whole family. Being the youngest of 6, she yearns to have the independence and cool stuff that her sisters have, and she can finally be included in our family group chat.

There is no physical SIM card but an e-SIM, and all I had to do was to pair her watch with my iPhone so that I can control the functions on her watch. Go to Settings, Family Sharing, and Invite People into your family.

Next step is to set up the Apple Watch using Family Setup via the Apple Watch App on my iPhone. It takes about an hour for it to sync.

In the meantime, I sat her down to discuss the rules. This is the most important part before handing over the watch to her!

For this year, she is allowed to have the watch only on the 2 days that she has to stay back in school. I explained all the restrictions that will be put in place and how Schooltime works.

She is not allowed to use her watch during school hours and if she unlocks it, I will be notified. I told her that if it happens repeatedly, she is not ready for the watch and I will have to take it away until she feels she is ready to try again.

Schooltime report sent to my phone

Initially I was puzzled why there wasn’t a way to lock the watch completely, which I would have preferred. But it seems Apple is big on respecting the individual (even though they may be our children) and giving them some autonomy. I can see the positive side of this, which is for Kate to learn self-control. She needs to manage her own impulse and not check it during school hours. Hopefully, this will help her to learn the skills to be able to manage her phone responsibly when she gets her own phone in future.

She didn’t quite understand what I meant, and told me that she found a way to hack into the watch during recess! I explained again how Schooltime works, and that I had been notified, and I showed her the report which was sent to my Watch app.

I reiterated that she is to keep her watch in her bag until after her CCA ends at 4pm. Her school has a “No smartwatch” policy, which I’m not opposed to, as kids do have the tendency to constantly check their watch if it’s on their wrist.

She finally understood that being on Schooltime mode meant that the responsibility was now handed over to her, and as digital devices will be a part of her life, she needs to learn to use it responsibly and within limits.

Pink citrus Sport band

Besides being able to call her (and vice versa), the other very useful function is the “Find my” app. This would allow her to walk to find me, in instances where I am picking her up, or where I have left her to run some errands around the mall. To access it, turn on your phone and swipe right. At the search bar on the top, enter “Find my” and the icon will pop up.

We practiced this with her, and I went to a nearby location and clicked on “Share my Location” with her. She set the guidance to “Walk” and it gave her directions to walk to me, e.g. “turn right”.

I’m big on making my kids independent from a young age and she has been going to our neighbourhood provision shop and the playground by herself after informing us. With this GPS tracker, it gives me greater peace of mind and she can call me anytime if needed.

There’s also a function where you can be notified if she leaves a location, for example an enrichment centre or wherever she is supposed to be, as well as being notified when she is adding new contacts on her watch so I know who she is communicating with.

Inverness Green Braided Solo Loop

Kate is still exploring the many other features of her watch like tracking her Move minutes (I might need to check on this during the school holidays when spends too much time on gadgets with her brother) but right now, she is mostly using the message function, navigating with the map and setting alarms to remind her to log on when zoom classes start. If she wants to download any app she needs to get my approval first.

The watch comes with a standard white buckle strap, but we found the Loop straps more suitable for kids. It is easy to don by simply pulling the stretchable band through to your wrist. Kate chose a Size 1 but found it a tad too “claustrophobic for my hand” (yes, she described it so melodramatically) so you might want to buy 1 size bigger. Simply follow the instructions to measure your child’s wrist to determine the best fit. There’s a whole range of gorgeous colours to choose from.

To change the straps, it is as simple as sliding it off and re-attaching another. Kate is really growing to like her watch and one of my older girls has taken over my Apple watch probably with no intention of returning it, while the other 3 are requesting it for their birthday gift!

Kate wearing 40mm case size

My teen has her own iphone and was never keen on the Apple watch, but after borrowing it for a day to try it out, she is now hooked on it! She likes the exercise tracking functions where you can set your own goals and get rewarded with awards. These small little rah-rah badges seem to motivate her to keep on track with her fitness targets. Well, whatever works!

We’ve also discovered an app called LumiHealth where Apple has partnered with Singapore’s Health Promotion Board to encourage a healthier lifestyle and you get to earn rewards of up to $380 cash!

What started out because of practicality and necessity for me to communicate with my 8-year old has become a cool lifestyle gadget for the family! She had fun personalising her watch face with a memoji and even added freckles!

Memoji watch face

Of all the functions the watch offers, Kate loves the Walkie Talkie the most and now she’s on the look out for any Apple watch users amongst her sisters’ friends. With a simple touch, she can speak to them no matter where they are! I didn’t quite understand their excitement because can’t you do the same by dialling someone and waiting for them to answer your call?

“Oh mum, you just don’t understand” came the reply.

Walkie-talkie function

I guess Apple really understands their users, and it is much more than functionality which keeps them loyal.

As I was tucking Kate into bed, she said she wished she could stay up later like the big people downstairs, and could she at least say goodnight to them? She pressed the walkie talkie function and it was really cute to hear the teenagers respond so sweetly to her, and with that, she went to bed happy.

She put her watch away as it went into Downtime mode, which I have set at 7:30pm. I like that the Apple watch is more restrictive than a full fledged phone and everything is controlled via my iphone, and this would be a good transition device for her, sort of like training wheels before she gets her own phone in a few years’ time.

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 7-turning-17 tween, she is also co-Founder of The Little Executive, a nurturing centre to develop children in areas like resilience and executive function. She is a Parent Coach and her signature Mummy Wee: Parenting Secrets courses help parents navigate this challenging journey. She is an Award winning blogger of Mummy Wee Blog and has been regularly featured on national TV, radio and print media.

Let’s not hide behind the convenient “late bloomer” narrative

My son had his first Edusave Award.

Many would call him a “late bloomer”. However, I feel we should not use the “late bloomer” label loosely, because it blind sides us to the potential we could have provided for him.

Being a “late bloomer” suggests that either a child finally “wakes up” and studies hard in secondary school, polytechnic, or University, or a child’s “intelligence” kicks in at a later age. Both of which are not true in his case.

Let me explain.

My son has a learning profile that does not match our current education system. He was a very active preschooler, outspoken, curious, and the type of child who thinks out of the box and always asks “Why?” and “Why not?”

He does not do that out of defiance, but because that’s how his mind operates. He genuinely wants to know the reason why something is the way it is, or why something can’t be done. Can we find a way to get around it? Has it been proven? Only after he has tried all sorts of ways to get around it without success will he conclude that he hasn’t managed to find a way yet. Many a times, he stumbles upon new discoveries while figuring things out.

However, this does not sit well with formal education as teachers have a syllabus to get on with, and they can’t manage a class of 40 with random kids piping up constantly, even if their questions or observations are legitimate. I understand, because I am an educator myself.

From the time he was young, we could tell that he is a bright child. He had never-ending questions, all logical, but it took a lot of patience to answer them! He easily picked up the rules of games quicker than his older siblings, and was doing advanced puzzles which he found around the house.

At 4, I sent him to Act 3 for a week of speech and drama holiday camp and the teacher said that he could memorize all his lines as well as the lines of every other child in the play in one morning.

When it was time to enrol him in preschool, I was in a dilemma. Having peeked into the kindergarten classrooms of my 4 girls which were of the traditional model, I was certain that my son needed an environment that was more hands-on and developmentally appropriate. Despite the logistics hassle, I decided to put him in a school with an experiential learning philosophy with a lot more outdoor time.

As expected, his preschool teachers commented that he talked a lot, moved non-stop, had lots of big ideas, was a natural leader, was curious how things worked (yes, a nightmare for most teachers) and was very creative. His creations and designs were very complex, always symmetrical, and had detachable parts that could “fly out”. Only when he was creating could he sit for long periods, fully focused, and he had the patience to dig through the entire box to find the pieces that he needed. He could conceptualise things easily in his mind, and could visualise them vividly before they take form.

They understood his learning style, and could accommodate them without compromising the curriculum outcome.

However, once he entered Primary school, all I heard was complaints from his teachers. His education journey went downhill from there. I had a lot of calls and texts from his form teacher.

Feedback from his P1 form teacher:

He talks a lot and asks too many questions when he should just listen to the instructions and obey them. He’s unable to sit still at his desk and pay attention and gets easily distracted and ends up distracting his classmates.

His perspective as a 7-year old:

When I questioned him about his “bad behaviour” that his teacher kept complaining to me about, he was surprised. He said that she kept repeating herself and taught the same concept 3 times so he tuned out and was thinking of his own stuff. The lesson was boring so he chatted with his friend next to him. It was hard for him to stay put on the chair and listen to her talk. He wanted to walk around the classroom and find something interesting to work on.

This kind of “out-of-the-norm” classroom behaviour earned him a reputation of being a “naughty” boy, and it became a self-perpetuating prophecy.

His P6 science teacher even told me at the PTM that he should save all his questions for when he goes to secondary school. Right now, just keep quiet, conform and focus on the PSLE and regurgitate the “key phrases”.

The one and only teacher who told me that he was not a naughty boy like everyone made it out to be was a male teacher. He shared that my son was actually a sweet boy when you spent time to get to know him and to hear him out, and he admitted that an international school would have suited him much better.

With the wisdom of hindsight, of my 6 kids, this child should have been homeschooled so that he could reach his potential and not feel like a misfit.

The turn around finally came when he entered an all-boys school in Secondary One. For the first time, he didn’t feel judged or labelled, and the teachers were more accepting of their different learning styles.

Not surprisingly, his favourite subjects in school is Design & Technology and Art. The other subjects with a content-heavy curriculum are still not ideal for his learning profile, and I’m looking forward to checking out the options in Polytechnic, where it is practical based and industry relevant, which would suit him much better.

There are indeed many more pathways now after the O levels. MOE has done a lot to widen the options at the tertiary level and I love asking my kids’ friends what courses they are in! The most unexpected one I’ve heard so far is a perfumery and cosmetic science course, and other interesting poly courses include game design, sports coaching, vet science, animation and film production. More importantly, the opportunities for our children to enter University via other routes besides the A levels or IB path are also increasing.

All of that is excellent, as we nurture life long learners, but what about the precious first 10 years of their formal education?

If my son’s primary school education was of a different model, one of exploration and experiential hands-on classroom activities, he would certainly not be a “late bloomer”.

It is too late for him to turn back the clock, but not too late for us to look ahead and take this group of children seriously.

These are the mavericks who have the potential to chart new horizons for the future of Singapore in a progressively disrupted world. Let’s not systematically kill the spirit of such kids but let their unconventional genius find root and take shape.

The sad thing is, my son is now very quiet, school is uninspiring and uninteresting, and his only creative outlet is in digital games, where strategy, creativity, and innovation is called for.

I can’t wait for him to finish his secondary education and to move on to something more relevant which sparks his interest, and where he can finally bloom.

Why a co-ed school was wrong for my son, and more school stories.

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 7-turning-17 tween, she is also co-Founder of The Little Executive, a nurturing centre to develop children in areas like resilience and executive function. She is a Parent Coach and her signature Mummy Wee: Parenting Secrets courses help parents navigate this challenging journey. She is an Award winning blogger of Mummy Wee Blog and has been regularly featured on national TV, radio and print media.

3 ways I’m committed to grow in 2021

2020 was a tough year indeed. It also brought to the fore 2 areas which calls for a radical change in mindset. Dealing with setbacks, and interpersonal relationships.

These areas of personal growth are not easy because they are counter intuitive, but I will try!

1. Love the Tough stuff

Instead of being afraid of an unending stream of problems, I am going to hold a totally different mindset. One where I won’t be surprised by more challenges and changes this year, and will waste no time in being shaken, but instead shift the focus on finding solutions and being resourceful. I’m going to channel calm and zen this year 🙂

There were also times last year when opportunities came by and I was hesitant to take them up. But time and again, when I went for it, I was ALWAYS the better for it. I will be unfazed by challenges and will embrace all of it!

I will make an effort to step out of my comfort zone, and so long as it aligns with my values, I will make a clean and clear YES. Instead of focusing on all the ways things can’t be done, the focus will be on creating possibilities. Yes to walking the talk of a growth mindset!

2. Accept Blame

Whenever something bad happens, we are quick to blame someone else. This results in friction and soured relationships. It is very hard to be the first to accept blame and to apologize. It just happened to me this morning with my teen! My first reaction was to get angry at her reaction. But after I cooled down, I began to reflect if what I said could have triggered her and she reacted to it. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter who was at fault, and it takes the bigger person to apologize. It really is not easy to handle relationships, especially those you live or interact closely with. It takes a lot to respond by FIRST reflecting if we had a part to play in it, instead of reacting or blaming others.

So tough to do, but I will try.

I also see it time and again at work. Parents come to us and they are at their wits end in knowing how to handle their “naughty” child. More often than not, it stems from a parenting problem, which led their children to behave the way they do.

Even for us. I’m not spared that my kids are already in their teens and early 20s. We had some issues recently with them, and upon reflection, problems surfaced because of the way the hubs and I parented them and we were unaware how we affected them. The beauty is the growth that comes from dealing with it head on instead of sweeping it under the carpet where it will fester and become a bigger problem.

The hardest step is to admit that we are part of the problem and to take responsibility for it. Many a times, it is because of how we ourselves were parented, and it is those brave parents who come to me in my parenting courses and want to break that cycle of constantly shouting and losing our cool with our children. There is no shame in accepting blame and doing something to improve the situation. In fact, it takes a lot of courage and maturity to do so. If we do that, conflicts will be resolved quicker and our homes would be happier places.

3. Open our Hearts

We’ve just stepped out of Christmas, a time of love and friendship. In today’s fast paced and digital world, people are connected yet never truly connected with one another at a deeper level. As a society, we have gotten comfortable accepting surface level connections.

This year, I want to try to be truly present to the people around me and those whom I cross paths with. Be it a child, an elderly relative, a new mum. To really listen to them as a person. Listening attentively and patiently to someone is not easy to do!

Our hearts have grown weary and cold with disappointments, struggles and hurts. All the more, we need to be there for one another, sharing on a meaningful level, providing love and encouragement, and listening intently with all our heart.

It is time to come together for one another.

Here’s to a brighter 2021 for everyone!

What are you committed to in the new year?

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 7-turning-17 tween, she is also co-Founder of The Little Executive, a nurturing centre to develop children in areas like resilience and executive function. She is a Parent Coach, helping parents navigate this challenging journey. She has been regularly featured on national TV, radio and print media.