Child's Nutrition, Material Moms

[Material Moms] How To Get Your Child To Drink More Water – Beverly Burgess

Getting their child to meet their daily requirement of H2O is a struggle many mums are familiar with. Our Material Mom Beverly Burgess has found a way around the problem, and she shares her tips here.


Most adults don’t drink their recommendated daily intake of water, and neither do many children. Considering water makesup 75 percent of our bodies, it’s important that we replenish our fluids regularly – especially in Singapore’s hot weather.

USDA recommends that toddlers drink 1.3 liters and young children up to eight years drink 1.7 liters daily. Do you worry whether your child is drinking enough water every day? Here are a few tips to encourage them to get their daily requirement of H2O:

1) Get your child to drink from a cup. Drinking directly from a cup naturally dispenses more water into your child’s mouth and also facilitates faster drinking. Try to wean your child off non-leak straws – those are notorious for making it hard work sucking any water out and the child often drinks less due to the greater effort required.

2) Flavour your water naturally. Does your child turn their nose up at plain ‘ol water? Boost it with some flavour like a squeeze of orange juice, or steep some cucumber in there. Water flavoured naturally with fruit and vegetables have the added bonus of giving their immune system a boost.

3) Chill your water. Few children will reject a glass of refreshing, chilled water. Pop a cube of ice into their cup to add interest (they can rattle it around) and icy coldness that is a hit with kids.

4) Use an insulated water bottle. When you’re on the go, invest in an insulated water bottle that you can fill with plain water and add an ice cube to. It will cool the water down and your child will have cool water whilst out – especially welcome if they are running around outdoors.

5) Serve more fruit and soups. Not all their recommended daily intake of water needs to come from plain water. Fruit, soups, and milk are also excellent sources of fluid and make a great snack for kids. Just remember, it is better for a child to consume plain cut fruit rather than fruit juice, which tends to have more sugar and lower fibre content.

Of course, I don’t need to tell you that dehydration has many unpleasant side effects such dizziness and sluggishness so be sure to practise what you preach and ensure that you, too, get your eight glasses a day.

BevChrisCloseupAbout the author: Having blogged for the past two decades spanning life in Australia, China and Singapore, Beverly Burgess entered an alternate universe at warp speed when she went from career-driven shopaholic and social butterfly … to juggling being a wife and a mother of two kids. All within three years. The career is now replaced with the privilege of being a full-time mum, but the urge to shop and socialize still remains (albeit with two obliging children in tow). And, she wouldn’t have it any other way. She blogs at Beverly’s Adventures.


Material Moms, The Mothership

[Material Moms] This Crazy Lil’ Thing Called Love – Elisa Woodward

One moment you are going, “I wish I were still single!”, the next you are going, “I love my kids to death!”. Don’t worry. You are not crazy. As Material Mom Elisa Woodward explains, these conflicting feelings are totally natural. 

elisa1Kids – one minute they are driving you up the wall with their antics, the next, they fill your heart with such intense love. Only a mother can understand that it is perfectly normal to oscillate from one to the next in the same hour.

Hands up if you have friends who openly lament the loss of freedom and personal time, and yet still continue to post up pictures of their kids coupled with public declarations of their love and adoration. Or, what about the colleague who complains how little she’s slept the previous night and proceeds to light up with joy when her kid calls her at lunch? We grumble about the mess our kids create, the toys that never get put away, and yet, the sight of them asleep in their beds makes our heart melt and all resolve to discipline them just vanish into thin air. All you want to do is hug and kiss them.

I think the love a parent has towards his/her child is indeed one of the truest loves of all, and it’s a love even my staunchest non-kids friends cannot deny.

A friend – who has made it more than clear that she doesn’t ever want kids – recently admitted that a child does give you a sense of purpose. “The child creates a purpose in life that goes beyond your career, marriage, and lifestyle. This is someone you are prepared to love unconditionally, someone you are prepared to take care of and nurture throughout his/her entire life. Even after you are gone from this world, you want to make sure they are well taken care of.”

I have no regrets about about having my kids at a young age. They bring to my life joy and completeness – although some days I need to be reminded. No matter how old they are, no matter if they are in university or are married with their own kids, your children will always be children to you.

As parents, we have such huge responsibilities because we bring children into this world not by their choice but our own. How we bring them up, how we teach them about life … everything depends on us. The years between 7 and 12 are particularly important because these years are when they formulate their thoughts and impression on love and human nature. Someone once told me that the only thing he remembers of his childhood was how it was particularly dark and unhappy, and that has somewhat coloured his views of the world and how he sees people. This is why it is crucial to make sure your kids end their day and go to bed knowing they are loved and protected.

Even when I’m miles away from my children, the thought of them brings a smile to my face. Just the thought that I have people to live for and that they are also dependent on me gives my life purpose.

And love is simply just this amazing.


About The Author: Elisa Woodward, a career-focused wife and a mom of two active boys, is a Jack of all trades, who enjoys flummoxing people. She likes getting her hands dirty (figuratively and literally), yet enjoys dressing up just enough to “look acceptable”. She embraces wholeheartedly the concept of getting older.



Child's Play, Material Moms, The Mothership

[Material Moms] What Is Your LEGO Parenting Style? – Cherie Tseng

Everyone’s favourite childhood toy can actually reveal a lot about your personality, says Material Mom Cherie Tseng. Read more about it and find out the interesting link between how you treat LEGO and your parenting style.

For our anniversary this year, my husband bought me a VW camper van.

Well, not the real thing (I wish!), but the LEGO version of one of my favourite vehicles. That sort of opened the floodgates to my resurgent love (read: mild obsession) of my favourite childhood toy. A single piece of LEGO could be part of my pretend pasta dish, a clutch for my Barbie dolls, a collar tag for my pound puppy, or the flag to my Castle Grayskull. Oh, the versatility!

So, since our anniversary, we have expanded our LEGO stash to some 500%. My two-and-a-half year-old son no longer attempts to eat or stuff small bits up his nose so I had no qualms indulging in my pent-up LEGO cravings at home. Of course, some of that has spilled over to my work since, well, we preach work-life balance. We expanded our LEGO-based training games at my training consultancy, and now I get to actually justify some of my LEGO buying as “work”.

Part of our stable of offerings is profiling programs. Besides the usual ones, we have some less serious but still very illuminating profiling experiences, like our art-jamming based one. More recently, I’ve begun using LEGO as a tool in my pre-hiring process. After all, LEGO, in all its versatility, can reveal more than you think – including your parenting style.

The “read the LEGO instruction book prior to embarking and following steps 1-2-3!” Parent

LEGO style: This is the person who thrives on method and protocol; when she gets a new LEGO set, she has to at least skim through the instruction book, sort out the pieces by colour, type and size, and find a designated space within which to work.

Parenting style: I call this the Disciplined Parent. My homeschooling friend S, an uber mum of four kids, is a classic example. Sure, she has her slack days and it’s not like she is a stickler in the mud, but she is the queen of order and is generally always on top of things. She is the parent who would do research on whatever she needs to know to death and, while kids can sometimes throw her a curve ball, she never stops figuring out new ways to become a better mum. She believes that parenting is a journey and that there has to a system to the inevitable madness, even if she has to invent a new way of doing things by simply learning more and becoming better equipped.

Happy family playing with blocksThe “must sort out all the pieces right from the start … deep breath … let’s start!” Parent

LEGO style: This is a person whose first act after opening a LEGO set – whether it’s a themed set or a creative one – is to separate the pieces at least by colour. Sometimes she would find herself surrounded my many trays to better contain the varied pieces, and she often needs a prescribed (read: kid-free) zone to work through her LEGO because heaven forbid if she loses a piece. She is usually only concerned with the journey and less so with the finished product, often happy to dismantle and store away even a complex build.

Parenting style: This parent has a strong sense of occasion, believing that everything has its place and time. I am fairly familiar with this parent type since, well, my husband is a prime example. He adores our kids and holds them to a fairly high standard. He expects kids to sit still at dinners, stay quiet on flights, and take adult care of the things they own. Clearly, he faces a lot of, ahem, frustration but he is constant in his own behaviour, steady in his interactions with his kids and is often a steadying force for his kids. And more often than not, because he treats his kids with a lot of respect, preferring, for example, talking to rather than talking at; his kids are better for it.

The “let’s free play with the LEGO creative builder box” Parent

LEGO style: This is a person who loves making things up as she goes. Even if she starts on a LEGO set, her building process is probably marred with many starts and stops and zero planning. And if there is a missing piece? She’d just make it up as she goes along.

Parenting style: Society probably calls this the hipster parent, and my friend A is a classic example. She has some, but not many, parenting rules. She is adventurous with the kids and often does things that are not the norm, like taking her kids lindy hopping, visiting weird places, or eating at off-the-beaten-path places. She may often seem out-of-sync with modern parenting – from maybe being an anti-vaxxer to letting her kids wear androgynous clothes. She is always fun, quirky, and takes life and parenting as it comes.

legoThe “I hate LEGO” Parent

LEGO style: This is a person who simply doesn’t quite get the hoopla about LEGO and would often rather buy less fiddly toys for her kids and herself. Minimal assembly required, thanks.

Parenting style: I call this the Get to the Chase Parent. My friend H is just like that and while she had a great time at the recent LEGO exhibition, The Art of the Brick, she treated it more like a visit to a museum. You could say there is a slight inclination to some measure of Tiger Mummying with this type. Her kids would boast a pretty tight schedule and everything in their lives gleams and sheens and are often the object of some mummy envy. Birthday parties might boast a pretty fancy cake with just the right decorations, at just the right location with always-glamorous people.

The “I am not really much of a LEGO fan but I think LEGO is an awesome educational toy” Parent

LEGO style: This is a person is kind of impassive about LEGO. She finds LEGO a nice-to-have kind of toy and is most glad to buy LEGO sets for others and her own kids since she is mainly sold on the educational value of the toy.

Parenting style: My friend S is one such parent. She has a great sense of responsibility to her kids and has a tendency to always find the best array of programs for them. Her kids attend an array of classes and workshops not because she is a traditional tiger mum but simply because it’s a learning tool that would enrich her kids’ lives. New pedagogies, new water filter, new school, new holiday program, new health thing … she would have her hands in that pie – often at the expense of her own schedule.

The “whatever you make should at least make some sense” Parent

LEGO style: This is a person who is happy to free play when the occasion arises, even if she likes following LEGO instruction books better. She has a healthy mix of creative sets and instructional sets, and will usually have many how-to LEGO books to better use her free play LEGO pieces.

Parenting style: I like to call this parent the progressive parent. My BFF and fellow Material Mom Joan is a classic example. She tends to have fewer rules than the norm and is fairly liberal and open in her parenting methods. Having said that, she is a real stickler for the few rules she has and can get disproportionately upset when those rules are flouted. She treats her kids like her friends and sometimes forgets that her child needs top-down parenting but is quick to catch herself and rectify when that happens.

lego 3The “must buy all the LEGO sets in a series type but have starting and finishing issues” Parent

LEGO style: This is a person who loves collecting all the LEGO sets in a given series and might spend copious amounts of time trawling the net searching for hard-to-find sets. She is highly excited to buy or receive a LEGO gift but might find it hard to start a LEGO project or even finish one. Sometimes, when in the mood, she finds herself in a blitz LEGO-making mood. But that burns out after a while.

Parenting style: This is classically me and, as I write this, I have three hard-sourced Harry Potter LEGO sets sitting in the corner waiting for me to find time to get to them. Parents like me find themselves constantly pulled in a million and one directions at any given time and it shows in how they raise their kids. There is a schedule but it’s always fluid. There is a plan but it might and usually change. They are most definitely parents who do not have a carved-in-stone bedtime or a real parenting plan, preferring to learn and adapt as they go. After all, change is the only constant. Right?

Cherie Tseng is mum to two little boys: Quentin, four, and Evan, two. They love superheroes, pizza and going on pretend adventures with mummy and daddy to save the world. She runs a regional training consultancy, co-owns a Singapore-Myanmar business brokerage outfit and is an essential oil enthusiast. In her spare time, she crafts, makes diaper cakes and practices aerial circus arts. Cherie occasionally blogs at The Growing Tree Project

Material Moms, The Mothership

[Material Moms] All It Takes Is One Mistake … – Joan Leong

Some lessons are learned the hard, painful way. And sometimes, one misstep could alter your life forever. Joan Leong explains, in this week’s Material Moms. 

one mistake

I recently found myself in a secret service-like operation that involved ex-FBI and special ops personnel, to locate and bring to safety a friend who was caught up in substance and physical abuse, whilst they were on holiday.

Donna (name changed to protect privacy) was having an affair with a much younger married man. They abused drugs and he abused her for putting up pictures of them on Facebook – they were supposed to be there for “work”, was their excuse. Her situation came to light after she continued posting pictures of her bashed up face on Facebook, all part of the drug-induced haze. This caused a worldwide frenzy amongst relatives, friends and colleagues.

The extraction was successful; we separated the pair and got her out on the next flight. When we received her at the airport, we were speechless at the condition she was in, even though we were very well aware of what had happened. Looking at her being pushed out in a wheelchair, swollen face, eyes circled by very angry and dark purple bruises, defensive bruises on her forearms, cuts on her knees that can only be caused by being dragged on broken glass on the floor… we were hit (excuse the pun) with the cold realisation that had we not done what we did, she would have died. Possibly from abuse, overdose, dehydration or even being mugged and left in a ditch for dead.

Did I also mention that Donna is in her forties and has two teenaged daughters?

And here’s the kicker: When she was about to be discharged from the hospital, she tried to put the bill on our company account despite us already fronting the cost of the extraction.

Fact or fiction? You decide for yourself. The point of the above account is a very important message that all parents should instill in their child while young.

Disciplining your child may not be fun, but it is so, so necessary.

Disciplining your child may not be fun, but it is so, so necessary.

When I was growing up, my father disciplined me with an iron fist. He told me that my main goal in life was to get a good education. He did not encourage play; watching television was a treat I savoured for an hour over the weekend.

“All it takes is one mistake to ruin your life forever”, he often said.

That being said, I was never one who was particularly fond of authority and rules I did not understand. Ironically, it was a trait I inherited from him too.

During my dad’s younger days, he decided when he wanted to go to school and when he did not want to anymore. He made up his own rules in life, and decided on the various levels of punishment towards the people whom he deemed miscreants (which included setting fire to the front of someone’s house once). Underneath all that, though, was a softie who often brought home strays, much to his mum’s chagrin – especially when she discovered a snake hanging off the windows.

It is with that same blend of personality traits that my dad ruled the family. He was tough as nails on discipline and education. He cultivated my type A personality (although I am nowhere near as perfect as him). He had (and still has) a way of doing things that he feels is the right way and we should just follow suit, so that we save time on trying to figure it out. We even had a dress code.

But he also loved us fiercely. Everything he did, was to make sure that we were comfortably provided for. Despite his crazy youth, he became a successful businessman. He never indulged us with luxury goods, but anything I wanted or needed in life that he felt would be a useful tool in our pursuit for education and self-fulfilment, he provided. He still does, even to this day.

Most importantly, he brought us up with an in-built ethic and moral code. We were not angels; we definitely toed the line and pushed boundaries. But ultimately, we also knew where our limits were. My sisters and I just knew when enough was enough, when taking one step further would make a mistake big enough that would change our lives forever.

I have made various mistakes in life, big or small, and I am lucky that I have been able to recover from them. He taught me to believe that I am the master of my own fate – I am never a victim of circumstance and whatever path I take in life, is my choice. Therefore getting out of trouble was also my own choice.

For that, I am eternally grateful because his discipline, however much I hated it while growing up, has kept me safe thus far.

And it is with this discipline (with some adjustments) that I will bring my daughter up to keep her safe while she trundles through the various adventures along the way.

material-mum-joan-leongJoan Leong is a mummy, reality television producer and photographer. She watches an insane amount of dramas and comedies in her spare time. Her idea of taking a break is undisturbed time in the plane where there is no network access. She gets very excited over handbags as well as the next big gadget. Her life and photographs can be found on

Material Moms, Small Purchase

[Material Moms] For The Love Of Crafts – Selena Quah

Love creating crafts with your kids? Read on to find out what Material Mom Selena Quah thought of the new Brother’s ScanNCut machine.

I remember cutting out ‘Happy Birthday’ alphabets for my son’s 4th birthday party and my husband rolling his eyes at me for putting in so much effort.

“Why don’t you just buy the bunting?”

“But it’s more meaningful to do it yourself. Plus, I can make my own design!”

That was just one of the many times I spent time and effort cutting things out manually with a pair of scissors. To be honest, I did wish I could magically zap it out so I could finish up and go to bed early.

Well, someone at Brother must have heard my wish, and the wish of many crafters out there I’m sure.

The Machine

The ScanNCut with the materials for making the card.

The ScanNCut with the materials for making the card.

Brother, better known for their sewing machines, has developed an innovative machine that can scan any image, whether printed or hand-­drawn, and cut out your desired pattern from paper, fabric or vinyl. I know the concept sounds simple, but if you’ve done things the manual way, you’ll understand the draw of this device.

Loading the adhesive mat with the paper to be cut into the ScanNCut

Loading the adhesive mat with the paper to be cut into the ScanNCut.

The ScanNCut looks like a small ink­jet printer and is equipped with a built-­in 300dpi (dots per inch) scanner. In place of an ink cartridge is the cutter blade. The machine has data storage so you can save scanned images and have the machine cut out those shapes on any material you feed it, up to a maximum thickness of 3mm (so even cardboard and felt is fine). If you want the same shape cut out from various types of paper or fabric, this feature is a real time saver.

The Hands-­on

I had the opportunity to try the ScanNCut with my craft­-loving eldest son to get a feel of how the machine works. We were guided through the process of creating a ‘pop­-up’ Christmas card with layers of different sized paper on the cover.

The machine proved to be fairly easy to operate. Even my five-­and-­a-­half year old understood the basic functions quite quickly, and eagerly helped some of the participants sharing the same workstation as us. You scan the pattern you want and save it into the machine’s memory, then using the adhesive mat, put the pieces of paper you want cut onto it, load the mat into the machine, click a few buttons, and voila! All the pieces are cut out for you. In all, it took less than 10 minutes to cut the pieces and assemble the card.

The ScanNCut’s blade made clean and smooth cuts. I thought it was impressive that the machine could even do more delicate work like cutting out the words ‘Merry Christmas’. All these are not impossible to do manually, but it would easily have taken three to four times the amount of time (or more) compared to using the ScanNCut.

We did find that you have to make sure the paper is stuck firmly onto the adhesive mat otherwise the paper will slide and will not be cut properly. The group I was working with encountered this problem a few times, but besides this we didn’t have any other issues.

The Good

If you like crafts, the possibilities with this machine are endless.

Close up of the finished product

Close up of the finished product.

The scalloped edges cut perfectly.

The scalloped edges cut perfectly.

It’s great for kids’ parties; you can do the bunting (without your husband rolling his eyes at you), customise the invites and decor to suit any theme you want, make all kinds of confetti (this really excites me because I love confetti!), prepare art and craft corners with themed cut-­outs, make face masks (with the ScanNCut, cutting out the holes for the eyes is a lot easier), make customised T-shirts by cutting out designs from iron­-on paper or cloth appliques, and so on.

Scrapbooking fans will love how they can create all kinds of paper and fabric embellishments. Quilters will love that the fabric pieces are cut to precision, and you can even specify the seam allowance you want when cutting the fabric. Pre­-school teachers will appreciate that the machine saves them time when preparing materials for art and craft sessions for an entire class of children.

Plus, if your kids like arts and crafts, making a card together like I did with my son is a nice time of bonding.

I really wouldn’t mind having this machine, but …

The Price

It’s touted as being the ‘world’s first home and hobby cutting machine’, but to acquire it you must have quite a lot of spare cash lying around. At $828, I feel the price is prohibitive. There’s also the other issue of replacing the adhesive mat (around $20 for the 12 x 12 low tack adhesive mat). Apparently each mat can be used up to 20 times. Even if you rotate the mat around so you use every inch of it for different projects, I figure you’ll need to make several replacements a year if you use it intensively.

I like what the ScanNCut can do, and I can see many groups of people who would like to use it and can benefit from such a machine. But until the price drops, I’ll just use my scissors.

Oh well.

Material World was invited by Brother to try the ScanNCut machine. All opinions are the author’s own. This post is neither paid for nor advised by the brand. Please read our advertising policy here.

Selena Quah with Asher Selena Quah enjoys the little things in life and hopes her children will pick up this trait from her too. She thinks kids are an excellent excuse to indulge in things she likes such as strolling through parks, doing art and craft, and baking. A dancer from young, she hopes to get back to it when the kids are older, though for now she’ll have to make do with dancing around the house while her boys wonder why Mummy is mad. You can find Selena’s blog Unlikely Lady of Leisure here. 

Material Moms, The Mothership

[Material Moms] Abundance Parenting VS Scarcity Parenting – Cherie Tseng

When a friend asks for parenting tips – tips only you and a handful others are privy to – do you share the love or keep mum about it? In this week’s Material Moms, Cherie Tseng gives her take on this tricky subject.

abundance parenting 2

It started innocently enough when I was looking for a mandarin enrichment playgroup for my second son. My elder son used to go to a fairly popular program but we left because I felt the standard of the class was systematically falling. And while I heard they had since cleaned up their act, I was more than open to checking out another program. So I did what most mums would do – I asked the brood of mummies around me for their opinions, thoughts and recommendations. Some were superlatively forthcoming with recommendations, offering to help me arrange trial classes and giving me the inside scoop on which program teacher they felt were superior. Most, however, were noticeably silent or, at best, vague and non-committal with their comments.

Things got, well, let’s use the adjective “interesting” (for lack of a better word) after I registered my interest in a fairly popular program based on a fellow mum’s fervent recommendation. While all this which-program-is-good-evaluation was happening, another mummy friend – let’s call her Mummy H – was also making the same considerations and I fully expected to see her in class when the term started. To my surprise, she opted not to sign up.

As it turns out, Mummy H had spoken to another mummy friend, Mummy F, and was (supposedly) close to joining the enrichment program fray since Mummy F’s kids were both in the program too. The latter strongly dissuaded her from joining and related all sorts of negative things about the center, teachers and program and that she herself was only there because it was a convenient location for her. Plus, her kids were already fairly comfortable there and she was lazy to move them. It was the classic “I’m in a sinking ship (not!), but I’m too tired to move, you go save yourself!” Mummy F’s comments were completely untrue and driven by some warped notion of parental competitiveness: that you would want the best only for your kids, but not your friends, lest your own child loses out. This is what I call, Zero Sum Parenting.

The same kind of behaviour has been related to me by friends with regards to doctors, OBGYNs and even supplements! Oh, I only see Dr So-and-so because he is my dad’s friend but he is actually not that good. I hear Angel’s doctor is pretty cool, why don’t you try her out? / Oh, the supplements I give Natalie are not that good, my husband bought a whole carton so I feel bad throwing it out. You should try the supplements from Brand ABC; I hear many others are taking it and it supposedly rocks.

abundance parentingI have heard of such behaviour with regards to some of the notable tuition centers, where parents teach their kids to lie to their friends about where they are getting extra curricular help so that they would retain an advantage over their peers. Because, what if second-place Billy comes to the same center as my first-place Alex and learns the trick of the proverbial (academic) trade and displaces my son for top spot? Heaven forbid!

I’d admit: The world we live in is a place of rank and position. Grades are judged on a bell curve, development is pegged to percentiles and we all like to win first place. It is one thing, however, to want what is best for your child, and another to want it at the expense of others. It is the difference between being a mum that feels your child needs to keep up versus a mum that feels your child needs to win every single time. It is parenting to raise competitive kids, as suppose to parenting competitively. Perhaps the Kiasu (afraid to lose) culture is so pervasive that even parenting has its own Me Vs. You score card. Mummies seek to outdo each other vis-à-vis their kids; daddies strive to mold a best-of-class champion to live vicariously through.

The truth is, most of us have many awesome fellow-parent friends. You know, the mummies that are happy to share her new found door-to-door organic supplier, the next great kids bookshop, etc. Peak performance guru Steve Covey wisely promoted the Abundance mentality: When people are genuinely happy at the successes of others, the pie gets larger… Success in others adds to, rather than detracts, from our lives.

It is Win-Win Parenting Vs. Win-Lose parenting. It is Mothering from a place of Abundance Vs. Mothering with fear of Scarcity.

I am an essential oil enthusiast and have been for a while now, before the whole go-natural hoopla that seems to be hip and cool these days. For fun, I sometimes hold essential oil gatherings at my place quite in the vein of Tupperware ladies. With the sudden uptake and media spotlight on these therapeutic grade essential oils and health, the company (Hello Young Living Singapore!) I get my oils from has suffered a real shortage in product. This frustrating situation has led to some mummies to comment that we should stop sharing with other mummies – even if they would really benefit from the essential oils, lest there are not enough for themselves.

Right on the other side of the scarcity-abundance chasm are mummies who dig into their own stash to help other mummies who are joining the go-natural route, some even gifting the (limited in supply) bottles of oils.

So, what kind of parent are you? Are you an Abundance Parent or a Scarcity Parent?

#1. When you discover an awesome kid program, you:
(a) Tell all your close friends and encourage them to go for a trial. Quick! Before class is full!
(b) Keep very mum about it, refraining from posting your usual Facebook updates about it.

#2. When your mummy friends ask for your opinion on a parenting know-how, you:
(a) Think things through and share your own experience and best-known practices.
(b) Keep quiet or say something vague because you worry your child might lose his/her edge.

#3. When your child does well and someone asks how their kid might do the same, you:
(a) Share all that you have done, even if you qualify that you child “got lucky somewhat.”
(b) Say “I don’t know!” … but you actually had a full-on gameplan.

#4. When your child’s school/tuition center gives out a kick-ass piece of study material, you:
(a) Tell your close friends about it, at least, when it comes up in conversation.
(b) Hide all evidence of it if friends are coming over and instruct your child to never speak of it.

#5. You find an excellent tutor/coach/instructor. You:
(a) Share their contact willingly when someone asks for it.
(b) Dodge having to share their contact, sometimes making excuses about their busy schedule.

It goes without saying which category each option goes under.

When I think back to my early days of motherhood – the nights fraught with worry and the days wrecked with exhaustion – I am grateful for mummy friends that shared their own parenting journey best practices. And so often, when I meet a mum that reaches out, I feel deeply compelled to dig as deep as I can to reach back. Not just because karma’s a bitch, but to borrow the words of one Sarah B. Breathnach:

Both abundance and (scarcity) exists simultaneously in our lives as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend. When we choose to be grateful for the abundance that is present – love, health, family, friends, work, the joys of nature and personal pursuits that bring us joy – the wasteland of (scarcity) falls away as we experience heaven on earth.”

Cherie Tseng is mum to two little boys: Quentin, four, and Evan, two. They love superheroes, pizza and going on pretend adventures with mummy and daddy to save the world. She runs a regional training consultancy, co-owns a Singapore-Myanmar business brokerage outfit and is an essential oil enthusiast. In her spare time, she crafts, makes diaper cakes and practices aerial circus arts. Cherie occasionally blogs at The Growing Tree Project

Child's Play, Material Moms

[Material Moms] Remember To Take Your Kids Out To Play!

In this week’s Material Moms, guest writer Claudia Foo shares her personal experience on the importance of active play for her children.

Ever since I’ve been blessed with two kids – Andrea, 7, and Keivan, 4 – my whole life has since revolved around them. I make sure I see to all the details in their lives, from the clothes they wear and the food they chew to even the way they play.

Claudia Foo with her children, Keivan (left) and Andrea.

Claudia Foo with her children, Keivan (left) and Andrea.

I’ve had seven years of experience being a mother now but there are still many new things that I learn and observe every day. One thing I’ve observed over the years is the playing habits of children. Mums may agree with me on this: kids these days are tech-savvy. Most of their playing habits involve staring at the screen, which worries me. I’ve seen kids wearing glasses at a young age and some of them are so used to reading e‑books that they don’t know how to flip a real book! While I appreciate the convenience and fun that technology brings us, I am determined to bring a balance to ensure my kids get some real fun under the sun.

I strongly believe that it is important for the kids to go out and play as this is an opportunity to connect with and enjoy the nature. Also, it is known that looking at green objects such as trees and grass contributes to eyesight health.

Being working parents, my husband and I do not have the time and energy to bring the kids out during weekdays, so we started off by bringing them out to the playground on occasional Sundays, each session lasting about four hours. My husband and I would also gradually introduce new things/games to the kids, like playing bubbles, riding a bicycle, flying kites, etc. The kids had so much fun and, naturally, they looked forward to Sunday playtime. So, my husband and I decided to schedule our family bonding time every other Sunday.

Andrea, my elder daughter, is in Primary 1 now. On Wednesdays, there is 30 minutes of P.E. at the start of school, and 30 minutes after. Keivan goes to childcare from 8am till 5pm. His timetable includes physical activities such as playing in the outdoor playground, activities in the children’s gym and sometimes, water games. On average, he clocks over three hours of physical activities of various intensity in the childcare. After school and childcare, both Andrea and Keivan are babysat at my mother-in-law’s. Before dinner, and after Andrea finishes her homework, their grandma plays old-school games (remember lao ying zhua xiao ji – the eagle-and-chicks game?) with Andrea and Keivan.

Every Saturday evening, we take Andrea and Keivan to my mother’s, where they will play with their two cousins at the playground for about an hour before we take them back for dinner.

active play 2It’s been almost a year since we started our regular Sunday playtime and I do see the benefits: my children appear healthier as they are seldom sick nowadays (which, I must add, is also attributed to healthier eating habits). They are also happier as our Sunday playtime helps them relieve stress, especially for Andrea who is receiving quite a bit of pressure from homework and tuition. In fact, Andrea’s teacher commented that she is performing well and that she is a conscientious student. One thing that made us really proud was that the teacher related how Andrea consciously looks out for her classmate’s safety when they play or do class activities together. We are certain that Andrea learned this from playing with and taking care of her younger brother.

I believe outdoor play has also contributed to good eyesight for our children since they are not wearing spectacles! Active play during our family outing allows us to build closer relationship with our children, as we play together during this session. For my husband and me, we enjoy the outdoors as a respite from being cooped up in the office for five days a week.

As a working mother, I understand that this is not an easy task but once you get started, the rest will fall into place. My advice is to always start them young when they are curious and receptive to new things and ideas, and therefore can be influenced positively. Bring them out to the playground for a start and make use of the neighbourhood facilities. Listen to what the kids want and try to incorporate them into these fun times so that they will enjoy it more. For mothers with school-going kids, you can also incorporate some learning elements into the games, such as running to and naming colours they find at the playground, or hopping towards a goal using a dice to determine the number of jumps. There are just so many ways to play! Plus, there are also parenting forums for parents to exchange tips and share new acts/happenings in town suitable for kids and family.

Johnson’s Baby believes in the importance of play and advocates 60 minutes of active play a day for children. To find out more about this advocacy and how you can get your kid to start playing actively today, check out this video below:

active play 3

About The Author: Claudia married her first love and became mother to Andrea and Keivan seven years ago. She is also quite the kid herself, as she delights in collecting all the cute stickers she can find from bookstores. Outside of work, she spends all her energy on her kids, ensuring they get enough fun, food and textbooks.

Material Moms, The Mothership

[Material Moms] Review: Mums and Bubs at Breathe Pilates – Delphine Tan

For busy working mothers, being able to combine quality time with Junior along with a fitness session sounds like a win-win situation, right? Find out what Material Mom Delphine Tan has to say about Breathe Pilates’ Mums & Bubs class! 

About one or two months after baby is born, the thought that crosses my mind the most often after “I wish I could get more sleep!” is “I really should get back into shape!” It’s easier said than done, however, especially if you are nursing and can’t be away from baby (or a breast pump) for too long. One solution is an exercise class that actually encourages you to bring baby along.


Yep! That’s a baby right there between my legs …


Which is more fun to work out with: ball or baby?

Mums & Bubs class at Breathe Pilates is perfect if you want to ease back into exercising after delivery but need to have baby with you all the time. If you want to attend without baby in tow, you are also more than welcome to. Baby should be able to support his own neck well but should not be crawling yet.

Clear instructions that were easy to follow were given throughout the class. It was my first time doing Pilates exercises on a reformer and I appreciated that the equipment provided the support needed by a post-natal body to safely carry out the exercises. The exercises chosen were suitable for regaining core strength and flexibility after delivery and not too strenuous.


I would have liked it more if the exercises incorporated the baby directly; most of the time, we left baby lying down while we played a sort of peekaboo while doing our Pilates exercises on the reformer. That would be okay for most babies but mine is very restless and just wanted to be carried so he started fussing.


Overall, it was an enjoyable session as it got me moving and definitely more interested in exercising! Mums & Bubs at Breathe Pilates is conducted on Wednesdays at 11.30am.

Breathe Pilates is located at #09-33 Novena Medical Center, 10 Sinaran Drive (8 participants); and #13-02 Parkway Centre, 1 Marine Parade Central. For more information or to make an appointment, call 9835 5683, email, or visit

Delphine and family The Author: Delphine Tan still feels like a kid but is married to Adrian and mother to Anya, Adam, and David. Since she has no artistic talent and does not know how to cook, she spends her free time reading, blogging, and collecting matryoshka. Besides being addicted to caffeine, Delphine also suffers from the compulsive need to Instagram every single plate of food that she eats. 

Material Moms, Small Purchase

[Material Moms] Can This Relieve My Baby’s Dry Skin? – Selena Quah

Babies are so delicate, it’s no surprise mothers are particular about what goes onto their skin. Material Mom Selena Quah reviews Innisfree Pure Green Baby Line on her newest bundle of joy, her verdict, below.

I had noticed that my third baby had skin that was particularly dry and scaly. Even the pediatrician commented on her exceptionally dry skin and recommended we apply more moisturizer on her. So when Material World asked if I would like to give Innifree Pure Green Baby Line a shot, I agreed and was curious to see if its products would work on my baby.

Before: My baby's skin was dry and flaky.

Before: My baby’s skin was dry and flaky.

Its Claims
The Pure Green Baby line is aimed at addressing the growing need among parents for safe products for their children. Innisfree’s Pure Green Baby Line is formulated with organic Jeju Green Tea that has been proven to be mild and suitable even for infants. It is an ingredient that is featured in all seven of their Pure Green Baby products.

I tried the Pure Green Baby Mom’s Touch Milk Oil, Pure Green Baby Lotion, and Pure Green Baby Cream. All three moisturizing products are fall under Innisfree’s 9- or 10-Free System, which means that they are free of 1,4-doixane, animal ingredients, mineral oil, colorants, parabens, artificial fragrance, formaldehyde, benzophenone, acrylamide and silicon (with silicon being the difference between 9 and 10).

However, being an obsessive label reader, I noticed that the ingredient list contains many other synthetic substances. So it’s good to check the label first if you are particular about the ingredients used in your baby’s products. It may be touted as being a ‘safe product’ but it is not 100% natural nor completely free of synthetic substances, so if you are looking for a completely natural product, this may not be it.

Thumbs up from the baby!

Thumbs up from the baby!

Of the three, my favorite product is the Pure Green Baby Mom’s Touch Milk Oil. It is recommended for use in a massage after the baby’s bath, and indeed it is perfect for that purpose. With my two older children I had tried baby oils, which I found were too oily and messy, and moisturizers, which were often too thick to be used for a massage. This is appropriately named Milk Oil because the solution is white and creamy, yet thin enough to easily be spread all over baby’s skin just like a massage oil. It is quickly absorbed by the baby’s skin and I love that it does not leave an oily feel on my hands after application. As I generally do not like baby products that have strong fragrances, I appreciate that the Milk Oil has just a mild, fresh, almost floral scent that you only catch a whiff of.

The Pure Green Baby Mom’s Touch Milk Oil has now become a part of my baby’s bath time routine, and I wish this product had been available years ago so I could have used it with my older kids when they were babies.

The Milk Oil helped moisturize her skin overall, but her legs were still scaly and needed more attention. I used the Pure Green Baby Lotion and Cream on baby’s legs to compare their effectiveness over time. Like an experiment, I put the Baby Lotion only on her right leg, and Baby Cream only on her left. I found that both worked equally well to hydrate the dry scaly skin on her legs. Only after a couple of weeks of application she now has beautifully smooth skin to show off when wearing her onesies.

Smooth, well-hydrated legs she can finally show off!

Smooth, well-hydrated legs she can finally show off!

Although the Baby Cream is supposed to be more intense and for use as deep hydration, I found the difference between the Lotion and the Cream to be minimal. Choosing which to use depends on the texture you prefer. Both the Baby Lotion and Baby Cream are much thicker in texture compared to the Milk Oil, and I find they leave a filmy layer on my hands after application. Between them, the Cream is slightly thicker than the Lotion.

Probably because our climate is humid, and as I do not switch on the air-conditioning at home, I felt that while the Baby Cream and Baby Lotion both effectively addressed the problem of baby’s dry skin, they would not be the moisturizers I would use on daily basis as they feel too rich for the baby’s skin. It would work well for spot treatment on problem dry areas, but probably not as a regular whole-body application.

Using the Pure Green Baby Mom’s Touch Milk Oil on a daily basis should be sufficient to keep your baby’s skin nicely hydrated. However, if there are some particularly dry patches, targeting the area with Pure Green Baby Lotion or Baby Cream would help to effectively moisturize your baby’s delicate skin.

And the perk of all this is that you get to moisturize your hands with each application too. Happy mummy, happy baby!

Innisfree is available at Takashimaya S.C (#B2-34) and Plaza Singapura (#01-63/64).

The 3 moisturizers I reviewed for this story.

The 3 moisturizers I reviewed for this story.

Innisfree Pure Green Baby line was given to Material World for review purposes. All opinions are the author’s own. This post is neither paid for nor advised by the brand. Please read our advertising policy here.

Selena Quah with Asher Selena Quah enjoys the little things in life and hopes her children will pick up this trait from her too. She thinks kids are an excellent excuse to indulge in things she likes such as strolling through parks, doing art and craft, and baking. A dancer from young, she hopes to get back to it when the kids are older, though for now she’ll have to make do with dancing around the house while her boys wonder why Mummy is mad. You can find Selena’s blog Unlikely Lady of Leisure here. 


Material Moms, The Mothership

[Material World x Triple Dry] Motherhood: It’s A Sweaty Business! – Deborah Giam

Sweating is not a bad thing – when you’re exercising, that is. But when you’re shuttling between household, parenting and work tasks every day, you’d want it to stay as sweat-free as possible. Would using an antiperspirant solve the problem? Deborah Giam puts Triple Dry to the test.

When you’re a mother, there are always a million and one things – kids, parents, partner, boss, an almost-empty fridge – that require your attention. Forget about the moments that you have to yourself; those are often spent trying to pre-empt the next situation – birthdays to plan, presentation to finish, or online grocery shopping to be done. This is why time-starved mums are always on the lookout for products that not only work but also work well.

One thing that’s harder to find: an effective antiperspirant. I’ve tried several different ones before but none of them truly works to keep me sweat-free. When I was asked to review Triple Dry, an antiperspirant that provides 72 hours of protection against heavy perspiration and odour, I was admittedly sceptical at first. Did they work? Well, let’s have a closer look.

From left: Triple Dry Fresh Anti-Perspirant Spray, $17.90, and Triple Dry Roll-On, $15.90

From left: Triple Dry Fresh Anti-Perspirant Spray, $17.90, and Triple Dry Roll-On, $15.90

The idea behind this antiperspirant is that you apply it at night for three nights, and then only need to use it about three times a week after. I was given the Anti-Perspirant Roll-On and Fresh Anti-Perspirant Spray to try for two weeks. For the former, it’s great that it is unscented (I like my perfume to smell the way it does, thank you very much), and even though the texture feels a bit paste-like, it has a quick drying formula so I didn’t have to spend too much time waiting for the product to dry off.

Personally, I’m not a fan of antiperspirant sprays – no thanks to my terrible coordination, I always fear I’m going to blind myself one day when using a spray. Having said that, the Fresh Anti-Perspirant Spray is more convenient because the formula seems to dry much faster than that of a roll-on. Because I prefer non-scented antiperspirants, I thought the scent of this was a tad overpowering, but thankfully it faded away within half an hour.

It wasn’t until about Day Four that I started to notice a difference. I’m definitely sweating a lot less and, the best thing is, those embarrassing sweat marks around my pits are significantly reduced. So, while Triple Dry won’t keep you bone-dry, it does the trick of reducing your perspiration enough that you won’t be bothered by it. I’d imagine this would be a great product to use before a trip so you wouldn’t need to worry about having to reapply antiperspirant every day – you’d have better things to worry about during a holiday, especially with the kids in tow.

Triple Dry Fresh Anti-Perspirant Spray ($17.90) and Roll-On ($15.90) are available exclusively at Guardian pharmacies. Material World worked with Triple Dry for a review of its products. All opinions are the author’s own and were not vetted by the client. You may read our advertising policy here.

We’re giving away 5 Triple Dry sets worth $33.80 each!


Each set consists of one Unfragranced Spray and one Roll-On. To win a set for yourself, simply follow these steps:

1. Download the Material World app on iTunes or Google Play. On the Contest tab, enter “Triple Dry” as the Contest Name. Then key in your answer to this question: “How many hours of protection does Triple Dry provide?”

2. Like Material World on Facebook.

3. Click on the Facebook Share button below and share this post with your friends. Tag “Material World” on your post and remember to set it on Public.

This contest ends Wednesday, 30 July 2014, and is only open to followers of Material World. Only entries submitted via the Material World app will be accepted. Please read our terms and conditions here.

material-mum-deborah-giamAbout the author: Deborah Giam is a full-time digital native, having worked and played in the online world for most of her life. Her second job is mother to a precocious four-year-old who loves dinosaurs, airplanes and Hello Kitty. Forget designer labels she’s happiest in an old-school world shooting with film, traveling the world and exploring new places. See more of her travels and photographs at

Material Moms, The Mothership

[Material Moms] Learning To Live With Unsolicited Advice – Kelly Ang

Like it or hate it, it’s here to stay, says Kelly Ang.

adviceAs a first-time time mom, unsolicited advice was and is still one of those things that you learn to deal with, but still annoys you every once in a while. Nothing brings it on more quickly than being a relatively young first-time mom, and nothing – not even proper knowledge based on researched facts or medical proof – keeps it completely away.

Before I gave birth on New Year’s Eve, I thought I knew exactly what to expect when my baby arrived. I had gone for a pre-natal class – six hours every Sunday for a month – which had taught me everything I thought I needed to know: giving birth completely naturally with no drugs or painkillers (“The trick is to breathe the baby out, not push!”); how important it was to just keep latching to establish my supply; how to miraculously calm a screaming baby simply by pulling his arms tight to his chest to “make him feel safe and secure”, etc. Armed with all I had learnt, I was sure I did not want or need any additional advice.

Needless to say, it didn’t quite go as planned. I did not have the natural, calm, drug-free birth I had prepared for. I had ended up giving birth via emergency Caesarean section, in fact. Breastfeeding-wise, I had no issues with supply, but latching the baby on successfully seemed to be like reaching for that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. As for baby care, this is where I really began to feel inadequate. Baby did not seem to want me to carry him. I had wanted to room-in with my baby throughout my hospital stay, but when he was crying inconsolably at 3am in the morning the first night I spent in hospital, I was shattered. To add salt to the injury, baby only seemed to cry when I carried him or when my husband and I were alone with him. Pulling his arms to his chest did not work. When my parents, in-laws and even friends came to visit, baby G was on his best behaviour. All it took was a cuddle from them to soothe him.

Coming home from the hospital, everyone suddenly seemed to become baby experts. It probably did not help that I am, firstly, not the maternal sort; and secondly, have never carried or even touched a baby prior to handling my own newborn. All this invited torrents of unsolicited advice from everyone; from my in-laws whom I live with, to waitresses at restaurants and even the owner of the coffee stall at the market.

Baby cries. I have been told to let him just cry it out as picking him up when he cries would only spoil him (nope, I totally do not subscribe to that school of thought – how can you spoil a newborn with cuddles??); that it could be something bad I ate that passed to him through my breast milk (this just made me rack my brains frantically, trying to recollect what the heck it was I ate – to no avail); that it could be colic (for the record, “colic” is uncontrollable crying for more than three hours in a row on three or more days a week for at least three weeks); that I should just let so-and-so carry him instead because she knows better (just three words: what on earth). I carry him out, strapped on to me in the baby carrier. I have been told I should turn him around, Baby Bjorn-style, so that he can see more of the world (this is bad on so many levels – overstimulation, bad for baby’s spine, bad for mommy’s back…); that he hates being strapped down (says who?); that I should push him in his stroller (have you tried going up the bus juggling a wriggling baby, your shopping bags, and having to fold your stroller up, all at once?). You get the picture.

I hated it. I resented all the advice I was getting. I thought it was an insult to me as a mother, and I took it very personally. I saw it all from the perspective of “So you think I don’t know what I’m doing??” and got really pissed off. I ranted to my husband about how slighted I felt, how all this “help” was making me question my adequacy as a new mom and feeling like I was coming up short, too short.

I wish I could say that the advice stopped coming when I decided to quit my full-time job to spend more time at home taking care of baby G. But although I couldn’t stop the deluge of advice (which still, to be honest, irritates me to this day sometimes), what changed was my perspective. In the days and weeks to come since I became a mom, I began to appreciate how much I really did not know. And although I am loathe to admit it, there are times when I probably could be a better mom. For example, I did not know how to bathe the baby. Yes, even though I had learnt this in pre-natal class. But, when the baby came home, my mother-in-law’s advice and help in bathing the baby in the initial days was a God-sent even though, yes, it was unsolicited. My baby also loves to be hugged tight to sleep (which baby doesn’t, really?) and I initially did not want to admit that my mother-in-law was right about that. But really, what is there to be gained by insisting on doing things my way when it is not to the baby’s benefit? Insisting on not listening to such advice would be to prove a point to somebody – but when you think about it, to whom, really?

I have come to see unsolicited advice as a necessary irritation. You may not agree with me and, in fact, many will probably not. “Just ignore it all!” or “Tell those people to shut it, thank you very much” may even be your (rather unsolicited) advice to me. I will always do what I believe is best for my baby, yes. But my baby is a person too, and as people, we never live in isolation. As much as I want to bring my baby up in a world where nothing else matters except mommy and daddy’s love and baby’s happiness – there is no such thing. We need to negotiate the web of human relationships, learn (albeit selectively in my perspective) from others who have gone before us, and come out from it all with no regrets about how we have behaved in the face of what we do not agree with. My baby needs to understand all this one day too, that it is never always as simple as “my way or the highway” or that “I know better than everyone else” is never true. Learning to accept and deflect unsolicited advice graciously is a necessity that being a mom has taught me and something my baby will need to learn as he grows up. I am pretty sure there will still be plenty of people eager to dispense nuggets of advice ten, twenty, thirty years down the road. I sure hope that by then, I also learn how to keep unwanted advice to myself.

KellyAbout the author: Kelly is a first-time mom who has found her life completely changed by motherhood. Although never the maternal sort, she left her full-time job in corporate communications to bring up her baby. She is now a full-time mom and part-time writer, working whenever her son is sleeping or being cooed at by his doting grandparents. When she still has any time left over, she enjoys reading, experimenting in the kitchen and shopping. She occasionally blogs here.


Arts & Events, Child's Play, Lifestyle, Material Moms

[Material Moms] The Sound of Music: A Review – Beverly Burgess

You watched the movie as a child. Now, why not experience the magic live with your child? By Beverly Burgess

Material Mom Beverly with her husband Chris

Material Mom Beverly with her husband Chris

“The hills are aliiiiiiiiiiivvvve with the sound of muuuuusic”

And with that refrain, you know you’re in for a wonderful musical treat. The Sound of Music has hit Singapore from now until 10 August 2014. This musical extravanganza features impressive sets (that are changed at ashtonishing speed) and a breathtaking cast of singers.

If you’re familiar with the movie, you’ll be delighted with, and probably sing along to, all the familiar hit songs. The singing is crystal clear – from the nun mother with the most incredible full soprano, to the star Maria’s diaphonous vocals, to the youngest child Gretal’s angelic lilt.

The audience there were young and old, with young toddlers that bounced in their seats and sang along (they must have have watched the movie with their parents before!), to seniors that were there on a date. I spied a few mummy-and-child dates there too, since the movie makes a great “mummy and me” activity to do together.

The energy of the cast is palpable, and you’ll be impressed with the beautiful sets. This is not a performance where you see the cast engage in drawn out character or plot development. Rather, it is a feel-good performance focusing squarely on the songs, and the casts’ amazing voices. It’s a hit with the young, and the young at heart.

The Sound of Music runs from now till August 10, 2014. Tickets are available from $65 at Sistic

BevChrisCloseupAbout the author: Having blogged for the past two decades spanning life in Australia, China and Singapore, Beverly Burgess entered an alternate universe at warp speed when she went from career-driven shopaholic and social butterfly … to juggling being a wife and a mother of two kids. All within three years. The career is now replaced with the privilege of being a full-time mum, but the urge to shop and socialize still remains (albeit with two obliging children in tow). And, she wouldn’t have it any other way. She blogs at Beverly’s Adventures.