14 October 2020, by Marian Nathan
We make it a point to bring the kids out every weekend. Since their weekdays are usually chock-full of school work, enrichment classes, and assessment books, we usually have a fun-filled activity planned on one day of the weekend.
Our borders may be as good as closed, but that doesn’t mean that there’s nowhere to bring the children. With 4 kids aged 6 years and below, I always have to plan for child-friendly activities. Sunday afternoon came, and we decided to hit up Gardens by the Bay, as it offered the perfect balance of a leisurely stroll and ample opportunity to allow the kids to explore nature. Especially with my youngest being 8-months-old and mostly immobile still, wherever I chose to bring them would have to be pram-friendly.
What I love about activities requiring the children to go for long walks is that I’m guaranteed to have kids who fall asleep fast at night with minimal mischief. With that said, there are a few things to consider before setting off on such family adventures.
Tip #1: Always get the kids to use the bathroom before leaving the house.
It may seem fairly obvious in hindsight, but it is often overlooked: the dreaded toilet breaks. Experience has taught me not to take for granted that children will have the sense to use the bathroom before we leave the house, so the final moments up till setting a foot out of the door is usually filled with me encouraging (read insisting) all the kids to use the bathroom, even if they don’t really feel like it. This is also why I don’t usually have the outings planned in the morning, there is a very high chance at least one of the kids will want to do a number two.
Tip #2: Snacks, snacks, and more snacks.
They may be little but they seem eternally hungry (except of course during actual meal times) so snacks are always a must for any family trip. My diaper bag is filled with them. There aren’t many budget-friendly places to buy food for the children apart from the usual suspects like McDonald’s, so I highly recommend something to help the children tide over until dinner, and lots of water too.
Tip #3: Have some boredom busters handy
It is almost inevitable that there might be some form of waiting time encountered while embarking on any activity in Singapore, and whiny kids can be a buzzkill. I always bring along stationery for doodling such as an exercise book and a stocked pencil-case for my younger ones, and thin books (not too heavy) for the older ones to read if we encounter a wait. Sometimes I pack them all into my diaper bag, and sometimes I let them carry their own little bags that I will let them fill with 3 items of their choosing.
#Tip 4: Encourage their participation in discussions
While walking towards the entrance of the domes, the kids were amazed by the huge Supertrees. Finding it to be a good teaching moment, I started to explain to them how the Supertrees were also rainwater catches that recycle the rain collected. My kindergarteners were already learning about the water cycle in their preschool and therefore chose to continuously interrupt me with their trove of knowledge. They are lucky to be so adorable😂. We could have easily just have taken some photos of the Supertrees and walked on by, but I’m glad we didn’t.
#Tip 5: Take it slow
We literally took our time to smell the flowers, pun intended. We strolled leisurely through the Flower Dome, which was charmingly decorated with lanterns, a nod towards the mid-autumn festival. The kids were intrigued by the beautiful arrangements of plants and flowers at every turn. Statues both big and small dotted the whole trail, delighting the children who had fun identifying the animals and even mimicking the sounds. The husband and I, on the other hand, were delighted at the cool air-conditioning.
The Cloud dome was easily the highlight of the trip. The children gushed aloud on seeing such a beautiful waterfall up close and revelled in the slight spray that came off it. It was a good thing I brought jackets for all 4 of them because soon, all were complaining of feeling cold.
I was afraid the trail in the Cloud dome might put them off because it was so high up and I wasn’t sure if any of them had a fear of heights, but they truly loved it. In fact, they loved looking down so much that I had to constantly remind them to move along.
All in all, the kids had a blast. We all slept very well that night. Mission success.