Timbre @ Gillman – Super Social BBQ

Before the kids came along, we went out at night. A lot. Weekends were usually spent hanging with our friends: choir practices, arcade gaming (yes!), movies, pub-crawling. One of the places we used to go to was Timbre @ The Substation – how could we say no to awesome live music, good grub (ROAST DUCK PIZZA YUM YUM) and ice cold beer?

Me and the girlfriend at Timbre @ Substation waaaaaay back in...2007

Me and the girlfriend at Timbre @ Substation waaaaaay back in…2007

Then we had kids. Overnight (HUR HUR PUN), our nightlife disappeared. We were either putting the babies to bed or nursing (okay, I was nursing) or sitting zonked on the sofa or snoring in our beds. We were, and still are, exhausted. We stopped heading out to nightspots.

And then Timbre contacted me and told me about their Super Social BBQ. Huh, what’s that? you might ask. Well, GOOD NEWS FORMER NIGHT CRAWLERS, you can now have your cake and eat it too.

Essentially, Super Social BBQ is a weekend event at Timbre @ Gillman which is family-friendly. That’s right, you heard me. Kids-friendly. Child-friendly. Toddler-friendly. Everybody-friendly. Every month, Timbre @ Gillman runs a themed event on all Saturdays and Sundays that is especially catered to families, starting from 4pm.

Have you been to the Gillman outlet? Well, I hadn’t, until I received the invitation and I was super impressed. The restaurant retained its rustic, super chill vibe, which is cool, but what was even cooler was that gigantic backyard behind the eatery. During the weekends, the backyard turns into a play area for the kids – you can expect bouncy castles, wading pools and live BBQ.

When I was there, it was storming outside so we didn’t spend much time outdoors. Timbre had thoughtfully set up an activity station indoors, where kids could colour or get their faces painted or do some crafting. There was even a balloon sculptor onsite. My boys ended up putting together a carousel – in line with the Carnival theme for November – out of paper plate, paper cup, pipe cleaners and paper cutouts.

Other than providing fun activities, Timbre @ Gillman also put together a menu just for the kids. There are items such as bolognaise, chicken and pancakes, minute steak and cheese frites and fish & chips, all affordably priced below $15. We ordered the bolognaise with heart shape pasta ($10) for the littles to share and the portion was more than enough for them.

As for the adults? I was honestly pretty darned happy to be there. I could indulge in my roast duck pizza once again and wash it down with an chilled alcoholic ginger beer. There was a live band playing. It really made me nostalgic for those days when we could stay out till the wee hours without a care, swigging our beers and making merry.

In fact, I was feeling so sentimental, I decided to order me an earl grey martini (my first martini since FOREVER). It was so surprisingly good that I cheered up immediately.

The mark of a true family-friendly restaurant is in the happiness level of all members of the family. Did Timbre @ Gillman’s Super Social BBQ hit the mark? I will say YASSSSSS. My boisterous boys had fun participating in the activities and they especially loved the live band. They were gleefully dancing after shoving the pasta and pizza into their mouths. The man and I were thrilled to be out at a nightspot once again, eating the grub that we had loved.

We had so much fun that I started making plans with our friends and their kids to check it out again!

The Carnival edition of the Super Social BBQ will run till this weekend! For more information, check out their Facebook page.

Disclaimer: I was invited to Timbre @ Gillman for dinner and given dining credits. However, all opinions are solely mine (and totally honest!) and no other monetary compensation was received.

A letter to inconsiderate parents

Dear parents at my kids’ daycare,

There is a very nasty and extremely contagious gastroenteritis virus making its rounds in the school. I’m sure you have heard about it. The school has consistently and diligently kept us updated on the situation.

Did your kids get the bug?

Mine did. And you know what? I KEPT MY KIDS HOME.

The equation is very simple. A very sick child is a contagious child (I’m not talking about the common colds and coughs). It means that my child should stay away from other children in case he spreads the illness to the other kids (and teachers) in the centre. Some of whom have parents who work and therefore will be extremely inconvenienced if their kids fall sick.

And that’s just the logistics part. Let’s talk about the comfort of the poor sick child. Have you had gastroenteritis before? It’s awful. My kid was vomiting every 60 to 90 minutes. Without fail, like clockwork. He was extremely miserable and rightly so too.

He was MISERABLE. And being home with mummy, in the comforts of his bed and surrounded by his favourite things, made him feel better. He was better off at home, not in school.

So my question to you is: Why would you refuse to pick your child up from the centre when the teachers call, telling you that she isn’t well? Why in the world would you say, “well she was fine at home so just monitor her condition please”?

WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU.

Look, I get it. It is extremely tedious when you have a sick kid. Believe me when I say that my heart stops every time I received a call from the daycare when I’m working, in the middle of a class etc. It means having to rearrange all your plans and schedules. And I freely admit that I am lucky to have the support of our parents.

But even if we don’t, between the two of us, my husband and I would have worked things out. Because our kid is sick. And we would not want this illness to pass to his unwitting classmates. And we would want our little boy to be home and snuggled up in his bed. Not in the cold cold environment of the daycare where he has to share the attention of his teachers with 20 other kids.

To abscond responsibility of your sick child and palm off her care to her daycare is despicable. Inconsiderate. And an act that’s probably on the scale of Agent Orange Muppet running for US President right now.

And in case you didn’t get the message earlier, here it is again: Stop being a selfish douchebag.

If your job is time-sensitive and requires you to be physically present, I get it. If your boss is an unforgiving piece of crap who frowns at your absence, I get it. It’s tough and I salute you. I do. And I hope your children stay healthy and strong.

If you are someone who has the resources but refuses to take your kid home because “she was well at home”, then hey, I hope your kid wasn’t the one who threw up all over mine in school.

Because YOU are an asshole. And you need to learn to be a little more considerate: to your kid, to the daycare and to the other parents.

The end of the tether

I was eating my dinner after work when my two-year-old flopped down at my feet, all of a sudden. I didn’t pay much attention to it, he was bouncing around just mere moments ago. Perhaps he was resting.

Until he continued rolling there and whimpering, mummy, mummy. That was all he said. Mummy, mummy. I knew something was wrong.

I jumped down from my seat and cradled him. He laid in my arms, limp and listless, his lips turning purplish. To make matters worse, he was cold and clammy to the touch. I called to my helper to bring me the thermometer, its caustic beep telling me that Zac’s temperature was 35.4 degrees.

“Zac, are you okay? Any pain?” I asked as I hugged him. He didn’t move. Mummy, mummy, he whispered. That was all he could say.

Should I rush him to the hospital? Is it pneumonia from his cough and cold? Or is it the same bacterial infection that caused him to be hospitalised when he was an infant? Who could I call to help look after Aidan? What do I do?

I had no answers. I was alone, my husband on a business trip 13,000 miles and 15 hours away.

I changed both the boys and rushed all three of us to the GP near our flat. Along the way, Zac seemed to recover a little. Once at the clinic, he seemed almost back to normal, except his temperature still hovered around 35.5 degrees. The doctor examined him and said his stomach was churning badly, which had led to his body temperature dipping suddenly.

In short, it was nothing serious. Stomach bug.

As I walked slowly back home with the littles, I suddenly felt heavy. It’s been one plus week of solo parenting and I have dealt with gastroenteritis and lingering coughs and a viral infection. Plus, the boys have been taking turns to wake up and call for mummy every single night. I was tired. I wanted to cry, at the sheer weight of it all, but I realised that I was way past tears. I couldn’t cry. I was probably too exhausted to cry.

Once home, I tried to finish up my already-cold dinner. The boys were playing when Aidan discovered a pack of snacks – goodie bag from a birthday celebration in school – in Zac’s bag. With them being ill, I took the snacks away from him and told him they were not allowed to have any of these until they were well again.

The four-year-old went into complete meltdown mode. The screaming and crying went on and on, and as I hugged him to me, my mind started detaching from the scene in front of me.

If patience was a cliff, I thought, then I was just one tiptoe away from throwing myself off the edge.

But I couldn’t. Not with two small children hanging trustingly on to me and the security and love I offer. I had to rein myself in.

And so I held the screaming child in my arms and talked to him. Explained again and again why he couldn’t have the snacks. Told him I understood why he was sad and disappointed. But the screaming didn’t stop. And finally, I told him I would leave him to let it all out while I went for a shower, and he could talk to me when he was ready.

I carried him to his room and went out to settle the other little. By the time I went back to the room, Aidan was calm and reading his books.

Could we go and have a shower? I asked. He nodded. I picked him up, hugged him close and went to the bathroom. As we bathed, I explained to him again why I wasn’t letting him have the snacks. His eyes welled with tears, and he was on the verge of starting his meltdown again, and I found myself wanting to let go and dive down that cliff again.

Once again, I stopped. I simply couldn’t.

So I talked. I talked and I talked and he listened. I told him that mummy was tired because papa was away. I told him that I knew he really wanted to eat the biscuits and the sweets but he couldn’t because he was ill. I told him that it was the only way to get well. I told him that it made mummy sad to hear him cough. I told him that I understood his frustration but I had to get him well again.

And he calmed down again.

I put the boys to bed, hugging them close as I did. I breathed in their scents, and kissed their cheeks again and again.

Maybe I am writing this to talk about the importance of empathy, blah blah blah. Maybe. I don’t know. I don’t know how I feel. Or what I should feel. Thankful? Certainly.

Maybe what I really want to tell you, and myself, is that there will be times so, so, so bad that you feel you cannot breathe. That you will feel so stretched in all directions that you cannot think. That the exhaustion will weigh down on your shoulders heavily. That thinking about all the work that is still undone will cause your heart to palpitate. That the need your children have for you can be so overwhelming at times.

It’s so hard.

But you have the strength and the will. You have the mental power to push past this hurdle. You will conquer and the bad times will pass.

You just have to believe.
I just have to believe.

It’s been a long, long while

Hi. I’m sorry, we haven’t been around much.

Truth is, wow, where do I begin. In early September, my husband went off for a 3.5-week business trip and I was busy solo parenting. Towards the end of that stint, I developed a serious eye condition. That was tough. I mean, I rank it up there with the pain I had from infertility. And once that was under control, I came down with a viral infection.

And then the husband flew off again, for another 3.5 weeks. Which sucks. And right now, what I have are two little people with gastroenteritis and me with another viral infection – while the man is away.

I’m exhausted: from changing sheets, doing the laundry, mopping the floor, disinfecting the house and washing the boys. Who also need extra cuddling because, poor sick babies. And when they are finally asleep and not needing me (yet), when the household is quiet, all I want to do is to savour the silence.

So I sit and do nothing. I’m sure you must have done the same on those nights when you are glad the kids are finally asleep. Sit on the sofa or on your bed and do absolutely nothing. Relish the quiet of the night.

The thing is, when you are a kid and you are sick, there is someone who will take care of you. Ensure that you have something nourishing to eat, something to drink and lots of hugs and kisses. But when you are a mother, there isn’t that someone anymore. You just have to rely on your own.

In the past few months, I have certainly relied on my own – a hell lot, with the husband’s crazy hours at work (when he is in Singapore, it’s as good as him being overseas, frankly). I know I can handle it. But sometimes, just sometimes, I guess I wish I could have a little break where someone takes all that burden away from me and allow me to just be, even if it’s for a little while.

Talk to you soon, hopefully when this episode of gastroenteritis goes away. In the meantime, please take care, what with the onslaught of gastro and Zika and HFMD and the likes battling against our health.

Teachers’ Day 2016

I would like to state upfront that I had considered the crafty route when it came to preparing for this year’s teachers’ day. I really did. What I had in mind were handmade cards with Mr 4 writing a short note to them. But life got in the way, and also impatient kids who got tired simply colouring a piece of paper, and that idea promptly got shelved.

And that is the end of our homemade ambitions. Off to the (online) store we go!

In line with what we prepared last year for the patient, kind and nurturing teachers at the daycare, I decided that a care package would be perfect. And with two kids in the daycare, this meant that I had more gifts to pack. Which I didn’t mind, really, I think the teachers have all put in heaps of effort into making this daycare experience a memorable one for the children and parents alike.

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This year, I decided to get a pouch in an assortment of colours. I figured out that women love pouches since we have heaps of things to carry with us all the time. And if they didn’t like the colours given to them, they could always swap among themselves. I have two of these pouches and I love them!

Inside the pouches are essentials that every teacher needs: a lip balm, a tube of hand cream, a foldable shopping bag, a packet of honey lemon, some Hershey’s dark chocolate kisses and that same sparkly crystal ballpoint pen that I had included in last year’s present. The teachers for the babies (ie. Zac’s age group) also got some stickers that they can use to reward the little ones!

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The boys helped me to pick out the colours of the pouches for their teachers, and Aidan helped to pack the items into the pouches.

I really hope that the teachers love the present! It is no easy task taking care of little people and I am so grateful for watching over our kids while we make a living. Every evening, I would ask the boys if they had fun in school and if they were happy. Every evening, they would nod their heads and say yes with a big smile. That says a lot, doesn’t it? Plus, the teachers have been hard at working organising events for Mothers’/Fathers’ Day, National Day etc. and I think they deserve a little treat.

So happy teachers’ day to all the teachers out there. Thank you for taking care of my babies with such love, kindness and generosity.

Review: Total Solutions Oven Cleaner

The other day, I decided to roast a chicken for dinner. I thought it was a win-win situation, really – we get dinner and then I might get some leftovers to brown bag for lunch the following week.

One of my favourite roast chicken recipes has to be Thomas Keller’s. It’s amazingly simple! Just salt and pepper and into the oven the chook goes. That’s all. What you end up with is a deliciously flavoured chicken that is tender even on the breast (and I hate breast meat) with an addictively crispy skin.

BUT. And this is a huge BUT. With the simplicity in prepping and cooking comes a huge caveat: and that is the CLEANING. This chicken sizzles with grease – even though no oil is used – and it splatters. All. Over. Your. Oven. Urghs. I didn’t read the reviews before attempting the recipe and when the oil geyser began in my oven, I closed my eyes and stifled a groan.

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I suppose there was no better timing than then to try the Total Solutions Oven Cleaner that Our Lifestyle Shop had given us.

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Once the chicken was devoured and the oven had sufficiently cooled down, I put the cleaner to good use. Shake the canister, hold upright, and spray indulgently into the oven. Leave it overnight and then all you have to do is to wipe it down with a paper towel.

The next morning, I wiped down the inside of my oven walls with trepidation. The grease came off, just like that! At the end of the cleaning exercise, I did have a little bit of white residue coating the walls of my oven but I was told that it is perfectly normal and fine, and that residue will disappear when I next use the oven.

FOR BUBSICLES READERS!
Enjoy a 5% discount on Total Solutions Oven Cleaner (Usual Price: $42.90). Simply use the code “bubsicleshasanewoven” when checking out your basket. Offer ends September 25, 2016.

Disclaimer: We were given the product for purpose of this review. No monetary compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

Thank you, Joseph Schooling

Dear Joseph,

I know that the chances of you reading this is close to zero, what with the international media casting its astonished eye on you, now that you have have slain a giant. And let’s not forget the mountains of accolades that are being heaped upon you by our local media. But I still want to say a huge thank you to you, for helping to transform what had seemed so laughably impossible into reality.

This morning, at 9am, I was in bed nursing a head cold when my four-year-old burst into the room. “Wake up!” he said. “Joseph Schooling is going to compete!” And so I dragged myself out of bed and sat my aching head down in front of the telly with Aidan and Zac, my two-year-old.

“I want to sing the Majulah Singapura,” Aidan whined. “Where is the Majulah Singapura?”

The competitors lined up at the starting blocks, we held our breaths and shushed our noisy children. We wanted to indulge in the moment, to see if you could land the gold that we have talked of for so long and yet unable to achieve so far. Everyone leapt off the blocks and we watched as you emerged from the water, masterful strokes propelling you forward strongly. And then you turned and I started cussing out of fear that one of them Amazons would overtake you.

And then it was over. 50.39 seconds. You did it. It was so fast and yet for all of us – whether we were sitting in the kopitiam or at home with unwashed faces – it felt like an age.

You did it. Who could have foretold this moment?

We ate our breakfast and then it was time for the awards ceremony. You know, my kids love, LOVE singing the national anthem. They grabbed a flag each, plonked their bums on the coffee table and watched as you waited to go up the podium. Next to you were the three silver medalists, all great names and Goliaths to your David, especially that one named Phelps. You looked so small next to them, and so lonely. I guess it is a bittersweet feeling, to be on top and yet be so alone.

Your name was called, you stepped up and this was it, the moment all of us have been waiting for: the national anthem was played.

Majulah Singapura.

You did it.

My boys waved their flags madly and sang along quietly, their eyes glued to the ascent of our flag. And when it was over, they turned to look at us and grinned. And that was when I thanked you.

Not just because you put our little red dot on the international map with your achievements. Not just because you worked so hard to get that gold.

But mostly, it was because now my children have someone to look up to. Someone to prove that it is possible to achieve the impossible, that following a dream, a passion can pay off as long as they put in the effort.

They may not be national swimmers – I mean, let’s just focus on getting Aidan to put his face into the water mmmkay – but who knows what is in store for them in the future. Maybe they will become artists. Or musicians. Or writers. Or footballers. Maybe they will want to carve their own paths, away from the straight and narrow route that our education system will push them towards. Maybe they don’t want to be a doctor or a lawyer or an engineer. Maybe they would want to be themselves, aspiring towards a goal that our society may scoff at.

Before you won this morning, we did not have that role model. There was no trailblazer. And now that you have gone and landed this amazing feat at our feet, our children can have somebody to look up to.

So really, you did not just win an Olympic gold, you have gone and rewritten the rules of the game for Singapore.

Tonight, before he drifted off into dreamland, Aidan whispered to me, “Mummy, can you buy me a cap?”

“A cap?”

“Yes, for swimming,” he replied, nodding in the dark. “Like the Olympic swimmers. Like Joseph Schooling.”

And for that, I, as a mother, thank you.

A new page in #Singapore 🇸🇬 history! Joseph Schooling – Olympic Gold 🎖#MajulahSingapura

A video posted by Jimmy Liew (@jimmyliew) on

Review: People Impact IQEQ Programme

I am not much of a fan of enrichment classes.

Right now, my kids do not attend any classes except for swimming and (soon) music lessons. That’s all we have signed them up for and that’s all husband and I agreed to sign them up for. Whatever academic stuff that they know, they learn through the daycare.

Sometimes, I wonder if I am not helping them with this mentality. Sometimes, I wonder if they will struggle when they go to primary school and realise that their classmates are miles ahead of them in terms of academic development. But we consciously choose to allow them these few years of playfulness and freedom, so that’s a risk we have to take.

When People Impact asked if I was keen to try Aidan out for their IQEQ programme, I hesitated. But like any good reporter would do, I decided to do my research and checked out their website. What I saw intrigued me.

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Instead of focusing on academic skills like literacy and numeracy, the programme seemed to be emphasising more on “soft” skills such as creativity, problem-solving and communication. As an educator, my students have shown me that it is those with high EQ and people skills who are able to succeed in life. The students who do worst in school can thrive and excel when they are out in the industry because they have the right personality and attitudes.

So yes, I decided to check it out with Aidan. We attended one of the classes that was meant for the older kids in kindergarten and even though parents were usually not allowed to sit in, I was given the opportunity to do so and observe.

When we got into the classroom, I was pleasantly surprised by the intricately designed “maze” on the floor. Judging by their reactions, so were the kids. There were seven of them in total, including Aidan, and I was told that the usual teacher-student ratio is 1:8. There were two teachers that day, CK and Aileen, who got Aidan to introduce himself to the class since he was new. I was rather surprised that A was immediately comfortable in that new environment, given that he can be pretty reserved. He was happy to introduce himself and Teacher CK assigned the other boy in the class to be his mate – the two got along so well!

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The first activity had something to do with the 4×4 maze on the floor. The kids were first divided into two groups. Within the groups, they were to work in pairs, with one child giving instructions to the other on how to “safely” exit the maze without being eaten by the lions.

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I was honestly very impressed by the activity. It not only reinforced spatial skills in the children – they had to instruct their teammate which direction to turn and how many steps to take, for instance – and it also encouraged them to speak up with confidence. The children clearly enjoyed this very much, they were full of relieved smiles when they managed to guide their friends out of the maze!

The next activity was Cloud Nine. This time, the children were split into three groups of different colours. The teachers would show each group a picture and every child had to name an object immediately and physically associated with the item in the picture. For instance, a picture of a table could elicit answers like “chair”, “cup” and “pencil”. Once every group member has given an appropriate answer, their hot air balloon would be allowed to ascend to the next cloud on the wall. The idea was to move up to the ninth cloud.

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This took quite a fair bit of time as the children needed some guidance now and then. But the kids gave it all their attention since the activity played on their innate sense of competition. Everyone wanted to move up to the next level! And it was a clever way of broadening the children’s perspectives, allowing them to draw the relevant associations from difference sources of information.

The third – and last – activity was conducted in a separate classroom, which the teachers had ingeniously turned into a pseudo laser-tag room using raffia strings. Here, the kids were divided into two groups and tasked to retrieve numbered tags from the walls while navigating through the complicated “laser” beams safely. If someone touched a raffia string, the attached bell would chime and the child had to freeze on the spot until a teammate makes his/her way over to tap her shoulder, thus freeing her. It was a game of team work and also built their gross motor skills.

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The kids were alternately IMPRESSED and SCARED of the laser beams! You could see from the anxiety on their faces that they thought it was real, that they really couldn’t move if they touched the string. And when they got out safely, they all broke out in huge smiles. Before his turn, Aidan whispered to me that he was a little scared. But he did great! He not only managed to retrieve his number swiftly, he was able to help save his friends a couple of times.

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Once the session was over, the teachers would invite the parents in and give them a quick debrief on what their children were up to that day. They would also sit down with certain parents to give them one-on-one feedback on their children’s progress.

During their one-on-one session with me, Teacher CK noted three things about Aidan: firstly, he was a very verbal child, and had no problems speaking up and understanding instructions (just goes to show that he has selective listening at home, HAH!). Secondly, he apparently has good focus for someone his age (for instance, he was able to sit and wait while the other kids had their turns). Lastly, he was definitely not the dullest tool in the shed, phew! I was told that they would love to have him in the programme because they felt that he had the potential to be a leader.

Wow, who knew? That little tyrant who drives me nuts on a regular basis could potentially have a high ROI. Although why he cannot focus on simple tasks like putting his toys away at home when he supposedly has strong focus leaves me perplexed.

All in all, I left the centre very impressed. You could tell from the details of the activities that the teachers had spent time and effort in crafting them. Each activity nailed their intended objectives. More importantly, the children kept up their attention and energy levels for the entire two hours that they were there. Aidan had skipped his nap to attend the class and he never wavered. The teachers were able to effectively facilitate the activities and motivated them through positive affirmation.

Would I continue the classes for Aidan? I would definitely love to – costs and logistics notwithstanding. Aidan clearly had fun and we capped off that lovely mummy-firstborn afternoon by going for coffee at one of our favourite cafes, One Man Coffee.

SPECIAL FOR BUBSICLES READERS
If you are keen to try out the IQEQ programme, you can sign up for a single trial class for your child at just $5/child (Usual: $20). Or take up a special one-month regular class package $288 (Usual: $588).

Just email info (at) people-impact (dot) com (dot) sg with your name and contact details as well as your child’s name and age. You’ll have to let them know that Yann from Bubsicles sent you their way to enjoy this deal!

This special offer expires one month from the published date of article. However, you can sign up first with this special offer and arrange for a later date to come for the lesson.

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Disclaimer: We were invited to attend a trial class by People Impact. All opinions are strictly my own and no monetary compensation was received.

Wash them hands!

[Author’s note: I am not a medical expert – far from it – so this entry is a personal opinion piece.]

I have quite a few bottles of hand sanitisers sitting around the house. We used to dutifully carry a giant bottle around in the diaper bag when Elliott was younger because hand sanitisers equate to clean hands, right? I cannot remember where I read this (probably one of those articles shared by friends on Facebook) but did you know that unless hand sanitisers contain alcohol, they are largely ineffective against viruses that causes illness?

I did a bit of snooping on the internet and found this and this. I’ve extracted some bits here:

From the first article:

Is using a hand sanitizer a good substitute for soap and water?
It can be—depending on the particular product and situation. The best way to clean your hands is to wash them with plain soap and running water for at least 20 seconds, especially if they are visibly dirty. This creates mechanical friction to loosen and rinse away microbes. If you don’t have access to soap and water, the next best thing is an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains a minimum of 60 percent alcohol (typically listed as ethyl alcohol). These products kill most (but not all) bacteria and viruses on contact. They also work well against fungi but not against bacterial spores (such as those created by C. difficile bacteria).

What about alcohol-free sanitizers?
Instead of alcohol, some hand sanitizers contain quaternary ammonium compounds (notably benzalkonium chloride or benzethonium chloride) to reduce microbes. These agents are less effective than alcohol, plus they lack evidence of real-life benefits. Moreover, they may be contributing to bacterial resistance (see inset). Other alcohol-free hand sanitizers contain “natural” ingredients like tea tree oil and thyme, which may kill some germs but not enough for them to be good alternatives to an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. The CDC recommends only alcohol-based products.

From the second article:

Frequent hand washing is the best way to keep yourself healthy and to prevent the spread of illness. The most effective way to wash your hands is with plain old soap and water.

Hands should be washed: Before, during and after preparing food; before eating or drinking; before and after caring for someone who is sick; before and after touching a cut or wound; after using the toilet; after changing diapers; after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing; after touching an animal or animal waste; after touching garbage.

While antibacterial gels can quickly reduce the number of germs on your hands, they do not eliminate all types of germsIf soap and water is not available however, antimicrobial gels are the next best thing.

It was such a revelation to me (like, OMG I’VE BEEN DOING IT WRONG ALL THIS TIME?!?!) because there I was, insisting that Elliott use the hand sanitiser after each playground visit, or before partaking in a meal. I always thought that it would do the job of keeping his hands clean. I did wonder why he was still falling ill despite my religious use of the hand sanitisers (the ones we use are alcohol free, safe for children, etc etc).

As it turns out, the only way to keep those damn viruses away is to wash both hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. To be honest, trying to balance a heavy toddler against a wet sink while trying to wash his both hands with your one available arm (because the other arm is wrapped around him, holding him up) is really not the easiest. What usually happens is some random squirting of soap onto his palms, some quick rubs, then a rinse. I guess that is better than not getting the hands washed, yes?

Ever since I discovered this fact, I’ve made it a point to get Elliott to wash his hands with soap whenever we are out. I have also noticed that this frequent hand-washing does lessen the number of times he has fallen ill. I do not have clear evidence that washing his hands after any activity helps in keeping the viruses away but so far, so good. To me, the following (among others) are hotbeds for viruses to be passed on – indoor playgrounds, outdoor playgrounds and kiddy rides. We cannot walk past kiddy rides without him having a go at it so we always whisk him off to get his hands washed ASAP.

This article from Singapore General Hospital sums it up nicely. Have a read! Here are 2 important points, in summary, on what people should clean their hands with:

Liquid soap and water

Water alone will not remove dirt and bacteria. Soap allows these to be scrubbed off easily as they bind to them. Any regular soap will do. Antibacterial soap kills bacteria more effectively but has not been shown to be more effective than ordinary soap in reducing the rates of colds and infections in generally healthy people, said a study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States this year. What matters more is good hand hygiene, independent of the soap you use.

 

Alcohol-based hand sanitiser (containing at least 70 per cent alcohol)

Hand sanitisers are a quick and effective way to disinfect your hands when soap and water are not available. Cleaning hands with alcohol-based hand sanitisers takes probably 20 seconds, while washing hands with soap and water needs about a minute including the time taken to lather, rinse and dry the hands. But alcohol-based hand sanitisers are not effective if the hands are visibly dirty. Dirt needs to be washed off with soap and water.

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(I do wish more public toilets have child-friendly sinks like these. Maybe one day…)

So everybody, please remember to wash your hands (whenever you can), especially of our little people! They touch everything (and anything), and those same hands reach out and touch their face ALL THE TIME. Stay healthy!

Bad Moms: review

So last night, three creaky old ladies went out WITHOUT KIDS.

That’s right, sista, that was us – me, Selene and Yi Lin. We were so hip, we were invited by Golden Village to attend the preview of Bad Moms. It was the first time that the three of us met for a girls’ night out since I was 37 weeks pregnant. That was TWO WHOLE YEARS ago. Therefore, you can understand how excited we were.

Plus, it was for a movie aptly named Bad Moms. Back in May, we had all watched the trailer of the movie and we were like, YEAH GURL.

In a nutshell, the movie is about three women who were so stressed out from trying to be the perfect mothers that they snapped. And snapped they did: they went on a rampage against the smug, NO-GLUTEN-NO-SUGAR-NO-SALT-NO-BPA-NO-ADDITIVES-NO-EVERYTHING-BUT-YES-ORGANIC-EVERYTHING judgy mums. They decided to free themselves from the shackles of trying to achieve that perception of perfection and be themselves – me as a person first, then a mother – again.

Mila Kunis was great as a mother who seemingly had everything – a beautiful house, two (sometimes) lovely children, and a career. She spent so much time trying to keep up with that image that she’s overworked, over-stretched and exhausted. Kirsten Bell, as the stay-at-home-mum to four little people, was the meek and passive mum who grew a spine over the course of the movie. And Kathryn Hahn was the escapist mum in denial.

To be honest, this movie is full of cliches, some bad, some pretty hilarious. And really, what can you expect when this is a movie about motherhood that is written by men. Which is why the movie is so rampant with mentions of penises in all manner and forms. Then there is that pre-requisite, sort of lame love story going on as well. So don’t go in there thinking that it’s going to be an intelligent discourse on gender stereotypes and the roles of women in society.

But I will say that it still struck a chord in me in some ways. As a mother who is juggling a career, two little (sometimes ungrateful) children while trying to ensure that my marriage stays fresh, I am, more often than now, exhausted. A mother’s mind is never idle nor still, we are constantly thinking about something, whether it is about ordering groceries or planning for the weekend or wondering if we are doing enough to prepare our children for the rigours of primary school. And in that quest to keep up with the perfect Instagram mother with the perfectly plated meals while looking svelte in perfectly done make-up with beautiful, shiny hair, it can be tiring.

So I get it. I get the frustration that Mila Kunis’s Amy feels. I get that feeling of trying to do everything right but it still ends up wrong anyway.

If you are a mother who is tired, wants a break and in need of some no-brainer laughs, then please, grab a few of your mummy friends and WATCH THIS MOVIE. Because you will get the feels AND the silly jokes AND be all light-hearted after that.

(Also, you will get to ogle some hot eye candy in the movie. Which was damn awesome. I loved it. But don’t tell your husband you heard it from me.)

(Also, be aware that the movie is full of the f%*k bombs. Which we didn’t mind, since we are the sort of mums who tend to go WTF once in a while. But obvs not in front of the kids. Nooooooo sireeeeee.)

(Okay, I might have done it once. Like when I was driving the boys home and some idiot cut abruptly into my lane without signalling and I screamed, “WHAT THE F**K!!!!” And the four-year-old went, “What did you say, mummy?”)

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Bad Moms is currently showing at Golden Village cinemas – go!

Disclaimer: We received tickets to the preview, courtesy of Golden Village, but all opinions are my own.

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