This is the holiday season and it is time for gifts, or is it? My children get plenty of gifts round the year from us and grandparents, so there is no real reason to get them more presents. What they really need from me is time. The gift of time is something that a busy working parent like me would really want to give them. They grow up too quickly!
Throughout the year, I am busy with work. As a teacher, I start work by 7 plus in the morning, and I typically leave the school 11 hours later. By the time I reach home, I have only two hours left with my children. I spend it on dinner, and I do not get to interact with them much as I am usually too tired.
During weekends, the situation is only marginally better. I spend my time taking them to enrichment lessons and visiting grandparents, and that is about it. Going to musicals, zoo, parks and playgrounds do not happen as much as I would like. Whenever my children ask me to do certain activities with them, I keep giving them excuses why I could not carry them out. I feel like a rotten part time mother.
The good news is, the school holidays are finally here. My goal is to make every day of December count.
Here are ten free activities I will take my children to do during this holiday season.
1. My five-year-old, El, likes to bake. Unfortunately I had only done that once with him on New Year’s Day. I will bake at least once with him this holiday.
2. El has an encyclopaedic knowledge of animals, so he wants to go to the zoo and the bird park. I have booked free corporate passes to the Jurong bird park, so we will be going as a family. We have also booked free zoo tickets, so we are going to the zoo too!
3. We plan to catch free performances of cartoon characters at shopping malls. He asked to watch Dora the explorer, and we had just caught it a few days ago. There are other characters, such as Fireman Sam, which we will be watching.
4. He wants to build sand castles, so we will go to the beach. East Coast Park is a place that many families like to go to. A few other parks with sand pits and playgrounds would be good too.
5. It is free for children to take public transport, but I do need to sign up for their free passes. Gar loves spotting trains and buses. I think it is time to go on rides.
6. El had been asking to go overseas, but my husband is overwhelmed by that idea. One way is to go to the parks in the north where we can see Malaysia. There are playgrounds there where they could play, and Sembawang Park is full of historical significance. A naval base was built there by the British to protect Singapore, but it was not very effective during WWII.
7. Some museums are also free for locals. The National History Museum is undergoing renovations for some of the exhibits, so I think I will take them to the Singapore Art Museum instead. El loves to draw, so it would be a good opportunity to see works by local and other Asian artists.
8. Living in the concrete jungle can make one stressed. There are a few farms in Kranji and I think Bollywood Veggies is free for children. El prides himself as a nature explorer, so it would be a good chance for him to see plants.
9. There are free music performances at the Esplanade. It would be good to expose the children to music.
10. Christmas is a time where the shopping malls decorate the buildings with special lighting. Orchard Road will be a great place to drive through.
With many free activities lined up, I hope to enjoy the holidays with my children without all the buy-buy-buy! It is really a nightmare buying Christmas presents for any parties we might be invited to!