Wednesday, November 20, 2013

8 Long Weekends to enjoy in 2014


Plan ahead and make the best of the long weekends in 2014 - see our public holidays chart here

Let the leave planning begin.
The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) released public holiday dates for next year, which revealed that eight long weekends can be enjoyed with just four days of leave.
2014 Singapore public holidays
Four out of the 11 holidays fall on Friday, Sunday or Monday, yielding four long weekends - the first day of Chinese New Year, Good Friday, Hari Raya Puasa and Hari Raya Haji.
Taking another four days of leave bring the count up to eight. These would be the days before or after Vesak Day, Labour Day, Deepavali and Christmas, which all fall on Tuesday or Thursday.
Public holidays falling on a Sunday mean that the next day - Monday - will be the day off.
However, there are no four- day weekends next year, as there are this year with Hari Raya Puasa on Thursday, Aug 8; and National Day on Friday, Aug 9.
"Long weekends are great, especially since I started working," said Ms Aditi Shivaramakrishnan, 24. "There are good travel budget deals for nearby countries. There are a lot of fun things to do here as well," said the editorial assistant, who went to Vietnam with friends during this year's Good Friday break.
The full list of next year's public holidays is available online at

This article was originally published in The Straits Times on April 11, 2013. Read the full article here at

Friday, November 15, 2013

Top 5 Playgrounds in Singapore

Updated: 15 November 2013

​Playgrounds are a common sight in Singapore and almost every neighbourhood has one. Majority of our playgrounds however, have similar and recurring themes with many of them featuring the same old slides and playhouse sets.

There are however, some hidden gems within our heartlands that dare to be different and push play and imagination to another level to give your children an exhilarating playtime experience.

Here is our list of the top 5 playgrounds in Singapore:


Number five on the list is Montreal Green’s playground located at the junction of Sembawang road and Canberra link. The playground has a range of features, including the basic slides and play boxes, swings and rope bridges. Unlike many modern playgrounds, there is a sandpit for kids to build and sculpt to their imagination. The park is clean and with two separate playgrounds and a swing set, there will be no lack of activities for your kids here.

Getting There: The play ground is located at Canberra Link in Sembawang, a short walk from the closest MRT Station. 

Nearest Train Station: Sembawang MRT Station

Servicing Buses: Take service 167 from Sembawang Interchange and alight at the second stop.

In fourth place is the hidden gem located at Hindhede Nature Park, which is a short trek from Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. The journey itself is fun and gives an opportunity for you and your kids to be close to nature. Sticking to the nature theme, the playground has many climbing features from rope domes to swinging bridges. Like little Tarzans, your kids will be able to swing, climb and hang from the various rope features throughout the playground. Do remember to bring ample refreshments to keep everyone hydrated.

Getting There: Located at the end of Hindhede Drive, there are limited parking spaces available at the foothill of the reserve. To minimise impact to the reserve, especially on weekends, you may like to take the public transport instead.

Servicing Buses: You can take any of these bus services 170, 67, 75, 171, 173, 184, 852 and 961. Alight along Upper Bukit Timah Road, opposite Bukit Timah Shopping Centre and Beauty World Centre, or along Jalan Anak Bukit, opposite Courts furniture store, and walk to the end of Hindhede Drive.

Coming in third are the three separate play areas in Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park. The first is a water playground which means that it would be a good idea to pack an extra set of clothing when visiting this playground.

The second play area is deemed an adventure playground, with logs and tree-houses and slides for your children to climb and slide down from. The play area is big and offers ample room for your kids to run about.

The last area is a giant sand pit with soft sand and is catered to the younger children. The highlight of the place is a digger which your child can operate to dig on the sands.

Getting There: The park is located along Bishan road and Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1. It consists of two separate parks and stretches from the junction of Bishan and Ang Mo Kio to Upper Thomson Road.

Nearest Train Station: The park is in between both Ang Mo Kio and Bishan MRT Stations, they’re both about a similar distance if travelling on foot. 

Servicing Buses: You can catch Services 132, 133, 136, 165, 166, 169 and 262 from Ang Mo Kio, or services 50, 55, 58 and 410 from Bishan

Tucked away in Tiong Bahru Park and coming in at number two on the list, this giant train themed playground is set in the middle of the park and can be seen from any entrance. The train and its cabins are held aloft the sandpit by climbing structures and slides. The topsy-turvy train has ample room for more than fifty or so children to play in.

There’s even a mini maze for the younger children to explore and run around in, while parents can easily keep their eye on them as the hedges of the maze do not grow past waist level.

Getting There: Located at Tiong Bahru Road, the park is located within walking distance of Gan Eng Seng Secondary School. 

Nearest Train Station: A short walk from Tiong Bahru MRT Station

Servicing Buses: Bus services 16, 32, 33, 63, 64, 120 and 851, the alighting bus stop is conveniently situated just outside the park. 

Coming in at number one is Alexandra Canal Linear Park’s rope playground. The rope playground is a big hit with children of all ages and consists of rope bridges and tunnels for endless climbing fun. The ropes are strong enough to support adults so parents can get in on the fun too if you are tempted. Afterall, you can never be too old for a good climb!

There are five playgrounds in total, beginning with the rope playground; you can make your way down the path towards Queenstown to a few other unique playgrounds including a trampoline, a gondola bridge and a pair of squiggly tubes that works like telephone lines and carry sound from one end to the other.

Getting There: The rope playground is a short walk from Block 83, Stathmore Avenue in Queenstown.

Nearest Train Station: Walk along Strathmore Avenue from Queenstown MRT Station and you’ll be able to locate block 83. 

Servicing Buses: You can take bus services 51, 111, 145, 186 or 970 and alight at Queenstown MRT Station.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

What children secretly want to say to their parents

If you’re a parent, I’m sure you get frustrated with your children sometimes. Okay, it’s probably not “sometimes”. It’s probably all the time.
Your children are disobedient.
They talk back to you.
They don’t keep their promises.
They don’t study as hard as you’d like them to.
I’m privileged to have worked with thousands of youths and parents, so I know that frustrated parents abound. I’m not surprised that many youths are frustrated with their parents, too.
Clearly, there’s some miscommunication going on between parents and children.
I’ve come up with a list of five things that many children secretly want to say to their parents but don’t dare to, because they’re afraid of coming across as disrespectful or because they’d feel awkward.
I hope this list will give you new insights into a child’s mind, so that you’ll be able to build an even stronger relationship with your children.
1. “Practice what you preach”
Children feel annoyed when their parents don’t lead by example. I dare say that this is children’s biggest source of frustration.
As a parent, do you…
  • tell your children not to lie, but frequently tell lies yourself (white lies included)?
  • tell your children not to be distracted by their electronic devices, yet you’re a smartphone addict yourself?
  • scold your children for being late, yet you’re rarely punctual for your own appointments?
It’s impossible to be a perfect parent, but it is possible to be committed to personal growth, and to show your children that continual improvement is something that everyone ought to strive for.
2. “Apologise when you’re wrong”
Since perfect parents don’t exist, this means that you’re bound to make mistakes.
It puzzles me that many parents I work with refuse to apologise to their children, even when these parents have made a blatant mistake.
Some examples of mistakes that parents might make: punishing their children for something their children didn’t do, or feeling overwhelmed by stress at work and taking it out on their children, or calling their children “stupid” or “useless” in a fit of anger.
If you’re a parent who wants to teach your children humility, you’ll need to suck up your pride too. After all, soon enough your children will see that you’re flawed.
It’s important to remind yourself that your authority as a parent isn’t based on how perfect you are, or how perfect your children perceive you to be.
3. “Show me that hard work is rewarding”
All parents want their children to be hardworking.
Most youths I’ve worked with, however, don’t see why hard work is rewarding. They look at their hardworking parents, and all they see is how weary, stressed, anxious and frustrated their parents are.
Many parents come home from the office and complain about their work, their boss and their colleagues. I don't blame their children for thinking that hard work results in punishment, not reward!
I spend more hours at work than the average person. I’m not so na├»ve to think that work is all fun and games all the time. Sometimes, hard work entails doing things you don’t feel like doing at all.
But, at the same time, hard work ought to bring a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment, because it’s the means by which you make a valuable contribution to others and to the world.
If you're a parent, I encourage you to share this gratifying aspect of hard work with your children, so that they don’t grow up thinking that hard work leads to pain and suffering, and hence should be avoided.
4. “Let me make some mistakes”
Parents think they want what’s best for their children, but most of the time they only want what’sgood. (This is a point inspired by this article.)
Naturally, parents don’t want their children to experience struggle, disappointment, pain or failure. This is the path of “good”.
But is this what’s best for their children?
Most of the time, no. The best path is often the one that’s full of struggle, disappointment, pain and failure. It’s these unpleasant experiences that prepare children for enduring success.
The best path is about allowing your children to take risks and make mistakes. Of course, it’s important to set clear boundaries for them and to provide them with a safe, nurturing environment.
The key, however, is to focus the majority of your efforts on encouraging your children to dream big and dare to fail.
5. “Love me the same, no matter what grades I get in school”
Almost every student I’ve worked with has said this to me: “It seems like my parents love me more when I do well in school.”
Children who have this perception of their parents’ love often feel like they need to earn their parents’ love, acceptance and approval. This can affect their sense of self-esteem and self-worth.
Parents should, no doubt, encourage their children to pursue excellence and to always give their best effort, but parents should display unconditional warmth and love.
It’s only when children have complete assurance of their parents’ love for them that they can have the confidence and boldness to step out of their comfort zone and make the most of their potential.
In closing…
When your children throw a tantrum, neglect to do their household chores, or refuse to get up for school on time, it’s not easy to keep your cool.
Being a parent is probably the most challenging job in the world!
But I hope you’ll be able to confidently face these challenges now that you know five important things that your children secretly want to say to you.
Wishing you all the best on your exciting journey as a parent and as an influencer of the next generation!
Daniel Wong is a learning and personal development expert, as well as a certified youth counselor. A sought-after speaker and coach, he is also the best-selling author of "The Happy Student: 5 Steps to Academic Fulfillment and Success". He offers programmes to help students become both happy and successful and to help parents to connect more effectively with their children. He writes regularly Download his FREE e-book, "The Unhappiness Manifesto: Do You Make These 150 Mistakes In The Pursuit Of Happiness?", here.