Motherhood Around the World – An American mom living in Singapore

I’m so excited about this new blog series learning about the life of moms around the world. In the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing new posts with the tag #motherhoodMonday. I hope you glean as much knowledge from these posts as I have!

Without further ado – meet my friend, Justine! Justine and I met at a blogging conference back in… 2016? I know that we both had one less child and probably a little more energy! Ha! I’ll let her tell you the rest of the story…

Justine, tell us a little about your family…
We’re a military family from the West Coast but we’ve lived all over the United States. We’re currently living in Singapore. I have three young boys age 7, 4, and 2. I like to say we’re a multicultural family because we’ve had the privilege of interacting and learning about so many different cultures and traditions through living and traveling. For example, My husband and I are both first-generation Filipino-American, my kids go to an Australian school where they are learning Chinese, they play Brazilian Futsal and Korean Tae Kwon Do, and on weekends we spend time with our neighbors that come from all corners of the world.

Justine’s family.

I know you’ve moved A LOT in the past few years. What exactly took you to Singapore?
My husband’s job. He tried out for this broadening opportunity that allows him and his family to become fluent in a language and to immerse in culture while pursuing a Graduate degree from a University. We were supposed to move to a different country but paperwork fell through.

What was your first impression of the country? 
It’s VERY CLEAN and super-efficient. I thought that it would be more tropical island-y, but it’s VERY metropolitan.

Photo from Justine

I’m sure there are a ton of differences between life in the US and life in Singapore. Can you tell which ones have been the hardest to deal with?
The hardest… by far.. is having a bunch of kids and not having a car. We have the option of having a car here but because we aren’t Singaporean, we can’t get a loan and would have to pay upfront for a car. Cars here are VERY expensive! A new Prius is $150,000 SGD. Luckily, public transportation is very reliable and super clean, so I don’t mind it. But not having a car makes life annoying when it rains, if you have to grocery shop, or if it’s nap time.
Also, everything is OFFENSIVELY expensive out here. Strawberries? $14. Milk? $8. It’s offensive. For our family of five, we spend $300 a week on groceries. unreal.

Let’s chat about motherhood in Singapore- Do you think the locals parent differently than we do in the States? How many children do most families have? The beauty of living here is that I get to see the different dynamics of motherhood. Singaporean mothers parent differently than British, parent differently than Indian, parent differently than Malay, parent differently than Americans. The things we all have in common is that we all want the best for our kids, we all will do ANYTHING for our kids, and we all get irritated with our kids. Most families have one or two children. There are a few families here that have three or four kids who are ex-pats.

How does childcare work? 
A lot of families here have helpers, so while the parents go to work and the older kids go to school, the young kids stay home with the helper. Older toddlers usually attend lessons, a class, or they go to Nursery or Kindergarten (preschool). Preschool tuition fees are based upon your income.

Where are people in Singapore traveling to?
Literally, everywhere. Singapore is great because it’s right smack dab in the middle with Changi Airport, literally voted the best airport in the world. So if you want to take a quick weekend holiday to a different country, you can and for very cheap! Most families here are expats, so if they have a two week holiday they usually travel back to Europe or Australia/New Zealand.

Justine and family in Halong Bay.

It seems like your family has been able to easily travel throughout Southeast Asia. Do you have any tips for traveling with kids in this region of the world?  (For example,- cheap airlines or kid-friendly hotels,  transportation tips, where to find the best kid-friendly food anything like that)
YES! Create and utilize capsule wardrobes and pack light. Just travel with carry-on if you can. Bring bug spray. Always have a water bottle because it’s so hot. As for kid-friendliness… we’re the type of family that brings our kids along so the kids eat whatever we eat, they see whatever we want to see, we’re terrible parents and don’t really seek out kid-friendly activities. I mean, we’re not planning shark dives and/or going to the red light district with our kids! But if we want to climb a waterfall and eat fried silkworms, we’ll ask the kids if they want to climb a waterfall and try fried silkworms too! (The answer is usually yes!) One thing to keep in mind that “Southeast Asian spicy” is totally different from normal spicy. So if you’re at a street food stall, it’s helpful to point at your kid to make sure not to put an ounce of spice in the food at all!

Thanks so much, Justine! How can we follow along?

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