By SGN | 21 Dec 2020
By the time the family of three moved into their new apartment in 2017, it was already 1am in the morning. Badly jetlagged, Vaiva wanted to take then one-year-old Thea for a stroll outside to expend some energy, but she was hesitant. An experienced traveller who’s called many parts of the world home, she wasn’t sure if it would be safe to be out so late in a foreign country.
She stopped by the concierge’s post to ask if it were safe to go.
“He looked at me puzzledly for a while before replying enthusiastically: “Oh, yes ma’am. The rain has just stopped.”
Originally from Lithuania, Vaiva has been living abroad for over a decade and met her French husband when they both lived and worked in Beijing. Three years ago, the family of three relocated to Singapore when her daughter, Thea, was just one.
The Perfect Environment for Families
The relocation process may leave many families reeling from culture shock. Thankfully for Vaiva and her husband, this was kept to a minimum as they were both seasoned travellers. “My husband and I didn’t experience any cultural shock in Singapore,” she says. “I was just positively surprised by how green and clean it is. At first, I found it difficult to understand ‘lah’ in so many of the sentences though, but now I catch myself using it too!”
Vaiva finds it easy to explore Singapore’s nooks and crannies via the public transport system together with Thea. “Singapore has taught me to use public transportation. I’ve always been too reliant on my car, but the MRT is so well developed and clean that I really prefer taking a train now – it’s reliable, fast, cheap and clean.” Vaiva shares.
Exploring the city and discovering new sights and activities with Thea motivated Vaiva to eventually start her own blog – Raising Little Travellers – where she documents her experience living in the city with Thea and recommends family-friendly places to other parents.
The hustle and bustle of life in Singapore has also inspired Vaiva to start her own business. She recently launched a children’s activity pack subscription service, Your Letters From Patrick. The letters follow the adventure of Patrick the Pigeon, a magical bird who flies all around the world and sends personalised letters and activity packs for children by post every week.
Each letter from Patrick is ‘mailed’ from a new country and helps the young ones learn about the beauty and diversity across the globe. “Your Letters from Patrick is a combination of my passion for travelling, the joy of being Thea’s mom and a love for snail mail,” she explains.
Vaiva recalls her childhood with nostalgia, remembering how excited she used to be whenever she received letters from pen pals from all over the world. “This experience has brought me so much joy (and in fact that is how I learnt English as a language) and I would like for children nowadays to experience that too,” she says.
Making New Friends in a New City
Social media platforms and local networking groups are great ways for expats, like Vaiva and her family, to connect and make both local and foreign friends in the city. Vaiva personally recommends families who are new to Singapore to join Facebook groups such as Expats in Singapore and Singapore Expats, or connect with the Singapore Global Network community. Having friends who are familiar with the city goes a long way in easing yourself into the rhythms of your new home.
One of the most important decisions for any relocating family to make is deciding on which school to enrol their child in. Expat families living in Singapore can take their pick on the many public and private schools that cater to different curriculums – and if in doubt, they can always connect with other expat families who have made Singapore their home or even read about their experience here!
“People have all kinds of questions from selecting a school for their children to the delivery of groceries. You can ask whatever questions you have, and everyone is really helpful so I’m sure any question will be answered!” Vaiva says. Both herself an her husband wished for Thea to be able to speak in Chinese and therefore enrolled her into a private Chinese preschool, in hopes of exposing her to the language at an early age.
Exploring Singapore with the Little Travellers
Vaiva shares some of her favourite family-friendly spots in the city for whatever itinerary you have set for the family – check out Vaiva and Thea’s favourite spots below.
Vaiva and Thea’s Hidden Gem
We found the Maritime Gallery totally by accident and it is such an amazing edutainment place. They have such an interesting exposition with various ships, lighthouses and even a ship bridge simulator! We just love it there.
For Outdoor Fun and Sports
We love going to Marina Barrage to fly kites and watch the vessels while having a picnic. Thea loves outdoor playgrounds – check out the tilted train at Tiong Bahru Park playground and amazing, long, and curvy slides at Jubilee Park! When it gets too hot and sunny, I take her to the Far East Organisation children’s gardens, an outdoor water play playground where kids can run around and splash in water to their heart’s content.
For A Day of Arts, History and Culture
The Keppel Centre in National Gallery Singapore features special edutainment spaces for children where they can express their creativity. Thea loves to visit the exhibits too, so we make sure to visit all new exhibits whenever we head there. The Asian Civilisations Museum is also a children-friendly place! I would also take Thea to attend workshops such as pottery classes and painting classes that deals with various mediums.
For Kid-Friendly Dining
Our favourite eatery to go is Din Tai Fung. You must order the steamed dumplings – and even better, you can take the tots to the iconic glass windows to see how they are prepared! The staff would always bring plates and cutlery for children as well as some colouring pages with pencils.
For Nature and Sightseeing
The Botanic Gardens is an amazing place to visit with the children – I love how green it is with so many wonderful plants, trees and the little waterfall and lake with beautiful swans. Thea loves the playground at Jacob Ballas Children’s garden, and it is a wonderful edutainment place for children! Moreover, the cafeteria there serves amazing blueberry pancakes and offers a place for children to play at while waiting for the food to arrive.
For Fun Learning and Adventure
The Future World exhibition at ArtScience museum is amazing. We’ve been there multiple times and Thea adores it – I highly recommend paying it a visit! For adventures, we love to go to Sentosa island and would usually take a cable car over. We both enjoy the Skyline Luge which is a very family-friendly attraction!
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About Vaiva & Thea
Vaiva is an expat mum in Singapore raising a four-year-old traveller called Thea. They love to explore kid-friendly places in Singapore and abroad and share their adventures on Instagram as @raising_little_travellers and on their blog www.raisinglittletravellers.com. If you’d like to learn more about Vaiva and Thea’s snail mail membership for curious children, visit www.yourlettersfrompatrick.com.