The iPad Pitfall – should your toddler be using an iPad?

Category : Your Friendly Gardener · No Comments · by Dec 12th, 2016

Monday 12th of December, 2016

How would you fare if you had to go on a weeklong tech fast? No iPad, iPhone, or any other similar smart device – we’re sure we’d do fine if we were honeymooning in the Bahamas, but three years later with 2 (and sometimes 10 while at school) children in tow, the iPad does feel like a godsend. I sometimes wonder how we managed to live without them before they were invented.

I don’t remember the first time I handed my iPhone to my toddlers, but I do know that I LOVE the glorious, uninterrupted silence it brings. When my children are wreaking havoc on an already hectic day my first instinct is to distract (and silence) them with the iPhone. And then came the iPad.

The iPad is small, handy, and can be taken anywhere to keep the children occupied. With hundreds (maybe even thousands) of apps developed for babies to young children, this digital babysitter can be extremely useful especially on long haul flights and lengthy waits at the doctors.

But just because it can benefit a child and aid them in their development in general does not mean that it should replace an entire childhood. My position on this is that screen time should be kept to a minimum, and children should be learning to occupy themselves with their own by an interactive screen.

When you decide to let your child start using the iPad, it’s important to set some ground rules and limitations. In my home, the children only have it for a maximum of 30 minutes a day, and only when they’ve played with their toys, read their books, completed numerous paintings, and frolicked outdoors.

Tablets or any smart device (who knows what will be released next?) should not replace human interaction and playtime; activities like playing and running around outside, building things with bricks and Lego, or baking with mum should always take precedence. I’m no saint but I try my best to strike a healthy balance – and if I desperately need 20 minutes of downtime, I always have that last resort.

Your friendly neighbourhood gardener,
Ana

Postnatal Depression

Category : Uncategorized, Your Friendly Gardener · No Comments · by Dec 5th, 2016

Monday 5th of December, 2016

Postnatal depression (PND) isn’t often discussed here, but it’s a real issue that happens to more mothers than we think.

I’ve never experienced PND myself, but I’ve had friends who have struggled with it. PND isn’t just postnatal blues, or “baby blues” as we often call it. Most mums experience baby blues to some degree – unexplained mood swings and tearfulness brought on by hormonal and psychological changes in the body post-delivery. Doctors tend to give this a few days (to two weeks maximum) to clear up, and most mums usually do.

What postnatal depression really means
Both Kandang Kerbau Hospital and the is over the counter Singapore Associationfor Mental Health estimate that about 10-15% of mothers are affected by PND. PND usually appears within the first six weeks of delivery, but it can occur later. Doctors diagnose PND once symptoms persist for more than two weeks, but the tricky thing is that many mum go undiagnosed.

What causes postnatal depression
There are many factors that can lead to PND – both young mothers under 21 and mature mothers are at a higher risk, particularly when the pregnancy is unplanned or complicated. The support system of the parent is important – the more worried, fatigued, or anxious a mother is over caring for her child, the higher the risk of PND. Past psychiatric history is also a definite factor.

How to identify postnatal depression
Mums – and even fathers, to a smaller extent – often experience tearfulness, fatigue, and sleeplessness. Loss of concentration, high irritability, and a lack of appetite are common. PND can also result in hostility towards spouses and/or the baby, and a constant feeling of being alone and a failure as a parent. In severe cases, suicidal thoughts can occur.

How and where to get help
Many PND sufferers choose not to get help because they are afraid that they will be deemed unfit to care for their children and their children will be taken out of their care. But external help is important for parents with PND to recover!

The most immediate thing you can do if you suspect you have PND (or if you know someone with PND) is to start talking. Talk to a partner, family member, midwife, support group, doctor, or counselor about how you feel.

For those with moderate or severe depression, doctors will recommend medical attention that involves a full assessment, management plan, therapy, and often antidepressants. The KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital offers consultation and treatment.

Being a parent is tough but you don’t have to do it alone – our green community is here for you too!

Your friendly neighbourhood gardener,
Ana

Healthy Recipes for Children: Warm Quinoa Salad

Category : Your Friendly Gardener · No Comments · by Nov 28th, 2016

Monday 28th of November, 2016

Quick, easy, and healthy recipes make up my kitchen arsenal – with two toddlers it’s almost impossible to attempt anything else. My children adore this quinoa salad, and if you’re pressed for time you can also prepare it ahead and serve it cold.

You need:
½ block of haloumi
handful of chopped mint
handful of frozen peas
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
2 cups of quinoa

Instructions:
Boil the quinoa and let cool.
While the quinoa is hanging out, grill your haloumi until brown on both sides. Slice the grilled haloumi into small pieces.
Add the olive oil to a pan.
Over low heat, combine the grilled haloumi, frozen peas, chopped mint, lemon juice, and quinoa.

Et voila – now sit back and be prepared to serve seconds.
Your friendly neighbourhood gardener,
Ana

Local Organic Produce in Singapore

Category : Your Friendly Gardener · No Comments · by Jun 15th, 2015

Monday 15th of June, 2015

At The Garden House Preschool, we try to base our meals as much as possible on the vegetables we have in our own organic garden. It has been a difficult process for us, understanding the soil was a learning journey.

It can be pretty challenging getting to our papayas before the birds do or harvesting our cabbage without losing them to the snails, or tomatoes before the children pluck and eat them but it’s all part of the process. But when we don’t have the right vegetables or enough of them, we turn to local organic farms in Singapore. Here’s a list of our favourites:

Local Organic Produce in Singapore 01

Quan Fa Organic Farm http://quanfaorganic.com.sg/
This organic vegetable farm uses a Japanese technique of composting to cultivate its produce.  You can order online for a flat delivery fee of $8 for orders below $50 (the delivery fee is waived for orders above that). The downside is that they only deliver on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday, but they do have a large range of vegetables, herbs, fruit, and even sprouts, which most organic farms here do not grow.

GreenCircle Eco Farm http://www.greencircle.com.sg/
Another farm you can order online from is GreenCircle, which has vegetables and fruit like papaya and passionfruit. There’s a flat delivery fee of $5.

Bollywood Veggies http://bollywoodveggies.com/ 
Bollywood Veggies doesn’t have an online store, but their farm has an inhouse cafe where they make delicious vegetarian food that’s also children-friendly. They specialize in fruit vegetables (like aloe vera), herbs, and ginger, but they’re best known for their bananas – they have over 20 varieties. You can vegetables directly from the farm when you visit.

Local Organic Produce in Singapore 02

Pasar Organic http://www.whatsupatfairprice.com.sg/
Going organic doesn’t have to break the bank – Pasar Organic by NTUC Fairprice offers over 40 fresh product lines that are up to 70% cheaper than other national brands.  Organic fruit and vegetables are from Thailand but accessibility (and affordability!) makes Pasar Organic a go-to for us. Available at all FairPrice Finest and FairPrice Xtra outlets.

Zenxin Organic http://www.organicdelivery.sg/
Zenxin Organic is a wholesale importer that’s available at Cold Storage. You can also buy online, but note that Zenxin imports their produce so it’s not the best option if you’re looking to minimize your carbon footprint. Organic boxes to your door come in $30 and $60 options, but you must order a minimum of $50. Delivery under $150 is $10, otherwise it’s free. They also have a physical store at Pasir Panjang Wholesale Centre.

Best Organic Food http://www.bestorganicfood.sg/ 
Like Zenxin, Best Organic Food carries produce flown in from countries like Australia, China, Malaysia, and Indonesia. You can shop online – there’s a minimum delivery of $20 but orders above $30 qualify for free delivery. They also have a physical retail location in Hougang.

Nature’s Glory http://www.natures-glory.com/ 
Purchase your fresh stash online or swing by Nature’s Glory at Tan Boon Liat Building.  They carry both local vegetables and organic fresh produce air flown in weekly from countries like Australia, Thailand, and USA.

Local Organic Produce in Singapore 03

Eat Organic http://www.eat-organic.com.sg/ 
This gem tucked away in Bukit Timah offers certified organic produce flown in weekly from USA, Australia, and New Zealand alongside local organic and natural vegetables.  They offer same-day deliveries for orders made before noon and customised hampers that are perfect for gifting.

Oh’ Farms http://www.ohfarms.com.sg/
Oh’ Farms is a hydroponics farm that grows tropical vegetables like Chinese cabbage and kang kong, as well as herbs and spices like sweet basil and pepper. You can’t shop online but you can visit them at their farm, where you can not only purchase fresh produce but also a herb garden kit, which lets you grow 2 crops of herbs hydroponically at home. Bring the children along and they can hang out at the butterfly lodge.

Green Valley Farms http://www.gvalleyfarms.com/
You can shop fresh veggies online at Green Valley, but why stop there when you can adopt a plot at the farm to grow your own vegetables? The farmers will teach you the right techniques so even rookies can have their own veggie patch, even if they live in a high-rise apartment.

Your friendly neighborhood gardener,
Ana

Travelling With Children

Category : Your Friendly Gardener · No Comments · by Jun 10th, 2015

Wednesday 10th June, 2014

It is that time of year again where people travel to go home or go on holidays as the local schools close for the June holidays! Well with two four year olds in tow, I completely understand that travelling can be more ruination than rejuvenation.

Here are my tips for getting through the long haul with the children.

Travelling with children 01 - 9 June 2015

Pre-flight
The usual mum preparation applies: always be ready. This means packing snacks and enough clothes for the flight to keep them warm and dry. Bring their favourite toys – if you have a few children, you’ll want to bring favourites and then some, just to avoid a sibling meltdown on flight.

If you’re a stay-at-home mum, it’s a great idea to start your children on holiday-related projects pre-departure. With older children you can watch films or read books on the history and geography of the place; with younger children try looking up animals and plants that are native to your holiday destination. If your children love being in the kitchen, expose them to new recipes that will give them an inkling of what to expect while on holiday.

Travelling with children 02 - 9 June 2015

On flight
Other more common plane issues often involve the low humidity of cabin air. Make sure to get children to drink regularly – I usually just bring their empty water bottles and get a stewardess to fill them up. Another mum tip: if anyone has a streaming nose, wet the insides of their nostrils with a finger dipped in water.

Make sure that things are accessible to you for emergency situations like the unexpected throw-up or when your little ones need the bottle. Breastfeeding children may find it easier with cabin pressure; so ensure you have your breastfeeding cover!

If you were changing them before touch down, I suggest rolling their clothes and underpants (or nappies) together so its take and go. I also find it easier with two children to pass one set to the husband.

I hope these tips help!

Your friendly neighborhood gardener,
Ana

Hello!

Category : Your Friendly Gardener · No Comments · by Jan 21st, 2014

house

To many of you, The Garden House Preschool may be a mysterious place. But while you’re distracted by our tomato tendrils and pumpkin patches, we’re busy sowing the real seeds in our future.

Here are three things we’ll be regularly updating on:
1. You will see: trophy pictures of our vegetable harvest, because even rookie gardeners need to be rewarded for hard work.
2. You will hear: the (mis)adventures of everything from children yoga sessions to impromptu boogie sessions to Mandarin songs.
3. You will (wish you could) smell: our fresh-out-of-the-oven muesli muffins and apricot chicken lunches.

We update every Wednesday so make sure to check in!

Your friendly neighborhood gardener,
Ana