Saturday Plans

Every Saturday morning at 630am, my two year old son wakes up exceedingly happy because he knows I get to bring him for his gymnastics class at Forum. First, he sits on me and bounces a bit, before he wraps my arms around him and yells in my ear: “Mama, wake up!”. When that doesn’t work, he gets our dog in on the act and encourages her to lick my face into oblivion. All these whilst ChubbHubs sleeps peacefully on his side of the bed.
And I am perfectly fine with his antics. As a working mom in Singapore, I don’t get to spend a lot of time with my boy. I admit I get a lot more time than many others since my working hours are rather flexible but still, these Saturday mornings are precious to me.

Parent-Child Bonding

First off, he knows that Saturday mornings are his. Mama has no make-up to plaster on and doesn’t rush around the house looking for clean, ironed clothes to wear. Mama lies in bed and holds him for much longer than she usually does and then she wakes up, reads him any book he wants before going to the kitchen and making him his favourite breakfast of egg-stuffed avocadoes. Then we get dressed and go for gym class where we have fun learning together.

After gym class, we have a little nap before our family finally gets to sit down and have a meal together. ChubbHubs works super long hours and usually sees us right before he dashes off to work and after both of us have zonked out in bed. As such, Saturday afternoons are his special time with Bubs. Once lunch is over and nap #2 is over, they attend Bilingual Playclub at Julia Gabriel. The day is finished off with some shopping and playtime at the play area within Forum itself since we signed up as members and frankly, it’s a lot cheaper than play gyms.

Find out How to Raise Frugal Children.

My Little Gym Review

Which is ironic considering how much we’re willing to spend on classes in that very same building.  Bubs is currently being taken care of by one of my aunts. Every morning at 8am, our doorbell rings and my trusty, loving and kind aunt is at our door, her arms open to hug Bubs who runs headlong into them. When Bubs hit 18 months old, we then decided he needed to socialise with other kids, and these classes would be a great introduction.

I mean, isn’t it great they get to meet kids of other ages, learn new stuff and spend time with you? It is! At great expense of course. My Little Gym is charging us upwards of $500 for 10 sessions per term. The cost varies depending on when you sign up and if you’re paying by cash, NETS or credit card. Bear in mind these classes last only 50 minutes per session. Last term, we paid $585 because we signed for it on our Visa which makes each class $58.50.

$58.50! For 50 minutes a week! We balked at the cost; we mulled over it. Then we tried a trial class and Bubs loved it. He thrived in it. And so we signed. And when one term ended, we signed again. We’re on our third term now and he’s doing handstands, rolls and walking the balance beam. He has also learnt to wait his turn, to play nice, to share and to get back up when he falls.

Julia Gabriel Review

For Julia Gabriel, we signed on because we really wanted him to pick up Mandarin which we barely use. I am sad to say, it hasn’t really worked. They do an hour’s worth of craft and drama activities in English before breaking for a bit and continuing in Mandarin. But the teachers are great and he has made quite a few friends with whom he ignores the teachers after the 45 minute mark. Signing up with Julia Gabriel required greater outlay. All in all, I paid $893 for 10 lessons at two hours per session.

On a yearly basis, at 4 terms per year excluding holiday camps, we would be paying approximately $5,000 for these classes. Five grand is not an extremely big amount, but it is higher than the median pay in Singapore. Are these classes worth it? Do they really help? Are there any major consequences if we don’t send our children for these activities? Wouldn’t it be enough if parents just spent time with their children, regardless of the setting?

The answer’s no. Of course not.

Why Parent-Child Classes?

Parent and child classes to me, are a great way for bonding with my son. When he was six months old, we tried it with swimming and we never looked back. ChubbHubs took that class with Bubs, and they developed a beautiful bond in that class. To see my son trust his father implicitly and unconditionally in the pool; to see him learning to love the water and just be happy with ChubbHubs was awesome, especially since we hardly got to spend any time with him.

So I got hooked. The thing about parent-child classes – you get to learn with and about your child. You get to see your child develop skills and aptitudes in a setting you would otherwise be excluded from. You get to share unique experiences with your child; that they know you would understand because you were there with them. You get to let your child know and understand that for the entire duration of that class, your world is your child.

That to me, is important and worth spending on.

Read: Parenting Budget 101: Avoiding the Birthday Bash Syndrome

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C.E.O @ The New Savvy
Anna Haotanto is passionate about finance, education, women empowerment and children’s issues. Anna has been featured in CNBC, Forbes, The Straits Times, Business Insider, INC and The Peak Singapore. She was nominated and selected for FORTUNE Most Powerful Women conference in 2016 (Asia) and 2015 (San Francisco, Next Gen). Anna has 10 years of experience in the financial sector and is currently a Director in Tera Capital. Her previous work experience includes positions at Citigroup, United Overseas Bank, a regional role in Business Monitor and a boutique private equity firm based in Shanghai. She graduated from Singapore Management University (Finance and Quantitative Finance).