In this edition of My Parenting Journey, join us as we find out how Candice – Founder of Coding Lab, juggles between spending quality time with her family and her hectic work schedule! She also shares the parenting secret that she uses to build a stronger relationship with her two children. Read on to find out more!
Tell us abit more about yourself. What is your story?
I was born and bred in Singapore, and attended girls’ schools since I was in Primary One. My parents were both working adults and were always travelling and rarely had time for me. I had to be very independent at a young age. I remember waiting up past midnight for my mum to return home from work when I was in Primary School. By the time I was in Secondary school, I took up many different activities and was equally busy. I was in the School Band and also in the School Robotics club. We participated in Competitions. It was fun and the friendships made last a lifetime.
I currently run my own Coding school, Coding Lab and handle the Operations (anything and everything). It is exciting, meeting parents and being with passionate young, lively kids every day. I am also a tech contributor for Sassy Mama. Besides the Singapore Operations, I enjoy developing the strategic part of the business such as handling the overseas Franchises in Japan and Sydney. Before this I was in FMCG and Pharmaceuticals. I graduated from NUS with a Degree in the Biomedical Sciences and a minor in Scientific Computation, Multimedia and Communications.
Describe your lovely family and what excites you about them.
I have 2 kids, a girl and a boy, aged 5 and 2 respectively. My girl loves to draw and she can sit for hours drawing. For her birthday, she drew personalized designs on each of her classmates’ gift bags. It gave her a chance to draw what they liked, ranging from a pair of cats to Princesses and Batman trampolines. My son is very hands-on and frequently plugs in his own toys to get them to work. His latest hobby is charging the vacuum cleaner and seeing it suck things up all over the house.
Kids being kids, both love the playground and running about playing catching the most. We try to make it a daily affair, by bringing them to the playground to play before their dinner time.
What are some of the most memorable moments with your family?
Too many! Every moment is precious 😉 A few key ones include the time when Audrey hugged her brother for the very first time (before that she used to try to hit him all the time!), when Mitchell learnt how to say his first word… the list goes on! One key event I remember was when my hubby had planned a nice Birthday dinner for me. Earlier in the day, I brought the kids to an Arts and Craft event and they had lots of fun painting Russian Dolls and such. They were so sad that they couldn’t come to dinner, and kept asking me to “Ask Daddy if they could come” whilst on the way home. It didn’t matter in the end because they fell asleep, but from then on, we make it a point to involve them in all special occasions/meals, even though I’m fortunate to have a hubby who wants to plan special date nights!
Where is your favourite place (in Singapore or overseas) to hang out as a family? Why?
We love the botanical gardens as we like to bring the kids to run on the slopes, have a picnic, enjoy the fresh air, whilst teaching them a thing or two about the different instruments and sounds (both of us were from the school Band all the way to our University days).
What is your greatest area of weakness as a parent? Your greatest strength? What are your spouse’s?
I believe that my greatest weakness would be not wanting to see my children hurt. I have the tendency to not want them to be hurt, but I have to remind myself that it is part and parcel of their life and they will learn along the way. Also, most importantly, I am there for them during the critical moments when they need me.
I would like to think that one thing we are doing right would be not to compare them with other children. Both my hubby and I want them to compete against themselves and learn to improve. Most importantly, have fun learning. At the end of the day, it is about inculcating the right values in them and teaching them how to understand other’s viewpoints (Eg. You may like this, but not everyone will) and also giving them a holistic childhood experience. We try our best to draw a balance and give them an enjoyable childhood that will also prepare them for life
What did your parents do particularly well? In what ways do you hope to be different?
My parents worked really hard. It was never only about the money, but also about the work ethic. If something had to be done at work, it would be done without questions asked. We learnt very young not to get in the way. At the same time, my mum would cook delicious meals for us on weekends when she would do the marketing herself even though we had a maid. We also knew their expectations of us at school, regarding our grades and schoolwork, and we worked hard on our own. It was all about instilling good work ethic, and behaving with integrity.
I missed them a lot when I was a kid as they were often travelling, so I try to make sure that I spend more time with my kids when I can, although I can be guilty of putting work first sometimes! As my husband used to travel a lot in his previous job, I turned down a few regional job offers/overseas postings to stay in Singapore to help look after my then newborn and kid.
What top three values do you feel most compelled to instil in your children?
Discipline – They need to be determined and have grit in achieving what they want. One book which inspired me is “The Dip” by Seth Godin. Starting a company has helped me to realise that we all experience dips, and it’s our discipline to keep going that helps us to exit the dip and become even better, despite going through a plateau. Also, it is important to constantly strive to be the best and not settle for a 8/10 or 9/10 but keep trying for a 10/10 because once you reach 10/10, you will realise how far away the standard for a 9/10 is. Getting from a 9/10 to a 10/10 requires a lot more effort than it took to getting to a 8/10 from a 1/10. I hope to inspire and teach this concept to my kids – always strive for the best with your actions!
Compassion – Every day I ask my daughter, how her day at school was, who did she play with, and what did she enjoy most about the day. If she had a quarrel with her friend, I try to help her to see things from her friend’s point of view. I guess these are things that all parents do, and I do it from the angle of compassion. Sometimes in focusing on tasks, we can get so single-minded. It is important to keep the connection and emphatise with each other along the way. There is a saying “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” It is so meaningful and that’s the beauty of friendship and community. I’m also inspired by Deanna Troi teaching Worf about empathy, when she quotes: “No man is an Island” – John Donne.
Integrity – They say that a sign of how smart a kid is is how young they start lying to you. Whilst it is always tempting to laugh it off when my daughter or my son tell lies to get what they want, I have to remind them how important it is to make sure they do things to right way, not just the way that gets them the results they want. At the end of the day, having integrity is a critical value they can grow up with.
What life skills would you like your child(ren) to develop this year?
Growing in Love (for one another), independence, and bringing joy to others.
What’s the best piece of parenting advice you ever received or a parenting secret you would like to share which can make another parent’s journey easier?
Be a parent who puts your child to sleep, to whisper to them in their dreams, to wipe their poop for them. Whilst this may sound like everyday tasks, I find that it is so true. We are often busy with work and feel like we do not have enough time with our kids, but just doing these things with them creates a special bond that is heartwarming; for example when your child asks for you each night to put them to bed, and when they whisper their biggest fears and secrets to your ears in the dead of the night, right before closing their eyes and falling asleep. Only by being there for them in these moments can you know how they really think.