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Li-Hsian

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We took our five-year-old twins to Perth in Western Australia recently. Many people tend to pass over it as a vacation destination, preferring the bigger and hipper Australian cities of Sydney and Melbourne. Yet, Perth, with its wide open spaces and laid-back vibe is a great holiday choice if traveling with kids aged five and under. Let me share with you why, and also how to make the most of a trip there.

1. Making the Right Travel Choices

Weather

Perth’s moderate Mediterranean weather means you can visit all year round. We visited last October during Spring (September to November); a really lovely time as the average daily temperatures range from 12 to 16OC. Autumn (March to May) is another good season to go too. Imagine having natural “air-conditioning” around you, everywhere. Cooler temperatures hopefully mean cooler temperaments!

Airlines

Many families usually opt for budget airlines, but the awkward timings would mean leaving and arriving at odd hours of the day. This will usually lead to time wasted taking naps to rest and recover. We often use Skyscanner to make comparisons with full-service airlines. You’d be surprised, sometimes the price difference is not as hefty as you think but timings are a lot more child-friendly. In the end, we went with Malaysian Airlines.

Accommodation

Hotels are great, but service apartments with a kitchen and washing machine are usually more family-friendly and cost-effective. This is especially advantageous if you have active kids who are early risers or fussy eaters. We chose to stay at the Mounts Bay Waters Service Apartments. It was centrally located, on the free Perth City CAT bus route and close to the scenic Swan River. For a change of scenery, we also travelled down to Dunsborough, south of Perth about 3 hours away. There, we stayed at the gorgeous Whalers’ Cove. We polled friends and family, searched Trip Advisor, and then booked all our accommodation on Hotels.com. The site offers free nights stay for every ten nights booked through them.

Car rentals

Perth and its surroundings are relatively easy to navigate by car. We chose Aries Car Rental as they offer affordable family-friendly options and excellent service. It has many safe, reliable and almost brand new (purchased new and replaced within 24 months) SUVs and MPVs in their fleet. Selected vehicles can be fitted with child seats to cater to young families of up to 12 people.

2. Keeping Kids Busy at the Airport and Mid-Flight

Perth is only 5 hours away by flight. Still, some planning is needed. This was where we found our new Trunkis very useful. In these fun cases, my twins managed to fit in their favourite markers and crayons, doodle pads, travel games (Snap and magnetic Tic-Tac-Toe), Kumon workbooks and volume-limiting headphones. We also managed to fit in a “Busy Box” filled with cool little science activities that Atom and the Dot kindly passed to us to test. Between these things, watching animated movies and munching on airline meals, the kids were kept busy throughout the flight.

The Trunkis stowed away easily under the front seats during take-off and landing and were great for the kids to rest their otherwise dangling feet on. We believe that children become good travellers through a mix of nature and nurture. We plan for things they innately enjoy but also try to help them grow more independent (walk more!) and adaptable (whine less!). We’ve been training our little ones to travel stroller-free for the past year, so the Trunkis were useful distractions especially at the airport (helping us avoid the ultimate nightmare of carrying everything and everyone!). They kept our twins happy as we pulled them along to the boarding gates. In long immigration queues, they served as seats to rest tired little feet. Even this mummy could straddle on the sturdy case while toting a sleeping (and heavy!) five-year-old.

3. An Open Space to Play Once a Day Keeps the Cranky Away

 When building an itinerary for kids aged five and under, leave plenty of time for them to unleash their energy and unwind in between places. Work in an open space for them to play in each day. Perth has so many great parks, playgrounds as well as breathtaking beaches and bays that you’ll be spoilt for choice.

We loved watching our children chase birds or just run around at the many playgrounds and parks in local neighbourhoods like College Park, as well as those close to nice restaurants that we lunched at like JoJo’s and Bayside Kitchen in Mathilda Bay. We visited the fantastic Rio Tinto Naturescape and the Lottery West Family Area in King’s Park.

In tourist hotspot Fremantle, we rode a ferris wheel and then watched my son climb to the top of a rope pyramid. We caught a stunning sunset with my cousins and their dogs on Perth’s iconic Cottesloe Beach. Another highlight was feeding kangaroos which were roaming freely at Caversham Wildlife Park.

Down south, we climbed to the top of the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse, then tasted craft beers over lunch at the Eagle Bay Brewing Co. while our kids played in a large outdoor sandpit set against gorgeous vistas. The kids had ice cream, played mini golf and rolled down the little hillocks at Simmos Ice Creamery. We went whale watching (ten whale sightings in one morning!) off the Indian Ocean with Jet Adventures. We also built many sand castles on the quiet beach off Whalers’ Cove.

4. Work in Treats for the Big People

 Remember to work in some treats for yourselves too to keep up your own holiday enthusiasm that can quickly descend into exhaustion if you do not refuel. We enjoy walking tours and were thankful our twins kept up with us when we took one with Two Feet and a Heartbeat. Our guide Tim made my cheese-toastie-loving husband’s day when he led us to Toastface Grillah for lunch. I was thrilled we caught Sidney Nolan’s Ned Kelly series at the Art Gallery of Western Australia. Perth also has many fabulous restaurants like those at the refurbished State Buildings for a child-free date night. Our cousins took us to The Hummus Club in the Northbridge bar and restaurant strip, where we also found some lovely Australian picture book souvenirs for the children at the cool Planet Books.

5. Have a Daily Itinerary but Prepare to Let It Go Where Needed

With kids, it is essential to have a plan but to pace yourselves. Don’t overload each day with insane amounts of activity. Packing in one big thing each day is plenty; consider anything extra you manage to do a bonus. We planned for but missed many recommended sights. Hopefully, we can save these for our next trip to Perth in the near future!

If you are interested in our full itinerary, email me at [email protected].

All photos are from Li-Hsian’s personal collection.

Trunki’s master distributor in Malaysia, Bloom and Grow Asia would like to gift two jet setting Makchic readers with Trunkis, one featuring the limited edition Flossi the Flamingo design, as pictured. Just post a snapshot of your favourite holiday moment with your family on your Instagram account and tell us the reason that made it memorable. Remember to put your post on public, tag us @makchic and use the hashtag #makchicxtrunkigiveaway. All posts must be done before 5 pm on 11 February 2019 to be eligible for selection.

Being a stay-at-home parent is a full-time job with long hours and no off days, yet it doesn’t command a full-time salary. These days, it can be tough to make ends meet on a single income and still have a little left over to top up your family savings.

Here are a few ways to earn some extra income without sacrificing too much time with your kids. You may not become an overnight millionaire, but you might make enough for small luxuries like books, weekend activities or a simple family vacation. More importantly, you can pursue these in those precious hours when your kids are at school, asleep or even awake at home (with some self-discipline on your part!).

1. Get Paid to Host a Dinner

If you regularly receive compliments on your cooking, do consider showcasing your culinary skills to people beyond your social circle. Plate Culture helps you fulfill your dream of running a restaurant without having to own one. You can cook for interesting (and sometimes international) guests in your own home through a simple and safe process. Best of all, you will be paid for each meal via a bank transfer or through Paypal.

2. Supply Signature Specialties to Small Cafes

Do you have a few signature dishes or desserts that you are really good at? If you do, focus on supplying these to the many small specialty cafes sprouting up around the city. Everyone loves a good classic curry puff, chicken pie or carrot cake that is done well; and local establishments are always looking for menu items that can help draw in a loyal customer base. Many local food brands like The Last Polka ice cream or Bella & Luca Pasta Fresca started out as home businesses.

3. Go Undercover as a Mystery Shopper

Sign up to shop in stealth mode as a mystery shopper. Get paid for pretending to be a customer, whilst secretly evaluating the quality of products and services offered. Your comments on these and the staff service level at sales outlets can help organisations improve their overall customer experience. Mystery shopping is done for many industries including pharmacy chains, hotels, restaurants, automotive and petrol dealerships. You can approach big market research agencies or do a quick Google search for local organisations looking for mystery shoppers. Some quick links to kick-start your mystery shopping career:

4. Use Your Experience as an Expert Interviewer

Market research agencies also want expert interviewers with experience in specific industries like banking and finance, oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, and hospitality. Expert interviewers can assist with obtaining important feedback from suppliers, corporate customers or employees of particular organisations. Ask local market research agencies if they need someone like you. You can also approach international agencies with a local presence like Potentiate, Nielsen, Ipsos, or TNS for such openings.

5. Get Paid for Your Opinions

Marketers draw out detailed consumer insights through focus groups and surveys. Participants are paid for providing opinions on products, services and brands. You can also join online panels to receive regular surveys relevant to you. Links to look up:

6. Get Crafty for Extra Cash

Good at crafts and sewing? Then create unique items or clothes and sell these online or at craft markets around the city like Arts for Grabs and Mari Market. Look where one stay-at-home mum’s idea got her.

7. Hosting Playgroups for a Small Profit

Playgroups help little kids learn living skills like socialising, sharing and negotiation. As it also allows new parents to make friends and trade notes, people might be happy to pay a small fee if you organise a regular one in your neighbourhood. Search for tips on how to do this online.

8. Helping Kids with Homework 

Stay-at-home parents sit down to walk their kids through their homework anyway. Working parents whom you know may want to send their kids over to your household for similar supervision, and be willing to pay for such a service.

9. Odd Jobs Offered Online

There are now online sites that match odd jobs to your capabilities and time flexibility. Jobs on offer include writing, researching for information and services, bookings and reservations, business related tasks, data entry, typing, copying details from business cards, proofreading, transcribing recordings, translation work, handing out product samples and the like.

Try sites like:

10. Peddle Your Pre-Loved Products

One family’s trash is another family’s treasure. Clear your home of clutter (especially things your kids have outgrown) while generating cash through channels such as:

Whatever you do for more money, remain mindful that your top priority is spending time with your kids. Jobs that you take on should not take you away from them for more than a few hours a day. You can type away on your computer or bake muffins while your munchkins are napping, but be aware of what they are doing and accessible to them at all times.

Any other suggestions on how stay-at-home mums and dads can make money?

Related Posts:

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My Story: Why Going Back to Work Was the Best Decision I Made

My Story: Transitioning from Full-Time Employee to Full-Time Parent

From Full-Time Work to Full-Time Mom: Which is Best?

Li-Hsian recently left a career in corporate communications to become a full-time mum to twins. She is learning new things daily as she tries to balance the romance of motherhood with the messy realities of her latest role.

Lili

A Quick Look at this Picture Book

Lili is an elegantly illustrated picture book by award winning Malaysian author illustrator Wen Dee Tan about a seemingly ordinary little girl… until we see her fiery red-hot hair! Lili’s “different” hair makes it hard for her to make friends. However, when she shows bravery in leading some lost village children to safety, things change.

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Why You Should Read Lili

  • Lili has crossover appeal – suitable for everyone from ages 1 to 99+.
  • It conveys important messages: Being different is not a bad thing; be brave enough to be yourself; appreciate diversity. These are important messages for a multicultural, multifaceted country like ours.
  • Nice interplay between the words and pictures, with creatively drawn pictures that amplify the reading experience – a mark of a good picture book.
  • Wen Dee Tan’s clean and crisp illustrations. She cleverly draws attention to Lili’s hair by keeping everything else in black and white. Some pages I really liked include: Lili skipping and her hair singeing the arch of the rope; the spread with the wolves, children and Lili – I love how it pans from the bottom corner of the right page (where eyeballs naturally move) to the upper corner of left page like a movie scene; and happy children toasting marshmallows on Lili’s hair
  • While the price may deter some parents, try to think of these type of books as evergreen – and you are teaching your children how to appreciate beautiful works of art.
  • The book deals with fire, a topic considered taboo and dangerous for young children. However, it is better for children to learn about such topics within the safe confines of the home with parental intervention. The book does not mention “fire” anywhere but we can “feel” the heat of Lili’s hair. It shows how fire can be useful but also harmful. You can use this to start interesting conversations with your child e.g. What is fire? What does it feel like? Why is it useful? How can it be harmful? etc.
  • The book has just the right amount of text and pictures to engage with early readers. It can also make a great gift for an appreciative adult.

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How My 2-Year Old Twins Responded to this Book

I recently started introducing concepts like hot, cold, light and dark as well as feelings such as happy, sad, scared and angry to my twins. So, this book came in very handy. My kids enjoy pretending Lili’s hair is really “hot” by touching it and quickly pulling their hands back while saying “hot!” loudly.

The simple yet engaging story arc – a relatable character, a bit of adventure plus a happy ending makes for good bedtime reading. I like that it is a book that can grow with my kids. When they are older, we can use it to discuss what it means to be different and the importance of being yourself.

Many parents shy away from wordless picture books or those with minimal text, thinking that these are “not value for money” or they can’t “read” these to their children. Actually, with such books, you have room to tailor the story to your children’s activities and interests; compared to more generic readers that don’t allow for creative storytelling. In books like Lili, we can point out details related to daily life to encourage conversations with young children, which will help with their speech development.

Links on Wen Dee Tan and Lili:

I look forward to more books from Wen Dee Tan. It is nice to be able to support good local talent whilst celebrating good picture books.

This book is available at Kinokuniya Bookstore in KLCC Suria.

Image Credit: Amazon & Wen Dee Tan.