Does the Dad in your life need some inspo on where to take the kids? We’ve talked to some of the coolest Dads in Singapore to get their tips on where to go and what to do with kiddos in tow!
Andrew Tan (aka Drewscape) is the illustrator of many a bestselling children’s book. When Andrew had his first child, Olivia, now three years old, he put pen to paper and wrote numerous comic diary entries about his parenthood adventures, which he then compiled into a book “The OllieComics: Diary of a first-time dad'”. We caught up with Andrew and his cute daughter Olivia to hear his nuggets of dad wisdom.
What’s your favorite outdoor spot to hang out with your Olivia?
Presently, it’s a big open grassy field between Holland Village and Holland Drive. There are lots of touch-me-not plants there and she likes running from one cluster to the next and touching them with a twig so they close. That can keep her occupied for some time. I used to think that she needed elaborate playgrounds to have fun. But I’m noticing that she is more than satisfied with big open simple spaces like these.
What are the most Dad-friendly places for changing diapers?
When I used to drive a Peugeot van, I would open the van’s back doors and change her at the back of the van. Alternatively, there are clean and pleasant parent changing rooms in malls like Raffles City, ION, Vivo City as well as Liang Court. She’s mostly stopped wearing diapers now. So now we rush to the nearest men’s restrooms.
Favorite playground in Singapore?
I like the Children’s Garden at Garden by the Bay. They have a well-designed large water play area that plays cheerful Disney soundtracks that helps put everyone in a good mood. There’s also an ample shaded seating area for parents to sit and watch their kids. Because of water spaying everywhere, it’s one of the few outdoor play areas where my daughter can play till noon and it still won’t be too hot for her. We make sure she wears a swim cap though.
Best spot for coffee when you’re on early-morning Dad duty?
After putting her at pre-school, I sometimes head to Baker & Cook at 64 Namly Place. I’d order their breakfast set that comes with a buttery croissant and a latte. It’s a nice place to chill because it’s in a peaceful residential neighbourhood, away from the rush of the day.
Any favorite bedtime book recommendations?
Recently at the National Library, I found Little Fox in the Forest by Stephanie Graegin. It’s a wordless picture book that tells of a girl who is running after a fox who has kidnapped her stuffed toy. I think it is very well done, because my wife, mom and me all took turns to read it to Olivia in our own words and we all “read” the pictures exactly the same way. Having the freedom to narrate it in my own words allows me to make the story detailed or keep it short if I feel too tired after reading the story again for the third time in a row.
Any favorite apps/games/podcasts to play with or listen to with your kid?
We enjoy songs by A. J. Jenkins as his songs appeal to both adults and kids at the same time. We also listen to spotify in the car. Searching music by Hooplakids seems to play a string of fun kid’s songs that have a nice quality to them.
What’s your favorite activity to do with your kid when Mom’s not around?
I like bringing Olivia out to explore the neighbourhood on foot. That can include going playground hopping, sharing a pastry with her at a bakery cafe, or just running around with her in an open field.
What are your favorite date night restaurants?
Due to our schedules, we only have date lunches instead of date nights. We like the 1 for 1 lunch deals at La Nonna, Holland Village. I’d get their crab meat pasta. And there’s the $15 pizza lunch set at Dario Pizza & More, the best pizza restaurant in the west, in my opinion. I’d go for the CP if you like bacon and onions. The Zola if you like blue cheese.
Do you have a favorite shop?
Being someone who likes to draw, I love going to Straits Art Co. for art supplies. However, I’ve already acquired all the various art tools I really need. So it’s a little sad when I visit these days because I usually leave empty handed. As for lifestyle stores, I enjoy being in Muji. Being around nice products and nice decor cheers me up. And they have nice pens for drawing too!
Where do you like to train/exercise?
I go jogging in this big open air car park along Holland Drive, where the Buona Vista Swimming Complex used to stand. If it’s too hot or raining, I run around the sixth floor of my multi-storey car park because its usually empty.
What are your favorite holiday destinations with your kid?
We’ve only taken our daughter to Hokkaido and Tokyo in a single trip. But that didn’t turn out so well because she got a high fever and acute bronchitis there, plus we ran out of Brufen for kids which isn’t available there and not prescribed by Japanese doctors. So we cut short our trip and flew back a few days early. When asked what she saw in Japan, she replied “hospital.” We aim to try Japan again soon and then we will know if it’s a good place to bring kids or not.
You and your wife recently published a graphic novel ‘The Ollie Comics: Diary of a first time dad’ that chronicles the first couple of years of your parenthood journey. What gave you the idea to do this?
The first few years of a child’s life are so precious and fleeting that I think all parents want to immortalise those moments the best they can. As an illustrator and comic artist, I naturally started capturing my parenthood discoveries as short one-page comic diaries. I found that the comic medium is pretty good for capturing and sharing memories because it is able to combine pictures and storytelling together, much like a short film. Whenever something interesting with the kid happened, I’d sit down with pen and paper and draw it out at the end of the day. I posted these comic diaries on social media for a time and parents would often say that they can totally relate to my experiences. So after accumulating two and a half years of these comic diaries, I put them all into a book. I think it will be a fun read for future first-time dads as well as for parents wanting to relive the memories of their kid’s early years, because the experiences of raising a child is surprisingly very universal. The novel is available at Kinokuniya, Woods in the Books, Basheer Graphic Books as well as on my website drewscape.net.
What have been the stand out, most memorable or funniest moments?
I will let these comics taken from my graphic novel answer this…
A huge thanks to Andrew and Olivia, and a big shoutout to Irina Nilsson Photography for the spectacular snaps!