Does the Dad in your life need some inspo on where to take the kids? We talk to some of the coolest Dads in Singapore to get their tips on where to go and what to do with kiddos in tow!
Is it too late to sign up for a new Dad? Because if not, can we move into Robbert Bos’s house, please? The Dutch father of two arrived in Singapore as a “trailing spouse” and in addition to looking after his two kids – Lucas, 8 and Celine, 7 – he’s developed a wonderful app called Family Five that’s all about encouraging busy families to spend quality time together. If you’re ever stumped on what to ask the kids at the dinner table besides the rote “How was your day at school?”, Family Five is a godsend with its ever expanding collection of fun activities and practical content geared toward developing critical life skills in children ages 4 to 12. Read on for some of Robbert’s favorite alternative questions to ask your kids, as well as some majorly creative after-school activities (and stunning photos!). And we’re not kidding about wanting to move in to the Bos household: his go-to food specialties are bagels and milkshakes!
How long have you lived in Singapore for?
A little over two years — we love it here!
Tell us something quirky about yourself?
I like some of the toys I bought for our kids more than they do. Most of the remote controlled robots, circuit boards and Japanese math puzzles I bought for them ended up on my desk…
Luckily it’s not that they don’t care about them, they do, but the reality is that often I enjoy playing with them more than they do.
What’s your favorite outdoor spot to hang out with your kids?
We love to bike to Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden in the Botanical Gardens. There is so much to explore and experience for kids of all ages. Sometimes the playground is the favorite and other times it’s all about exploring different plants and spotting lizards.
Any tips on making the school drop-off/pick-up routine more fun and exciting for kids?
We really enjoy talking about many different topics. To take the conversation beyond the common ‘Would you rather be a…’ and ‘What is your favorite…’ we often talk about what’s on the news, how things work and what you would do if you were….
Another personal favorite is the speedy math quiz: Ask simple math questions and let them try to answer as fast as they can.
What are some good alternative questions parents can ask their kids (preschooler, primary schooler, or teen) rather than just ‘How was your day?’?
There are so many! It really depends on the age of the kids of course but here’s a few of my favorites:
- Try asking that if they were to make their own movie, what would it be about? Where would it take place? Who would star in it? What’s the end like?
- Or ask them how they think people learn new things. Try to talk about how the brain stores, combines and uses information. What proof do you have that the process occurs?
- Or ask what they would do if they were a teacher at their school for a week. What activities would they organize? How would they keep order in the classroom?
If you keep these conversations going by asking ‘why’ and ‘how’ you’d be amazed by what kids come up with.
What part of Singapore do you live in? What do you like about it?
We’re on Orange Grove Road, near Tanglin. The condo we live in is full of kids and is a safe place for kids to play outside.
What are the most Dad-friendly places for changing diapers?
Hahaha, that’s been a while for me but it seems to me that Singapore is a relatively diaper change friendly place. Plenty of public restrooms have gender neutral diaper changing rooms.
Favorite playground in Singapore?
Not really a playground but we’re really big fans of Horsecity. Our kids play tennis, attend art class and do Capoeira there while my wife and I do some high intensity interval training or yoga at the same time.
Best spot for coffee when you’re on early-morning Dad duty?
Our kids wake up really early so we often sit in the living room playing chess or checkers, or just do some morning math or drawing.
Any favorite bedtime book recommendations?
A recent one Celine and I really enjoyed was Sydney & Simon: To the Moon! by Paul & Peter Reynolds. It has a really nice storyline and teaches kids about collaboration, creativity and communication. It’s part of a series of three.
Any favorite apps/games to play with your kids?
I prefer apps that enable us to do things in the real world. For example: With Spotify we enjoy listening to different types of music together; PlantNet helps us identify flowers and plants; Strava keeps track of our sports activities, and Calm is a favorite for bedtime mindfulness (gets them to fall asleep instantly!).
What’s your favorite activity to do with your kids when Mom’s not around?
Play really loud music, sing, dance and then cool down with reading for an early bedtime.
What’s your favorite restaurant to bring your kids to in Singapore?
It’s been a while but probably Tanjong Beach Club. Kids get to play on the beach and enjoy the pool and the food is nice.
Do you do any cooking in the house? If so what do you make?
I make awesome bagels and milkshakes on the weekend! And that’s hard work, especially when all of a sudden half of the kids in the condo want to have lunch at the Bos residence.
What are your favorite date night restaurants?
My wife travels quite a lot for work so date night for us usually means going for a walk and having a drink or food relatively nearby. We like going to Dempsey Hill so PS.Cafe and Chopsuey are favorites for their semi-outdoor seating.
Do you have a favorite shop?
Umistrong Art Store, in Sunshine Plaza on Becoolen Street. This tiny shop is my favorite supplier of all sorts of materials for the art box at home.
Where do you like to train/exercise?
I run outside at least twice a week, go to the condo gym at least once and on the weekends high intensity interval training and play tennis with my wife at Horsecity.
What are your favorite holiday destinations with your kids?
New Zealand is certainly a favorite. Now that our kids are old enough we can do all sorts of outdoor activities such as hiking, biking and skiing. But we also loved the safari and the mountains of Sri Lanka or closer by, Taman Negara in Malaysia.
Thank you so much to Robbert, Celine and Lucas for spending the afternoon with us. And a huge thanks to the supremely talented Irina Nilsson Photography for the gorgeous-as-ever snaps!