Singaporean mamas are doing amazing things all over the world! Today we speak with pregnant mama of one Anabel Lim in San Francisco
From the hustle and bustle of Singapore to the laid-back vibes of the City by the Bay (that would be San Francisco, California), 35-year-old Anabel Lim moved across an ocean for love last year. Read on for her tips on kid-friendly places in the 7×7 and what it’s like raising children there.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I have a daughter who is 3 1/2 years old and I am currently 32 weeks pregnant with a boy. I was a full-time maths and science tutor in Singapore before becoming a stay at home mum (SAHM) after moving to the San Francisco Bay Area.
What brought you to San Francisco? How long have you been living overseas?
My husband is an American-Born Chinese who works in San Francisco and I moved here with our daughter so that our family could be reunited. We were living apart for two years after we had our first child and it was difficult to only see each other once every six months. I received my visa in April 2017 and have been in the Bay Area ever since.
Favourite aspect about living in San Francisco?
The weather is beautiful — sunny and breezy most of the time. The pace of lifestyle is slower than in Singapore and it has taught me a lot about patience.
And the worst part?
It is difficult or almost impossible to find Nonya food. The closest I can get is Indonesian cuisine but it costs more than what I’m willing to pay.
Your most recent purchase
… for your children?
Science books in Mandarin from Taobao.
Maternity bras because my boobs are busting out of all my bras.
How do you think parenting in San Francisco differs from parenting in Singapore? What do you appreciate most about it?
The general vibe towards parenting here is to encourage free play, creativity and confidence-building while being respectful towards others, whereas academic achievement is highly emphasised in Singapore. I deeply appreciate this culture because I faced a lot of struggles trying to keep up in academics-centred Singapore as I was a dreamer most of the time.
I would like to impart knowledge to my children but I am not good at enforcing academic discipline. The culture here allows me to teach with a light heart without being extremely results-oriented. In this manner, I can focus on their psychological well-being and attitude towards life, aspects I think that are more important in my children’s education as they grow up.
Did you give birth to your children in San Francisco? If yes, what was memorable about the experience?
I gave birth to my daughter in Singapore but I will be giving birth to my son here in the Bay Area.
Can you talk us through your career pre- and post-baby?
I was a full-time maths and science tutor for years before having my daughter. I continued teaching until she was two years old before we moved to the Bay Area.
When we first moved to the Bay Area, I used Skype to continue teaching for six months to help my existing students with their GCE O-Level Examinations. I am now a SAHM but I still feel like I am a teacher, except that I am now teaching my daughter with joy and excitement rather than just chasing key performance indicators.
Favourite kid-friendly restaurant in San Francisco?
Hog Island Oyster Co. at One Ferry Building. The clam chowder and sourdough bread are so good they will definitely keep your kid in the chair. The restaurant is situated by the Bay, overlooking the Bay Bridge, with enough space for kids to walk around and look at seagulls. The food and cocktails are excellent so parents can be happy, too.
Top five places in San Francisco you would recommend to parents traveling with kids and why.
Children’s Creativity Museum — They have all kinds of activities that nurture creativity in aspects such as innovation, animation, music and technology. There are also design and art workshops that are suitable for children aged 2 to 12 years old.
Bay Area Discovery Museum – A large museum that is equipped with a planetarium, indoor exhibits and an outdoor playground. Suitable for children from six months old up to 12 years old, the museum’s mission is to help little ones become excellent problem solvers through hands-on play and experiences. There is also an amazing view of the Golden Gate Bridge as it is located in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area!
San Francisco Zoo — It’s a regular zoo but it is delightful to spend a day there, especially with the beautiful weather we have here in San Francisco. We particularly like it when the zookeepers bring friendly animals out for the children to pet and interact with.
California Academy of Sciences – The oldest museum in California has a planetarium, an aquarium, a natural history museum and an indoor rainforest all in one building! You can get to see a rare albino American alligator named Claude and even experience simulations of the 1906 and 1989 San Francisco Earthquakes, measuring 7.9 magnitude and 6.9 magnitude respectively.
Ocean Beach – A long and beautiful stretch of sandy beach that is right by the Pacific Ocean where you can see surfers, swimmers, families, joggers and anyone who wants to have a relaxing time by the beach on a sunny and breezy day. Fantastic for a slow-paced weekend.
Any advice for surviving a flight with young children?
Lots of fluids to prevent dehydration; and lots of healthy snacks like dried fruits, vegetable sticks, fruit gummies and fresh fruits such as strawberries, grapes and blueberries.
Do not bring toys that have small parts which children will always drop as they are a hassle to pick up. Buy a pair of comfortable headphones for them to use while enjoying media. Download some games that do not require a wifi connection to play such as BabyBus apps, puzzles and colouring apps.
Lastly, if your child has a meltdown, just remain calm and remember you have done all you can and the most important thing is to arrive at your destination healthy and safe, nothing else matters.
Is there something that you do to keep your children in touch with their Singaporean roots?
In fact I find this the most difficult task to keep up with as a Singaporean mother abroad so I guess my Singlish should be the best connection.
Best souvenir one could bring back from San Francisco
…for a child:
…for a mama friend:
Anything they want from the outlet stores!
What do you find is the hardest part of being a mother living in a foreign country?
A lack of friends who you are truly comfortable with. Plus the time difference (15-16 hours) makes you somewhat disconnected from friends even on instant messaging platforms. Not knowing other mothers will mean little or no playdates so you will probably be on your own with your kids most of the time.
On raising multilingual children …
I try to speak Mandarin all the time, read only Mandarin books and let her watch Mandarin videos. I am ok not focusing on English for now as I think they’ll eventually be good at it anyway.
What do you always bring back from Singapore for yourself and for your children?
Mandarin books from Popular Bookstore or Taobao, and instant noodles.
Your top makeup tip for a busy mama?
Tinted sunblock, blusher, eyeliner and a pretty lip stain will make a whole lot of difference within five minutes.
Tell us about your go-to recipe for your family.
Spaghetti Bolognese is always a big hit – and I get to load it up with lots of fibre like mushrooms, onions and carrots too.
What’s the one thing you would miss about San Francisco if you moved away?
The weather, for sure.