The new Sassy Mama Editor Kate McFarlane on all things parenting in Singapore – from strollers, to diapers, to her favorite family travel destinations
Who are you and where are you from?
The ‘who’ part is easy, but the ‘from’ is a bit trickier! My name is Kate McFarlane. I’m American and grew up outside Boston (Go Pats!), attended uni in upstate New York, then bounced around between Boston, the San Francisco Bay area and New York City (I have a knack for only picking cities with exorbitant rents, apparently). My bachelor’s degree is in History and American Studies (the real world application for this means I’m good at pub trivia), and I also hold a master’s degree in Journalism.
My husband and I left NYC for Sydney, Australia in 2009 on a two-year rotation for his job, then moved to Singapore in 2011 for my job. I’ve worked in online travel for the past six years, most recently writing about hotels and resorts across Southeast Asia for the global media company Travelzoo. We love living in Singapore (I’ve had my fill of New England winters, thanks!) and have no plans to move back anytime soon.
What are your mama bona fides?
This past June I gave birth to my first child, a baby girl named Maggie. At 4 months, she is incredibly adorable and is almost certainly a genius. And I’m not at all biased. I’m kind of obsessive when it comes to research, so from the moment I became pregnant (ok fine, even before that) I started reading every baby and parenting book I could get my hands on, and spent way too much time on various pregnancy and parenting websites. I can confidently quote you stroller specs, explain the difference between Dr Ferber and Dr Sears, and tell you where to get the best eco-friendly diapers (hint: it’s in Tanglin Mall, of course).
I was equally thorough in choosing my OBGYN here in Singapore (whatup, Dr Choo?), and was really happy to achieve my goal of a non-medicated natural birth using hypno-birthing techniques.
Hypno-birthing? Are you one of those crunchy granola types?
Well, I am a big Grateful Dead fan, but nah, I wouldn’t say so. I come from a competitive sports background and am a firm believer in the power of goal-setting; hypno-birthing helped me learn to relax and focus on positive outcomes via visualization and affirmations. I’m hoping to write more about it for Sassy Mama soon!
What do you like to do for fun?
You mean besides sing Raffi songs and read The Very Hungry Caterpillar five times a day? I’m a runner and seem to spend most of my Sunday mornings competing in races all over the island. I love bringing my dog, a Singapore Special named Avon Barksdale, out and about with me — the first time he saw monkeys at Bukit Batok was maybe the funniest thing ever. I love traveling and staying in new hotels. And when I’m not doing any of those things, I’m probably eating.
This is Singapore, so you better have some strong opinions about food. Favorite hawker dish?
Tian Tian chicken rice at Maxwell. No wait, peanut pancakes at Tanglin Halt. Or char kway teow at Zion Riverside. Or Fei Fei wanton mee. I can’t pick just one!
Tell us one surprising fact about yourself
Baby Kate, a character in the popular Arthur book and television series, was named after me. I grew up next-door to Arthur author Marc Brown, and he wrote Arthur’s Baby when I was 5 years old. That will probably be my claim to fame till the day I die.
Lastly, what can you bring to Sassy Mama Singapore?
I’ve obviously only been pregnant and a parent in Singapore, but compared to what I’ve seen and heard from my friends in the U.S. and elsewhere, I think the Little Red Dot has got to be one of the best places on earth to be a parent and raise a child. Full-time, live-in childcare is relatively affordable. There are pristine nursing rooms all over the place. There are amazing parks and museums (and the weather never gets cold so we can enjoy the parks year-round). Swimming pools abound. It’s ridiculously safe and clean, and public transport is excellent. Multiculturalism is truly vibrant, and foreign language opportunities are unparalleled. And there are so many countries and cultures at our doorstep! My daughter had a passport at 10 days old and took her first trip at 2 months to Bali. On my first international trip we just drove to Canada!
The point of all this is, I’m so excited to experience everything that Singapore has to offer parents and kids and share it with all you fabulous mamas. I first came across Sassy Mama reading about the best classes for babies, then I found it again when I was out shopping one day and did a desperate search on my phone for nearby nursing rooms. I love how thoroughly researched and informative the articles are, and look forward to Sassy Mama’s continued growth and development as the go-to resource for Singapore parents in the know.
Please feel free to drop me a line at [email protected] to let me know what you’d like to see, or even better if you’d like to contribute to Sassy Mama. Or drop by one of our monthly Mama Meet Ups and tell me in person! This is gonna be a lot of fun.