Mummy bloggers may still be outnumbering daddy bloggers – but in recent years, dads have been making a name for themselves in the parenting community (see who our favourite daddy bloggers in Singapore are). One popular daddy blogger is 39-year-old financial planner, Kelvin Ang, who blogs about life with his three children, Ash, aged 11, Ayd, aged 9, and Ale, aged 5, on his website, CheekieMonkies. Kelvin is also the author of Got Kids, Go Where?, a book filled with 500 activities for parents to do with their children in Singapore. We caught up with the hands-on dad to find out more about his fatherhood experience.
What inspired you to blog?
When my eldest child was born in 2005, my wife started this blog as a means to document his growing years. When she went back to work after her maternity leave ended, I took over and have been chronicling my fatherhood journey since. My eldest child, Ash, was born in the Year of the Monkey and since all kids are notoriously cheeky, the name CheekieMonkies was born!
How has becoming a parent changed you?
I think it is common knowledge that when you become a parent, your life is forever changed – for the better, and yes, I am speaking from experience. I am now responsible in a way that I have never been before and everything that I do now, I do it with my kids firmly in the picture and it is a great (albeit stressful at times) feeling!
What’s a typical family day or weekend like?
A typical family day or weekend definitely involves being outdoors, whether it is at the park, playground or museum. We also visit the kids’ grandparents on a weekly basis. I usually look out for new places in Singapore to bring them to whenever the weekend rolls along because to be honest, being cooped up at home with three kids does no favours for my sanity!
What have you learnt about yourself as a parent?
That I can be organised and flexible at the same time! There needs to be a certain level of organisation because there are so many things a parent needs to do when kids are involved. But because things always tend to change at the last minute – vomit projectiles, inadequate change of clothes or diapers, no baby changing rooms while outside — one needs to be flexible enough to roll with the unexpected as well.
On the other hand, becoming a parent has also made me all too aware of the things I wish I could do better. More patience, more tolerance and more understanding – these are the things that make me still a work-in-progress as a dad.
How has being an active Dad helped in your everyday life?
I believe the first thing all Dads need to realise is this – there is no shortcut to being an active Dad. I have accepted the fact that in order for me to spend quality time with my kids, something has got to give. My day job requires me to see clients on weekends but that would mean I will not be able to bring the kids out. In the end, I choose to make do with lower income in return for family time. Active fatherhood boils down to sacrifice and prioritising what is important.
Teaching my kids to appreciate things like nature also reminds me never to take what I have for granted. Being an active Dad has allowed me to see the value of everything I have.
What is the difference between being a daddy and being a father?
Being a Dad is hard work. Not being a father. ANYONE can be a father. Darth Vader was Luke’s FATHER. He never said, “Luke, I am your Dad.” Reason being, he wasn’t a Dad.
Being a Dad is scratching your nose and smelling poop because you forgot to wash your hands after the last diaper change.
The point is that parenthood is one heck of a job whether you are a Dad or a Mummy. And we all learn on the job as we go along. At the end of the day, a good Dad makes all the difference in a child’s life. He is a pillar of strength, support, discipline, spends quality time with his children and most importantly, leads by example.
Your kids are so photogenic! Are they always happy to comply for photographs?
I think my kids have long come to accept the fact that they need to pose for photographs whenever we head somewhere new. The same thing applies to when we are reviewing a restaurant for the blog. So before they run off to explore an attraction or begin to eat the food, it is common to hear me say, “Wait! Must take photo first!” In a way, this has taught them that nothing in the world is free. To be able to enjoy the benefits that my blog brings, the kids understand the job that is required of me and that they have to play a part too.
Your blog features lots of activities. How about education?
Albert Einstein famously said, “Play is the highest form of research.” Who am I to argue with him? I rank experiential learning over academics because I believe the former demonstrates the practical uses of maths, science, and other learning areas more effectively. And because being outside exposes kids to different variables, experiential learning can also be important for letting kids experience the reality of ‘failure’ and how to overcome setbacks and challenges. They feel pride when they eventually find a way to do something because they learned to do it themselves, not because someone told them the answer.
How would you describe your parenting style?
Learning from books is important for kids, but life is not all about simply working out what is 3 + 2. So I have always believed in experiential learning — the process of learning through experience — and this explains why I am always looking for places and activities in Singapore to keep my kids occupied whenever the weekends roll along.
Through playing, they can learn assertiveness, social skills, leadership qualities and how to solve group-conflict through role-play and using the play space as a rehearsal for real-life situations. Kids learn better through these experiences which cannot be replicated in the classroom.
How do you think mummy bloggers differ from daddy bloggers?
While I don’t wish to generalise, perhaps the best way of summing up the difference is that Mums often write blog posts which are more genuinely insightful about daily routines (and challenges) regarding parenting, while Dads tend to write about fun places and activities for kids. Brands are beginning to recognise daddy bloggers and may even participate in certain buying decisions. Content is king. Be it a mummy or daddy blogger, a parenting blog will garner a great following if the content is well worth the read.
Complete the sentence: “The best thing about being a parent is…”
“…doing things that I never would have imagined before becoming a parent – like changing clothes for Barbie, or serving tea to Hello Kitty, Dora and my daughter.”
Images courtesy of Kelvin Ang.