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The Singapore Law Gazette

Mothers in Law

When someone asks me what it’s like being a lawyer and a mother, I find that the question is best answered by giving scenarios. Have you ever had an urgent deadline to meet? You try and put your child to bed earlier, hoping to continue rushing that piece of work after he (or she) falls asleep. But he decides (of all nights) that he isn’t tired and wants to pull that all-nighter with you. Or, in another scenario, you have an urgent hearing to attend in court at 9am. You try to rush your child to eat breakfast and put on his school uniform quickly, but your child does not cooperate because, “why can’t the judge wait?”, he asks.

And I could go on. Each day as a lawyer-mother is a delicate balancing act. Both roles are often diametrically opposed to each other. On the one hand, as officers of the Court, we are respectful, deferential towards the Court / tribunal, and perhaps (mildly) assertive when the situation calls for it.

At home, there is no room for deference or mild assertiveness. Especially not with a toddler in their terrible twos, as I have recently discovered. A parent has to set the rules, adjudicate on them, determine liability, and mete out the appropriate punishment all at the same time. And often, chaos descends within a matter of seconds, “No. I said nooooo. No! Why aren’t you listening? Go to your naughty corner NOWWW!

In 2021, American lawyer Susan Smith Blakely caused a stir when she stated in an ABA Journal article1https://www.abajournal.com/columns/article/are-women-lawyers-paying-enough-attention-to-upward-mobility that “[t]here is nothing that can derail a career faster than the responsibilities of motherhood … [i]t is a game changer that can cause very busy women lawyers to lose focus.” Her views prompted the 10 past and present American Bar Association women presidents to issue a joint response2https://www.abajournal.com/news/article/womens-success-in-legal-careers-lack-of-advancement-is-not-a-woman-problem-its-a-profession-problem stating that “no woman should ever be told she must choose between her career and her family” and that “[i]t is incumbent upon the profession to create a fair and equitable playing field for women”.

Indeed, looking at some of our senior women colleagues, the responsibilities of motherhood certainly did not “derail” their careers. Yes, some may have taken a detour, a pause, or even a different path. But motherhood propelled them to become better versions of themselves, and that, I find, is something worth striving towards. For now, I spend the weekends exploring new places in Singapore with my little one. Listed below are a few places we have visited.3This list is not intended in any way to be comprehensive or exhaustive. In fact, with the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, many new places have sprung up or re-opened in recent months. These excursions require minimal planning and prep but promise a whole lot of fun for the young ones!

If you have comments on any of the places listed here, or on the reality and challenges of managing parenthood with a legal career, please drop me a DM here. We are exploring the idea of an interest group for new mums / dads, mums-to-be, not-so-new mums (and perhaps grandmas), to exchange tips on parenthood and lawyering, and perhaps meet for informal playdates and such. If you are keen to join or have other ideas to share, please feel free to drop me a line too.

Outdoor

Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden

Where: 481 Bukit Timah Rd, Singapore 259769

What: Big, spacious portion of the Botanic Gardens specially dedicated to children. The Children’s Garden is huge and there are various sections to explore. On one side, there is an obstacle course with suspension bridges (pictured), a flying fox, and an outdoor trampoline. On the other side, there is a huge treehouse with slides, a waterfall, a turtle pond, and sand-play areas.

Linking the various sections are interesting trails, a board walk and an overhead bridge. There are usually also a few roaming chickens and interesting birds in the trees. The Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden caters to a wide age-group, from toddlers to pre-teens.

Take note: Dogs, bicycles and kick scooters cannot be brought into the Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden.

Jubilee Park

Where: River Valley Road

What: An outdoor park dedicated to children. Although it is not as vast as the Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden, there is much to do here, including a log scramble with steppingstones (great for climbing and balancing) and a variety of swings for children of various ages. In addition, there are sand-play areas and hydraulic see-saws. The highlight for us, though, is the long slides built into the natural slope of the park. Kids have plenty of fun climbing up the slopes and sliding down, on repeat.

Take note: The small carpark just beside the Jubilee Park fills up quickly on weekends.

Admiralty Park Playground

Where: Admiralty Park

What: This is an underrated park with much to offer. There are three zones designed for different age groups. The junior play area (pictured) caters to younger children aged two to five years old. Kids can hike up the well-designed slopes and slide down the slides. There are also cargo nets and sand play areas.

We also came across a unique swing, which I have since found out is the first “Expression Swing” in Singapore. The swing is designed for an adult and a toddler to swing facing each other – so that parents can watch their kids’ “expressions”!

The Adventure Play section comprises two sets of roller slides. There is a 32-metre-long adventure roller slide and a 34-metre-long curved roller slide, the longest outdoor slide in a public park. The Family Terracing Play area for five to 12-year-olds features the Double Barrel Slides, which are 23 metres long and nine metres high. There is also an oval zipline circuit and suspension bridges.

Clusia Cove and Forest Ramble, Jurong Lake Gardens

Where: Yuan Ching Rd

What: Clusia Cove is a large water play area for children. The water is shallow enough for toddlers to wade in. There are also mini water fountains and a sand play area for added fun.

Clusia Cove is considerably larger than most other water play areas I have visited in Singapore. According to the National Parks Board, Clusia Cove was designed to infuse water play with learning as children get to learn about the dynamics of water and the natural tides cycle.

Forest Ramble, located on another side of Jurong Lake Gardens, is the largest nature play garden in the heartlands. There are 13 different adventure stations within Forest Ramble for children to explore. These include outdoor trampolines (pictured), swings, flying foxes, tunnels, slides, sand play areas and many more.

Note: There is a dedicated shower area for children, with vending machines and benches, at Clusia Cove. A convenient place to shower and have a drink and snack after!

Play @ Heights Park

Where: 144 Toa Payoh Lorong 2, Singapore 310144

What: A new park located in the Toa Payoh heartlands. There is a water play section with jet sprays and water guns for kids to have a splash and cool off from the sweltering heat. There is a mini bucket splasher and a mini stream with water wheels for kids to turn and explore water movement. Just beside the water play area is a large sand play area with swings, a flying fox, and others.

On another side of the park is the trampoline zone with trampolines of various sizes to cater to the older kids and toddlers. There is also a minibike park with humps and tight bends which kids can use their trikes and bikes to maneuver. Finally, there is a toddler play zone for the younger ones.

Note: There is a shower area for children conveniently located just beside the water play area.

Coastal Playgrove

Where: 902 E Coast Park Service Rd, Singapore 449874 (Area B, East Coast Park, where Big Splash was formerly located)

What: A big water play area including fountains for kids with a nature playground next to it, plus a large playground with tall slides for the bigger kids. Of course, there is always the beach as an option! Minimal prep for sure with many play options available.

Note: The play area is conveniently located near a car park. There are also washing points near the water play area for the kids.

Indoor

The two indoor play areas listed below (Little Bear’s House and Pirate Land) are small and cozy, unlike larger set-ups such as Amazonia and Kiztopia. Importantly, these are great places for parents to sit down and relax, without having to accompany the young ones to climb through tunnels (the knees!), slide down long and winding slides (slide burn!), or navigate large ball pits.

Little Bear’s House

Where: 21 Lichfield Road, Singapore 556841

What: An indoor play area located in a shophouse near Serangoon Gardens. There is a large pretend-play kitchen area and supermarket (pictured), a ball pit, busy boards, train tracks, a reading corner and more. There is also dedicated section with padding for infants and young toddlers a year old or younger.

Note: There are free lockers to store belongings, sofas, nursing facilities and a feeding area with highchairs.

Pirate Land

Where: 176 Orchard Rd, #04 – 08 / 11, Singapore 238843

What: An indoor playground located at Centrepoint Mall. There is a ball pit and slide area with a few small trampolines. There is also a large pretend-play area with kitchen play sets and food related toys. Another area is filled with building blocks here that kids can use to construct objects. For the infants, there is a small area with mini slides and baby toys.

Canopy Park

Where: Level 5, Jewel Changi Airport

What: An indoor park located on level five of Jewel Changi Airport. There are plenty of things for the children to do here, including Foggy Bowls (pictured), the Mirror Maze, Manulife Sky Nets (for older kids), and of course, the vortex waterfall. There are also many food options here suitable for younger children, as well as child-friendly facilities like children’s bathrooms and nursing rooms!

The author would like to extend her sincere appreciation to Tan Kai Yun (Partner, WongPartnership LLP) and Eunice Lau Guan Ting (Associate Director, Drew & Napier LLC) for contributing ideas and reviewing an earlier draft of this article. All errors and omissions are the author’s own.

Endnotes

Endnotes
1 https://www.abajournal.com/columns/article/are-women-lawyers-paying-enough-attention-to-upward-mobility
2 https://www.abajournal.com/news/article/womens-success-in-legal-careers-lack-of-advancement-is-not-a-woman-problem-its-a-profession-problem
3 This list is not intended in any way to be comprehensive or exhaustive. In fact, with the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, many new places have sprung up or re-opened in recent months.

Vice-Chairperson, Young Lawyers Committee
E-mail: [email protected]