updated 14 Apr 2014, 11:25
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Thu, Apr 10, 2014
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Mummy's boys
by Cheryl Leong

May Phua unabashedly admits that she's not a very "on-the-ball" mum ("I don't let my kids take as many enrichment classes as they probably should"), but that doesn't bother her. What's more important for the bubbly 37-year-old actress (last seen in Mediacorp Channel 8's The Dream Makers last year), is to pay attention to her children's needs, listen to them and bond with them through conversation.

A cherished routine in May's home is having quality talk with her two boys, Shang, eight, and Keyan, four, before bedtime every night. "They love telling me how their day went and what they got up to with their best friends in school. But sometimes, we also chat about serious issues, like discipline and emotions.

"I never hide it when I'm upset with the boys - they've seen me tearing up before, and got scared and asked me what was wrong. I would say: 'You've hurt Mummy by doing something wrong. If you love someone, you shouldn't do anything that hurts them.' This way, they learn how to understand and respect others' feelings," she explains.

But the learning goes both ways, too. "We were brought up to listen when our elders were talking, but we shut off when it comes to our kids. Shang has taught me that what children have to say is equally important. He tells me: 'Mummy, you must listen to me!'"

And from Keyan, May has learnt to be more expressive. "Keyan is a loving boy and shows affection easily - he'll hug you and tell you he loves you. That's something my husband and I have picked up. My way of showing love and concern was to nag them; now, I say what I have to say and try not to nag so much!"

Another important bonding ritual is the family's annual road trip, which they take with her inlaws and helper. So far, they've been on three, to various parts of Australia. May swears by them as a way of teaching kids to be independent.

"We pack, carry and look after our own luggage - even the kids do this. We move around a lot, changing motels every two days, so it gets tiring. Once, when Shang was about six, we had just arrived at our motel, and he was hungry and asking for milk. I was exhausted, so I told him he'd have to look for the kettle and learn how to boil the water himself. His father and I poured the water into the bottle for him, and taught him how many scoops of milk to put in. That was when he first learnt how to prepare his own milk."


May told us her family hadn't made travel plans for the March school break, so we offered her and her boys a different bonding activity - trampolining. Tiffany Lum, instructor from Amped Trampoline Park, shows them a few simple tricks.

Basics first

The first move Tiffany demonstrates is a Seat Drop - where May has to land on the trampoline in a seated position with her legs straight before bouncing back onto her feet.

Tackling a twin jump

May and Shang enjoy one-on-one time as they attempt a Tuck Jump together.

A helping hand…

Keyan is shy and fearful on the trampoline - May has to coax him onto it so he can do a Straight Jump: his body needs to be taut and his arms, lifted above his head.

We can do it!

Keyan goes for another shot at the trampoline. Supporting him on both sides, Shang and May grab his hands and together, they make a big leap for it!

Enjoying a mum-and-kids moment

At the end of the class, May and her boys collapse, laughing, onto the trampoline to catch their breath. "This is way more tiring than I thought! No wonder they say 10 minutes of jumping is equivalent to a 30-minute run!" says May.

Spilling the Beans

Shang and Keyan share what life is like with Mum.

What is the one thing your mum is always telling you to do? 

Shang: Brush my teeth.

Keyan: Same.

Shang: Not true. Mummy always tells him to follow his timetable and work on his assessment books because he only likes to play games.

What do you like most about your mum? 

Shang: I like having her around - she's always there for me.

Keyan: Mummy lets me play with my cars.

What do you do that makes your mum happiest? 

Shang: Scoring full marks on my mathematics test.

Keyan: Why are you asking me all the things I don't know? (After some prompting…) When I give her a hug.

Where do you wish your mum would take you? 

Shang: Legoland!

Keyan: I will go wherever Mummy and Kor Kor (older brother) go

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