Think “best mummy travel blogger” and only one name comes to mind: Aimee Chan. She’s the founder of suitcases&strollers, an online travel mag for adventurous parents who wish to get out of their comfort zones and travel to exotic, offbeat destinations. She’s got Bindi Irwin as a regular blog contributor sharing cool stuff like her skydiving escapades, and she’s even interviewed hot mamas like Antonia Kidman, sister to Nicole (of Moulin Rouge fame) – gasp! Jet-setting pursuits aside, Aimee is 101% dedicated to her two darlings, 3-year-old Harry and 5-month-old Ted. We scooted over to her cheery home to uncover how she satisfies her insatiable wanderlust while juggling multiple roles as businesswoman, blogger, wife, and mother.
Hello, Aimee! We know travel runs in your blood; was that the inspiration/motivation behind setting up suitcases&strollers?
I love to travel, but once I had my first child I realized that there were no resources for parents like me who wanted to travel and needed independent advice. Being a magazine editor (with titles like Harper’s BAZAAR, Cosmopolitan, and Elle), I craved something objective but also inspirational to give me ideas I could cherry pick holidays from.
As I became more confident about travelling with kids on my own, I realized I had the resources to be able to pass on my knowledge to other parents. Many friends were asking me for advice for their holidays all the time anyway! This was how suitcases&strollers was born.
What is one misconception about travelling with kids you wish to correct?
People often tell me they think it’s too hard to travel with kids. It is certainly challenging, but kids are actually far more adaptable than most adults! If you condition your kids to get used to travel from an early age, they will adjust very easily to sleeping in different beds, shifting time zones, new food experiences, and places. Even an overnight staycation somewhere, a weekend road trip, or just pitching a tent in West Coast Park changes the environment for everyone and gives you all something new to talk about and experience.
Who/what inspires you to keep going?
Seeing readers’ responses to the website has been an amazing motivator. I love when people send me pictures of their kids in exotic places on their family holidays, or when they send me ideas about what they want to see on the website. Knowing that people actually read the website, get excited by the stories and pictures, and want to pass on their experiences to others really inspires me to keep going.
Let’s focus on another big part of your life now: motherhood. What is your parenting style, and what do you love most about being a mum?
I love seeing my kids grow and change into their own little personas. What is important to me is that they are independent, caring people. I try to invest a lot of time in ensuring my kids are well adjusted, sympathetic to the world around them, and get to play and do the things that they want and like to do while learning a bit along the way.
What’s the most difficult parenting challenge you have had, and how did you overcome it?
Guilt is something I think all mothers struggle with. When I’m working I feel like I should be spending more time with my kids. When I’m with the kids a lot, I feel I’m not doing my job properly. I don’t think you ever do overcome this, but I am learning to live with it.
Your 5-month-old, Ted, whom you recently adopted from Ethiopia, is one happy little lad! Share with us your adopting experience – what were some of your struggles and challenges, and how were they resolved?
While the adoption process is obviously very emotional, maybe one of the hardest things was navigating the sheer volume of paperwork involved. There is a vast amount of it and it’s constantly changing, so there is no go-to resource to just fill out a checklist. Everything involves government departments, official stamps and signatures, and a lot of organisation and footwork, which is tedious, but eventually worthwhile in the end.
What is one life lesson you have gained from parenting an adopted child?
I don’t think parenting an adopted child is any different from parenting a child you gave birth to. I feel the same about both my children, so I parent them in a similar way with adjustments for their different personalities.
Yes, every child is special in his/her own ways. What advice would you give to someone thinking about adopting?
Talk to as many people as you can who have been through the process so that you really understand the complexities involved. And once you’ve done that, find one family that you trust who has done what you want to do, and then copy them. It’s good to hear everyone’s opinion, but there is a lot of information out there (and not all of it is accurate), so be mindful of sticking to one path, not many.
If you only did one thing with your kids every day, what would it be?
I love surprising the kids with something new. It doesn’t have to be big or expensive, but finding something they’ve never seen or experienced before to show and teach them every day is something they find exciting and I get a real kick out of!
In your opinion, what is the best kid-friendly restaurant in Singapore?
We regularly go to the many Crystal Jade restaurants round the island. The food is really kid-friendly (I’ve never taken a fussy eater there who couldn’t find something to eat), there are plenty of high chairs and plastic tableware, and the aunties are always good to chat with the children.
What are your best places for kids shopping in Singapore?
My answer would be much longer if I had girls! Cotton On Kids and H&M both do funky boys tees and boardies at very inexpensive prices. They’re perfect for play clothes and rough wear.
What’s your favourite weekend kids activity in Singapore?
Hanging out at the pool with other friends who have kids. The children always have a ball and it’s a relaxing and fun time for everyone.
Do you have an easy-peasy kids recipe to share?
On really lazy evenings a healthy dinner I often do is to whip up scrambled eggs. I pick a few veggies that are in the fridge and add in some ham, chicken or other protein and chop them all really finely. Then I pre-cook these before mixing them into scrambled eggs. It’s quick, easy and no fuss.
How do you unwind after a long day?
I’m a TV junkie so I love nothing better than a long marathon of a good series. I’m also a bookworm so a good book also helps me unwind.
Do you think you have achieved work-life balance, and if you have – how did you do it?
It sounds odd but I have achieved the best work-life balance I’ve had in a long time since my second child came along. He has really forced me to reassess my priorities and drop the workload I was carrying. Now I have very limited time to work as well as spend time with the kids, exercise, see my husband, and have time to myself, so I have to be really careful about the work projects that I take on. There just isn’t time to overwork anymore!
We absolutely agree, Aimee. Thanks for letting us stop by! Now we’re off to plan an exotic getaway of our own – and we’ll bring the kids this time. Take a deeper look inside the super life of Aimee Chan and check out our HoneyKids Facebook album!