Sher-li Torrey is a member of the Families for Life Council, which promotes strong and resilient families. Sher-li is also founder and director of Mums@Work, a social enterprise that supports mothers in Singapore in finding work-family balance. We get to know her a bit better.
What was your favourite place for a family outing as a child?
Sher-li Torrey (ST): My favourite place was actually Jurong Bird Park. Ironically, I am not a big fan of birds, but the visits with my dad and mum (and my siblings) always meant that it was going to be a fun day out. I cherished those memories and perhaps associate the bird park with all the excitement and happiness I had on those trips.
Where are your favourite places around Singapore to take your kids to and why?
ST: I love taking my children to Bukit Timah Hill – we do quite a bit of hiking and trekking as I find these activities very relaxing. Also, such events make the “no gadget” policy quite easy to implement as everyone is too busy moving and cannot be too busy on their phones. When we are deep in the forest, I find I have 100% attention of the children, so I really enjoy these treks.
What types of activities do you typically do together as a family?
ST: We try to do as much outdoor activities as we can – cycling, kite-flying, swimming, hiking, trekking etc. Some weekends, we literally look at the map of Singapore and ask ourselves – which green space have we not explored? And everyone puts on their trekking shoes and hikes off. We do this on our trips overseas as well – trekking up mountains in Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong and Vietnam. I personally want my children to have as much outdoor time as possible, so trekking is a major love for us.
Meal-times are great for building bonds. Where are your favourite dining haunts with the family?
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ST: Because we used to live in Japan, most of our favourite food places are Japanese food places. The Okinawa restaurant at Liang Court, the sushi on conveyor belt restaurants and the Okomomiyaki restaurant at Little India. We generally try to find the Japanese restaurants that our Japanese friends here in Singapore frequent – the less English on the menu, the better.
Where have you holidayed as a family, and what’s next on the passports and why?
ST: We go back to the USA quite often, but other than that, we go to Japan every year (once or twice) – to visit my friends and my “old hometown” where I lived for a few years.
Because daddy is in the aviation industry, travelling is quite a norm for us. And we have taken the kids to Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, USA. We are planning to take the kids to Europe some time soon, but either way, there must be trekking-up-mountains as an option in the itinerary.
What are your biggest challenges as a parent?
I often have to remind myself that my children are their own people – they do not live my dreams nor do they exist to ‘represent me’. This is my guiding principle in parenting – and a recognition that my role here is to guide them. There will be times when I have to step in more and times when I have to let go more. Sometimes I can be very strict, but as they get older, I am learning to let go of control more. They are after all, their own people. And my job is to prepare them for a life without me.
Now that information is readily available online, I also make it a point to check out parenting resources such as www.familiesforlife.sg, to gain new knowledge and pick up handy tips to better communicate and strengthen my relationship with my children.
Why do you value family time?
Because it’s what really counts. I love my work and I love friends, but family – they give me my identity.
How have you and your kids benefited from having little days out?
I find that my relationship with my children are fairly ok for their age (10 and 7). There are many times when I find myself sharing with them MY own fears, dreams and my past. Because my mother is no longer with us, I find all bonding moments even more precious – and I always try to share with them little nuggets of history and wisdom passed down from my late mum to me.