A Day in the Life of this Singaporean Expat

I’ve been curious to see how people have been finding my blog.  One of the search results that has shown up with some regularity is something to the effect of “a day in the life Singapore expats.”  I tried googling that, and my 6 Things I Love about Singapore post came up on the second page. However, I’ve never written about a day in my life…and the idea struck me as a good topic for the blog.

I don’t know that I have a “typical” day, or that a “typical” Tuesday is anything like a “typical” Saturday.  But I’ll do my best.

Wake up–I tend to wake up somewhere between 10 and noon.  (You’ll understand why when you see my bedtime).  At this point, Elanor has been up for 1-2 hours (she wakes up in the 10:00-10:30 window) and has been hanging out and having breakfast with B.  Occasionally I wake up earlier if I’m going to Skype with friends back home.

Read/Write/Email/Facebook– The first thing I do after waking up (usually as a way to finish waking) is to pick up my phone and check my email, facebook and twitter.  If It’s really early (like 9/10) I’ll try to catch a friend online to chat for a while or to Skype.  If I’m not yet hungry (if it’s 10/11), I may also use this time to read blogs or write.

Eat/Hang with E–I’ll go out to the living room to eat.  Apparently I’m predictable, as Ellie usually greets me by running down to meet me and then running back to the living room to tell B that it’s time for Mommy to eat and watch West Wing. (What? I want my child to grow up with a deep knowledge of politics…or something.  Okay, it’s that I love Sorkin’s writing and have a crush on Bradley Whitford–don’t judge).

After I eat, I usually hang with E.  B will use this time to do stuff around the house, like clean, laundry, or do dishes (or eat or hang in her room and relax…I don’t micromanage).  Hanging with E means some combination of reading (although I’m hearing a lot of “I read it myself” and then sitting near her while she “reads” her books), playing “hide”–we lay on the couch and pull a blanket over our heads and “hide”, or watching while she builds with blocks, playing with her dolls with her or whatever she’s in the mood for.

What do you mean “playing” princess?

Shower & Writing– After hanging with E, I’ll go grab a shower.  After showering, I usually try to squeeze in writing time.  However, if this is an activity day, I’ll put off writing until later.  Unless I got a lot of writing done and have scheduled posts (this happened a lot when my ankle was broken and playing with E meant I was risking her jumping on my foot, so I spent a lot more time in my room or on the laptop on the couch while she watched dvd’s) you can usually tell what kind of day it was from what time the post goes up.

Activities–Elanor has activities several times a week now.  Barring a medical appointment or illness, I take her.  Tuesdays and Thursdays, she’s started a pre-school type program called “Growing Up Gifted” (yes it’s a pretentious name, but I like the program) which is two hours of letters/phonics, numbers, mandarin, snack and music (or possibly another fun activity…we just started last week so I’ll wait a while to know the program better before I review it or talk overly in depth about it).  Starting up April 1, she’ll be back in gymnastics with The Little Gym again once a week, which is a 45 minute class.  Both activities require parent participation at her age, so it’s something fun we do together.  Elanor has long been a fan of “nastics” class and since her first day at “school” has asked multiple times daily to go back to school.

Chores/Errands–It feels like we are out running errands several times a week.  Stuff like grocery shopping can span several days because our local Cold Storage doesn’t carry everything we need.  Needing Mac and Cheese or Ellie’s Carnation Instant Breakfast (she’s underweight so we add it to her milk on doctor’s orders) can require going to three or four places.  Indian snacks like papadum or Tang require a trip to Mustafa or Little India.  Then there’s being home at specific times for errands like food delivery (non perishables, over $150 from Cold Storage==free delivery) or dry-cleaning pick up/drop off.

FUN Stuff–We regularly go to the zoo, take Ellie to Royce (although often I send B to Royce with Ellie so I feel less guilty about writing time), the Botanic Gardens, and other favorite toddler hangouts.   This can take up any where from a few hours (Royce) to a whole day (the zoo) depending.

Ellie after fun at the Zoo Waterpark

E Eats dinner–She eats dinner around 5-7, and I usually have my “lunch” or snack with her

Cooking Dinner--Most, but not all days, I try to cook a full dinner.  I love to cook and I experiment with recipes.  E gets pre-school tv like Kai Lan or hangs with B.

Ravi comes Home-Ravi usually gets home around between 8:30 and 10pm.  He hangs with Ellie.

Ellie goes to bed–10 pm-11pm We put Ellie to bed with a story and milk (and Sesame Street on an Ipod in her room).


Ravi and I have dinner/hang out–A lot of US tv on Slingbox happens here

Bedtime–Ravi and I are nightowls and get little enough time together than bed is somethign that happens around 2-3am.  I usually need extra time to fall asleep and don’t usually nod off until 3/4/5 am.

Saturday–Ravi and I both sleep in.  We try to do something as a family in the afternoon.  Then Date Night for Ravi and I on Saturday Night.

You walked right by those dating anniversary flowers I bought for you…

Sundays–On B’s day off, Ravi or I get up with E and let the other person sleep in.  I make brunch.  We do something as a family.  The house gets messier than it does on any other day.


The real differences in my typical day here and my typical day back home are the following

  • In the US, Ravi had a far more flexible job.  He went in later, came home earlier, and would work from home quite a bit more.  This gave him a lot more time with E, and he was my primary back up, usually coming home at 7/7:30.
  • In the US, I didn’t have a helper.  I did, however, have a dishwasher and a washer/dryer that were far faster than my washer/dryer here (30 min and 60 compared to 2 hours and 90 minutes in Singapore respectively).  E would usually wake up and watch Sesame while I surfed the web on the couch, and she got tv when I tried to do household chores.
  • My house was messier because I had less time to clean.  We often hired housecleaners who came 2x a month to do the heavy cleaning, and my house would be nice for a few hours after they came.
  • I hung out with other parents more…I’d meet up at a place with friends who also had kids or we’d hang out at homes.  There was also a lot of shopping with friends and E at Target.
  • I didn’t write, do photography or make a lot of dinners because I didn’t have the time.
  • We ate out a lot/got delivery a lot more than we do here.
  • I probably went to sleep by 2am back home because I saw more of Ravi.
  • We didn’t do a lot of date nights because sitters required far more logistics.
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10 Responses to A Day in the Life of this Singaporean Expat

  1. bookjunkie says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this post. Thanks for giving us a glimpse into your routines. Various routines always fascinate and inspire me. Wow, you really do get a lot done.

    The only thing I wondered about was how does poor Ravi get enough sleep to go to work the next day. Working hours in SIngapore are just crazy. Usually if I sleep at 3am I can only wake up at 1pm (I need loads of sleep..I’m like a bear) When I was working I had so much sleep debt…I slept the whole weekend. Once I even slept for 24hrs straight!! I was super groggy and felt like I had a hangover after.

    Also what’s slingbox? it’s the first time I’ve heard of it.

    And I’m glad that you have time to write your blog now that you’re in Singapore….I’m a fan 🙂

    • Crystal says:

      Ravi doesn’t get enough sleep is probably the correct answer. But we’ve tried enforcing “bedtimes” and it just doesn’t work for us. So there’s a lot of sleep debt repayment on weekends on his part.

      A slingbox is a device that you hook up to a DVR (like a Tivo) and a computer/server in the US (in our case in my in-law’s basement) and then connect to over the internet. This allows you to watch live and recorded American (or insert home country here) television via the DVR. I don’t fully claim to understand it…Ravi is the tech geek in our family. It’s not perfect…occassionally it’s quite slow or doesn’t work, and there are times when we have to ask my in-laws to unplug stuff to reset it. But it’s better than paying for everything via iTunes or having to wait for DVD’s. SG shows some of the tv shows, but not all of them are in the current season, and other things (like the boy/boy kiss on Glee) are edited.

      • bookjunkie says:

        unedited shows sounds good… It must be great to have your very own tech geek 🙂

        I love staying up nights now that I can afford to, but it’s so hard to get back to regular sleep patterns. Think I’m naturally an owl!

      • Crystal says:

        Good for me, but a bit of a headache for him, as he hates coming home and having to play tech support. As much as he hates Apple, it does make him happy that I have a Macbook because he doesn’t know how to fix them, so I’m on my own.

  2. bookjunkie says:

    That’s so funny….I have a cousin who never buys any Apple products, but I love ’em. I love my Mac which hasn’t crashed yet unlike the windows pc I had which crashed a countless number of times (as we Singaporean like to say – touch wood)

    • Crystal says:

      I’ve had a few issues with my macbookpro, including a hard drive crash when I hadn’t backed up in over a month (lesson learned…very expensively, I might add).

      But I do think my PC’s were far more problematic, and I hate the windows operating system.

  3. bookjunkie says:

    I think you say knock on wood (not to tempt fate), but we say touch wood. Very Singlish.

    • Crystal says:

      Knock wood is more common, but I’ve heard Americans (including my grandmother) say touch wood, too 🙂

  4. Shermain says:

    Hi just wondering, where do you get the carnation instant breakfast from? I have been looking for it but I can’t seem to find it anywhere.

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