Many would agree that it takes a village to raise a child and more than 200,000 people in Singapore are part of over 550 Singapore-centric parenting groups. The today’s digital kampungs have a wider reach, they are more diverse and create new ways for Singaporeans to rally and support one another especially this period with many being affected by COVID-19.
The Singapore Parenting Facebook Groups represents a new digital kampung Facebook Groups that are helping parents on their parenting journey. These Groups are creating new ways for mothers and parents to rally and support one another, especially during the pandemic, showing our Singapore kampung spirit is alive and thriving. The three such Facebook groups that help parents to share resources and provide support are:
1) Young Mothers Of Singapore – an open support platform for mothers young at heart
2) Human Milk 4 Human Babies – breast milk donors and beneficiaries share milk in a system of ultimate trust
3) SG Mummies United – Support for mothers hit hard by Covid-19
In this three-part series, our team speaks to the founders of the three Singapore Parenting Facebook Groups where they will share more about their Facebook groups, parenting tips and more.
In this final series, part 3, we have Gidania Wong, 35, a lovely mother of two kids. She is a Public Relations professional and founder of local parenting site Mummyfique. After seeing how mothers all around Singapore were reeling from the impact of Covid-19, especially vulnerable families waiting for government or charity funding, Gidania sets up SG Mummies United as a platform for mums to post request for donations of items they urgently need, or respond as a giver. Although the Group started as a response to the pandemic, it will likely continue to help mothers in need even after the crisis is over.
Exclusive Interview with Gidania Wong, Founder of SG Mummies United
1. Please share with us more about your background and your motherhood journey?
Gidania: Hi, I’m Gidania and I’ve been in the media and communications line for the past 12 years. Apart from Mummyfique, I run a boutique marketing and PR consultancy firm and a mulberry silk accessories business. I’m a mother of 2 – a boy who is 5 and a daughter that just turned 2. My motherhood journey, while relatively smooth sailing, has been full of learning lessons. I hope to one day make a difference in the lives of other mums through the SG Mummies United Facebook Group.
2. What inspired you to set up SG Mummies United and how did you set up the Facebook group?
Gidania: Covid19 has really hit all of us hard. Our businesses have been affected too so we thought to ourselves that if we feel the strain, what more others less fortunate than us? Hence, my business partner Dolores and I, decided to quickly rally our friends and network to start a community-driven blessings group. Facebook Groups was a simple, effective way for us to rally people together to serve as a stop-gap measure to assist needy mums during the circuit breaker period and now, we continue to provide assistance to the underprivileged mums.
Our government is giving out grants and there’s also charity funding, but such efforts do take time and while waiting for this, there would undoubtedly be a group of mums who fall between the cracks and would still have to take care of their kids and could use all the help they need. Many jobs have been lost during this period of time too so finances could be extra tight and these families could benefit from our initiative. As a brand, Mummyfique has been active in championing causes including Life Beyond Grades, By Mothers For Mothers – our initiative to promote, connect and support mothers-led small businesses and being apart of other community-driven fundraising events and activities.
3. What are the challenges that you faced when setting up the Facebook group and how did you overcome them?
Gidania: We started the FB Group on 9th April 2020, and it grew very quickly. To date, we have close to 3,300 active members from all over Singapore, who through our Facebook Group, have come together to assist needy mums.
Vetting through a mountain of posts daily takes up a lot of time and with all of us having day jobs and a family to take care of, a lot of the work for the Facebook Group was left to after hours and meetings would be held at 11pm. This new portfolio meant additional tasks had to be taken on by all of us. Eventually, we worked out a shift schedule for admins of the group to take turns addressing these issues, approving posts and managing the deliveries.
4. After setting up the Facebook group, how do you create awareness for SG Mummies United, build up the community, connect with mothers and foster friendships?
Gidania: SG Mummies United group reached out to organisations including Daughters of Tomorrow, Babes and Beyond Social Services to help share the word with their beneficiaries and many of them have joined the group and received assistance for baby and household supplies. We also got in touch with the media to spread the news about our group so that we could reach out to a larger target audience.
The earliest members who joined also formed a small group to assist with housekeeping and to watch out for any flouting of rules so as to protect the community. For many of the extremely needy mums in the group, we connected with them to enquire if they were already in touch with the relevant social service organisations and receiving the relevant assistance that they needed and putting them in touch with the right organisations if they weren’t.
5. What can mothers expect and look out for when they join SG Mummies United? What are the criteria to join?
Gidania: We welcome all mums to join us! Whether you’d like to pass down your unused items or you may require assistance, we welcome you. Expect daily posts of items to bless out from diapers and formula milk, to clothes and breastpumps. We receive requests for items on a daily basis too. The admins of the group have set aside a delivery fund from our own savings to subsidise courier costs for delivery of items.
6. During the pandemic period, do you have some stories to share in your group where mothers and parents rally and support one another?
Gidania: There was a mum-in-need who drives Grab to make ends meet for her family of 6 kids who received donated items from kind mums. To express gratitude, she volunteered to transport some of the deliveries of other mums at her own time for free, even while she was heavily pregnant and subsequently, when she was fresh out of confinement. Another mum who had difficulties obtaining fresh food, having been laid off because of this pandemic, offered to donate a few tins of formula milk powder to others. Lots of our members re-donate items that they received from the group once they’re done using them such as strollers, high chair, breast pumps, baby clothes and shoes, as a way of giving back to the community.
These mums obviously need the help, yet they are also reaching out to help others. Examples like these warm the heart as we are seeing mums come together via our Facebook Group to help each other, regardless of our background and situation. This spirit – like the kampung spirit of the past – is exactly what the world needs right now in the face of this life-altering pandemic.
7. What are some of the best parenting advices that you have received that you would like to share?
Gidania: This is what I believe in, though it wasn’t advice received from others.
Always be kinder than necessary, as everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. I stand by this, many times we don’t know what anyone else is going through so there’s no need to be mean to others. A kind word or smile goes a long way, especially to a stressed out mother needing some support.
I also strongly believe it’s okay to not love every moment of motherhood. It is sometimes tough, frustrating and extremely tiring, and that’s the reality of it. Happy mum, happy child. Don’t sweat the small stuff and always choose your kid over your phone.
8. Understand you have a local parenting site Mummyfique, would you like to share more about it?
Gidania: Mummyfique is a digital destination with intelligent, thoughtful editorial for today’s savvy, time-starved modern mothers with babies and young children. At Mummyfique, we are committed towards supporting and celebrating mothers, by offering a platform that provides information, inspiration, and recommendations of products and services that are relevant to mummies from all walks of life. Mummyfique also has an event management arm and consulting firm that works with mummy and baby brands.
9. How do you juggle a hectic schedule of working, being a mother, running a Facebook group and parenting site among many other things? How does your family support you?
Gidania: I think most of us wear several hats now, it’s all about multi-tasking and making your hours count. I start my day at 8am. I run 3 businesses so I’m constantly on my phone, iPad or laptop in the day, checking in with the team, working on projects but I make sure that I stop work by 7pm and that dinner with my family is never interrupted. No phones or screens allowed. Once the kids are in bed by 9pm, I wind down in my room and catch up on work emails. I’m a night owl and I work on the Facebook Group matters till the wee hours of the night usually. I’m blessed with a very supportive husband who is my equal when it comes to parenting and he’s a great help with the kids. I think every mum possesses the skill to “sleep less and do more.” We somehow learn to function with less sleep. Self care is also very important. I do yoga to calm my mind and give my body a workout and face and hair masks are a must for me. 😊
10. Lastly, any coming activities from SG Mummies United that you would like to share? What’s your vision for SG Mummies United in the next 5 years?
Gidania: We’ve started working with brands to run donation drives and trade-in specials so customers of these brands can donate their old or unused items to benefit SG Mummies United members and receive a discount off any new purchases with the brand. We ran a breastpump trade-in drive with baby goods retailer Motherswork last month and collected several breastpumps for our members. Upcoming, we are collaborating with Motherswork again for a stroller donation drive.
We hope that the group continues to exist to provide assistance and that members can pay it forward by helping others out in any way they can.
Thank you Gidania Wong for taking our interview!
SG Mummies United is a platform for mums to donate items and support one another. The community now sees an average of 20 posts a day from members requesting or donating essentials. To find out more and to join the group, please visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/sgmummiesunited/