615am: Wake up and get the kids ready for school
8am: Start work
7pm: Reach home and have dinner
8pm: Check the kids’ homework
10pm: Plonk down on bed to check facebook and catch your breath before tomorrow comes around.
Does this sound like a typical day of yours? In fact, this may be a good day already. Welcome to my world too.
This is the reality of living in Singapore. We are time-starved and want to achieve so much within 24 hours. My 11 year-old son tells me the same thing, that he can’t seem to fit homework and enough play all in a day.
The other thing we are starved of is space, some friends tell me. They can only relax at a cafe, nail salon or yoga studio.
To these friends, I say: “Take a closer look at your home, especially your balcony. You already paid a fortune for your home, why not make it your relaxing haven as well?”
For those of you who are not familiar with home prices in Singapore, our property prices are one of the highest in the world and some of us even have to sell an arm and leg to own a house here. Of course I’m being slightly, just slightly, dramatic here.
So back to how you can make good use of that balcony of yours to make you happier. I’ve got 5 ways for you here.
Yes, Singapore may be a hot and humid country, but mornings and evenings can be really balmy and breezy. Make the effort to dine out at your balcony on weekends at least. I know Saturday is usually tuition day, swimming day, ballet day, taekwondo day…. But at least start the day on a calm and happy note.
Why go to a yoga studio when you can work out right here at home? Just find a trainer you like on youtube, bring your yoga mat and iPad out onto the balcony (or Private Enclosed Space), and yoga away. If you’re conscious that your nosy “ah pek” neighbour will get too interested, simply add in some privacy shields like tall plants.
All you need is a comfy chair, your latest read, and a Nescafe. Or just throw a rug on the floor and proceed to relax. Definitely cheaper than going to the café. And not having to jostle with the crowds? Priceless.
You may like flowers, herbs, or now that it’s close to Chinese New Year, mandarin oranges. Pruning the plants may seem like a lot of work, but it’s actually medically proven to make you happier. Added bonus if you grow herbs like basil: you get to use what you grow for that aglio olio or basil chicken dish.
Take time to sit with your children and talk to them. Not just about their school work, but about their feelings. Imagine the breeze on both your faces as your child shares with you this funny bit that he read in a book recently, or how a friend said something hurtful to him in school the other day. You may not be able to solve their problems, but sometimes, all they need is a listening ear. They’re more than able to handle some things themselves.
Don’t under-estimate these simple activities you can do out on your balcony. Small moments like these contribute more to your emotional health and your family’s well-being than you know.
Do you have other activities that you like to do out on your balcony , PES, roof terrace or garden? Do share!