It might be partly because I was a History Teacher, the stories behind each painting, artefact, and installation. Or maybe the architecture and the grandeur of these buildings, but mostly it’s the air-conditioned comfort and the vast empty spaces that draw me to museums. Not to mention the fact that they are free for locals, it’s not hard to see why I bring Humblet time and again.
If you’re unsure about bringing your toddler to the museum, here’s the full account of -
HOW TO SURVIVE MUSEUMS WITH YOUR TODDLER
1. ALWAYS DO YOUR HOMEWORK
And I say this because, I’ve travelled an hour and half on public transport with a clingy toddler only to discover the museum for closed for a special event that particular day. It was so disappointing, I actually stood in front of the building in a daze, having no idea what to do and having my thirteen-month-old wailing in the carrier did not help matters.
So always do your homework. Know your travel route well, avoid peak hours, have a sheltered path in mind just in case. Find out what special exhibits are on and whether they will be kid-friendly. You don’t want to be unduly stressed by unforeseen circumstances, travelling alone with a toddler/s is stressful enough.
|Sitting on the Lizard's Tail|
2. PREPARE YOUR CHILD BEFOREHAND
Now that Humblet is older, I always prepare her a few days before we go on one of these adventures. Teaching her the relevant vocabulary and showing her pictures related to that museum, exhibition or installation. This helps because a museum can be cold and unfamiliar, but if you excite them pre-trip, I find that it makes the whole experience a lot more enjoyable for both parties.
In preparation for our trip to the Children’s Biennale, Mya coloured in a simple outline sketch I did of the Old Supreme Court. We also did own ‘Yayoi Kusama’ sticker installation at home, where we stuck a bunch of colourful stickers on one of our flower pots. Her favourite phrase at the National Gallery was ‘next room’, because I told her there were many rooms filled with fun and exciting things to do. Thankfully, the Children’s Biennale did not disappoint.
|You missed a spot mum!|
It’s also important to prepare your child ‘culturally’. As with most museums, running, shouting, and snacking along the way is generally not appreciated. Even more unacceptable would be touching paintings, lifting artefact cases, or tugging at installations. They might veer off the line in their enthusiasm, but if you had explained the expectations before the trip, you’d simply have to nudge them in the right direction with heaps of gentle reminders along the way.
Your child reflects your emotions. If you are first excited about the new things to see, to feel and to learn, then naturally they would be too. Humblet, like most toddlers I know, is usually cautious, even shy, in a new environment. But if I took the lead, running slightly ahead, reading the descriptions, and explaining the art works to her, she would very quickly warm up.
|Checking if her ribbon was securely tied|
A good friend of mine does not have much love or patience for historical artefacts, but she was really awed by these restored historical buildings. How the modern glass dome joined two sections of the National Museums. Or the grand stairway in the National Gallery that seemed to climb up to the sky, not to mention their clever preservation of holding cells, black and white tiles etc. And that’s perfectly fine too! She took her kids up and down the art-filled corridors and they stopped to lie back and watch the clouds through the glass ceilings.
Architecture, history and what not, anything you are passionate about might rub of your kids and they may decide to take these to the next level when they grow up, be it through their careers or their hobbies. And why not?
4. HAVE FAITH IN YOUR KIDS
We visited the National Museum for Children’s Season just this Tuesday past, taking on the school holiday crowd head on. All around me, I could hear the cacophony of mums telling their kids off in terse voices pretending to be a whisper. You know what I mean. ‘Stop running’, ‘can you stop jumping’, ‘stand there’ and so on. It took me all the self-control I could muster to not reach out to them and say, ‘it’s okay, they are children’.
|Ring ring ring!|
What I’m trying to say is, let’s believe in our children. Whom we invest in day after day, with food, clothing, love, and discipline. Let’s also be more confident of ourselves as parents, we do the best we can with them all the time even if we don’t feel it’s anywhere close to perfect. They will wander, but they won’t wander off too far. They will jump and run, but only because they are excited and that’s wonderful! They will ask a hundred questions and then a hundred more, that’s because to these children, we know it all.
Point 3. Enjoy yourself as well! It’s your day out too, as much as it is theirs.
Hope you're having a great time with your kids this school holiday!