Updated on March 2023.
Tania’s website no longer accessible so I posted my interview here.
Hi dear tell us a little about yourself where did you grow up and study?
I was born in Hong Kong and moved to England when I was 11. After graduating from my Master degree I went back to Hong Kong to work in 2004.
I know you were a scientist before you became a full time mom. Was it a hard transition? (I worked in the scientific research field but I was not a scientist.)
Yes it was a hard transition.
I always wanted to look after my own kid, and before me and my husband agreed to try for a baby I have asked if he is ok for me to be a full time mum. The hardest part is the “job nature”. I worked on a wide variety of areas in the lab, organising and performing experiments, learning new techniques and machines, meetings with my supervisors and other scientists.
But when I became a full time mum, I only “work with” J, 24/7.
Sometimes I do miss my work, but the moment I look at J I know this little guy needs me.
Motherhood is a mixture of sweetness and bitterness.
I feel sweetness when I breastfed J, when I saw his first attempt to crawl and walk, when he told me how happy he is to be with me every single day. I feel bitterness when he repeatedly doing things that he is not supposed to do, when he spat out the food that I made in the 32oC kitchen, when he threw tandrums the 100th times in a single day.
Hardest thing about motherhood?
Being patient. I was priased by different people on my patience. But when I became a mother especially when J entered his trouble-two phase, I realised I am not as patient as I used to be. I knew I have to be patient when he has a sudden meltdown, or doing the same thing which he is not allowed to do and I have explained to him in a million ways! But these things just get on my nerves, and I have to constantly remind myself to be patient.
One of the things that drew me to your Instagram stories were the games you come up for J. Tell us more about them. Where do you get the inspiration from? How did you start making them?
When J was a toddler I did not take him to attend any playgroups, we went to playgrounds and indoor playrooms and we read stories. But what else can we do for the whole day? So I started looking at my favourite Pinterest and saw so many wonderful ideas on toddler activities that you can create at home. I chose the ones that did not require a lot of tools and materials because I only had minimal amount of art and craft stuff at that moment. The very first activity that I made was an empty tissue box with holes so that J could squeeze the pom pom through the holes. I spent the night cutting holes and decorating the box. The next day I showed J how to play, and he had a big smile on his face, and was playing it for at least half an hour. He kept asking for the game. It was a big encouragement to me. So I started making more, and each time he saw a new activity he had this big smile on his little face. That became the power that drive me to create and design my own games and activities that suit his preferences in the later stage.
What are J’s fave games of the ones you make?
The “city” that I made with masking tape on the floor combined with the car parks that I made with old cardboard boxes were his all time favourite. He would take out all his toy cars and play on the roads and car parks for a whole afternoon.
He also love to play with my “adventure playground” where he (a popsicle with his face on it) had to go through various tasks including the maze or solving some maths problems or matching up sight words. The tasks were made with old toilet rolls and cardboard boxes. He loved to see his face on the popsicles going through the maze and doing other tasks in the “playground” that I made.
I know you sell some of the games in the Facebook group? What are your best sellers? How long does each game take to make?
One of my best sellers is the Animal Train set which is to practice counting. The kid is given a number and he or she has to build the correct amount of train carriages with the animals on them. It is very popular because the kids find it fun to build the very long train (up to 30 carriages) on the floor. They love the eye catching colourful number and animal cards. The size of the cards are great for kids to handle. Apart from practice counting, you can also play memory game with these cards for example, building a train with a series of number (or animal) carriages, let your kid take a look and try to memorise, then take 1 (or more) card out, and see if your kid can spot the difference.
Another best seller would be the Domino set. So instead of a traditional domino with dots which is good for working on counting, I created two sets of domino game cards, one on sports and one on community helpers. The kids love them because they can play with friends and families. They love looking through their piles of cards for the one they need. As I play the sports cards with J I would talk about each sports, how and where it’s played, what equipments you would need. The kids learn a lot while they are having fun playing the game.
Initial design of an activity take quite a bit of time because I have a brief idea of how the game works but there are a lot of adjustments when it comes to making the actual product. I also cannot work on it all the time because I have housework to do and I take J out almost every day. So it usually takes 3 weeks to design and complete a product. But once the initial design is created then it takes around 1 week to make it.
You guys are always out and about in Hong Kong, exploring the outdoors, venturing from one island to another, visiting parks and farms. What are your top favourite three places to go? And why?
1. Po Hong Park (Po Lam)
We love it because first of all, it is very near to where we live. Secondly, there are several playgrounds scattered throughout the park so it’s never too crowded. The playgrounds have a wide variety of relatively new play structures for different age groups. There are also grass areas where you can enjoy a nice picnic. It is only a 10 minute walk from Po Lam MTR station.
2. Trio Beach
Going to the beach and play with the sand is one of our favourite activities almost all the time. Trio Beach is relatively near to where we live, and we love to get there by riding on the sampan. It is a small and quiet beach. The water there is absolutely beautiful, I feel safe to let J to swim in the water when the weather gets hot.
3. Dragontail farm (Mui Wo)
Going to the farm is not an activity we do very often, so we were very excited when we first visited the Dragontail farm. J loves to pull the carrots by himself, and he loves to chit chat with the friendly farmer about the vegetables and his job working as a farmer and the tools he used. He eats particularly well with the food he picked from the farm.
Your perfect 24 hours in Hong Kong.
After breakfast at home, I would take a ferry with J to any island in Hong Kong. I would spend the morning exploring the island with him, looking around the village, maybe a bit of walking up the mountains, taking loads of pictures. I would then find a little restaurant / cafe run by the local people to have some yummy lunch to fill up our tummies. After lunch, I would spend the rest of the afternoon on the beach to play with J. If the weather is good, we could swim in the water too. After that, I would take J back home for a simple homemade dinner to finish the day.
Your favourite holiday destination?
It would be England. Although I lived in England for ten years but I never really had the chance to explore the country. I was pretty tied up with the responsibilities I have in the family; looking after my youngest brother almost all the time, helping out in my parents’ shop, housework, and study.
I would go in Spring because I love to see the beautiful flowers in people’s front gardens. I would love to explore different towns in different parts of the country, walking around the neighbourhood and the parks, and visiting the garden centres.
If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
England, definitely England, especially now with a kid. I rememebered my youngest brother, who was born and raised in England, had a very different childhood as compared to me and my brother. He was always playing after school with friends or in our back garden. The schools we studied in in England had huge grass area and we were exposed to a wide variety of sports. I had many happy and fun memories of school life from Middle School to Upper School all the way to Univerisities.
In general the air quality is very good and I love the slow living attutide.
What does the word education mean to you?
In the past before I am a mother, education means studying and getting good grades.
Now as a mother, education means more than academically. Everything that I learn is part of my education. Good academic background might get you a better place to be selected for a job interview. But the humble heart to learn, being a polite, kind and responsible person are also some of the important elements I learn from education from school and daily life.
Thank you so much Tania for featuring us in Nika Kai Travel, about motherhood and my work in Happy Minds with Busma. It means a lot to me.
For our full interview please check out her website , a lovely place where she shares various travel tips and lifestyle ideas for modern families exploring the world.