19 Jun 20
Hi Mindful Space Families,
My name is Vernessa Chuah, Founder of Mindful Space, a small business owner and a mama of a toddler, who is surviving in The time of Covid.
Tiding through a Storm
Yesterday, we made the announcement on the website that we will no longer run our regular yoga classes. It was hard but I know this: It wasn’t a Goodbye note. Our yoga members will remain part of the Mindful Space family.
During challenging times like these for all SMEs especially, it feels even more crucial that we remember why we started and who we want to help, leading us to decide how to pivot our strategies to be where we want to be, and how to go from here.
A Mindful Beginning
For 12 years, I felt this strong calling to be in the education industry. My passion to set up Mindful Space comes from my educator background and past experience living in Canada, Australia, Malaysia and Singapore.
I witnessed how many parents’ default mode of teaching their children is similar to the way they had been brought up; negative reinforcement, nagging, yelling and spanking are common tactics, that have become familiar patterns for generations.
Parents with traditional parenting styles are more result-oriented whether in academics, music or sports. Likewise, children seek validation and self-worth from the community on their achievements.
The good news is that respectful and mindful parenting is getting more attention, deservedly so. Parents are adapting to the 21st century, with the understanding of what children need: soft skills and values such as independent learning, problem solving, empathy, resilience, and building confidence.
During my years as an educator of toddlers and kids, I could see how family reinforcement makes a huge impact in the child’s development. I could be teaching about positive communication and empathy, but if the child returns to a home where none of the values are reinforced, our efforts are hampered. The home environment truly makes a difference.
Children observe how parents communicate with each other. They do what you do, not what you tell them to. If parents themselves can’t practice what they preach, it might be unrealistic to expect their children to behave differently.
This is what I believe: In order to support the child, we must first support the parent. When we can fill the parent’s cup first, equipping them with self-care tools and different parenting tips to apply in different scenarios, we are actually helping generations of children and future parents. When parents can educate their children well with love and security, their children will do the same for their next generation.
Awareness or knowledge (I know) is not enough; the key is the application (I know how). I see that as knowledge translated into consistent actions, with alignment of values with spouse or immediate family.
In fact, there is no better time than NOW to model to our children how to stay centred and grounded in time of a global crisis.
Mindful Space is created to be a place to grow my vision, as an individual, a parent and wife, and an active participant in the parenting community. I seek to curate a wide pool of experts worldwide to help enrich as many parenting journeys as we can.
What Mindful Space wants to give to all who have come to know us, is actually an emotional and psychological space, an intellectual and mental space, a space to be supported to learn, grow and heal together. Like a family.
Since the circuit breaker, the complimentary #ExpertChat has helped parents with their daily challenges. Topics are featured on a wide range: Sibling Rivalry, Screen Time Management, What to Cook for the Family, TCM Massage Tips for Kids, Gut Health for Eczema and Skin Allergies in Children. These 2 months plus have seen a growing group of 300 parents who have come to know of our efforts.
We even launched a 5-week Self Mastery Strategies course for parents covering difficult questions such as: What to do when you are triggered by your child and how to centre and ground yourself. We garnered a sign-up of more than 100 participants.
Beginning only in May, the online Kids Dancexercise! already received positive response, not just from Singapore but also from Canada and Japan. We are currently part of an international school holiday camp programme, and partnered with People’s Association for Father’s Day Family Yoga.
A Mindful Space online
Before Covid-19, Mindful Space, which is physically sited at Newton, was focused on organising parenting programmes and workshops, wellness classes for adults and kids (family yoga in the garden, prenatal couple workshops etc), family aerial and kids/family classes (music & movement, aerial yoga) and various on-site seasonal activities.
February 2020 was the time that Covid-19 started to impact Singapore. Attendance was dropping and we had to cancel our events after events. By March, it was radio silence even before the Circuit Breaker turned many different areas of the island into ghost towns, with shops and offices required to close.
With revenue affected, rental has been the most challenging for us. The 2 months rental waiver (with help from both the government and our landlord) helped partially but was still insufficient. Like fellow SMEs, the revenue was significantly reduced in the last 4 months. I appreciated that our landlord had been very helpful, communicative and transparent. We understand that everyone has been doing what they can to support each other; it is hard for every single person out there.
I believe there is a silver lining in the post-covid period. We are not there yet but we can start reflecting now on what matters to us, seek ways to adapt to the market trend and pivot whenever possible. It is indeed an art to master the skills of how to be grounded in the ‘discomfort zone’ and yet be fluid in times of uncertainty.
I have to credit the circuit breaker for my newfound video editing skills. I’ve also gained so much experience facilitating online sessions, learning something new from every expert I have featured in our initiative – #ExpertChat. This was actually something I had planned 6 months ago for future implementation. With the temporary closure of the physical studio space, this ‘to-do item’ on the list turned into a ‘Do Now!’ priority.
Mindful Learning from home
A Mindful Journey ahead
Later this year, we will be providing Relationship Coaching to as many parents as we can. We kick off in June 2020 with an #ExpertChat featuring Madeline Wade & Mark Mooney, internationally known somatic coaches, bodyworkers and teachers. Participants get to pick up tips on how to be aligned with their spouse, in-laws or their own parents with their parenting approach, how to have difficult conversations such as finance, household chores, spiritual beliefs, relationships etc.
The next project is close to my heart. I want to support women through pregnancy loss as I have experienced this unfortunate event myself, and not just once. I seek to transform my vulnerability to provide support, and share my strength with other women. There is still a cultural stigma that adds to the physical and emotional trauma, and I really hope for more awareness, acceptance and openness among families.
A Mindful Time-in
My friends know me for being very outdoorsy, sociable and always out-and-about, and they were the most surprised I enjoyed staying home so much
I love the fact that I can eat almost all my meals at home with my family. I get to spend quality time reading, dancing and singing with my daughter, before heading back to the study room to work. My daughter really enjoys having my presence at home fulltime!
Like everyone who had to work from home, we share the ultimate challenge with boundaries – between work and family when everything is in one physical space, when to pause work when the laptop is always conveniently available. The easy access creates the temptation (and habit) to work at irregular hours. Online communication actually takes more effort and energy than before.
I am grateful that my husband is so supportive. He works full time but has voluntarily taken on the larger part of the household chores and all the online grocery shopping.
A Mindful Time-out
Journaling, voicing out our beliefs and listening mindfully to others can indeed bring many newfound perspectives or solutions to various problems.
I am thankful to have a nurturing business coach, Khai Lin from Joyful Momentum who helps me stay focused with her wise questions, insightful reminders and supportive advice. As a creative person with an overflow of ideas, I can get side-tracked with too many things on my many plates. My coach is who I go to for a regular business-health checks.
I would advise my fellow mumpreneurs who are having a hard time - find or join a support group that you feel safe with, to share your deep concerns and to seek advice. Stress is inevitable right now all over the world and it is crucial we learn how to manage and release them.
I would like to also help more self-employed or freelancers looking to rent conducive spaces for private classes, and to conduct zoom classes.
Our versatile spaces have unique features such as built-in acoustic panels, sound system, shock-absorption flooring, mirror, projector, yoga mats and props. The garden will provide open ventilation for a private group as well.
While the rent is kept affordable for everyone, we hope it can help us cover the overhead costs.
It is also my wish that even more people can reach out to help all the small businesses by spreading the news of their effort, whether with a review on social media or by word of mouth. Continue to support and contribute financially if possible, and help us carry on the good work for the community.
Together, we will come out of this pandemic stronger and better.
With gratitude and love,
Founder of Mindful Space