Being a mum doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your career and me time. These mums share how they do it. By Kayce Teo
Taking leave to be with your kids whenever there’s a school holiday or just before an exam helps to strengthen the bond. Photo: imtmphoto / www.123rf.com
The Do-It-All Mum
Sara Tian, 37, is a freelance advertising consultant. Her work-from-home arrangement has been in place since before she was married, so it was only natural for her to continue after she had her kids, now aged eight and five.
• Have a routine in place and stick to it.
Sara doesn’t have a domestic helper, and single-handedly takes care of her kids and the home. She says sticking to a routine is key to getting things done on time. “If you complete any of your tasks late, it will push back the next item on your agenda, creating a backlog of things to do,” she says.
• Bedtime is non-negotiable.
“I have been putting my kids to bed at around 7.30pm to 8pm since they were babies. There are no exceptions,” she says. “I explain to them why going to bed early is good for them, not just for me. And this way, I can work if I have to after they’re asleep or get in some me time.”
• Discipline does not mean being rigid.
As her job involves creative work like drawing and designing, Sara does not sit at her desk for long stretches to work. “If I don’t have inspiration, there is no point sitting at the computer. So I do the laundry or chores, or run errands.”
• Know your work well.
“If you want to work from home, you should be aware of the time gaps during which you can work. I try to organise my meetings in the morning, when the kids are at school.”
The Young Mum
Goh Yi Shan, a 34-year-old tax manager at a listed company, is mum to three daughters aged eight and six years, and eight months; and a four-year-old boy. She credits her ability to balance work and children to a supportive network of extended family.
Yi Shan’s tips
• Accept help from your extended family.
“I stay with my parents-in-law, and they are very good with the kids. We also have a domestic helper to handle the household chores.”
• Prioritise your marriage.
“I am a wife first, then a mum,” she says. “I have a two-month confinement period after every birth, and following that, my husband will take me on a short holiday, just the two of us.”
• Go on family-bonding holidays.
“We go on yearly holidays – just my husband, kids and I – for about 10 days. We cook our own meals, play with the kids and don’t do many touristy things.”
• Keep an open mind.
Even though Yi Shan tries to have a routine in place to help the kids develop good habits like completing their homework on time, she says there is no one-size-fits-all method to raising them. “I let them grow at their own pace and try not to stress out if they haven’t achieved a particular milestone.”
• Enjoy the moment.
“The kids are only this old, or young, once, so I try to live in the moment,” she says. “When they laugh, I laugh with them, even if it is at the silliest or most illogical things.”
The Relatable Mum
Ling Yng Yng, in her 40s, is an assistant director with a local university’s Registrar Office. She has three daughters, aged 14, 11 and nine. She says she’s constantly learning how to be a relatable mother while juggling work and family life.
Yng Yng’s tips
• Take leave to be with your kids.
“Besides the family’s yearly long holiday, I take leave to be with my kids whenever there’s a school holiday, like Children’s Day,” she says. “Also, the day before they’re due to sit for any exam, as a morale booster, I take a half-day’s leave to pick up my girls from school. I take them out to lunch to relax a little, then we spend some time cramming in last-minute revision.”
• Maintain open communication.
“I tell my kids that if they’re not satisfied with what I am doing as a parent, they can come and talk to me about it,” she says. “I also express my interest in their friends by asking about them so I know who they hang out with.”
• Make them ask questions.
“I prompt them to ask questions when I am telling them things to ensure that they are listening.”
• Develop similar interests to have common topics to talk about.
“My girls and I have great bonding moments over the latest K-drama, talking about good-looking actors while my husband gives us exasperated looks,” she says with a laugh. “Sometimes, I pick up certain scenarios from the dramas and tell them how it’s a valuable life lesson.”
This story was originally published in the May 2016 issue of Simply Her.