“Am I a bad mum?” Whether you a stay at home mum, a full time working mum, a mum who works part time, or a mum who works from home, you probably have mummy guilt.
So while you may beat yourself up over never having enough time for your child, not being able to spend a lovely afternoon doing mummy-child activities like exploring nature, or creating a masterpiece together, or not being a savvy, sophisticated, ladder-climbing career woman who’s breaking glass ceilings and busting gender stereotypes, the truth is, she whose shoes you sometimes yearn to be in is probably thinking the very same thing. Work-life balance is a hurdle you’ll have to cross. But you know what? No matter what kind of mum you are, every motherhood situation is just as wonderful and challenging!
The stay-at-home mum (SAHM)
I love my kids but I just want a break! I shouldn’t have lost my temper at them. I should bring them to more places. Would they receive better care from someone else than me? I’ve fallen asleep on the playmat while watching the baby!
(See also: Staying Home, Staying Happy)
There is a lot going on in the world of a new stay-at-home mum. She’s coming to terms with leaving her job and its perks, struggling with all the responsibilities of keeping the house in decent shape, a new baby to care for, and on top of that, nosy relatives to deal with. The SAHM sometimes feels the need to push herself to do much more to justify her ‘non-working’ status.
Having to be on high alert at all times (to make sure no one’s climbing on bookcases, cutting up the curtains or eating dust bunnies) is exhausting, both mentally and physically, and you’ll do all you can to keep your temper under control, and feel immensely guilty when you lose it.
Tan Ruey Ying, 28, a former shipping manager, and mother to 3-year old Alyssa, says, “Alyssa was a ‘textbook baby’. Being with her everyday was wonderful but I constantly felt inadequate and like such a failure because I never felt like I was doing enough. It seemed that every other SAHM was doing more ‘fulfilling and enriching’ things with her baby.”
Just being part of their lives everyday and experiencing their milestones is special. Getting hugs and kisses throughout the day helps make you feel that you’ve made the right choice. There are so many opportunities for spontaneous activities with fewer time constraints. You are in control of everything – from meals and naps, to gadget use and activity time. And of course, there’s the occasional afternoon nap.
Not having a salary! Depending on your financial situation, belt tightening may be required. Some mums might struggle with their self-worth once they stop contributing to the family account. There are no ‘off days’, and every minute of every day is filled with action. Your multi-tasking skills will be put to the test and doing one thing at a time is a luxury. Remind yourself of the reasons you chose this SAHM route to begin with.
The full-time-working mum (FTWM)
Am I missing out on their growing years? Am I spending enough time with them? Am I relying too much on the domestic helper? Will I be able to express breast milk while at work?
You head to work everyday with a heavy heart because you’ve left your toddler crying at the gate, or you’ve just had a peek at your sleeping angel and know that the next time you see her would be late at night when she’s already in bed. And then there’s the guilt of not being part of all your kids’ milestones.
Mums of older children may find themselves tired out from a full day at work, followed by homework and spelling revisions when they return. As a result of that, your precious evenings with the kids turn out to be times of frustration at the study table instead of the cosy snuggling in bed that you envisioned.
Media Manager Natasha B, 32, mum to Liam, 4 and Ollie, 18 months, shares, “I’m always trying to be there physically for them, but emotionally, I’m not. On days when I’m exhausted from work, I doze off while feeding the kids or reading bedtime stories to them, only to wake half an hour later to their disappointed faces that I had slept through our supposedly special time together”.
Having the time to be a professional executive is healthy, and remaining in the industry keeps your spot on the corporate ladder. There’s a salary to look forward to at the end of the month, and medical and dental coverage for the family can come in handy.
You’ll be away from your kids for the bulk of the day. You won’t be able to attend school functions as much as you would like, particularly if you have more than one child. You might worry about missing out on your kids’ lives, and wonder if not physically being around might cause your kids to be less close to you.
Depending on the type of company you work in, and the people you work with, going on child-care leave may be challenging. You also may not agree with the way your caregiver cares for your children, but that’s hard to control when you’re not physically around.
The work-at-home mum (WAHM)
Oh dear, I have to rely on the TV as a babysitter again. I should play with them instead of working on my assignment. I wish they would just leave me alone for an hour so I can work! No time, no time – I thought I took this job to have more time!
(See also: Don’t Go Nuts Working At Home, Mum!)
The work-at-home mum is either a freelancer, or a mum who works with a company that allows work to be done at home. It’s a great arrangement because you get to spend lots of time at home with the kids while earning an income!
But proper time management is crucial because your kids will continue to need you even as deadlines loom. There will be times when your multitasking skills will be stretched to the limit. You’ll find yourself typing furiously on your laptop and patting your baby to sleep with your foot.
“I always feel guilty for saying ‘Mummy needs to work now’, and leaving him alone to play. Sometimes when I’m rushing for a deadline, I’m unconsciously snappy toward my son, or I have to let the TV babysit him,” says Kelly Loh, 38, a freelance Graphic Designer and mum to John, 5.
Receiving an income can do wonders for your self esteem! Being in control of your time lets you dictate how much time you spend on work, and with proper planning, you’ll be able to spend time with the kids and work when they are asleep. Having non-kid and non-home related things to work on can help a WAHM feel more like an individual and not just a mum swimming in mum-related responsibilities.
Deadline or not, your kids will have to eat, and they will still need you around. So having to juggle the stress on both ends can be challenging. You might find yourself depending more and more on devices to keep the little ones occupied so that you can work in peace.
The part-time working mum (PTWM)
More work and more pay? Is that worth it because I spend less time with the kids? I’m always rushing and always in a bad mood with the kids! I shouldn’t be thinking of work when I’m with the kids.
(See also: SM Blogmums: Part-time Work)
Financial Consultant Alicia Koh, 42, struggles with blurred line of family/work times. Says the mother to Zach, 13, Kieren, 9, and Ashley, 7, “I work flexi hours and sometimes I am home with the kids but mentally, I am working. There are times I wish I could be physically out to concentrate on work, and then go home to the kids to be with them physically and emotionally, without thinking about work.”
The part-time working mum either works fewer days a week or fewer hours every day. Sometimes it is the same role that has been downscaled both in terms of responsibilities as well as salary, other times it is a new job completely. The most ideal situation would be to fully concentrate on work when the kids are in school, and keep afternoons exclusively for family time.
Depending on the job and arrangement, it may be possible to work only when the kids are in school, and then spend the rest of the day with them, allowing you to split your ‘professional time’ and your ‘mummy time’ clearly. There’s more structure in this arrangement as opposed to working on freelance projects. The income too, is more regular, which allows for better financial planning.
Some mums with part-time arrangements may feel that they have been given the same amount of work as they did as full timers, but lesser pay. Often, there are no benefits like annual leave or medical leave. There is also the issue of reworking the dynamics of the department, and some colleagues are less understanding than others.
This situation though works best for my family. My husband and I both work part-time; we work on different days in the week so that there’s always one of us home with the kids. This allows us to split parenting and working responsibilities evenly – we both have opportunities to take the kids out scooting in the evenings, and we both contribute to the family bank account. We earn less than we would have with a full time job, but we believe that being part of the children’s daily lives, especially in the early years, is a fair trade-off.
The grass may always seem greener on the other side, but to take another perspective on things, the grass will always be green where you water it.
:: Giveaway ::
We know it’s not easy being a mum, so we’d like you to take a break, on us! We have 3 pairs of tickets to the movie preview of Bad Moms to give away − and we know you’ll identify with it! In this new comedy starring Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and Christina Applegate, we meet Amy, a mum who has a seemingly perfect life – great marriage, over-achieving kids, beautiful home, and a career. However she’s overworked, over-committed, and exhausted to the point that she’s about to snap. Fed up, she and two other over-stressed mums decide to ditch their conventional responsibilities for a jolt of long overdue freedom and some good ol’ fun – putting them on a collision course with PTA Queen Bee Gwendolyn and her clique of ‘perfect’ moms.
Date of show: Wednesday, 27 July
Time of show: 7.00 pm
Duration: 101 minutes
Venue: GV Suntec City
Movie rating: M18 (don’t bring the kids!)
How to win:
1. Like SingaporeMotherhood.com’s Facebook page.
2. Share this article on Facebook with the hashtag #SMbadmoms.
3. Leave a comment here telling us what your biggest mummy guilt is.
4. Sit back, relax, and wait for us to get in touch with you if you’re one of the winners!
Terms & Conditions:
• Ticket collection will be outside the cinema from 6.20 pm to 7.00 pm.
• Winners will need to produce their IC to claim their tickets.
• Giveaway applicable in Singapore only.
• Giveaway closing date: Thursday, 21 July 2016.