finding balance - mum and kids

#BalanceforBetter is the campaign theme for International Women’s Day 2019. We ask four Singaporean mothers walking four different paths how they go about finding balance in their lives.

International Women’s Day falls on 8 March every year. Today, we are celebrating women’s achievements while calling for a more gender-balanced world. Real mums know deep down that balance begins with them. If they can find balance, then their home – their families’ world – will indeed be all the better for it.


Working Mum – Daphne Ng, 38

finding balance - daphne ng

Daphne works full-time as Director of Operations at a local SME that imports and distributes baby products from Europe. She is also a mother of three children. She has a girl who’s turning six, and two boys aged three and 11 years this year.

On finding balance

I’m still trying to find that balance. I think we are all just trying to do our best in keeping all the balls in the air. On weekdays, I try to come back in time to spend some time with the kids and coach them on schoolwork if necessary. After they go to bed, I spend an hour or two decompressing, usually with mobile games. This is my me-time, and it is essential to allow me to unwind at the end of the day.

Biggest challenges

Trying to balance work commitments while not missing the kids’ important school events or social activities. In addition, I sometimes have to work late, and come home to only see them asleep.

Tips and tricks

Involve the husband. Splitting the workload will allow everything to be completed just that little bit faster. But also manage your own expectations. I’ve felt exasperated with my hubby many times before and I’ve come to learn that he’s also trying his best.

Wise words

Let things go sometimes. Life will still go on even if you’re not there to manage it. Just last week, I was home with the boys and fell asleep. I woke up with a start and realised that even though Duplo was strewn all over the floor, the boys were playing together, and nobody had needed me in 45 minutes! Also, don’t beat yourself up if you have to miss some event because of work. Even though we prioritise the kids, there are times we just cannot step away. As long as we show that we’ve tried our very best, they do understand.

(See also: There’s No Escaping Mummy Guilt No Matter What Type of Mum You Are!)

Stay-at-home Mum – Camille Tan-Mahendran, 28

finding balance - camille tan-mahendran

While being a SAHM, outgoing Camille is also the founder of Interracial Family Singapore. Between raising five-year-old Kierann and two-year-old Aarann, she organises meaningful family events to build a community that embraces diversity. This is something close to her heart; she’s Chinese and her husband is Indian. They teach their sons about both cultures and religious beliefs, giving them the freedom to choose when they grow up.

On finding balance

I fell into post-natal depression when I had my first son. I struggled to find balance between the ‘ideal’ life I thought I was prepared for and well, reality. My entire existence was consumed by caring for our home and family. But being a SAHM gave me the opportunity to witness and capture every milestone, to build an unbreakable bond with my boys during their first years. Giving up my career at 24 was tough but my rewards in achievements, hugs and kisses are bountiful. Now I set goals for myself to achieve and do it together with my kids. Staying balanced is about having the mental strength to make things happen, and I draw my courage from them.

Biggest challenges

Not having any me-time or nights out with my husband. These breaks are so important to keep me sane, but it’s almost impossible. It’s always about dropping what I’m doing to attend to my sons’ needs and I could NEVER fall sick! SAHMs are the first to wake up and the last to sleep. With my husband always busy at work, sleep-deprived me sometimes feels like a single mum!

Tips and tricks

Come to terms with the fact that nothing getting done is normal. As long as the kids are mentally and physically healthy, the chores can wait. It took me a couple of years to get the hang of juggling household chores, cooking and feeding the kids, and taking them to experience new things (while tiring them out), so I can finally catch up on leftover work, go out for a couple of hours or have an early night! Also, do one thing that makes YOU happy every day. Never forget yourself in the midst of putting your kids and husbands first. Even if it’s just a can of Nescafe, an afternoon nap, or putting on makeup for selfies, DO IT!

Wise words

Finding that balance is also knowing that we need to speak up when we need help. We are the pillars of strength in the household, so our mental and physical health is most important. It’s not always easy for SAHMs to let go of our kids to enjoy that needed break, but you will come back feeling a lot happier and your kids will feel it too! And continue to build a relationship with your husband. Behind every successful man is a loving wife, and likewise, behind every SAHM is a supportive husband. Finally, find like-minded mummies to be your support system. Having SAHM friends to meet for a kids playdate and mummies sharing session can see you through the toughest days!

(See also: 5 Smart Things Mums Do On Sundays)

Single Mum – Janice Leong, 28

finding balance - janice leong

This free-spirited lady calls herself a body activist creating a community to embrace and love their bodies of all shapes and sizes, postpartum. Recently she modelled for {un}inhibited, a vulva photography book designed to educate Asian women about their bodies and sexualities. She also highlights new products and services on her blog janiqueel.com. Her premier subject, model, and squeeze is her toddler, known affectionately to readers as “Mr C”. The little charmer is turning two in a week’s time. Janice, who loves to dine, travel, primp, and celebrate life, is also a single mother who believes in love without boundaries.

On finding balance

“It takes a village to raise a child” – I truly understand this African proverb after having a baby. I believe parenting is a shared responsibility – a communal affair – and not just the concern of parents or grandparents. The extended family, neighbours and friends can all be involved, and all have a part to play. With this village, I have time for myself and my child benefits too. Working out helps me the most to stay balanced. Exercising releases endorphins which trigger positive feelings in the body. Being physically fit and mentally strong is crucial – single parenting is not for the faint-hearted.

Biggest challenges

It’s so hard to know if you’re doing a good job. Self-doubt is real. The stress and anxiety about money can be daunting. Mr C was hospitalised for bronchiolitis for three consecutive months from August last year. Apart from financial constraints, it’s a nightmare when your child is ill and in hospital. So many sleepless nights in the hospital.

Tips and tricks

My survival mantra is “I am not responsible for making sure my child is ALWAYS happy.” I’ve discovered that embracing this fact makes a lot of things easier. And find that village you can lean on for support.

Wise words

Don’t neglect yourself. More often than not, single mums are guilty of that. To make up for our family structure, we drive ourselves crazy taking care of everything, rather than finding balance. And know that it’s okay to be honest with your child. Tell them if you’re having a difficult time but also remind them – and yourself – that things will get better.

(See also: When Your Child is in Hospital)

New Mum – Audrie Soh, 32

finding balance - audrie soh

After the painful let-down of experiencing a blighted ovum in her first pregnancy in October 2017, Audrie was overjoyed when she found herself pregnant again early last year. She gave birth to a healthy baby boy in December and named him Aiden – isn’t he adorbs?!? A sub-editor at SingaporeBrides and self-confessed bubble tea maniac, she is still feeling her way up the steep learning curve that is motherhood.

On finding balance

To be honest, I haven’t found it yet. Most days I am in shorts and a t-shirt, unkempt hair and all. Forget watching K-dramas or dolling up to go out. I’m lucky if I get through a basic skincare routine – some days, I don’t even have time for that! I don’t get out much and going out with the baby basically revolves around changing and feeding him. I guess I need more time to regain myself as an individual and I believe (or hope!) that as baby gets older, I’ll have more time for myself again.

Biggest challenges

Being responsible for another human being! Every day with the baby is different. The routine and what I’m doing may be the same, but how baby reacts or behaves varies all the time. And as a first-time mum, I’m paranoid about every single thing. Like is baby okay when he spits up milk? Am I overfeeding him? Is he too warm? Too cold? Is he comfortable in my arms? Then there is the lack of sleep to deal with, as well as trying to increase my milk supply. There are too many challenges to list!

Tips and tricks

Ask for and accept help from experienced mums! I am so thankful that I have help from my relatives. They not only teach me how to care for my baby, but also help me look after him so that I have time to do my pumping, or sneak in a 30- to 60-minute cat nap.

Wise words

I don’t have any to share at the moment, because I’m still looking for that balance myself. But for what it’s worth, all mums-to-be should be warned that being the mother of a newborn is seriously no joke! I knew that motherhood isn’t easy, but I had no idea it would be this tough! It is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, and almost three months in, it is still hard.

(See also: 11 Best Support Groups In Singapore For First-Time Parents)

As these lovely ladies have discovered, finding balance in life is often easier said than done. This is especially true when you’re responsible for another human being – or four – who are depending on you to keep them happy and healthy. So, mummies, be kind to yourselves. At the end of the day, pat yourself on the back and go to bed knowing you’ve done your best. Tomorrow’s another day to #BalanceforBetter.

 

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Feature image: Source

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