A Professional Woman and a Loving Mother

FTWM

A mother. She is called an angel, a goddess, a guiding light, an encourager and a role model. Being a mother is not easy, whether she chooses to stay-at-home or work, there are different challenges that she has to face.

The majority of mothers in yesteryears gave up their own lives after marriage and kids, and lived for their family. Today’s mother is an educated, experienced and confident person who knows what she wants in her life. She loves her children and family, but she is not ready to let go her own dreams. She wants her own identity, and she has her own passions.

That’s what I want to be – a professional woman and a loving mother.

Sometimes, working mothers feel conflicted about her choice, even when it’s dictated by financial necessity. Between the stress at work, the guilt and the sheer physical demands of juggling family and work, sometimes she wonder why her life has to be so complicated.

Have you ever experienced this?

Every time it hits me, I tell myself that I’m doing the best possible thing for my son by contributing to the family income, maintaining our financial viability, supporting my own parents and building my own retirement nest.

I’ve worked continuously since my graduation in year 2000. The only break I had was after I left my previous company, I took one month break before starting work at my current company. Well, that was nine years ago!

I used to feel guilty about working when Edison was still a baby. We put him at an infant care centre for four months after my maternity leave. That was the toughest part of my life, and every day I thought of quitting my job.

Luckily, my parents-in-law came along and they offered to take care of Edison while we were at work. Knowing that Edison was in their good hands, I could focus on my work again. I’m truly grateful for their help. Else, I could have quitted my job years ago.

Fast forward to today, our situation has improved. V often tell me that I could stop working anytime, because we can still live comfortably with single income. But I choose not to. If I have persevered this far, I will not give up on my career so easily now. I enjoy my job, it gives me a lot of satisfaction, a comfortable salary and other intangible benefits.

I grew up in a poor family. Being the eldest child in the family, I had to help out in house chores because we didn’t have a domestic helper. My mother was a part-time tailor, and my father worked very hard to make ends meet. When I was a kid, I’ve never been on vacations. I never asked for anything extravagant from my parents because I knew that they couldn’t afford it.

I studied very hard because I knew that the only way to change my life is to get a university degree. Luckily, I managed to get into a local university. I took a study loan and a scholarship so that I can complete my study with minimal support from my family. And I did it!

Perhaps, it’s something that I can’t quite explain now. Did my own childhood experience convince me that I wanted something different for my son? I didn’t have a terrible childhood, but I often felt deprived of material things during my growing up years. I was unhappy because of all the financial difficulties that we had.

Maybe it’s idealism and the thought of giving the best to my son right from the start so that he doesn’t have to go through hardship. Holidays, good food, birthday parties, nice clothes and everything that I used to be deprived of, I can now afford to give them to my son.

Or maybe it’s the financial insecurities of living without an income. Whatever the reason, I’ve decided to continue working, to save money for our future and his education, and not forgetting my own parents. They have retired now, and it’s my duty to support them and give them a comfortable life.

Juggling family and work is never easy. I wake up at 6:30am, prepare myself to work, and drive him to school. From 8:30am to 6pm, I deliver my best at work. After work, I rush home, have dinner with him, shower him, coach him in his study and spend some quality time with him until he goes to bed at 9:30pm.

At the end of the day, I have less than an hour for myself, but I never complaint. I live a fulfilled life, I’m happy with my family, my son and my work. And I’m contented. Really.

Linking up with:
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Part-Time Cleaner to the Rescue

We’ve been living without a domestic helper since a year ago, and I must confess that it’s really a challenge being a maidless working mom.

A lot of times, I wish that I have 28 hours a day. I will spend the extra hours doing the household chores and spend more quality time with Little Edison. But God is fair, no matter how rich or poor we are, each and every one of us gets the same 24 hours a day.

My close friends and my mom, especially, often ask me “Are you sure you can manage without a maid?” My reply is a YES, because it’s our final decision of not employing another maid after our Indon maid left a year ago.

I’m glad that V is willing to help out with the household chores and my parents-in-law to look after Little Edison while we’re at work. I’m most thankful to my mother-in-law who cooks for us on weekdays, so I don’t have to worry about meals. Otherwise, we’ll be eating a lot of take-aways – which is definitely not healthy for Little Edison.

Although we can still juggle it, with a strict time table for household chores and lesser “me time”, I soon realized that getting a part-time help to clean our home is indeed necessary to maintain my sanity.

My first attempt to find a part-time cleaner was in Jan this year – before the Chinese New Year. But I had no luck. All the agencies that I’ve called told me that their weekend slots were fully booked.

Three months later, I tried to look for a part-time cleaner again. This time, I called up almost all the part-time cleaning agencies that I can find on the internet. And finally, I found one who can work for me on Sunday afternoon.

She started her first day of work at my place last Sunday, and I’m very pleased with her work. She managed to accomplish more than what I’ve expected within three hours. I can finally put aside my pair of gloves and take my much-needed break.

In my next post, I’ll share with you about how I manage the household chores with my part-time cleaner and a few part-time cleaning agencies that I’ve talked to. If you’re also considering a part-time helper or have been searching for one, please stay tuned with my next post on part-time cleaner.

Lastly, before I end this post tonight, I have a small announcement to make. 

Our Little Smarties has been selected as one of the

Top 10 Best Family Blogs at the Singapore Blog Awards 2012.

I’m very humbled and flattered that this blog has made it to the Top Ten along with many awesome parenting bloggers. In my next post, I’ll urge you, my dear readers, to vote for my blog in this contest.

Thanks in advance!

 

One Year Anniversary

No, I’m not talking about wedding anniversary but this week is our one-year anniversary of living without a maid.

I used to perceive that having a maid is a necessity for a full-time working mother. When my Indon maid left us a year ago, I was a little depressed. We frantically searched for a replacement after her departure, but we had no luck. We were hit by the low maid supply issue at that time.

V and I worked very hard to keep the house from falling apart. Besides juggling our full-time jobs, we had to keep the routines going, manage the house chores and take care of our son. I’m very grateful to my parents-in-law who continued to help us during this period. They take care of our son when we go to work.

One year has passed, and I’m glad to say that we are still functioning very well without a maid. I agree that doing the household chores can be tiring, but it’s all well worth it considering all the other advantages.

This is my typical daily schedule now – without a maid:

6:30am: Wake up as early as 6:30am, prepare myself for work, prepare breakfast for the boy and prepare him for school.

7:40am: Leave the house. Drive the boy to school. School starts at 8:00am.

8:30am: Start work.

6:00pm: Leave the office. My parents-in-law’s house is just ten minutes drive from my office.

6:15pm: Reach my PIL’s house. Play time with Little Edison.

6:45pm: Dinner time

7:30pm: Shower, pack up and ready to go home by 8pm.

8:30pm: Back to our home-sweet-home.

9:00pm: Study time

9:45pm: TV and family time

10:30pm: The boy goes to sleep, and I catch up with some house works

11:15pm: Time to call it a day

A positive mindset and a “can do” attitude got us out of this rough patch. I think I should call for a celebration this weekend to reward ourselves for one year of hard work.

 

Strike a Balance

One of those little things that V and I promised each other is that we must try to return home and have dinner together, with Little Edison every day. Family dinner is the most important part of my day. I’m so thankful to my mother-in-law who cooks healthy home-cooked food for us every weekday – so we don’t have to rush home to cook.

During dinner time, we’ll talk about the bits and pieces of our everyday. My parents-in-law will update us on the little things about Little Edison, from what he ate for lunch, what he did in the afternoon to what time he poop. Interestingly enough, we don’t feel bored hearing the same conversation every day.

That’s my first rule of achieving work-life balance – to return home punctually for dinner.

Second rule – this is also one of the things which I’m adamant about is that work should NOT be brought home. Again, replying to urgent work e-mails from home is often unavoidable but we should still keep it at minimum. Other works should be put aside. We should try to improve our productivity at work so that we don’t have to “over-time” at home.

Now that we’re without a helper, we also found ourselves in another set of problem with our house chores. Initially, I tried to do everything on my own and I got frustrated when I neglected other important things like teaching Little Edison to write, spending time with V etc.

So, we made resolutions to at least put aside some time on evenings to coach our son in his study – doing worksheets, practice writing and reading story books. This usually takes 30 to 45 minutes, and then we will spend some time together – either watching TV or playing games before going to bed.

After Little Edison goes to bed at 10pm, we will try to do some house chores together (if there is still energy left). We split the house chores and have a roster for it. It helps us to stay focused and ensure that our house runs smoothly – and without frustrations.

Here is my typical weekday routine:

  • 6:15 am: Wake up and prepare for work.
  • 7:15 am: Wake Little Edison up and prepare him for school.
  • 7:40 am: Drive him to school and go to work after that.
  • 8:30 am: Reach office and start work.
  • 6:00 pm: Leave office to my parents-in-law’s house.
  • 6:15 pm: Play with Little Edison.
  • 6:45 pm: Family dinner time.
  • 8:00 pm: Return to our home.
  • 8:30 pm: Shower and settle down.
  • 9:00 pm: Study and home work time.
  • 9:30 pm: TV and games.
  • 10:00 pm: Little Edison goes to bed.
  • 10:30 -11 pm: I go to bed.

I’m thankful that I still have 7 to 8 hours of sleep at night. Being a full-time working mother and without a helper, I couldn’t be happier with this.

But the down side is that there will be minimal “me-time”. I’m also slowing down in other activities like blogging, reading a book, watching my idol drama etc. Hopefully, I can still maintain this blog with weekly updates about our family.

 

Tips for a Smooth Day with Kids

Now that we’re without a helper, weekends can be really busy especially when the Husband needs to work. Besides getting house chores and office works done, I’ve to spend quality time with Little Edison.

Here are a few suggestions to share with you, from my own experience, on how to have a smooth day with your kids alone. This is mainly for mothers who do not have a helper or do not stay with their parents or in-laws.

1. The Alarm Clock Method

When I have works to do, I’ll tell him to play on his own and I assure him that I’ll join him in a jiffy when the alarm clock rings. I’ll then set it to 15 or 20 minutes. When the clock rings, I’ll stop my works to play with him.

2. Follow His Lead

If I planned out some activities for us to do, and if he wants to do something else, I’ll respect that and follow his lead (of course, it must be within the limits!). It’s easier for both of us.

3. Get Him to Do Some Physical Activities

A trip to the park or playground is wonderful for us. Fresh air, play mates and physical activities that can make him sweat out! When he returns home, he will be hungry and eat without fuss. When he is tired, he will take a longer nap too.

4. Devise Methods to Get Food Faster and Easier

I prepare the vegetables or meat – cut, clean, pack them into containers and keep in the fridge the day before. So, it cuts down a lot of preparation time on the day itself. If I’m too lazy, I’ll just dial the magic number 6777 3777. Food will be on the table within an hour (that’s McDelivery!).

5. Plonk Him In Front of the TV

I can sit and watch with him, or I can sneak away to do some works. But of course, there must be a time limit.

6. Involve Him in the House Works

If he wants to help out, I’ll let him do it even though he may not be doing it correctly. At least, he is learning. The best place to start is to get him clean up his own toys, book shelf and study table.

7. Get Out of the House

I don’t want to stay at home all day. So do him. We’ll go out for some shopping, afternoon tea and read some books in the library. Take a bus, if he fancy. He enjoys bus ride.

It’s not easy to juggle kids and house works without a helper. At the end of the day, the easiest way out is to get The Husband to do it when he gets home. 🙂