This month’s That Mama is birthday cake home baker Azizah Mohamed of Zizou Cake Boutique!
Here at Sassy Mama we know as well as anyone that birthday cakes are a big deal with kiddos. We met mama of two Azizah Mohamed after attending a friend’s birthday party when our child insisted that they had to have the same unicorn cupcakes for their birthday. Turns out Azizah was behind them with her home business, Zizou Cake Boutique, which she launched in 2015 before the birth of her second son, Jonas (her first son, Keyan, is now almost 5). Fast forward a few years and Azizah now makes up to 30 cakes a month! We caught up with Azizah in her gorgeous kitchen to hear more about her journey from MNC Consultant to home baker, how she manages without a helper, and her tips for maintaining an identity separate from her kids. Do not read on an empty stomach, mamas!
Can you tell us a little about yourself, your career and your family?
I’m Azizah, born in Saigon but I grew up in France from the age of 6. I came to Singapore in October 2008 with my previous employer, Accenture Paris Office as a SAP consultant to supposedly work for one year… Almost 10 years later I’m still here! I met my husband, who is from Scotland, here in Singapore. Today I’m a multi-tasking mumpreneur, mum of two cheeky boys, owner of Zizou Cake Boutique and occasional French teacher at French Toast.
Can you talk us through your career pre- and post-baby?
There was a big career change pre-and post-baby. Before kids, I was a career-focused woman working in big MNC a la corporate.
When I had my first son Keyan, I agreed with my husband that I would stay one year at home to look after him as we preferred not to have a helper. After one year, I was about to go back to work, but then I found out I was pregnant with my second son Jonas, so we postponed my return to work. In the meantime I started Zizou Cake Boutique, where I could bake from home. It was at first a need for me to have my own activity outside my kids, and then slowly it became more serious.
How did you get back into the swing of things after having kids?
To be honest I didn’t get back into the swing of things after having kids because I totally changed my career from working for an MNC to running my own business. However, life does get a little easier as my children get slightly older and they don’t need constant attention from me. Now the boys are able to entertain each other, which gives me some additional time to work on my baking business.
How do you maintain an identity separate from your children?
I must give thanks to my husband, who encourages me to have some me time like exercising, going out to see my friends, etc. But as you must know, when you have kids at the end of the day you are so exhausted you don’t want to do anything other than lie on your couch, haha. That was one of the reason I started Zizou Cake Boutique , so I could feel like I existed outside my mummy role.
How has having kids changed the way you define work?
Kids have changed my priorities. They are now my priority. Now I work for them first and foremost, but I also need a job that’s flexible so I can accommodate their schedules. That’s why I started Zizou so I could bake from home and look after them. I want my kids to be proud of me and to show them that you can achieve a lot of things in life with hard work and perseverance.
How do you save time? What are your organisational tricks and tips?
Good question! Time and Myself are not good friends! I struggle every day to try to squeeze all my tasks into one day. I try to plan things in advance, do groceries online, do everything in the morning when the boys are at school… let me know if you have tips!
I wish I had more time for…
Sleeping I guess… but there are so many things I would like to do; 24 hours are not enough!
I always feel saner after….
Exercising! It’s always hard to get motivated and start but once you start you feel so good about yourself! You sweat off all the frustration and stress and have a more positive approach to life
What part of Singapore do you live in? What do you like about it?
We used to live at East Coast but after having our first child we moved to Yio Chu Kang. We love it here because of the greenery and our neighbourhood, but I still miss the East, to be honest.
Favourite kid-friendly activity in Singapore?
Take the boys scooting around marina bay sand then go for dinner at Satay by the Bay.
Favourite kid-friendly restaurants in Singapore?
Our favourite place is the Sunday brunch at Basilico, where there is a kids’ play room, but we only go there on special occasions. Otherwise Wheeler’s Estate in Seletar near our place because there is a play area next to the restaurant. However we don’t find the food there to be very kid-friendly, especially with my youngest, who has egg and nut allergies.
Favourite family-friendly holiday spot in Asia?
Bali where there are a lot of different activities, a lot of kid-friendly places, affordable healthy food and affordable babysitters.
Do you have any tips for keeping the romance alive in your relationship?
Ha, that is a very difficult question. When you have such a massive change in your life with the introduction of kids it takes a slight strain on the relationship. The best thing to do is be patient and support each other; not every day will be a good day.
It’s also important to have a life outside of your kids. Try to keep the romance alive by still going out with each other. I know this is difficult for some couples that may not have any family support around. Also try to not have every conversation with each other be about your kids (difficult again). It’s good to try and not make the kids the whole focus of everything, especially when you are out together.
Favourite date night restaurants?
Couch. Magnum. Tea. Netflix. Haha we don’t go out often so whenever we have a date night we try new places so we don’t really have a favourite restaurant.
Do you have any tips for working mamas in Singapore?
Not really because I have been lucky to be able to stay at home and look after my kids. But the only thing I would say is that kids grow up too fast, so just try to spend as much as time possible with them.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received as a parent?
It’s not advice I have been given directly by someone, but by observing my relationship with my mum who is very protective (I’m an only child!): I have learnt to let my kids be. My role is to be here to help them to evolve and be happy in their life. It’s not always easy, as they are still young…
Give us your essential new mama advice that might never occur to other women!
It might sound stupid but it took me some time to realise kids are growing way too fast, so try to enjoy as much as you can and be more flexible with your routines and rules. Like if they come over and sleep in your bed I think it’s ok because one day before you know it they won’t even want to be in the same room with you.
As a mama I wish I were better at…
Being more patient and calm.
What’s your favourite family ritual?
Anything as soon as we are together!
I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about….
Where am I?! And is someone coming to pick up a cake?
My favourite moment of the day is…
When the boys go to bed and I have no work to do so I can sit down and relax a bit…
Thank you so much for your time, Azizah. And thank you to the amazing talented Irina Nilsson Photography for the gorgeous (and delicious) snaps!