Earlier this week we featured some advice for mamas employing helpers for the first time. But there are plenty of mamas in Singapore who go it alone, and we wanted to hear how they make it work. Please welcome the hilarious Jasmine Han and Shelly Holly to share their wisdom and advice.
“How do you manage without a helper?!”
This will be the million, million, millionth time that we’ve answered this one.
As for Shelly Holly……
Coming to Singapore I left my full-time career and part-time (live out) nanny to become a full-time mom. For the first time ever I had no family, no friends, no cleaner, no car, no fast food delivery, a husband that worked very long hours and, to top it off, a super tiny and crappy combo washer/dryer….what kind of 24/7, no-paycheck job had I signed up for?! I can assure you this was not the lush expat mom life I had read about in blogs.
I realised very quickly what it was to be a full time mom, which, by the way, I found to be about a million times harder than being a working mom. Even though it was a huge change and challenging, I also appreciate that I have been able to raise my son and that I am the person who has been there to watch him grow and to see him learn and discover new things, even if that is poop in his diaper or colouring on the walls. I wouldn’t change a thing (that’s a lie, I’d change a lot of things, but I can’t change the past and some of those things make good stories in a book).
A few things I have learned as a mom in Singapore: a car is not really necessary, grocery delivery is amazing, play dates with fun kids and relaxed moms are essential, meet as many mommy friends as you can (they all eventually leave so sadly I rotate friends like ice cream flavours in my freezer), friends quickly become your family so rely on them when needed, and nursery school for toddlers is absolutely amazing and is good for the child and the mom.
First of all, I have my mum who sits with the kids two afternoons a week for a few hours while I teach my classes. Then my hubby comes home to tend to the kids when I teach in the evenings (twice a week) and one morning each weekend.
Second, don’t be too fussy. Your home does not need to look super organised or well stocked up all the time. Just so long as it is clean and the family doesn’t go hungry or thirsty (for too long), that’s alright. I do the floors and countertops three times a week, send out the towels and sheets to be laundered (delegate and pay if you can afford it!) and swiffer lightly a few times each day. It only takes a few minutes.
My husband is very domesticated as well, so that helps a great deal. He is my Clark Kent! Lastly and most importantly (luckily), I am able to work from home (or any other place with an Internet connection) most of the time. I can also take my kids to the studio when I’m looking after reception and there are no classes running.
Being able to be a hands-on mummy is a privilege. It is what you choose to make of it. Some may look at it as a chore for the majority of the time, others may see it as a joy for the majority of the time. I am probably one of the luckier ones as I see it as the latter. As for my “work”, the studio is a very important part of my life. It’s not a job, it’s a joy as well. Once again I got lucky here in that I have a great team of people and we all work very well together . There’s plenty of moral support at all times. I am not one who needs time away from my kids, my husband or my work, as I see joy in what I do.
So balancing is pretty simple, just prioritise what is important to you. My biggest thing is to surround myself with the right people, like-minded people, people who can handle hardship, who are emotionally independent, and have some sort of common sense!