This month’s That Mama is financial services agency director and mother of two Cass Naomi Poh
Hands up, mamas: do you think you could work day in and day out with your partner? Not only does this month’s That Mama, Cass Naomi Poh run a financial consulting firm with her husband (her name’s on the shingle, though. You go, boss lady!), but she also makes sure to include her children, Tyler (6) and Tyra (3), in her daily work day. We caught up with Cass and her kids to learn more of her strategies for maintaining work-life balance, and to hear more about their favourite spots to eat and play (we are always up for new kid-friendly restaurant suggestions!). If you’re ready to kick 2019 off on a high note, mama, Cass’s tips are a great place to start!
Can you tell us a little about yourself, your career and your family?
I am the director of a financial consultancy agency. My hubby and I manage this together, and our children are very much a part of our business. Anyone who knows me will readily describe me as a highly energised person, always ready for new adventures in life. I am full of passion, and strongly believe that life should be exciting.
Can you talk us through your career pre- and post-baby?
I was a workaholic before I had my children; I’ve always been a high achiever at work. Most days, I would readily spend 12 hours with my business. To make it up to myself, I’d go for 4 – 6 holiday trips a year. Today, my business and family are my number 1 priority together. I’ve learned to be more efficient at work, and have ‘wrapped’ my long working hours around my children’s timing. Right now, I’m planning for the next phase of growth for my business in 2019.
How did you get back into the swing of things after having kids?
Being able to do many things at any one time is never easy. Seriously I can’t, but I am very good at planning and prioritising things. The very first change I had to agree to was time allocation between family and work. From there, the rest is easy. I key everything into my Google Calendar – work meetings, dinner with parents, gym and manicure etc. I stick to the timing. In no time, everything starts to fall back as it was before, except now it all revolves around my children. Vaccinations, classes, birthday parties. When they fall ill, I will adjust my schedule just to be with them.
How do you maintain an identity separate from your children?
Actually I don’t. I am very much the same person at work and with my children. I also involve my children in most of my activities. They are an integral part of my life.
How has having children changed the way you define work?
I love the work I do. I don’t think having children has in anyway compromised my business. I want to be there for them in any way possible. Simply put, I just moved my business plan back by 2 years.
How do you save time? What are your organisational tricks and tips?
I used to carry a planner everywhere I went. Today with technology, I’ve learned how to use the Google Calendar. I plan as far as months ahead, including my weekly gym training with my personal trainer.
To be efficient, I will also schedule catch-ups with friends or work meetings alongside my children’s activities. When I drop them for classes, I will arrange schedule around the same area. This has helped me save plenty of time for personal things.
I wish I had more time for…
Definitely myself. Pottery classes, spa, events are currently luxuries which I hardly have time for. These are usually my second priority after my family and business.
I always feel saner after…
A good workout, a glass of wine or a hangout with my girlfriends. I love music, and music always recharges me.
What part of Singapore do you live in? What do you like about it?
I live in Seletar. It’s a quiet estate largely with low-rise buildings. I love the shophouses around that have been there for years. I am also very blessed with wonderful neighbours whom I can readily entrust my children to.
Read more: Fun things to do with the fam in Seletar
Favourite kid-friendly activity in Singapore?
Going to the park is our favourite activity. Anytime in the evening if there’s nothing much, we will just grab the children’s kick scooter and off we go. Two of our favourites are Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden, which my children love to spend exploring, and Sembawang Park. The children love the open space by the sea, where they can scoot about and the ‘battleship’ playground.
Favourite kid-friendly restaurants in Singapore?
Japanese has always been our comfort food, likewise for both my kids. Our all-time favourite is definitely Sun with Moon at Wheelock Place. The kids’ menu set comes with good variety, and is served on a fun plate in the shape of an airplane or shinkansen. The service staff are always friendly and attentive.
Favourite family-friendly holiday spot in Asia?
We love going to the beach, and Bali is a place I am familiar and comfortable with. It is just a short flight away, has great food and most importantly, the locals are friendly. We love areas like Seminyak and Canggu for their wonderful beaches and laid-back feel, and there are so many things both the adults and kids can explore.
Do you have any tips for keeping the romance alive in your relationship?
I believe that in any family with children, virtually everything revolves around them. From dining to vacation plans, daily routines and weekend activities, often we spend more time with and on them than our husbands. To keep our romance alive, I try to be proactive with little things like writing notes to him, sending cards on our anniversary, surprising him with little gifts etc. I will also ensure that we go on vacation annually with just the two of us. At the least, a hug or kiss every day is a must.
Favourite date night restaurants?
We do not really have any personal favourites. Depending on our mood and occasion, we’re usually open to trying out new experience. The last thing both of us enjoyed and are likely to return again is Quayside Isle on Sentosa. The atmosphere is just perfect at night.
Do you have any tips for working mamas in Singapore?
Time management is key for working mamas. After a day’s work, our ‘second shift’ starts with our family. Planning and scheduling is key to maximise your time. And for me it is important to allocate time to ourselves. Every woman needs that.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received as a parent?
Be contented. As a parent, I’ve learned that you can never give enough of anything to your children. Everyone is at a different stage of life, in different situations and capacities. You can only give your children the best within your ability. Whatever you do for them, you do have to teach them to appreciate.
Read more: Fostering Gratitude and Reducing Entitlement in Kids
Give us your essential/new mama advice that might never occur to other women
Start it right by setting aside time to just yourself. It is not easy being a first time mama, as the new experience can be overwhelming and daunting at times.
As a mama I wish I were better at…
Playing with my children. Children are always exploring and discovering themselves, and through play they learn. As a parent, that requires a lot of energy! Especially after a day’s work, there’s only so much energy I can muster up to play with them…
What’s your favourite family ritual?
Our weekly ritual: the Sunday breakfast party on our balcony. I love beautiful things. I love setting up the balcony for the children in different ways, getting them involved in the preparation and the time we spend together is so precious that it’s become a ritual for all of us now.
I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about…
I don’t. I hardly have 6 hours of sleep every night, its too precious to be awake!
My favourite moment of the day is…
Every day, I most look forward to picking my children up from school. I love them coming to me with joy, the little hugs and kisses from them always give me that warm within that everything is alright.
Thank you so much, Cass & kids! And thank you as ever to the super talented Irina Nilsson Photography for the spectacular snaps!