If you’ve never experienced the gorgeous all-natural beauty products from local company Human Nature, mamas, you’ve truly been missing out! We’re thrilled to introduce this month’s That Mama, Christine Buyco-Sy, Human Nature’s Director and the driving force behind its sustainable mission to support small farmers in the Philippines. From tear-jerker quotes to ace multi-tasking tips, her interview is a treasure trove of mama wisdom…
Can you tell us a little about yourself, your career and your family?
I’m Christine Buyco-Sy, an architect originally from the Philippines. My husband (who is also Filipino) and I moved here 10 years ago when I took my Master’s Degree in Urban Design at National University of Singapore.
I started my own blog, www.a-natural-mom.com, as a passionate advocate of natural birth, breastfeeding and natural parenting. I had wonderful experiences giving gentle birth to my two daughters (using Lamaze and Hypno-birth), and having breastfed my firstborn (who is now 4) I continue to breastfeed my 3-year old daughter.
Through my blog and my online shop www.humannature.com.sg, I hope to encourage moms to make informed choices and empower them to listen to their bodies and instincts.
Can you talk us through your career pre- and post-babies?
Working as an architect meant long hours, a tight schedule and travel, so I decided to work part-time when I gave birth to my first daughter.
When daughter number two came along, I knew that I had to stop work. My husband and I didn’t have the support of an extended family and daycare was not really an option for us. I wanted to be hands-on and savour these precious and fleeting formative years, so I became a full-time stay-at-home Mom (SAHM).
However, fate had more wonderful plans for me when I stumbled upon Human Nature, a very affordable range of genuine natural products and, most importantly, a social enterprise that was established to primarily help poor farmers in the Philippines. I had my AHA! moment and here I am, a bonafide mamapreneur/ WAHM, running an online shop and distributing to retail stores.
How did you get back into the swing of things after having children?
I was already pregnant with my second baby when my firstborn was only 11 months old, and just six months after my second daughter was born we “discovered” Human Nature. Before I knew it, I was insanely juggling two very young kids and a start-up business. Everything happened so fast that I never really had the chance to sit down and think it over!
I’m very flexible and adaptable to changes, so everything worked out just fine. It helps that I’m also energetic. My husband always jokes that our very active kids got it from me.
How do you maintain an identity separate from your children?
To be honest, I had a hard time answering this question because I am very proud of my identity as a mom and a mamapreneur. Maybe I’m inherently maternal and really don’t have that need to maintain a separate identity.
I know and have read a lot of articles about how a mom/woman could lose her “identity” being engulfed by the everyday mundane stuff of being a mother and a wife. But that’s not the case for me. My identity as a mom is my driver and motivator. Even in my business dealings I end up talking about my children!
I believe we undergo phases in our lives and nothing stays the same for a long time. From a satisfying career as an architect and urban designer (where I still get to do a project from time to time), I became a stay-at-home mom and am now a mamapreneur and work-at-home mom. Life is organic and I embrace opportunities FULLY as they come along. At the end of the day, these all make up my identity!
How has having kids changed the way you define work?
Work for me before kids was all about my career and what I wanted to achieve and accomplish for myself. After kids, it definitely became a juggling act. Now, I have to “compromise” my targets to balance work and family life.
It can become frustrating at times because I set out milestones and sometimes fall short because I feel guilty that I’m not spending enough time with my family. I am reminded by what a fellow mamapreneur aptly said: “Small children, small company. Big children, big company.” I guess that’s something to look forward to!
How do you save time? What are your organisational tricks and tips?
There will never be enough time so identifying the most important tasks and prioritising is the key. It works to plan the day ahead to maximise time, but also be flexible enough to reschedule if things don’t go according to plan. Personally, sitting down and itemising tasks – from top priority down – works best for me. Knowing concretely what needs to be done eliminates the feeling of being overwhelmed and just makes me feel on top of things.
As moms, we are inherently good at multi-tasking and we can certainly use this to our advantage. I get the most out of my day if I can creatively integrate tasks while looking after them. I bring my daughters to the market with me and we learn about different vegetables, fruits, etc… and we do counting on Human Nature’s inventory!
I wish I had more time for…
My kids (without my mind wandering to work!); reading books; and playing the piano.
Favourite activity with the kids in Singapore?
Having breakfast at Coastes Sentosa to enjoy morning sun, sea breeze and sand on our feet.
Favourite kid-friendly restaurant in Singapore?
Coastes, Marché … The most relaxing place for us is actually at home. I love preparing healthy dishes for the family.
Favourite family-friendly holiday spot in Asia?
Since the girls were born, we have been traveling at least twice a year back home to the Philippines. We have yet to travel to another country (except of course to nearby Bintan and Legoland in Malaysia) because we always look forward to time with our families — the kids most especially yearn to see their ever-doting grandparents and play with their cousins.
Activity that I do not love to do but do it anyway because my kids love it…
Going to playgrounds.
Do you have any tips for keeping the romance alive in your relationship?
It’s cliché but you really do have to make time alone with each other. Even just a dinner at a nice restaurant, to reminisce, re-connect, and plan for exciting new things ahead.
Favourite date night restaurants?
My Little Spanish Place in Bukit Timah. It’s very cosy, the food is great and we especially love that we can just walk there from our house. Beats the weekend night traffic and the hunt for a parking space.
We also love visiting buffets at different hotels. Sometimes with limited time, we don’t have to worry about what to order and waiting time (in most cases, I’m already ravished after running from errand to errand with the kids and business just so I could get to this date night!).
Do you have any tips for aspiring “mamapreneurs” and other working mamas in Singapore?
We always have that inner voice that speaks of our deepest longings. It gets to a point to stop over-analysing and JUST DO IT.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received as a parent?
It’s actually from my hypno-birth teacher. She said that if you want to change something in your child, you have to look at yourself first and see what needs changing.
Give us your essential new mama advice that might never occur to other women.
You really have to pursue what it is that makes your spirit alive. Only then can you give MORE of yourself to others, and to your children.
My most humbling mama moment was…
When my firstborn was placed in my arms for the very first time. I suddenly had this tiny human being and the feeling was overwhelming. A quote that captured exactly how I feel is:
“Making the decision to have a child — it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” ― Elizabeth Stone
What’s your favourite family ritual?
Our family co-sleeps on two beds in one room. After a long day, everyone is finally on the bed and we read a book and go through the events of the day.
My favourite moment of the day is…
Just after lunch, when the girls are having a noon nap, and I’ve had a very productive morning. I can just lounge on the sofa with a good book, relax and re-charge for the next half of the day.
Thanks Christine! And a huge thanks to the wonderful Gunilla of Sugarlight Photography for the gorgeous pics!