Career, Character & Soul, Family, Material Moms, Relationships, Self-Improvement, The Mothership

Don’t Try To Be A Super-Mum – Deborah Tan

Being able to “do it all” – that is something women of our generation seem to think we HAVE to do. And I think this is especially true for working mums. On one hand, they take pride in having a great career, on the other, they often frustrate themselves over trying to get their homes in order the same way they have done in the corporate world. Kids are, unfortunately, not as easy to file and sort like paperwork. Often, they throw curveballs that test our patience and make us throw our arms up in the air helplessly. So how do working mums do it without losing their sanity?

And, guess what? Their secret is actually in not trying to be a super-mum.

jule&kids“My husband had to talk me out of doing everything on my own”

How have you changed in your professional life now that you’re also a mother?
In the past, I attended more after-work events and would bring work home to do. Now, I don’t bring work home because I’m up earlier (thanks to kids who are up at 6am) and I’m at the office earlier too. I’m also more selective with the after-work events I go to.

I’ve also become more motivated. During office hours, I power through my tasks so I can knock off on time to get home to spend time with my kids. As a boss, I think I’m now a lot more calmer and patience with my staff – though I’m still demanding! Being a mum has made me a better team leader.

What are your tips for women who have to balance work and motherhood?
1. Accept help. Whether it’s from your husband, your mum, your mother-in-law, or your helper. When they offer to bathe the kids or feed them, let go and allow them to do it for you. There’s no need to be a “do it all”. I’m lucky to have a husband who’s a hands-on dad.

2. Take five. No matter what, spend some time on yourself. Whether it’s a quick manicure or drinks with friends. You’ll be a happier mum and a better colleague/wife/friend/daughter too.

3. Don’t get upset when they “reject” you. Always remember that you are their mummy. Spend time with them – even if it’s just something like taking them out for a stroll in the park. Don’t get upset if they grow close to the helper or when they “reject” you. Kids have their moods too.

image“I do not feel bad taking time off to attend to my family”

Does having kids affect the way you view your role as a team leader?
Being a mother tend to make you look at things from a different point of view. We handle disputes more calmly and are able to listen to all parties, ensuring everyone comes to an agreement and learn to play nicely in the adult sandbox called work. I also find myself more nurturing as a team leader and try my best to cultivate skills and talents, giving people the opportunity to grow when I can. I try not to stay in the office late unless absolutely necessary, instead, I get in earlier to finish my work on time. I do not feel bad taking time off to attend to my family.

What are your tips for women who have to balance work and motherhood?
1. Accept that you’ll always feel guilty as a working mum. Understand the reasons why you have chosen to remain in the workforce – financial independence, personal choice, etc. – and come to terms with the reason. Focus on being the best you can be at work and at home.

2. Switch off from work. No emails, no work calls. It’s easier said than done and I’m terribly guilty of this. But this said, don’t fall into the trap of “making up to your children”. When they misbehave, you still have to discipline them, whether you’re halfway across the world or exhausted from work.

3. Be part of a pro-family organisation. If you can, choose to be with an organisation that supports your role as a mum. Nothing is harder than having a boss and colleagues who think you are not contributing to the team when you have a child-related matter to attend to.

SONY DSC“I’m perpetually exhausted – it is quite a normal state for me”

How have you changed in your professional life now that you’re also a mother?
I’m perpetually exhausted – it is quite a normal state for me. I wake up early to send the kids to school and I go to bed late so I can finish my work. But being a working mother has helped me understand my customer better [Shu Ming is a director at Mothercare]. I’m constantly shopping in the name of “research”! As a mother myself, I am constantly thinking how to make the company relevant to other mothers so we can remain relevant to them in the long term.

What are your tips for women who have to balance work and motherhood?
First off, I admit I’m in a unique position as I only have one person to report to at work – my dad. But I’m constantly rushing and I don’t think I’m balancing … more like JUGGLING!
1. Have God in my life. Personally, having God in my life and a good domestic help you can rely on have helped me cope with my perpetually busy life. I wish I had better time management skills!

2. Know that life is unpredictable. I have learnt to accommodate the ups and downs. I try to tell myself to take things one day at a time, take time out and learn to relax. It is okay to watch trashy TV dramas and go for a long (boozy) lunch with friends.

3. Coffee. I drink 4 cups a day. Thank you very much.

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, Suits and has a great amount of respect for working mums. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.