updated 10 Jan 2011, 14:42
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Mon, Nov 15, 2010
The New Paper
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Stay-at-home mums? Not us
by Joanne Soh

YES we can.

This might have been a presidential campaign slogan by US President Barack Obama but it's also an encouragement for all working mothers.

Work-life balance can be attained - what is needed is proper planning and good time management.

Celebrity mums Evelyn Tan and Lina Ng are among those who've found such balance.

Both recently set up their own company, The House Of Mustard Seeds, offering Mandarin speech and drama enrichment programmes at The Little Skool-House pre-school centres.

"We do have our fair share of struggles for sure," Ng told The New Paper On Sunday.

"There are days when I wake up and don't feel like going to work, or when I don't enjoy motherhood." Tan agreed that parenthood can be a demanding 24-hour job, and is especially challenging for working mothers.

"There will be times where I feel frustrated that I'm not spending enough time with my children or husband," she revealed.

At the end of the day though, Tan said it all comes down to how you want to strike a balance and be accountable to both parties.

Ng, 36, has two boys aged four and six. Her third child is on the way.

The former actress worked as a kindergarten teacher before setting up the business with good friend Tan.

Ng prides herself as a "good planner".

"I think I manage my time really well. I can do the marketing, cook for the family, play with my boys and still have time to myself."

For Tan, she tried her hand at being a stay-home mother to her three children, aged five, three and one.

"I realised it wasn't for me," said the 36-year-old, whose two older children are in half-day childcare.

Having a business partnership with a fellow mother helped as they can "complement each other's schedules".

Both mothers take turns teaching performing arts on weekdays. They also offer music programmes, which are taught by other teachers they employ.

Each lesson is two hours long and is held in the late afternoons, a perfect time "as my boys will be having their afternoon naps and my maid will be with them", said Ng.

Tan added that being their own bosses also means they have a say in their schedules.

"For now, I teach two or three times a week. When my youngest child gets older and needs more attention, I can always scale down my involvement," she explained.

Tan believes that one can be creative with time management.

For instance, she would jog to the market in the mornings and her shopping bags would serve as weights on the way back.

"That's exercising and marketing done together."

Both Tan and Ng are certified early childhood teachers, and they create their own curriculum for their programmes. Certainly, being mothers themselves help.

Tan would try the lesson plans at home with her children, but she admitted that such trials are not effective at times.

"To them, I'm always the mother, never a teacher," she said.

Things may be plain sailing for them now but Ng admits that she foresees hiccups next year when her third child is born.

"I'm sure there will be struggles, especially finding time for myself," said Ng.

"Mothers need time to be by themselves to recharge and think of good teaching methods to raise their children."

Added Tan, with a laugh: "Yes, or we'll end up like mad dogs with screaming children."


This article was first published in The New Paper.

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