With five days a week dedicated to work, it can sometimes feel like there’s never enough time. Yet, the chores and your children’s need for attention don’t ebb. How then can working mothers — they make up two-thirds of families in Singapore! — make sure they don’t drop the ball? Here are five ways I manage time as a working mum, and I hope these tips can work for you too.
- Children’s love language – time
Young children’s love language is time spent. Time spent to listen to them, to chat with them, to do the things they love. Be cognisant of what is your child’s love language and try to meet their needs accordingly. Both my boys are so different in this aspect! The elder one loves to have conversations saying “Mama, do you know… Mama, today….” The younger one loves physical contact. He enjoys sitting on my lap, doing somersaults on the bed and holding my hand as we go for walks around the neighbourhood.
That email at work can wait, that pile of dishes can wait, and that load of laundry can wait. However, your child’s thoughts and ideas on a subject matter, and them being in a mood for a book, or a song, or dance cannot wait. I have been very blessed to witness most of my sons’ important milestones, their first steps, their first word, their first try of certain foods and their first time on a scooter or a bike. These are moments that I cherish forever as mum!
- Guard mealtimes and bedtimes
Mealtimes are great for the family to come together, to share about the day and have quality time to bond over food. This is the time where we like to share interesting anecdotes of the day. Something that I do with my family is sharing about one good thing and one bad thing that happened. It sheds a lot of light on the child’s perspective on a given circumstance.
Bedtimes are times where we wind down and share a book or story. Children tend to be the most vulnerable when they are drifting off to sleep. In a semi-drowsy state, they share thing about themselves that parents do not tend to pick up when they are out and about.
- Learn to say no to social gatherings
As a mother of 2 boys, I am keenly aware of the energy required to keep them engaged. Birthday parties and play dates frequently offer some respite. However, we make a conscious choice — albeit a tough one — to be selective about the social gatherings we attend in order to enjoy our time with our sons. Weekends should be family time to build memories and make it count! My husband and I make it a point to take the boys outdoors at least one of the 2 days in the weekend. We like to go to zoo, a park, the beach or take nature walks. Our favourites are park connectors and Sungei Buloh nature reserve. We also like to explore new places, like going to a farm. Once we even went to SPCA to see if we can be involved in some community work for the animals. It was a great chance to teach our son about giving back to the community.
- Be present
Many things can be outsourced — chores and errands, for example. Parenting, however, should not. Personally I would ensure that for my younger son, as long as I am at home, I’m in charge of routines like feeding, showering and putting him to bed. For my elder son, I make it a point to cook his favourite meals every now and then. I send him to and from school. I treasure conversations with him as these are times that I’m alone with him without his younger brother vying for my attention.
Parents, it is alright to feel too overwhelmed or stretched in different directions with many things calling out for your attention at the same time. For me, it is a constant process of learning, unlearning and relearning how to be the best mum to my boys. It took me 6 years of experimenting to find these 5 ways that have worked for me and my family. If it gets too overwhelming, take that day off, check yourself into a spa or go for that yoga class, then try and try again!
We've more tips for you over at our guide called The 101 of Parenting.