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British Montessori, Ampang
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Choo Choo Train Baby & Child Care Centre
Odyssey, The Global Preschool (Mont Kiara)

The One With the Loose Ribbons

by on 01/06/2014 4766

I parked my car with a screech as soon as I spotted the only vacancy in the parking basement and soon made a dash into the lobby of the tower which housed my office. With the two strings from the bow of my left heel dangling loosely off its centre in momentum with my urgency, I looked as if I was running into the delivery room to give birth.

Except that my urgency had to do with being 5 minutes late for the office meeting chaired by the BOSS. And that five minutes tardiness had everything to do with getting into bed a tad too late the night before because the older kids were sitting for a school exams and we had to go over some revisions. Well… ok, honestly we also had some awesome snacks time laughing in the kitchen over the toddler’s antics. Then we played some board games together and of course we also chatted A LOT before their bed time. I mean, you can’t exactly call it a crime when a working mom is trying to spend some quality time with all of her three kids, can you?

Finding balance is the key to a working mom’s success at work and at family, but it’s easier said than done. What balance can we boast of when work load makes us come home only late in the evening and we then pitifully eat the leftover dinner all by ourselves while our kids have had their dinner lovingly prepared by our family helper two hours earlier? What quality of family life can we say there is when our kids get sent to professional after-school care into the late afternoon because we are at work during those critical hours when they need to finish their school assignments?

Wisdom has it that a family that eats together stays together.

Yet, working mothers, especially full time workers, often face the guilt that they neglect their family and children somewhat in family meal time because of work commitment. My solution is, if it’s not possible to have every meal together with your kids, try to work around having at least a family snack time together in the late evening. Get the kids involved as you prepare a healthy snack to savour together over a family-favorite TV programme or reading time. Or, if the school is near your work place and your superior is flexible with lunch hour, try to surprise the kids with a visit during recess time with a hand-made sandwich cut with cute cookie cutter – truly a surprise that is prepared with love. The kids will be thrilled to see you and would even be so proud to show you off to their friends.

Working mothers can sometimes neglect the primary needs of our child to have proper rest and playtime built into their daily lives just because we feel guilty for not being able to raise academic superstars. A friend of mine who is a single mother with a demanding job recently called me to recommend a private tutor for her Standard One child despite having sent him to an after-school care every day until the evening. She noticed that her son didn’t seem to pay much attention to his homework and lacks interest to study at home.

Much as I reminded her that her boy was still a young child who has barely made the adjustment from honeymoon time in kindergarten to homework-heavy primary school, and that he was probably feeling very tired being in a formal learning institution whole day from 7am to 6pm at the tender age of 7, my friend insisted that his time spent at all these school and tuition centres was still not producing the good grades she wanted to see in his academic achievement. We must be able to see that academic results, especially when the kids are young, do not necessarily guarantee their future success and as we push them too much to compete in the world expecting that they work as hard as grownups do, we often neglect the fact that our children thrive best with sufficient rest and playtime and having us as their coach instead of someone else.

Working mothers may also miss out on the social and emotional needs of their children if they are too busy with work.

I recently learned from my 12 years old son that one of his classmates is constantly talking about death as an escape route because his mom is too busy with work. The other one has attempted running away from his home because he was trying to get some attention from both his working parents who are separated. Pleased as I was that my son chooses to spend some time watching over these friends by cheering them on in school, I realised that children are very gullible as well as vulnerable to the influence of social media, TV show and negative influences to resolve their issues. We need to pay attention to their social networking such as who they have befriended or spend time to listen to them otherwise they would so often find their own wrong solutions to end their problems especially when we are too busy to provide any.

As working mothers, we really can’t have it all but we can strive to do the best that we can in order to achieve work-family balance.

In my little family, we dedicate time to do family activities together such as cycling, swimming, local travelling, cooking and board games night. While I cannot enjoy my daily dinner with them due to my office hour and travel time, I make it a point to make it up with plenty of chat and play time together each day. We also correct them when they are wrong, affirm our love for them and pray together as a family so that each one goes to bed renewed with acceptance and love.

I will never be able to get ahead much in my career or enjoy the rewarding financial success that come with career advancement because I have chosen to prioritise my children and my family at this season of life.

Yes, I do have my professional dreams, but I will always be a mom first then only a career woman.

Who cares about the loose ribbons on those heels anyway?

About the Author:

A full-time working mom (FTWM) who believes she can laugh and hug better than she can cook, Doreen Phang is the image of modern day FTWM. Juggling work, wife duties and 3 beautiful children, Doreen is a committed mother who wants to make sure she gives everything she can for her children despite a busy schedule.


Read more about her antics and adventures in Seven2SevenMom Blog