Ever since I came out on my own, one of the most common questions I get from curious customers goes something like this;
“You’re a mum of two? How DO you cope?”
Having been in this line for a while, the most straightforward and realistic answer would be; ‘it’s not easy’.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m absolutely in love with my two daughters, and I think the world of them. That being said, working and raising kids at the same time has to qualify as one of the most challenging tasks God set for women in this world. Calling it a balancing act would be an understatement!
Being a business owner and a mum makes one a reasonably good juggler.
Here’s a glimpse into a normal day for me;
7 a.m. – The day begins! Before the sun even comes up, I would be up, preparing the kid’s lunchbox, while the two young ones are groggily stumbling out of bed. After some hair-combing, and dress-straightening, its a trip to school, where I would drop them off for the day.
9 a.m. – Next stop: Fabric shops. I’ve noticed that the best time to do material shopping is in the morning, before every one else makes their way to the commercial areas. A quick drive to an infamous textile road in KL, and before you know it, I’d be merrily picking my way through bales and bales of cloth! Having done the necessary scrutinizing, I’m off to my workshop, to supervise the production line of gowns and such.
11.00 a.m. – Just about to reach lunch time. I finally make my appearance at my shop in Publika, where I open up for the day. After having settled down, and looked over some administrative matters, I begin my client-facing time – with lunch appointments! Normally, I would break the afternoon fast with friends or clients, but on many occasions, I’ve had to skip lunch to rush off something or other. I’m extremely grateful for days when I get to eat lunch!
1.00 p.m. (approx) – Here’s where the fun starts. Depending on the day, I would either be meeting and discussing with clients, consultations, performing fittings, or doing some embroidery or handiwork. The afternoons literally just fly past, and its a non-stop 5-6 hours of activity. Before you know it, its already evening, where the day quietens down (somewhat), and I get to take a quick breather in between things.
I spend quite a fair bit of time doing the hands-on work – which I find relaxing, in its own way.
8.00 p.m. – Dinner time! I would try my utmost best to head back home and join my family for dinner, a meal with the kids and hubby, to catch up with the day’s events. Like most mothers, this is the time when I would review my kid’s homework, and put on the teacher cap for the night. Having performed the educator role, I come to point of the day that I enjoy the most; reading to my kids. Just before they sleep, I would pick out a book, and read stories to them. We end up chatting amicably for a while, before I flip the light switches off, and they drift of to slumberland.
11.00 p.m. – But the day doesn’t end here! Since its the quietest time of the day (the rest of the household would have gone to bed by now), I take this opportunity to do most of my administrative work, i.e. sketching, paperwork, replying emails, etc. Here’s where I sit up straight in front of my PC and get down to business. Only after plowing through pages of sketches, and clicking ‘send’ to my last email reply, do I turn off my PC, and get ready to call it a day, at approximately 2 a.m.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
Clocking in 4-5 hours of sleep a day is no joke, since one needs sufficient rest to run around and get things done. How do I do it? Here’s a list of must-haves (to me, anyway) that helps to ensure that I don’t burn myself out too fast.
1. A Supportive Husband/Family
As much as this is a no-brainer, I can’t emphasize this enough. I am truly blessed to have a family, an awesome mother inlaw and understanding husband who understands the trials and tribulations of a working mum, and tries their very best to accommodate, help and encourage. It really helps, that, after a long day, there’s a sympathetic ear to listen to grouses, and being the joker that my husband is, provide enough entertainment and humour to laugh the day’s worries away!
2. Vegetables, Fruit Juice, and Other Diet Considerations
The choice of food is a real determinant in making sure that your body has enough energy to last the day. I begin every morning with a glass of juice (akin to some people’s cup of joe), which literally gives me a kick start for the day! Also, I ensure that I have eat enough vegetables, and avoid fatty/fried foods (Popeye would be extremely proud of me).
I may not be all that old, but I try to steer clear of the abovementioned, for the simple reason that it tires me out even faster than work ever could. Sure, it may be tempting to stay on at the glamorous party till the ‘wee hours of the morning, but I know that it comes at a cost. Furthermore, partying tends to lead to burnout, something which I will try to avoid for as long as I can! Living healthy is paramount to being a working mum, and by practicing restraint, it normally pays off in the long run.
4. …. Passion!
At the end of the day, I believe that I can do what I do because I love what I do. Its the sense of responsibility that drives me to charge through the day, and its the passion for my work that keeps me chugging on till the finish line. Somehow, despite the occasional mind-numbing weariness that can result from a overly stressful day, I still find the challenges exciting. Nothing beats the Wow! Factor I feel when I see the delighted smile on the face of a bride-to-be when she tries on her dream dress for the first time.
So, working mums out there, what drives you?
With much love,