10 years ago, I thought that I will always be single and free. Free to make my choices, free to go anywhere, free to choose a job that I really want without thinking of how much commitment it requires, free to be what I want to be. I didn’t even dream of getting married, much less of having my own child. I was a dreamer, a go-getter, and I was ready to conquer the corporate world.
But life had a more challenging and meaningful turn for me. To my family’s and close friends’ surprise, I got married and moved to a foreign land. It was probably the toughest time I encountered (before having a child). I was in Malaysia with no friends, no family (except my hubby and his relatives) and no job. I’ve never been jobless since 2002. Immediately after graduating, I was lucky to be hired for a job then I took a short break to take my board exam then got back to work. I got pregnant a few months after arriving in Malaysia in 2008. After giving birth in 2009, I excitedly hunted for a job and was lucky to find one early in 2010. I’ve been working since then.
Being a working mother is never easy. Wait, being a mother is never easy, period. Trying to balance work, life, marriage and motherhood is the toughest job that a woman can have. To be brutally honest, it is a love-hate relationship. I love working; I’m definitely a woman who enjoys a busy, challenging career. I enjoy the corporate world; I enjoy dealing with bosses, both difficult and easy. I enjoy accomplishing missions and I enjoy building teams. I became a brand manager at the age of 27, with several departments to run and manage. It was tough but I loved it. However, a job like this while being a mother at the same time can cause a painful toll on a person’s stress level and emotional condition.
Working for a very challenging work environment has caused an imbalance in my life. I found myself so stressed with work and I was barely spending good time with my son. There are even times when I would snap impatiently at him when he disturbs me. The sad part is I snap when he disturbs me at home and still doing work on my laptop. And he simply wants me to lie down with him while he tries to sleep. It was terrible. I was terrible and I was such a bad mommy.
And it’s not just work that gets in the way of not spending quality time with my son. Daily activities such as preparing him for school, taking care of him, bathing him, making his milk, washing clothes, cleaning the house, going to the market are tasks that consume any mother’s time. These barely leave sufficient time in a day to really do something fun and memorable with our child. And I’m only talking as a mother of one child, by the way. What about those with more kids? I’m sure it is even more challenging for those mothers. They need to prepare several kids for school, bathe and feed them, pack their snacks and bags, wash and iron their clothes…oh, it’s never-ending. How can we, as mothers, find or set aside good quality time for our child/ children?
It was a good chance that I encountered “Our Today’s Moments” from Friso Gold. Our Today Moments refers to the time we spend with our children, the time we set aside our daily to-dos and focus on “today”. In other words, it’s about us mothers making the effort to make every moment count with our kids.
When I participated in Friso Gold’s Mum Survey, I realized a lot of things:
- I don’t spend enough time to monitor my son’s progress in school
- I don’t really spend fun time with him on outdoor activities such as swimming or cycling
- I plan my child’s activities based on my free time and not based on what he needs or wants to do
- I rely heavily on technology such as television or iPad to keep my child occupied and not really planning for good activities for him
It’s really a struggle to keep everything in our lives in the right place and become a good mother. Trying to balance family and career is probably something we hear from a lot of people as one of the challenges in today’s life. It’s no surprise. According to survey findings:
- While the Malaysian mum spends an average of 6 hours 45 minutes with her children in a day and considers 60% of her time spent with her children as “quality time”, the working mum spends less time and considers a lower portion of her time spent with her children as “quality time”.
- Overall, a working mum spends about 2.5 hours lesser than a non-working mum or housewife with her children, and she considers only half her time with her children as “quality time”.
- More than half of the working mums surveyed also feel she does not spend enough time with her children.
While I admit that I try to be strict with my child and train him to be a disciplined person (this is very, very tough, trust me), I still want my child to see me as a friend, as his loving mother who will guide him through his journey of growing up, no matter how tough the challenges become.
At this time and age, everybody wants everything fast. We all want faster phones, faster internet, faster notebooks, faster cars (or actually, faster traffic), faster skin problem solutions, faster weight-loss and more. But there’s one thing that we should appreciate every step of the way at the right timing and pace, and that is our time with our children. Time already flies fast, and if you miss your child’s moments, those special times when he learned how to write his own name, when he learned how to cycle, to swim, to paint, to hug you and kiss you and tell you ‘I love you’, you will never get it back or reverse time to witness it again. And before you notice it, your child has already grown old enough to make his own choices.
One of the small things we can do with great love is to create Our Today Moments. Now. Let’s make every day or moment count for our kids. Let’s do something fun and memorable with our child. It can be something as simple as making paper planes, painting, drawing, reading, cycling together, swimming, writing his or her name, learning numbers and more. It doesn’t have to be a trip to Disneyland. Our child’s happiness may lie on simple things we do together with them and we don’t notice it.
So while we have the chance, let’s make precious time for our children. I believe there’s no such thing as ‘no time’ for our kids. We need to create it; don’t wait for time to be ‘free’. Because time is not for us to save but to use wisely.
To find out more about Friso Gold ‘Our Today’s Moments’, visit