Sharing from a mum…

Originally posted on HELP FSC’s website.

What is the single most difficult aspect of single parenting?

I think it varies from person to person. Being a mother with sole custody of my three children, I feel my difficult tasks are to discipline the children, help them in the healing process and keep this “special” family together.

At the time of my divorce, my three children were in their teens. Teens and adolescent years are by far the most difficult time for the parents and I had to do it all alone, as my ex-spouse was not keen in co-parenting. It has been almost three years since my divorce. I tried my best to make my children feel that we are still a family and we continue to do the things we used to do before the divorce.

To keep the family together I joined the Single Parent Support Group in my church called “HOPE”. We did the RAINBOWS programme together, at the same time my children got to interact with the other children from single parent families and they realised that they were not alone. We had many activities together with the support group such as ice-cream treats for the children, organising trips to the movies and arranging picnics and potluck parties during the festive season. My children “gel” very well with the other children, and we parents also became good friends supporting one another in our journey.

Letting my children know my whereabouts is also very important for me. I call them each time when I am late or have to detour to run some errands on my way home. I let them know in advance if I have to be out with my friends and remind them to take care of themselves. I call this phone management. I call very often to check if they have had their meals and done their homework. I teach my children that wherever they are and whatever they are doing, I have to be informed. I will then inform the other siblings so that they are aware of what is happening and thus, we will be able to plan activities around each other’s time.

I can proudly say that during the week, we spend almost every night eating dinner and preparing the meals together. It allows us to talk about work, school and friends. They do the washing up. This instills in them a sense of responsibility, independence and teamwork.

One way of scheduling special family time is by implementing family outing during the weekend, going to church, movies, plays or some public events together. I would give them a simple treat of chicken rice, dim sum or a fast food meal, which is what most children love to have. Sometimes they get a special supper!

Grocery shopping is another way we stay together as a family. We do it together. The children not only help to carry the shopping items, it also gives them a chance to buy their favourite tidbits and decide what meals they would like to have the following week.

My children care for one another. They are very willing to be involved in one another’s activities. When my eldest daughter performs in plays or dramas, we will all be there to support her. We will also attend school fun fairs or sports day as a family.

Sometimes I have to be a cool and hip mum by going to places they like to go and doing things they like to do like watching children movies, “The Incredibles”, going to the “Ballet under the Stars” or even to the disco. Like they say, if you cannot win them, join them!

I include physical exercise into my routine and my children join me for walks, cycling and swimming. My children are also involved in family birthdays, weddings and festive occasions as a form of re- affirming our culture. We still visit their paternal uncles and aunties as a family.

A family that prays together stays together. Every night we will say a little prayer together before going to bed. We are generous with our hugs and kisses among ourselves and we do that before we leave the house and when we get home.

As parents we must pass on the hope. With our children, we can beat the odds. We can raise healthy, confident children in a supportive and loving family environment. We can be a successful family!

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Appreciating Our Superwoman

This is the 3rd article in a series about and for working mothers.

by S. Jinaashini

Working mothers have a never ending list of things on their mind. Thinking about work at home and thinking about home at work is inevitable for them. But home and work are not the only things constantly on their mind. There are many things that they have to take care of such as finances, elderly parents and many more. Having said that, have you ever asked yourself what you can do to reduce the burden and responsibilities that lie upon her shoulder, which will eventually help to reduce her stress level? Here are 4 simple tips that can make your mother’s day much brighter.(Tweet this)

Tip 1: Let her take a break

Working mothers go through a lot of stress and anxiety trying to manage their work and family. Furthermore, having too little time for themselves to recover from a hard day’s work before going to work the following day can take a toll on their physical well-being as well. They are completely worn-out both physically and mentally at the end of each day and on a long run they would be just too tired to continue.

What you can do to help her is, allow her to take a break from all the work at home. Take over her duties and responsibilities for a few days in a month. Give her some time to rest and recuperate from all the stress that comes along with juggling both work and family life. Work on this as a family. Split her work with your family members. Get it done early and show her how much you care for her well-being once she is back from work. Doing such deeds once in awhile will surely lighten the responsibilities that she carries on her shoulders and also which mother doesn’t like coming home to no housework right?

Tip 2: Lend a listening ear

Mothers usually have a lot of stories to share with their loved ones especially about how their day had gone since day-break. Whether anything interesting happened or not they would have several stories to tell. Moreover, being able to share about her work load and stresses with family members through a discussion can help her to avoid bottling up all her feelings within. By discussing about her stresses with her family she will be able to free herself from the stressful thoughts and gain a peace of mind. This will enhance family life as well because the understanding between family members will improve allowing them to work to each other’s benefits. Discussions over dinner can also be a form of bonding between family members, leading to a family life rich in happiness and understanding.

Tip 3: Respect your mother

As said, it takes an amazing amount of strength to be a mother and even more to be a working mother. Having to meet deadlines at work, hence, staying till late and rushing back to spend the least bit of time possible with their family and to complete some piled up chores can be tearing them apart within. Wanting to be at two places at the same time and not being able to get one of them off their mind while at the other can be more of an emotional torture than anything else.

Furthermore, having to attend to other responsibilities apart from being a wife and mother, such as playing the role of a daughter to elderly parents, a sister to her sibling and a shoulder to her friends can be very draining. Despite facing all these struggles, not once would you have heard her complain about them. Although being stretched to her extremes she continues carrying out her duties to the best of her abilities and she deserves a lot of respect for that. Show her your respect by obeying her rules and meeting her expectations. Do the right thing at the right time to avoid disappointing her. Work hard to make her proud. Show her that you care because nothing can make her happier than knowing that it is worth going through all of these struggles for the family and most importantly appreciate her for all that she does.

Tip 4: Make her feel special

You don’t need to wait for special occasions to celebrate your mother’s achievements and to appreciate her. Bring her out for dinner at a restaurant or arrange a small family gathering to appreciate her contribution to the family. Buy her some flowers and write her a card to tell her how much you appreciate her. Something hand written would be much more meaningful as compared to something off the shelves. Allow her to take this time to catch up with her friends and extended family. This will give her an opportunity to relieve stress and get herself updated on what is going on around her. Opportunities like these will help her regain the strength to carry on with her daily routine of carrying out her responsibilities.

Research suggests that working mothers are seldom appreciated for their efforts and sacrifices. How many of us actually go out of our way to thank our mother and/ or wife everyday for their efforts to keep us happy? Whether verbal or by actions, an appreciation is all that is required to give our working mothers the emotional boost to carry on.

Conclusion

As Anurag Prakash Ray says, “I realized when you look at your mother; you are looking at the purest love you will ever know”. She showers you with the purest form of love and works extremely hard to provide the best for you. So, go on and appreciate the superwomen of your life for you are not who you are without them.

S. Jinaashini is studying Psychology Studies at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Singapore. We had the privilege of having her intern with us from March – July 2015.

Tokyo,JAPAN. Father and his children are watching a computer.

 

We are inviting families to express their gratitude to the working mother in their households. Capture it on video and send it to us.

The first 50 submissions will receive a $50 shopping voucher, compliments of the Far East Organisation, which can be used in any of their malls in Singapore.

Send your videos to admin@familylifefirst.org in either mp4 or avi format.

The only condition for the video is that all members of the family must be in it (excluding the working mother).

 

4 Coping Methods For Working Mothers

Working mother Antonia Hoyle Photo: SOPHIA SPRING

Working mother Antonia Hoyle Photo: SOPHIA SPRING

By S. Jinaashini

If it takes an amazing amount of strength to be a mother, then it would take twice as much strength to be a working mother, bearing the full load of responsibility both at work and at home. Thankfully, there are ways that a working mothers can make it easier. Here are four simple coping methods. (Tweet this)

Tip 1: Transitioning while in transit

(Tweet this)
As a working woman, you are likely to spend significant amounts of time transiting between home and work. How do you spend the hour or so? Apart from watching movies on your mobile device, connecting with friends on social media or catching a wink or two, you should also try transitioning while in transit. By this I mean to make that mental switch from being a working woman to a mother while travelling home so that by the time you step across the threshold of your front door you will be fully present and ready to be a wife to your husband and a mother to your children. Many who do not make the switch find themselves stuck in time (and space). They might be physically present at home but their mind and soul are still in the office.

Tip 2: Manage your Expectations

(Tweet this)
Not only does a working mother have an endless to-do list at work, she also keeps one, albeit an unwritten one, for the home. It comprises grocery shopping, doing the laundry, cleaning the house, making sure that the children have done their homework and more; each one equally important – and urgent. Recognizing that a working mother is not Superwoman, no one in their right mind could or would expect her to accomplish everything perfectly all the time. The only one who expects all to be done, and done well, is you, the Working Mom. .

Margie Warrell in a letter to working mothers (on Forbes.com) writes, “Your shoulds are a melting pot of social expectations, family pressure, often unspoken rules that we buy into it without realizing it. Our shoulds are shaped by our environment, which had seen them skyrocket in recent decades with the rise of so-called “parenting police” – experts that bombard us with advice on what a “good” parent should, and should not, do.”

So, you can either make your life, and that of those around you, really miserable by keeping up the unrealistic and unnecessary expectations, or you could cut yourself some slack and manage those expectations

Tip 3: Take time to Relax

(Tweet this)
Somewhere between your first job and your second (and I am referring to your roles as employee and mother), you ought to take time to relax yourself. You deserve it – and need more than you think.

Different people relax in different ways. For some, music is very effective in calming their hurried souls. Others take to exercise to expel the excess cortisol, a brain damaging chemical triggered by stress, from the body. The goal of relaxation is to distract yourself from the things that stresses you up, even if it is for a while. This respite activates the Parasympathetic Nervous System (or PNS) and re-establishes metabolic equilibrium in the body.
A relaxed mind is a clear mind; a rested body is a healthy body; and a restored soul is a happy soul.

Tip 4: Plan Quality time

(Tweet this)
The debate of whether quality time is possible without quantity is a perennial one. I personally cannot see what is the reason for the confusion. If you are doing something good and enjoyable, like spending time with your family, why wouldn’t you want to do more of it or make it last longer? Quality and quantity, with regards to time, is not mutually exclusive. It is not a question of “either, or” but “both”. The real question is frequency.

Every family wants to have quality family time. But once it becomes an obsession, the joy of it is lost. Let’s set the record straight: Family Time does not have to happen every week, or every month for that matter. You could plan one every quarter and that would be perfectly acceptable. The key is in planning it well and guarding it jealously – not letting anything interfere with it.

Activities for quality family time can vary from visiting places of interests such as Gardens by the Bay, Marina Barrage, the Night Safari and the Botanic Gardens, just to name a few. You could also go fishing at the Yishun Dam, walk on tree tops at MacRitchie, or volunteer with some charities. Here are 50 ideas that you can choose from.

Conclusion

As you continue on your journey as a working mother, remember this: “The best gifts in the world are not in the material objects one can buy from the store, but in the memories we make with the people we love.” – Amanda Boyarshinov

S. Jinaashini is studying Psychology Studies at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Singapore. We had the privilege of having her intern with us from March – July 2015.

Tokyo,JAPAN. Father and his children are watching a computer.

 

 

We are inviting families to express their gratitude to the working mother in their households. Capture it on video and send it to us.

The first 50 submissions will receive a $50 shopping voucher, compliments of the Far East Organisation, which can be used in any of their malls in Singapore.

Send your videos to admin@familylifefirst.org in either mp4 or avi format.

The only condition for the video is that all members of the family must be in it (excluding the working mother).

 

Meet The Real Superwoman

o-WORKING-MOTHER-facebook

This is the first in a series of articles for and about working mothers.

By S. Jinaashini

After eight hours (and usually more) at the office, a working mother’s job is far from being over. In fact, her primary task is just beginning. Now she has to meet the needs of her child (or children), her husband, and the house. What kind of woman would want to put herself through all that stress?

There are two reasons why a woman would want to be a working mother. The first reason has to do with “career”. Some women were already in the workforce before marriage and before childbirth. She was probably doing well and has aspirations of greater success. Assuming that her husband is also gainfully employed, they therefore are able to afford alternative childcare arrangements. The second reason is a more practical one. Some mothers have either remained or re-joined the workforce because they need the second income. As expressed by several working mothers, it is challenging for single income families to cope with the rising cost of living. The challenge is made more daunting with the birth of the first child. This, understandably, makes it necessary for both parent to work. But regardless of the reason for joining the workforce, a working mother is subjected to enormous physical and emotional stresses.

In the process of helping to provide for the family, working mothers sacrifice quality time spent with their kids. And this is a great sacrifice indeed. (Tweet this) In the words of Ms Maria Francis, a working mother herself, “You miss your child’s little developments.” Many working mothers could probably identify with Maria who feels “I’m reduced to a fleeting shadow.”

The lack of interaction between working mothers and their children causes the them to feel guilty; guilty that she is not being the mother that she ought to be, guilty that she is depriving the child of a normal childhood. As I speak with working mothers, there is almost nothing that can help alleviate this feeling of guilt except to quit the job and be a stay-home mom again.

Being a working mother – in other words, being a full-time employee and a full-time mother at the same time – is no mean feat, as you probably can imagine. To balance family and work is both physically and mentally exhausting. Family and work both share the first position in her list of priorities. Mothers, when asked to rank work and family, will always be at a lost for words; “both of them are equal, there is no second position” is their most common answer. But while both are of equal importance, working mothers can only devote to their families less than half the time given to their work.

Working mothers as compared to working fathers seem to posses much more guilt and anxiety when having to juggle between work and family. But why is there this difference? Working fathers are often seen to be coming home after a day at work to wind down and relax unlike working mothers. As for working mothers as much as they want to relax as well, their maternal instincts does not allow for that to happen. These maternal instincts push them to carry out other activities upon reaching home to ensure the upkeep of the house as well as the safety and good upbringing of the children. All these extra work will eventually take a toll on a mother’s physical health. There is only so much a person can physically handle. How many of us even know about all these struggles faced by working mothers? Children, household, finances, marriage stability, career, elderly parents and much more, there is no end to the list of things on their mind.

All these make the words of Amanda, a working mother herself, a hundred percent true: “It takes an amazing amount of strength to be a mother”.

S. Jinaashini is studying Psychology Studies at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Singapore. We had the privilege of having her intern with us from March – July 2015.