1. SAY “NO” TO MUMMY GUILT
“When you become a mum, it’s easy to feel guilty about everything you’re doing – or not doing – for your child, especially if you’re a working mum. I’m lucky because I have a flexible schedule; some of my mummy friends aren’t so fortunate – they feel the guilt much more,” muses Jamie.
Which is why the chatty 37-year-old, whose daughter, Alysia (Aly), is almost four, wants everyone to banish mummy guilt once and for all, although she’s no exception to the rule. “I was presenting the Lions XII matches this year, and had to travel every other weekend. That was when the guilt hit the hardest.”
So how does she deal with it? “I tell myself that I’m working to contribute to Aly’s future. Work also keeps me sane, and lets me keep my own identity while being a mum. When I’m home, I find myself so caught up with things like having to throw the best birthday party or worrying that Aly can’t speak Mandarin well. If I only have her welfare to think about, these become the most important things in life, and it’s not healthy for both of us.”
2. CREATE INTERACTIVE MOMENTS WITH YOUR CHILD
It’s okay to let your children watch television or play a game on the iPad – within reason – if you’re busy or too tired to play with them after work. Even so, try to engage them in conversation to have more meaningful interactions with them.
“For example, if she’s watching a cartoon about a brown bear, I’ll say: ‘Hey Aly, doesn’t this brown bear look like your brown bear? Do you like what he’s wearing?’ That lets her know that I’m still paying attention to her.”
3. YOUR KIDS DON’T ALWAYS NEED YOU
Admitting to being a helicopter parent – one who hovers over the kid constantly – in Aly’s first year, Jamie says it took a while before she learnt to relax. “Aly was born premature, so I was anal about making sure that she only ate organic food. As she got older, I was lucky if she ate half of what I gave her (laughs). That made me realise that she needed to grow into her own person.”
Seeing Aly interacting with others and making friends at preschool also gave Jamie the confidence to let go. “I read books on parenting and learnt from my friends’ examples, and saw that giving Aly space to play on her own, or with friends, boosted her imagination and helped her not to be so ‘sticky’ with me.”
4. STAY IN TOUCH WITH YOUR GIRLFRIENDS
Between juggling work, motherhood and www.mums.sg (her online shopping and community platform for mothers), Jamie says she hardly has time for anything else. But one thing she does carve out time for is a monthly girls’ night out with her closest friends.
“In 10 years’ time on a Friday night, your kids aren’t going to be hanging out with you; when you ask them where they are, they’ll ignore your texts! (Laughs) It’s crucial to maintain your friendships – this will not only help you cope with empty nest syndrome, you’ll also be emotionally healthier.”
5. BE ON GREAT TERMS WITH YOUR HELPER
Jamie’s secret: Make sure your helper first knows that you care for her. “My current helper – who’s into her third year with us – and I have an understanding that we’re all going to have off-days. If I’ve been unreasonable with her, I’ll apologise; if she’s done something wrong, she’ll do the same. She has a daughter back home, so I allow her to have an old laptop to Skype with her whenever she misses her.”
In return, Jamie has nothing but praise for how her helper has made her life easier by taking the initiative to ensure that her household runs as smoothly as possible.
6. DON’T TALK ABOUT THE KIDS ALL THE TIME
Try not to let your conversations with Hubby revolve only around your children, so that when they’ve all grown up, you won’t find that the two of you have nothing much to talk about. “My hubby Thorsten and I still go on date nights once a week, and we make it a point not to talk about Aly when we’re out. This keeps the focus on us – what we’ve been up to when we’re not together, our work lives, interests and so on,” says Jamie.
7. A LITTLE STRESS CAN BE GOOD FOR YOU
Oddly enough, Jamie likes being stressed. She explains: “Mild stress helps me power through the day – like how stage performers appreciate having some nerves to give them the adrenalin to get through
But too much stress isn’t good for health – you need to have a routine to help you unwind. In Jamie’s case, she enjoys hitting the gym for a quick run, or going out for a good meal and drinks.
8. POWER NAPS ARE ALL YOU NEED SOMETIMES
If you’re really tired, don’t force yourself to stay awake because you feel bad for not spending time with your kids, says Jamie. You’ll end up being crabby with them.
“When I was hosting the World Cup 2014 shows for Mio TV, I went to work at 3am every day. By the time I got home, I just wanted to sleep. But Aly would want to play; I had to explain to her that I needed a good rest first, so I could be a better playmate later.”
This article was originally published in Simply Her December 2014.