Calling Teh May Wan a “super mum” is by no means a stretch. The tireless mumpreneur cares for her two young daughters and runs her household on her own (she doesn’t have a helper) while her Indonesian businessman-husband is away for work during the week.
That’s on top of running her home baking business, Seraphina’s (www. seraphinacakes.wordpress.com), and hosting the occasional event.
With so much on her plate, it’s hard to imagine how May keeps everything running smoothly – and manages to look amazing while at it. The 34-year-old former model and VJ still looks as lithe as she did on MTV 10 years ago! We get her tips on how to juggle work and family seamlessly.
Manage your time effectively
“I can’t stress how important time management is. I plan my time carefully every single day, as I feel that it really helps to keep to a proper schedule,” she says.
Her day is typically jam-packed with activities: She is up by 6.40am to prepare her daughters, Leala, six, and Siena, four, for school, before tackling the household chores.
It’s then full-on mummy mode once the girls return home in the afternoon, until she tucks them into bed at 8pm. “If it’s been a particularly stressful day, you will probably find me on the couch at 8.30pm with a gin and tonic in hand,” she laughs. She spends the rest of the evening on administrative tasks for Seraphina’s, such as coordinating delivery timings.
The hardworking mumpreneur does most of her baking on weekends, as that’s when most of her orders come in. “I actually wish it wasn’t so, as I’d love to be able to devote my weekends to my daughters.
“I feel terrible whenever I have to tell them to occupy themselves because mummy’s busy in the kitchen. Whenever possible, I try to complete my baking by Saturday morning in order to spend as much time as possible with them,” she shares.
Have a good support system
“Even though my husband is often overseas, he’s very supportive of Seraphina’s and often offers his opinions, even if it’s something as simple as suggesting colour combinations for a cake,” says the self-taught baker.
Her father chips in whenever he can as well. “My dad lives in Kuala Lumpur, but he commutes here every seven weeks or so, and stays for about two to three weeks each time to help care for the little ones. This is probably when you’ll find me hosting and attending events – I’m usually too busy with the kids otherwise,” she says.
“My twin sister, Choy, who lives close by, also comes over on weekends to help entertain the girls, while my in-laws visit every six weeks. In that sense, I’m never fully alone!”
Get the kids involved
Of course, Leala and Siena lend a helping hand too. “They like tasting my creations and giving me feedback. I mean, which child doesn’t love cake?” May smiles.
“They sometimes accompany me on my deliveries as well, and my customers are thrilled to see them. Besides, I like showing my kids that mummy’s working hard. On days that I feel discouraged, I think of my girls and tell myself that I can’t let them see me give up,” she adds.
Pamper yourself occasionally
“While I am crazy busy most of the time, I do take the occasional break. There are days where I kick my shoes off, have kopi and watch Food Network on TV for three hours straight. And there are days where I’ll reward myself with a pedicure or manicure. I actually love doing things by myself – whether it’s lazing in bed or having brunch alone – as that quiet time really rejuvenates me,” shares May.
It’s all worth it!
“When it comes to running any business, it’s easy to feel unmotivated and disheartened. But then I look at all the lovely text messages and e-mails from customers and feel inspired all over again,” she confides.
And while it’s no mean feat juggling both work and family virtually single-handedly, May intends to fly solo for as long as possible.
“People often tell me that I should get a helper but I’d really prefer not to. Don’t get me wrong – it can be very helpful, but I personally don’t want to be too dependent on someone else. Besides, I didn’t give birth to my children, only to have them taken care of by a complete stranger.
“Even though I run my own business, I want to be as hands-on and involved a mum as I can be,” she continues. “While there’s always the laundry to deal with, the groceries to shop for, the homework to look over – all these on top of the things I have to do for Seraphina’s – it’s all very fulfilling.
“I genuinely enjoy every minute of it! While this might sound weird, I want to feel tired because in the end, I want to know that I’ve worked as hard as I could, and that I’ve raised my kids with my own blood, sweat and tears.”
This article was originally published in Simply Her January 2016.