Ca­reer or fam­ily? Ideally, many mums would like to have both. But the stark re­al­ity is that in life, you can’t have your cake and eat it, too. On this Moth­ers Day, AU­DREY VIJAINDREN and FARHANA SYED NOKMAN talk to stay-at-home mums

New Straits Times - - News -

WHILE jug­gling the roles of chef, trans­port provider, tu­tor, nurse and care­giver may seem daunt­ing enough for the av­er­age Jane, many mod­ern stayat-home mums are go­ing the ex­tra mile by work­ing from home to sup­ple­ment their house­hold in­comes and pro­vide the best for their fam­i­lies.

Mother of two, May Tan, gave up her job as a com­mer­cial man­ager twice to spend more qual­ity time with her two daughters.

“I’d been a stay-at-home-mum for a year af­ter my first child was born, but I re­joined the work­force. Even­tu­ally, af­ter the birth of my se­cond daugh­ter, I quit my full­time job for good.

“It re­ally wasn’t a dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion to make be­cause I knew I wanted and needed the flex­i­ble hours — so that I have more time for my daughters and age­ing par­ents. My fa­ther is a di­a­betic pa­tient and I need to take him for reg­u­lar check-ups as well.”

Tan said she was for­tu­nate to have a very sup­port­ive hus­band, and also close friends who made her de­ci­sion an easy one.

“Some­times I miss full-time work­ing life, es­pe­cially the so­cial in­ter­ac­tion with col­leagues.

“How­ever, if I had to do it all over again, I would make the same de­ci­sion.”

Tan now does free­lance work as a quan­tity sur­veyor for a for­eign tech­nol­ogy com­pany to spear­head their tech­nol­ogy in Asia.

“I still get paid and I’m not com­pletely out of the work­force.

“When I need to at­tend project meet­ings, I get help from child­care sources.

“I can ar­range my own sched­ule to be avail­able for school ac­tiv­i­ties, pay full at­ten­tion dur­ing their sick days, spend more time guid­ing them with their home­work and also ar­range out­ings for them dur­ing less crowded days,” she said.

The grass may def­i­nitely seem much greener on the other side, but hav­ing been on both sides of the fence, Tan said be­ing a full­time mum was much more chal­leng­ing due to the lack of per­sonal time.

“Sup­port from spouse and fam­ily mem­bers is very im­por­tant be­fore mak­ing this de­ci­sion. Cal­cu­late your bud­get be­fore mak­ing the jump, and, if pos­si­ble, build a plan to earn side in­comes be­fore quit­ting.”

In this cur­rent eco­nomic cli­mate, she said, it was nec­es­sary to have cut­backs to sur­vive on a sin­gle in­come.

“As a fam­ily, we have learnt to adopt a sim­pler life­style. Re­al­is­ti­cally, to live a com­fort­able fam­ily life on a sin­gle in­come is a chal­lenge, es­pe­cially here in Kuala Lumpur.”


For­mer flight at­ten­dant and se­nior lounge agent Shereena Gill de­cided to quit her job four months af­ter de­liv­er­ing her baby.

“I have been in the avi­a­tion in­dus­try for seven years, so it was not an easy de­ci­sion to make. But I knew I wanted to spend more time with my baby.

“Since I worked at the air­port, the daily com­mute by train to work ev­ery day took up most of my time and I was only able to spend less than four hours with my son.

“How­ever, I do miss trav­el­ling, hav­ing a steady in­come, en­gag­ing in conversations with peo­ple and hav­ing a so­cial life,” Gill ad­mit­ted.

But the re­ward out­weighs ev­ery­thing else.

“I get to see my son’s many ‘firsts’ — walk­ing, gig­gling, talk­ing... I may not have much per­sonal time, but the ex­pe­ri­ence is far more sat­is­fy­ing,” she said.

Gill said she started blog­ging to share her jour­ney as a mother with other women.

“Writ­ing is ther­a­peu­tic for me. It was a hobby, which later trans­formed into a busi­ness,” said Gill, who cur­rently runs a nurs­ing wear fash­ion line called “Milk at 27”.

“It is great when you can plan your fi­nances prior to be­com­ing a stay-at-home mum, but if you can’t, you have to ac­cept the fact that your next fa­cial ap­point­ment and shop­ping for pretty heels might be in three years’ time.”


Giv­ing up a high-fly­ing job as a busi­ness con­sul­tant in one of the world’s lead­ing providers of au­dit, tax and ad­vi­sory ser­vices was not easy for Zura Rosli, mother of two.

“I do miss work­ing life a lot. When I hang out with friends, in­evitably, I will talk about my kids be­cause their life is all I know about. There are times when I feel in­se­cure in their pres­ence. But when I get home and look at my ba­bies, I know I made the right choice to be a stay-at-home mum.

“I run an on­line chil­dren’s bou­tique and a kidswear line called KupuKupu Stu­dio.

“It all started when I couldn’t find cute and com­fort­able baju Me­layu and baju ku­rung for them. Now, ev­ery­thing I put out there are clothes that my own chil­dren would wear.”

Zura said time man­age­ment was re­ally im­por­tant for mums who de­cide to work from home.

“I usu­ally try to get things done while my kids are in school. When they’re back from school, I only look af­ter their needs,” she said.

She ad­vised other women who wanted to make a sim­i­lar move to get their hus­band’s bless­ings and sup­port, first and fore­most.

“Moving from a dou­ble-in­come house­hold to a sin­gle-in­come house­hold is a big change. So, all par­ties have to be on board. You also may re­quire emo­tional and fi­nan­cial sup­port. Some days are longer than oth­ers and it can get lonely be­ing sur­rounded by kids all the time.”

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