Juggling two young kids and multiple businesses requires superhero skills. Little wonder that mum Cassandra Riene Tan describes herself on her Instagram bio as “trying to be a wonderwoman”.
Besides running a business space rental platform, Bitsy Space and Dazzling Cafe at Orchard Gateway, the 30-year-old launched Botany cafe along Robertson Quay in April with her cousin, actress Julie Tan.
Cassandra is credited as the “brains” behind the cafe, spearheading all aspects of the establishment, from the dining concept and decor to recipe conceptualisation.
As a mum to two kids, how do you find the drive and energy to run your businesses?
I think there’s a misconception that once females become mothers, we are no longer “free” to pursue our passions and goals. It is a self-limiting belief and once I broke out of that – I realised that becoming a mum doesn’t change who I am, it just adds on to my identity.
For example, If I am a driven person with ambitions prior to becoming a mum, now I am a driven person with ambitions who happens to be a mum.
I always joke with my friends that my kids are mini start-ups – raising them and running a family is no different from running another business. Hence, being a mum of two young kids does not change the drive and energy to run my businesses. They are another “business” that I just need to take care of.
How often do you take your kids to work?
Very often! They follow me at least two to three times a week. I hope that by doing this, it helps them understand that when I am unable to spend time with them, most of the time it is not by choice.
I also want them to be exposed to various work environments and people while they are young, so that they gain exposure and do not remain too sheltered.
Some working mums who also take their kids to work have this dilemma: Although you’re there with them, you’re not fully present for them. How do you deal with that?
To be honest, I had a struggle with that when I was still a new mum. Mother’s guilt and self-guilt can be overwhelming and consuming, however it is again another self-limiting paradigm.
There’s no perfect scenario in the real world – there will always be guilt no matter the choices you make.
If today I choose to not take them to work, I would feel guilty that they won’t get to see me. If I chose to bring them, I would feel guilty that I can’t be present for them.
On the other hand, if I chose not to go to work and stay at home with them, I would feel guilty that I am not working towards my own goals and becoming the type of person I want my kids to look up to.
So one day, I just stopped – stopped allowing myself to feel guilty and to embrace things as it is while be mindful to keep a balance.
If I am busy at work, I’ll give my 100 per cent and stop feeling guilty that I am not spending with the kids, but I would make a note to spend quality time on another day, and vice versa.
How often do you have couple-time with your husband?
We probably have dinner alone twice a week. We would go somewhere familiar where we can have some comforting food or just walk around and spend quality time together.
We also like having conversations over tea and debates on random topics from business to philosophy to science and politics – I think both of us appreciate intellectual stimulations.
We just passed our seventh wedding anniversary and this month (July) will be our 10th year since getting together.
We hear that your kids are foodies. What are your tips to raising adventurous eaters?
Haha, yes, they definitely are since both my husband and I are foodies too! They didn’t get to choose what they want to eat until they turned five, hence they learnt not to be picky about their food.
We also exposed them to wide varieties of food ever since they were able to eat solids. We travelled a lot with them when they were very young so they’ve also been exposed to other cultures and cuisines.
By three years old, my son had already tried all kinds of local food, animal innards, escargot, foie gras, hare meat, etc.
Where are your favourite play and food haunts with your kids?
We love bringing the kids to Botanic Gardens and East Coast Park for walks and cycling. We usually avoid malls.
Food-wise, the kids are pretty adventurous, so we will swing from hawker centres to Japanese restaurants to Szechuan food.
(Photos: Instagram/Cassandra and Botany)