As we celebrate Mother’s Day on May 10, we highlight Singapore mums who have achieved their dreams in one way or another. One started a business, another finally got her diploma after many decades, and a single mother with three kids made a drastic career switch successfully.
We hope their stories will inspire you to fulfil your dreams one day, too! Happy Mother’s Day!
Let go of mum guilt
Nadia Chan is the co-founder of Maiko, the Singapore distributor of Australian skincare brand Canvas, and the general manager of local public relations agency, PR Communications. She is also the proud mother of five-year-old Callum.
On balancing motherhood, career and her side business, the 30-year-old tells The New Paper: “It all comes down to proper planning and ensuring that I have time for everything. Callum is top priority so pursuing a full-time PR career and running a business usually have to work around the time he is in school or in bed.”
To mothers who wish to start their own businesses, Nadia’s advice is to let go of the “mum guilt” and their expectations of motherhood. She believes that the key to achieving a healthy work-life balance is to be organised, to practise proper planning and to strive for excellence, instead of perfection.
She advises mothers to draw firm boundaries between work and home, while also encouraging them to get their children involved in the work.
Nadia says: “Focus on the positive things, do your best and being pleased with your efforts are what matter most.
“Starting a business does not necessarily mean you will have less time for your children.”
With so much to take care of, the Singapore mum also recognises the importance of taking care of herself.
Thursday and Friday evenings are dedicated to spending time with friends or pampering herself by getting a manicure, hitting the gym or getting a massage to unwind.
Mum fulfils diploma dream after 30 years, together with son
Carol Hor had applied to Singapore Polytechnic’s (SP) diploma in business practice (business management) when she was 17 but did not do well enough to get accepted.
Instead, she got a marketing diploma at a private institution before settling down and starting a family, seemingly moving on from her dream.
Three decades later, Carol, 48, fulfilled that dream and graduated from SP with the diploma she so wanted last Friday. It was a day after her younger son, 20, graduated with SP’s diploma in business innovation and design.
The Singapore mum tells The New Paper: “I was filled with excitement and curiosity to be back in school, but I was also quite fearful of how the students would see me because of my age.”
Despite her worry, Carol found the experience of being one of her son’s school peers “awesome” as she got a better understanding of his time in school. He was also an “adviser” when she needed help, allowing them to develop a closer relationship.
Carol continued working full-time as a senior project assistant executive at the Defence Science and Technology Agency in the 2.5 years it took to complete her diploma, heading to work in the morning before attending night classes.
Mother’s Day holds a special place in her heart because she loves the efforts her two children make to remember her in thoughtful ways.
She fondly recalls a Mother’s Day card her daughter, now 23, a Singapore University of Social Sciences undergraduate, gave her when she was little.
She switches career to pursue dream to ‘do something meaningful’
Rebecca Seah is a single mother of three who had a thriving career in sales and marketing, having clinched the best salesperson award for three consecutive years.
But in 2013, the 51-year-old decided to make a career switch to the social service sector.
On her reasons for making the change, Rebecca says: “I had been living in a broken marriage for many years and after officially getting divorced in 2010, I decided to do something meaningful by pursuing my dream in helping the under-privileged and making the career switch.”
She began volunteering in 2010 and started pursuing a Bachelor of Social Work in the Singapore University of Social Sciences under the Professional Conversion Programme for Social Workers in 2013.
She took up a part-time job as a property agent during her two-year course.
Under the Adapt and Grow initiative by Workforce Singapore, Rebecca was able to tap on specific programmes in her employment journey to obtain the necessary knowledge and skills to take on a new job in the social service network.
The Singapore mum graduated in 2015 and joined Filos Community Services in 2017 as the manager of the elderly services.
On her struggles, she says: “Playing the role of a father was my greatest struggle as well as trying my best not to disappoint my children and providing them with a comfortable life. The more I struggled, the stronger I became.”
Rebecca was concerned about being unable to provide for her children during her studies when her savings began depleting. She was conscious about setting aside money for her two oldest children’s university fees.
Her son, 25, is in his final year in the Singapore Institute of Management University of London (SIM-UOL). Her older daughter, 24, is a finance executive in a consultancy, and her younger daughter, 17, is in her first year of junior college.
A version of this article first appeared in The New Paper.
Photos: Nadia Chan, Carol Hor and Workforce Singapore