The Ups and Downs of Motherhood with Winnie Chia

Parenting is back-breaking work. For working mothers, this work is likely much more difficult and complicated. Working mums statistically take on more household and childcare responsibilities, and as a result, are also often penalised in their careers.

With Mother’s Day around the corner, we sat down with Winnie Chia, a full-time working mum of three young children, to find out more about her journey with motherhood.

Winnie and her eldest daughter, Liya, snuggling up in bed with our Olive Green sheets in French linen.

How does your average day look like taking care of your three children?

It’s usually a mad rush in the morning — I have to get all three of them washed up, changed, fed, and get myself ready! I would say it is pretty much a competition to get everyone out of the house on time.

My husband and I normally pick the kids up in the evening once we are done with our work. That is when we start spending quality time with them before they sleep.

It is slightly different on weekends. We usually bring them out to places like the zoo, parks, the playground, or simply chill out at home.

 

You work full time too! Do you get any time to yourself?

I work full time as a finance analyst. The amount of time I have for myself is largely dependent on what time the kids sleep for the night. At times, even after they are in bed, I will have to choose between watching TV or getting started on the endless number of household chores.

There are days when I feel totally burnt out, which is when I will apply for leave from work to meet up with friends, or enjoy some alone time with the husband.

Winnie on one of her weekend family adventures. Image c/o Winnie.

Her children — Liya, Leanne, and Luke — were also roped into decorating their first real Christmas tree last year. Image c/o Winnie.

What do you think the biggest misconception is about working mums?

The biggest misconception I often hear is that a working mum cannot dedicate much time to her family.

But that is not quite true, at least for me. Thankfully, I also have strong support from both of our parents and a hands-on husband that has made things easier for me. I know that I can always count on them to help take care of the kids when I have work commitments or social gatherings that I need to attend.

When I am off work, I spend all of my time, if not most of it, with them. I try to get them involved in whatever household chores that I need to get done for the day. For example, they help me with folding and keeping the laundry or getting the dining table ready for meals. It is such a joy to watch them grow and pick up life skills that will be useful to them in the future!

Winnie's girls playing with our Desert Rose sheets in bamboo sateen!

You mentioned that your husband is a hands-on parent. How does he support you?

My husband supports me in everything I do, and I must say that I am truly nothing without him. He does almost everything from waking up for night feeds; changing of diapers to bathing the kids etc. Sometimes I think he does all these even better than I do!

A few years back, I started working on a global project and had to travel quite a fair bit. He was the one who took care of both the girls by himself while working full time. He dropped off the kids; picked them up, and put the girls to bed all by himself. He could have easily left the girls with my mum or mother-in-law but he chose to be there for the girls. This really put me at ease when I was on work trips.

Liya and Leanne cuddle for the camera with a newborn Luke. Image c/o Winnie.

365 days later — the Sengs celebrate Luke's first birthday. Image c/o Winnie.

Luke playing with his dad.

The family sharing a moment on Sunday.


How has your motherhood journey been?

Motherhood did not come naturally to me. My older sister has three kids as well and before I gave birth, I thought it looked easy from the outside.

Motherhood is probably the toughest job that I have ever taken on! It was a steep learning curve, from differentiating baby cries to breastfeeding. There were also many sleepless nights and having to cope with my body changing.

I used to open my wardrobe full of clothes, but not be able to fit into anything. It took me about a year and more to return to how I looked like before pregnancy. It’s actually quite daunting! I didn’t know what to do with all my clothes and kept thinking about the size of my body.

I also felt that I was gradually losing my identity — that I was no longer myself and just the mother of my child. When I had my first kid, I didn’t know what was required of me. I was also very sleep-deprived and found everything difficult to handle. At some points I even thought, why did I have a kid to torture myself?

 

"I also felt that I had lost my own identity overnight — that I was no longer myself and just the mother of my child. When I had my first kid, I didn’t know what was required of me. I was also very sleep-deprived and found everything difficult to handle. At some points I even thought, why did I have a kid to torture myself?"


Did things get better for you?

Actually, after my first child, I wanted to stop having children. But here I am — with three!

It gets a little easier in certain aspects. I no longer panic when the kids fall sick. I remember crying when my firstborn fell sick for the first time! I think I am calmer now and have learnt to not worry about things that are beyond my control.

Some days, mother’s guilt will strike and make me feel inadequate. I constantly question if I have given my very best to the kids. A lot of what-ifs go through my mind, and there’s a lot of Google searching for answers to my endless worries! That being said, I believe that everyone is struggling one way or another in this journey of motherhood, so there really is no need to compare or judge other families.

While parenting is no easy feat, Winnie cherishes every moment of it with her three adorable musketeers.


Do you feel like your career has been impacted because you have children?

Fortunately for me, I think my boss and colleagues are very accommodating, but I have heard from other mums about being penalised by their bosses, like how their bosses aren’t happy when they have to take leave to go to the gynaecologist. These experiences affect them at work.

I feel that my career aspirations have probably shifted since having children. If I were given a travel opportunity now, I probably would reject it to spend time with them.

 

Finally, how would you describe yourself as a mum?

A mum who can be fun yet strict at the same time! I never envisioned myself as a mum, and even till now, sometimes can’t believe I am a mum of three! As a mum, I feel that I have to be responsible for my kids’ wellbeing and to guide them to the best of my ability. Most importantly, I want to create lots of happy moments and memories with them.

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Olive Green Sheet Set in French linen

Desert Rose Sheet Set in bamboo sateen

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