Jennifer Low – Mum / Online Business Owner



“Don’t expect normal to return, because normal has changed.”

I read this phrase on a parenting magazine about becoming a new mother when I was pregnant with our number one, Mr D. It was etched in my mind since then.

It was not an easy decision to exchange my job as a full-time lecturer to a career as a stay-at-home-mum. It was hard to give up dual income by choice, especially when we are living in one of the countries with the highest cost of living. I derived much satisfaction from my work in the education institution, but we figured that the benefits for me to stay at home when our number two, Mr E, turned one year old outweighed everything.

Mr E fell ill almost once every month for the first two years. I have used up all the yearly entitled childcare leave in less than half a year. Although my bosses were very understanding when I had to take urgent childcare, and subsequently unpaid, leave every now and then, I felt torn between being a responsible full-time staff and of being a responsible mum. I was worn out, physically and mentally. That was when we made that hard decision for me to leave my full-time job to stay home.

If I told you that life became a bed of roses after that, I would be lying. Fairness comes in different proportions, and you get the main share since you are “not working”. It was tough. It was not without frustrations and anger, exhaustion and sometimes, helplessness. It took us a while to balance our expectations and reality. I was blessed I have a good support system with my mum and parents-in-law who are willing to help out.

I used to teach on a freelance basis but when I was pregnant with our number three, Mr F, my obstetrician strongly advised that I should minimise walking. So, I stayed on the seat and set up an online business dabbling in personalised artwork and gifts.

Four years have passed since I left full-time employment. Mr D is in Primary One now, Mr E is in K1 and Mr F has just started his preschool. Trust me, managing three young boys who have endless energy, strong lungs (read: loud) and selective listening skills is no mean feat. And when one child falls ill, the rest follows. Oh, and the laundry… it’s a full-time job in itself.

There is a whole long list of things to do every day. I’d focus on my work in the mornings, do some household chores and coach Mr D with his homework in the afternoons, steal some time to make simple dinner (if there’s still some time left) before we fetch the two younger boys home (that’s when the madness begins!). Once a week, I’ll bring the boys to IKEA for their favourite pasta and mushroom soup while I’ll have my retail therapy. Occasionally, I’ll bring my DSLR out for one of my favourite pastimes – Photography.

One thing for sure I’m glad I don’t have to call or text my boss that I couldn’t come in because my child is ill; I know I don’t have a long list of emails to clear after I put the boys to bed; I know I am genuinely focused on the boys when they show me their Lego blocks creations and not thinking about that presentation to the top management the next day. I manage my own time between work and family.

What else prompted me to make that decision to leave full-time employment? This phrase which I read in a book “How to Be A Great Mum”: “You probably have the rest of your life to work, but you will not have the rest of your life to look after your children during their early years.”

When their childhood is gone, it’s gone.

Well, this is my “normal” now and I’m happy with it. I’m still learning to make it better, every day.

contributed by: Jennifer Low

Mum of three lively boys and owner of an online personalized gifts business

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