Work-Life Balance? Let’s Start with some Self-Care!

Hola Mamas, this post is for you. I recently spent three nights at a beauty and wellness retreat with Creme Simon, recalibrating my life and defining my own version of modern motherhood.

I brought my little boy on what was supposed to be a girls’ trip because part of my Self-care, is about spending one on one time with each of my boys. With multiple businesses, numerous projects and pitches, social causes and campaigns in progress, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by everything. People ask, “How do you do it? How do you make it all work?” They want to talk about this elusive unicorn, called “Work Life Balance”.

How do I juggle my two young kids (age five and two), the nine businesses, multiple roles and responsibilities…

The honest answer is – I don’t even think about it. I do remember a time when I first started the business 18 years ago, where I didn’t have a life (I also didn’t have kids). I never thought about “Work Life Balance”, I only worked incredibly hard to build my business, believing one day it would lead to a life I could only dream about.

There were months where I would start work at 8am, go home at 3am and repeat. There were years where we made huge losses and I had to fight to keep the company afloat.

There was even one day where I stepped out of the office in the sunlight once and said, “Wow, how nice it must be to have a day where the sun is still out where I can actually enjoy some free time…” or a night-off (leaving at 8pm) felt like a guilty luxury. I hustled hard, planted seeds watered with sweet and tears, I chased those dreams.

Over time, my business grew a sound reputation, I built an awesome team, found partners… and one day, I realised I could take the day off – a whole day! And the company would still be running without me. That was the day I realised I had finally built a healthy business, and was no longer “self-employed”.

Anyway, I just wanted to share that story because I don’t want you to think that I got here today without hard work and sacrifice. I didn’t inherit the money or marry rich, I built my own dream company, steering it from scratch through nearly two decades of risk and evolution. Last thoughts on that : Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle (Jon Acuff).

Now that we’ve established I’ve gone through two decades of grind and back-breaking career-building, let me share some of my biggest learnings on motherhood and making it all work.

How to find your Self, and how to be happy in your own version of modern motherhood. It’s different for everyone, find YOUR version of happiness. Here are the 3 big ones:

1. Find a Tribe of Like-minded Mamas (or a Mentor).

Good vibes only! Community support can be hugely important. It can be a simple WhatsApp group chat of 3-5 mothers that have kids the same age, that you feel can be a positive influence. There’s a lot we can learn from each other.

There’s a saying that you’re the sum of the five people closest to you, and there may be some truth in that. If you surround yourself with negative people (who have a problem for every solution) or who love to do nothing more than complain without actually seeking solutions, you’ll find yourself dragged down.

One simple way to get started: Set up a group chat (eg ours is called Weekend Brunch Club) with a few like-minded parents who enjoy similar activities as you. Some of our activities now include family travel, red wine tasting and card nights. You don’t have to be defined solely by your children. Life may revolve around them, but you may find yourself looking forward to the child-free nights out with your “Mom-gang” too!

How awesome is this tribe of mamas, on a work-vacay with Creme Simon!

2. Prioritise You.

Make time and space for yourself. Motherhood doesn’t mean martyrdom. If you find yourself constantly sacrificing and always putting the needs of others above your own basic wishes and desires, then I would re-evaluate.

With rising national depression rates, it’s easy to understand why motherhood contributes to stress. Working motherhood is stressful – that struggle to find time and balance, feeling constant guilt at not being there for your kids, worrying if they’re getting good childcare, fear of missing out on all their developmental milestones, how are they doing in school etc.

Stay-at-home motherhood is equally stressful – the pressure to be the best mom possible to justify the sacrifice of your career, the endless multi-tasking, feeling unappreciated or marginalised, feeling envy towards peers who have managed to climb the career ladder, getting left behind…

You can’t fill the cups of others if your own cup is empty. If you’re feeling anxious and overwhelmed, or a sense of hopelessness, take a step back from it all, look at it from a birds eye view… things are usually not as bad as we think they are. Then make some changes to prioritise yourself.

Self care is important. Cut away everything, every “obligation” that isn’t truly necessary, learn to say NO to things or people that don’t add value to your life. You may not be perfect, but you’re the only mama they have, so be the best one you can be.

Claim some time to find yourself, nourish your soul, refresh your mind. It can be as simple as a time-out coffee in the middle of the day (grab a cuppa, put away your phone and watch the world go by), a no-kids day at the spa to unwind, or a girlfriends staycation at a beach resort.

Let go of the guilt, you give 365 days of yourself to your work and family, no one will begrudge you 5 days off! That’s less than minimum annual leave… and you may find that even taking off one day a month, can be a balm to the soul.

Make plans with your mom-friends or girlfriends now, don’t delay – they may be feeling just as stressed as you. Just set a date (even if it’s 3 months from today) – you’ll have something to look forward to. The spa pool at Pangkor Laut, an oasis of serenity and calm!

3. Discover your own Balance. Don’t compare yourself to others.

“Comparison is the Thief of Joy – Theodore Roosevelt”.

And Roosevelt never had to deal with social media! I believe that one of the biggest contributors to envy and depression today – is social media.

Everyone else’s life looks better than our own? – the luxury holidays, fine dining, fun times with friends, glamorous parties. We forget that we are watching someone else’s “highlight reel”. Nobody shows their behind-the-scenes, which can include late nights in the office, a deep mortgage or bank loans (to fund that IG-lifestyle), depressed kids (they only brag about those high PSLE scores), marriage troubles (how often have we been surprised to hear of this or that couple getting divorced and say “Oh, I didn’t see that coming… they always looked so happy”) – well, that’s because social media can be deceiving!

Count your blessings and stop comparing!

Reminder of the day: Don’t believe what you see on social media, it’s not real. It gives regular people FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), it can make one feel like they’re getting left behind. Well, you’re not alone. If you peek behind the scenes of those perfect Instagram accounts, those dream wardrobes are often on loan, those delicious waffles shot from the next table, and there’s the classic “fake laugh” shot. Anyway my point is, don’t compare your reality with someone else’s highlights reel.

I wanted to say thank you to Creme Simon for having us at Pangkor Laut and giving me the time to reflect on all the above. Having my son along, meant I had less time to sleep, spa and relax between shoots and interviews – but that’s ok, because spending one on one time with my boys is part of my personal self-care needs. Everyone has different needs, discover your own!

(This isn’t a sponsored post, I wasn’t paid to write it… I just enjoyed the experience of bonding and sharing with a tribe of positive, like-minded mamas so much, that I thought I should share the joy. Hope you got some helpful insights!)

Spa Escapes: ESPA (Resorts World Sentosa)

We (my two girlfriends and I) were looking for an afternoon escape, somewhere to lose ourselves – no kids!- and decided to take a half day off our hectic work schedules to check into ESPA at Resorts World.  

So THIS is the sight that greets you as you enter the green sanctuary that is ESPA. We feel an amazing sense of calm, as if we have entered an oasis a thousand miles from every day cares.

We start off with healthy juices at Tangerine, the spa cafe, unwinding before our treatments. The cafe is really pretty, filled with sunlight, set in a glass house nestled amidst a backdrop of water, nature and greens. They encourage us to wander out in our spa robes, and because it’s such an exclusive setting, we hardly see another soul, we are quite happy to do so! 

This is the Tea Lounge (below), where they pick you up for your treatments. It overlooks the heated Rock Pool- where you can enjoy an outdoor onsen-style experience pre or post-treatment. 
This is me (above), totally blissed out… We still can’t believe this is actually in Singapore – just 15 minutes away from the central business district!…and check out these awesome pods in the Sleep Lounge! They resemble First Class suite beds, and come with reading lamps for some quiet time. These would be so amazing if we were doing a full-day at the spa, or if you were just a frazzled, harassed mama who wanted to escape for an hour of total silence.

The spa treatment rooms aren’t as spectacular as the outdoor pool and lounge areas. The rooms are small and don’t have much of a view, but the skilled therapists and quality of our massage (all three of us compared notes after) – had us agreeing we could have done an even longer treatment (we did the 90 minute personalized massage). 

After our treatments, we roll out like pampered poodles to enjoy the hot rock pools, then jump into the cold plunge pool (gaaaaaaaah… such a hair-raising experience – chilling but super refreshing!). We also loved that there was a separate ladies only hot pool (picture below) and cold plunge pool connected to the changing area; the gentlemen have their own pools attached to their respective change areas.

We wrap up with a three-course healthy dinner at Tangerine, featuring cuisine by award-winning celebrity chef Ian Kittichai, who is renowned for mixing classic flavors with a range of innovative cooking techniques. While the menu at Tangerine is very small (only 2-3 options each for appetizers, mains and dessert), the dishes do not disappoint. See below – as yummy as its pretty!

To us, the highlight of ESPA is actually its lush resort-style design and ambience, set around a pond amidst a natural, tropical forest setting. With its outdoor pools and luxe lounges. I can’t imagine any city spa could give the same sense of complete escape.

I believe it’s very important for moms to have their own ‘me’ time. Sandwiched between the demands of work, family, kids and everything else – there’s very little self-time left. This spa getaway – even if just for a short half-day was like “chicken soup for the soul” – healing, rejuvenating, pure ‘me’ time to recharge and reconnect with old friends. 

It’s hard to say goodbye, and after just four hours here, we leave already planning our next Spa escape. 
Note: Prices for a 60 minute personalized massage start at SG$200 – but that would give you access to all the pools, lounges and facilities. Parking can add up to quite a lot for half day, but fortunately you can fully redeem parking with a minimum spend of $400 treatments at the spa.