From Full-Time Work to Full-Time Mom: Which is Best?

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Our individual circumstances shape how our motherhood journey pans out. Some mothers have a bigger support network than others, so their motherhood journey may be marked with less life-altering changes. But for most of us, our lives are changed forever. The choices we make now impact the life of another person.

So which type of motherhood arrangement yields the ‘best’ deal between work, play, and raising a family?

Five mothers – YB Hannah Yeoh, Freda Liu, Eva Liew, Carol Wong and Daisy Ng – gathered on 9 May for a panel discussion on ‘Which Motherhood Pasture was the Greenest?’.

On juggling motherhood and career

Freda: “Outsource! For me, non qualitative activities such as driving your kids around when you can be doing something else, so get a transporter!”

Daisy: “Running my own school has its benefits. My hours are definitely more flexible and I am intimately involved in my children’s daily lives. The downside is that I seldom have quiet time to work in the day. Over the years, I’m up at dawn to catch up on administrative or curriculum work, emails, cook dinner, pack lunch boxes etc. When the kids wake up, I get them ready and off to school we go. The day runs away from me frequently.”

Carol: “If one of my boys are not feeling great, I could take the day off by postponing a product launch or an article, and focus on my kid.”

All the moms agree that a rigid 9-to-5 working arrangement without understanding bosses adds to the stress of juggling it all.

On sacrifices made

Eva: “I used to think that I am quite ambitious when it comes to career; I always wanted to be a lawyer. After high school I chose Law as a subject for A-levels and went straight to law school. But I gave that up and here I am, a stay-at-home-mom to two girls. From time to time I still think about the what-ifs and often wonder if the corporate world will still welcome me but I have no regrets for now.”

YB Hannah: “It is very tempting [taking a bigger portfolio that requires traveling], but I can’t have it all, so I need to choose. My girls need me too.”

Freda: “When my son was really young, I worked mainly from home or going to an office that was one traffic light from home. Now that he is older, I work TWO traffic lights away from home. I don’t want to spend my time stuck in mindless traffic jams when I can be spending quality time with him.”


On being a wife

Most ladies agreed that in the quest to balance motherhood and career, wife duties sometimes take a backseat.

Carol: “At 8.30pm, we finish dinner and read stories to the boys. This calms them down and we tuck them into bed at about 9pm. Hubby and I then chit chat for about half an hour. After that, I finally get precious me-time to reflect, read, write and work on my online business while enjoying the serenity of the night.”

On me-time

Freda: “Our children are precious, they are guests in our lives. They will grow up. While we do our best to care for them, it is about finding balance and an arrangement that works for us.”

Eva: “It is not zero-stress being a stay at home. Many people think I have so much time. On top of that, unlike a work environment where there is recognition of one’s output, my role as a mother gets little explicit recognition. I often wonder if I am a fit enough to be a good mom.”

YB Hannah: “Support structure is very important to a working mother. Every mother needs some rest time to rejuvenate so we can be the best for our kids. Never be ashamed to ask for additional help and don’t feel guilty about it!”

Daisy: “I love waking up early. The solitude at dawn is when I get most of my inspirations. I guess, this is the kind of me-time I enjoy.”

So which type of motherhood path enjoys the least stress?

While the pasture always seems greener for others, all ladies agree that much of their stress is self-inflicted. Being a mother can be such a varying experience. Every child is different; every family has a different set of circumstances. SAHM, FTWM, WAHM etc are meaningless labels. The greenest pasture of motherhood is where we make peace with our choices, and be a happy and fulfilled mother.


Selangor State Assembly Speaker and mother of two YB Hannah Yeoh is a full-time working mother (FTWM) with erratic working hours and work conditions that could be highly dangerous. She misses out on precious weekend quality time with her family, but tries to make sure she gets home in the afternoon to see her girls.

Freda Liu is a presenter for Business FM 89.9, author and mother of 1. As a FTWM with full social engagement responsibilities, she plans her day and delegates her tasks so that she can focus sole attention on her teenaged boy when they are together.

Eva Liew is a home-maker and stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) to 2. She graduated with a Law degree but decided to dedicate her full attention to her children in the early years of their lives.

Carol Wong is a blogger on education, a business owner of an online retail business, mother of 3 and a Work-At-Home-Mom (WAHM). She plans her day with activities for her 3 boys and when they go to bed at 9 pm, she begins work on her blog and business.

Daisy Ng, the founder of Trinity Kids Malaysia, Dr Sears Health Coach, mother of 2 and a Work-With-Kids-Mother (WWKM). Her day is filled with her children, managing schools, staff training, speaking with parents and cooking for the family.

Image Credit: Daisy Ng.