Working Mum or Stay-at-home Mum

Category: Mums Corner

Is the grass is always greener on the other side? Three mothers who have experienced life as mummies on both sides of the fence share their insights.


While a career woman dreams to one day throw caution to the wind and become a full-time mum, a stay-at-home mum may yearn for the day she can ditch diaper changing and seek career advancement in stylish office wear. Read about what motivated these women to give up their successful careers to commit to full-time motherhood.

Debbie Sim
Mother to Anabelle
Life before baby: Corporate Relationship Manager in OCBC
Debbie began life as a long-term SAHM after she gave birth to her daughter and moved to Dubai with her husband, who had then just been posted there to work two years ago. Now that they have moved back, she has plans to set up a home-based business selling baby accessories and home-sewn dresses for girls.

Thoughts on being a SAHM
“I feel that being a SAHM is mentally and physically challenging. Sometimes, I feel like I am going to lose my sanity and really need a breather. That’s when occasional help from Hubby is very much appreciated. Most of my Singaporean friends in Dubai are also SAHMs, so we have a support community there. I was blessed to have friends who share the same views as me: We hope to be there for our children, especially during their childhood.

I do miss the times when I was working full-time especially during challenging days, but the job satisfaction from being a full-time mum is more fulfilling. Seeing my daughter grow and hit her milestones is the best achievement a mother can get and most importantly, the bond between my daughter and I is very strong.”

What Debbie wants ultimately is to have a special bond with her daughter that will last a lifetime. Mindful that bonding with her child should start early, she was glad to be able to be a SAHM. “When I was young, I remembered my parents were often working and not around most of the time. I don’t want my daughter to feel that Mummy is always not around, hence I was very persistent about being a SAHM.”

What is the most difficult thing about being a SAHM? Would you make the same choice if you could choose again?
Debbie couldn’t think of anything unpleasant about being a SAHM. “I would still be a SAHM if I could choose again. Having a close relationship with my daughter is something money can’t buy.”

Rina Woo
Mother to Jun Yi
Life before baby: Senior Relationship Manager in Banking, Education Consultant
Without someone she trusted to take care of her son, Rina went from rising through the ranks in banking and managing an education business run by her family to being a SAHM to provide the best possible care for whom she says could be her only child. Inhibited by the painful wound from an emergency caesarean section, she had to abandon plans to resume work several months after she gave birth. Moreover, she had to nurse her son every hour.

Thoughts on being a SAHM
The self-confessed workaholic who used to work 12-hour days seven days a week says motherhood is the most challenging job she has ever taken up to date. She says, “My life suddenly revolved only around the baby. I could not do anything apart from baby, baby, baby! I didn’t step out of the house unless it was for vaccines or follow-ups. There is no difference between weekday and weekend. Every day is like a war. Even when you are sick, when you haven’t eaten for 12 hours or when you have important errands to run, you are still a mum first. Social life suffers in a way. Any meet-ups will be like a war too with my hyperactive boy. Matching shoes and bags are history. Nicely-primed nails and hair are so forgotten. Fashionable outfits are replaced by any outfits that I can easily nurse my boy in.” Rina also laments that she weighs 20kg more than what she did prior to pregnancy and her once porcelain skin has become pimply. “From being able to easily afford my car, holidays and shopping sprees, I can only be seen carrying a diaper bag with no income except a kiss from my boy for the hard work put in.”

“Becoming a full-time mummy means a lot of sacrifices. I feel you work more than anyone, sleeps the least and eats last but most people think that it is no big deal because you are at home.”

“I sometimes wonder how women in the past did it, especially when they had a dozen kids and we have the luxury of having helpers now. No one really sees what we go through and no words can fully describe it. So many times we complain and contemplate giving up, but when we see our child enjoying the food we prepared and sleeping sweetly in our arms, we willingly give everything up again—just to ensure we have given our best and there are no regrets when we look back at his growing-up years.”

“Sometimes I do regret having a child. Marriage didn’t change me nor my lifestyle. Parenthood did. But since I chose to have him, I can only do my best. I do feel a lack of confidence and depressed at times, but I’m also proud that I’m able to make so many sacrifices for him. I never thought I can give up so much. I may go back to work in another year or two but for now, my work is to hold on to this toughest job on Earth.”

What is the most difficult thing about being a SAHM? Would you make the same choice if you could choose again?
 “Not being able to make appointments for anything. I may not make the same choice again if my mum can take care of my boy for me. I can only trust her to look after my boy.”

Hwang Hui Fen
Mother to Mikaela and Makai
Life before baby: Vice President in banking industry
Concerned about starting a family in her mid-thirties, Hui Fen decided to leave her job before her wedding. She took up a six-month contract job her friend had recommended after giving birth to her first child but found out she was pregnant with her second child one week after she started work. During Hui Fen’s stint as a working mother, she and her husband relied on a helper to care for their children as both of their parents were working and could not help. After that, the couple decided that it is important for one of them to be around when their children are young, and Hui Fen took the leap to stay home with her children.

Thoughts on being a SAHM
Though she enjoyed the extra time she could spend with her family and friends, waking up late and not having to constantly check emails, she says the novelty soon faded.
“Sometimes, life as a stay-at-home mum can be stressful and I do miss working life and being connected to the outside world. I miss having lunches with colleagues when we can go around trying different food whenever we had any cravings. I also miss my financial freedom and not having to ask my hubby for extra money if I want to buy something nice for myself. Now, I buy fewer things for myself and will think twice about getting any luxury items. But I have never regretted not going back to work and feel blessed that I am able to be there for my kids and pick them up from school every day. I had thoughts of sending them to full day school but I can’t bear to as they are still very young.”

What is the most difficult thing about being a SAHM? Would you make the same choice if you could choose again?
“The hardest thing about being a SAHM is finding me time. Sometimes, I need to get out for a while in the day just to sit down, have a cup of tea and reply to messages. I really need this time alone as it makes me feel recharged and relaxed. If I could choose again, I would only leave my job after having a baby. Quitting my job to try for a baby is too stressful.”

Thanks for sharing!