AOn her blog, she describes herself as, “Dreamer, Entrepreneur, Traveller and Mama to Bubu and Jake.” Meet well-known Singapore socialite and gorgeous mummy of 2, Tjin Lee.
Tjin helms several successful businesses, and is also the co‑founder of Crib, a Singapore‑based social enterprise dedicated to supporting female entrepreneurs.
She is also the force behind Singapore Fashion Week and public relations firm Mercury Marketing and Communications.
With so much happening all the time, we wonder how this super mum – mummy of 2 toddlers, Tyler and Jake – manages to look perfect all the time!
Here then, is Tjin Lee in conversation with theAsianparent:
Are you Wonder Woman in disguise? 🙂 You run many, many businesses and make it look so easy! How do you manage this with two kids?
With a lot of help! I don’t try to do everything, and it can take a village to raise a child. We are lucky to live in Singapore, where we have a support network of grandparents and helpers.
Don’t be afraid to take help, it can be empowering, converse to what people often think of, when accepting help! Its not to say “I can’t do it”, but it says “Let’s do this together.”
Your thoughts on work-life balance for parents, and tips to ensure this balance is met.
Find room for your own interests and passions, leave room for Self. Don’t let your identity be over-ridden by motherhood.
Happy mums raise happy kids.
If you are too absorbed in your kids, and wrap your entire life around them, you may unwittingly be doing more harm than good, as an overbearing helicopter parent.
Leave room for your self, find that balance between your own happiness and that of your family’s.
What is life like for you as a mum of boys? What’s easy and not-so-easy about raising boys?
They are loud, energetic and fight all the time! Boys will be boys.
I am easy-going with them. I believe in guiding them, but also letting them learn through making small mistakes.
You can shout at them that the shouldn’t run downhill, all it takes is one fall, a badly-scraped knee, and they never do it again.
What is it like being a social media influencer? Do you feel constantly pressured to look good and keep up with the latest trends and styles?
I don’t think of myself as a social media influencer. I am a real mum, an entrepreneur, I am also a passionate advocate for causes I believe in.
While I don’t focus so much on trends and styles, I am fortunately to be in the fashion lifestyle industry, and it is second nature, and part of my job, to be on top of things!
The mumpreneur life
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by mumpreneurs in Singapore, and how can they tackle these challenges?
One of the biggest challenges is to try to start and run a successful business, while having a full-time job.
Living in an expensive city like Singapore, many are afraid to quit their jobs because it can be challenging to survive in our city on a single income.
It is however, very challenging to run a business as a side project, and if you want to see your business go the distance, it often takes having to quit your job to be a full-time entrepreneur.
You will have to take this leap of faith at some point, if they are to give their business a fighting chance. This can be nerve-wracking, but if you believe in your businesses and its potential (and have done your sums), it may be better to take that leap and try to fly, than never have tried at all.
Social media – boon or bane?
What’s your take on social media and kids? Are you worried about exposing your own kids too much on social media? How do you manage this?
We live in a disrupted world that is new even to us. Our kids will be learning on iPads and their resumes will be on digital platforms.
How can we judge whats right and wrong in a digitally-disrupted future that even we don’t understand. I do not fear the unknown.
I have a rule of thumb, I don’t post anything that can be used against them, nothing demeaning or embarrassing.
And I even think that one day, when the boys start dating, they might meet a nice girl, who will bring him home to meet her mum, and she will love him on sight, “You are Baby Bubu, I watched you grow up!” … And they boys can thank me then 😉
What a typical day in your life is like? 🙂
I have a very open schedule, which revolves around client and work meetings. This gives me the flexibility to spend pockets of time with the boys when its not a busy season.
For example, I can take my boys to the zoo or science park and drop them home by 11 am and head in to work. I also have days where I end my meetings earlier at 3 or 4 pm, and we can escape to Universal Studios for a couple of hours to catch their favourite rides.
I love to plan spontaneous activities with them, as I find that routines reduce interaction as we fall into typical patterns.
Your favourite activities as a family and with your boys are…?
Totally spontaneous! I love watching them have fun. They love Universal Studios, swimming and indoor playgrounds.
Do you ever suffer from mum guilt? If you do, what causes it? And how do you deal with it?
Most people suffer from mum guilt at some point. We feel that we aren’t spending enough time with them, or that we aren’t doing enough for them.
I make up for it by doing extra special things with them on weekends, and I also plan solo time with each for the boys.
Plan dates with each of your kids, you’ll find you get to know them so much better as individuals when its one to one interaction (no siblings, no helpers), and they aren’t just “koko” or “didi”.
Please share your tips for our mum readers who are looking to start their own businesses (including ‘mistakes’ to avoid)
Find good partners to complement you, if you don’t have all the skill-sets or bandwidth to run your own business.
At the social enterprise CRIB, that I co-founded 3 years ago, we teach about the ABC of Entrepreneurship.
As are Angels, Bs are Business Managers and Cs are Creatives. If you are a C, find a good B. If you are a B (good business manager) with money to invest (A), find a good C partner with ideas and marketing know-how.
Not everyone has all 3 traits, don’t be afraid to find partners if you are lacking.
Advice for mums
And finally, what is your advice in general for mums who are struggling to balance their career with motherhood?
Don’t over think it. Research has shown that over-scheduling your child – too many lessons, enrichment, rote-learning and too little playtime, can actually dull your child’s creativity.
The future in a disrupted world, belongs to those who are creative. We, as parents, all want whats best for our kids, and we feel that it is our duty to best-prepare our child for life’s journey ahead.
Yet, we don’t realise that this excessive tiger-mothering can actually be harming rather than benefitting our children. Let children be children – let them play. Let them learn through play.
And let them socialise, learn how to interact, negotiate, build friendships, solve problems, tell stories – all on their own.
You may find that you have more balance with your children, more quality time to spend with them, and develop a better bond, when you play with them, instead of spend all that time driving them from one tuition lesson to another.
Enjoy your off-time with your kids, you may find your relationship and bond improving along the way!