While it was normal to have a kid in your mid-20s during our parents’ generation, it’s less common these days. So what’s it like to be a young mum in this day and age?
Karin Chew, 28, had her first child when she was 25. She’s a mum to Yu Ren, three, and twins Yan Jia and Yi Jia, one.
“My first pregnancy wasn’t planned. I had missed my period, and when I expressed my worries to my then-boyfriend, he was pretty chill, and that was when I knew
he was open to settling down. I was happy to start a family with him, so we got married and had a baby. It helped that my family and friends were very supportive.
Much as it was the life I chose, I can’t deny there were moments when I felt like I was missing out on my 20s. That took a while to adjust to.
My husband and I didn’t plan for a second child but we were OK if one more came along. But, of course, when we found out we were having twins, we were shocked. I was very worried about how I’d
go about taking care of two babies and a toddler.
I still don’t have the freedom to travel or meet my friends as and when I want, as I’m still breastfeeding the twins. Since they’re still very young, I can’t bear to leave them in the hands of anyone else.
I raise my kids differently from how I was brought up. I was raised by a helper because both my parents worked, but since my husband is able to support us, I stay at home and look after the kids myself. I feel very privileged to be able to spend so much time with them. Not all parents have this option.
However, we haven’t had a date night since the twins were born. Although our parents help us out a lot, they can’t exactly handle three young and active kids. We do not engage outside help as we don’t trust anyone else outside of the family. We feel that the first five years of a child’s life is what lays the foundation of their character, so we want to be around them all the time to guide and nurture them.
My husband does help out whenever he can, so from time to time, I get to take a breather. Having dinner alone or reading a book is a luxury.
Next year, we’ll be sending the twins to the same childcare centre my eldest son is currently in, and I intend to go back to work. I’m excited about connecting with new people and having more financial freedom. Naturally, I wonder what it will be like going back to having a job, but I believe I’ll be able to adapt.
While we enjoy decent financial stability now, it comes at a price. My husband works a lot and often only gets an hour or so with them each day. Sometimes, by the time he’s back, the kids are already asleep.
We also hope to switch roles when the kids are older. Hopefully, I’ll be able to bring home the bacon when I go back to the property industry while he stays at home. I think it’ll be great as he’ll then get to make up for lost time. He’ll also be able to impart different skills to them.
My advice to new mums? Don’t be too hard on yourself. Also, don’t compare yourself to others.
It’s also great that, as millennials, we can easily turn to the Internet for advice. When I had my first child, I would join online parenting forums. The other mums were really helpful and I learnt a lot. Social media platforms also allow me to keep in touch with my friends. Many of them are also starting to settle down, so they don’t meet up as often as they used to. But I believe true friendships don’t need much maintenance.
Being a parent is mentally tiring and you have to be prepared that your life will never be the same again. But when your kids hug, kiss or smile at you, it’s all worth it. Being a mum is really fulfilling.”
Jolene, 30, had her first child when she was 24. She’s a mum to Kayla, six, and Keira, four.
“I’ve always loved kids and didn’t mind having them young. I liked the idea of being able to keep up with them while I still have the energy. My first pregnancy was planned, and when I got pregnant, my husband was very happy as we had been trying for about five months.
Some friends did ask: ‘Are you sure? You just got married.’ But I told to them it was what I wanted, and they were all supportive. I didn’t feel like I was missing out on my young adulthood, and I still see some of my close friends at least once a month.
Of course, there were some things I had to give up, like a career. I had gotten married the year I started work, and then got pregnant the following year. I gave up my job after the birth of my first daughter. Now, even though my kids are no longer toddlers, I still can’t focus on a career as I want to be their primary caregiver. I do do some part-time accounting work. It’s got a pretty flexible schedule, so I get to plan my time around my kids and stay home to look after them if they’re sick.
My parenting style is very different from that of my mum’s. She was strict and would scold or hit to discipline us, but I don’t believe in raising kids with those methods. I prefer reasoning things out with my girls.
It does get hard, and when the going gets tough, I’ll go to the gym or for a run to relieve stress. Exercise is a great way of keeping the negative emotions at bay. Of course, it helps to simply look at my children’s faces – they really make me smile.
I go on dates with my husband from time to time, though not as often as I would like. But I know that we’ll have more time to ourselves when the girls are older and don’t need us around as much, and I look forward to that.
As a millennial mum, I put pictures of my kids on social media. Every mum will think their kids are the cutest, and I just want to share. Besides, it’s a great way
of backing up my photos.
Now that some of my friends have kids of their own, we spend a lot of time talking about motherhood. Because I became a mum much earlier than them, they turn to me when they face issues and I’ll share with them my experiences and advice.
Motherhood can be tough and tiring. But my kids are my priority, and as long as they’re happy and healthy, I’m happy.”
An earlier version of this article first appeared in the November 2017 issue of CLEO magazine.