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Article: Mother's Day Feature | A Chat with Celine Tan, Magazine Editor and Mum of 2

Mother's Day Feature | A Chat with Celine Tan, Magazine Editor and Mum of 2

Mother's Day Feature | A Chat with Celine Tan, Magazine Editor and Mum of 2

While this Mother's Day may look rather different for many of us, with less elaborate celebrations in favour of simple/virtual ones from the comfort of our homes, no matter how and where we celebrate from, we still celebrate the same richness of a mother's love.

This circuit breaker period has no doubt been a challenging period for everyone, including mums who have had to juggle chores, home-based learning, work and the kids. For a mother who traditionally already wears many hats and who may struggle to find time for herself, this circuit breaker period may prove to be even more difficult. However, mums are the most resilient people and we salute them for always taking things in their stride.

This Mother’s Day, we are thrilled to be able to interview Celine Tan, a talented writer, magazine editor and mother of two, who has done just that - embraced the change. Just like many other working parents in Singapore, she has been doing her best to find a balance between managing her work and caring for her kids during this circuit breaker period. In this interview, she shares what a typical workday during this period looks like, and offers some words of encouragement for fellow mums.

We hope that you'll enjoy this feature, and we thank Celine for so graciously agreeing to our interview and for sending across such lovely photos of herself in our linen loungewear!

Wishing a lovely Mother's Day to all Mamas out there~


1) Could you share with us a little bit about your family? 
We have two little ones, Amber, 8 and Brennan, 4. I'm a magazine editor, and my husband owns and runs a tennis school.

2) Describe your typical work day during this circuit breaker period.
On weekdays, mornings are spent with Amber as she does her P3 HBL. I sit beside her and attempt to work, but it's usually foiled by endless demands, either because she needs tech help (Why is this not working? I cannot record on the iPad! This page is blank!) or cos she needs help with the work (Mummy, I dunno how to do!) or cos she's tired and grouchy about all the work and just needs encouragement or a kick in the butt (not literally).

In between that and work, I try to spend some time with Brennan, but it's usually just small pockets of play time. We catch up as a family in the evenings and during dinner.

In the afternoon, I try to do the bulk of my work. On a good day, if the kids are getting along and playing together harmoniously, I can get a lot done. On a not-so-good day, I finish up my work at night, after the kids go to bed.

3) How do you balance working from home with caring for/entertaining your kids?
I'm used to working from home, but not so used to working from home with the kids around all the time, and having to spend 3 hours (if we're lucky) to 6 hours (if it's a tough day) on Amber's HBL. We usually have some help from the grandparents, but that's not possible now. We have a helper, and she's a big help with Brennan, as my time spent with him has had to be sadly reduced, due to Amber's HBL and my work demands.

It was literally impossible to work on the first week of HBL + WFH, as we tried to settle into a new routine, with everyone confused, grouchy and tired. Things have slowly gotten better, and on some days, we can do fun stuff together, like bake cookies, and play games like a Scavenger hunt or card games.

Daddy got a giant pool and we filled it in the living room (yeah, totally crazy, I know) and the kids had the best time, and I even managed to sit in it at night with a glass of wine. It was up for three days and we emptied it after and looking forward to the next time we're brave and nuts enough to fill it again.

4) How do you find time for yourself and how do you wind down during this circuit breaker period?  
"Time for yourself" for a working mum during CB with 2 kids with different demands is pretty rare. I am lucky I have help, and can still carve out time to work and to hide from the kids.

I have Zoom happy hour a couple of times a week with friends and that's really helped as a "sanity check" as we commiserate and laugh about the situation. Late at night, I have a glass of wine, check my Instagram as a way to connect and know I'm not alone, or indulge in some Netflix shows if I'm not too tired.

5) Any words of advice/encouragement for fellow working mums who may be feeling a little discouraged during this period?  
It's really not easy, and everyone has their own struggles. It's not only mums who have it tough. People without kids are also finding it hard to get through this circuit breaker, as isolation, fear and doubt creep in.

For fellow working mums, I can only say, embrace the struggle. We can let it defeat us, or we can try to get through it in one piece and maybe even have fun. One thing which has really helped me is to plan the day carefully. I set aside time for the kids, time for my work in the afternoon, where I tell the kids to leave me alone at all costs (sometimes I get the older one to teach things like phonics to the younger one, by giving her incentives like credits to buy something she wants), time to do something fun together after I finish my work, and time for dinner and maybe a movie together.

On weekends, I sometimes have to work a bit, but we try to make things fun and make the most of our time together. The plans don't always work out but sometimes they do and I think, we're blessed to have all this time together and get creative about having fun without going out. And when they don't work out, I just have a glass of wine or three at night. Tomorrow is another day.