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The GeoMum Files: Working Mums in Hong Kong

on Friday, 23 January 2015. Posted in Life in the +852

A peek into the lives of three working mums in Hong Kong who are also bringing home the bacon

The GeoMum Files: Working Mums in Hong Kong

Nowadays, in a corporate hub like Hong Kong, it is very common for mothers to keep their careers on a leash and return to work soon after they give birth. Hong Kong’s fast-paced lifestyle, efficient transport systems, abundant employment opportunities, and affordability of domestic helpers are all aspects that support and aid working mothers in developing their skills and building their career alongside their duties as a mother. 


Nevertheless, juggling work with motherhood and all the rest of it is no easy feat and we simply can’t deny that the motivation and fearlessness these ambitious ladies possess is staggering. Just how do they manage it? Explore the working lives of three GeoMums and gain insight into their secrets to success... 

Anne-Maree Soon

Mother-of-Two; Full-Time Senior Consultant (Recruitment)


How long have you been here in Hong Kong for?

[AMS] 4 years in April.


How old are your children?

[AMS] Emma is 4 and Lachlan is 2.


What sector do you work in and what are your hours like? What does your partner do?

[AMS] I work for DRAKE International and recruit for international education providers here in Hong Kong. My work-hours are from 8.30am to 6pm, Monday to Friday. I deal with my emails at night from home, as I have many overseas candidates. My husband works in financial services. He does a lot of travel with his job.



How soon did you return to work after the birth of your children?

[AMS] I took 4 years off. We moved to Hong Kong on my daughter's first birthday. The following year, we welcomed our son. I returned to work after he turned 2.



Luba Zaltsman

Mother-of-One; Entrepreneur (Founder of Koola Kids) & Yoga Instructor at Blissful Fit


How long have you been here in Hong Kong for?

[LZ] 6 years.


How old is your baby?

[LZ] My son was born in October 2013.


What sector do you work in and what are your hours like? What does your partner do?

[LZ] I am in the health and fitness industry. I am a yoga instructor and an entrepreneur. My partner is in the banking industry.


How soon did you return to work after you had your little boy?

[LZ] I went back to teaching yoga when my baby was 3 months old.


Nashua Gallagher

Mother-of-Two; Full-Time Marketing Manager (Media)


How long have you been here in Hong Kong for?

[NG] I grew up here for the most part, with brief stints around Asia, but always returning.


How old are your kids?

[NG] My son is 7 and my daughter is 5; both are in primary school.


What sector do you work in and what are your hours like? What does your partner do?

[NG] I work in media; standard office hours (9-6ish). My husband is a maths and science tutor, he starts work later in the day till the evening.



How did you find the transition of returning to your career after childbirth?


[AMS] The transition to work was quite easy. I am blessed to have a wonderful husband and an amazing helper who the kids adore. Before I returned to work, I had everything organized, from the kid’s school and activities schedule to dinner menus.


[LZ] Due to my flexible working schedule, I was able to spend a lot of time with my baby even after going back to work. Yet, it was still emotionally difficult for me to leave my baby in the care of someone else while I was away. At the same time, I found that going back to work gave me more energy and a greater sense of satisfaction. I learned that the key to juggling your career with being a new mom is maximizing your time.



What's your secret for successfully juggling work with everything else?


[AMS] The most important thing for me is that when I am at work, I am an employee. Once I arrive home, I am a loving mum and wife. No matter what, your family always comes first. We work to live. We do not live to work.


[NG]  Technology goes a long way to help ensure I’m present where I have to be. Whether it’s FaceTime-ing my kids when they get home from school, setting up appointments on the family Google calendar, emailing their teachers during my lunch break, or opting to leave at 5.30 sharp on a heavy workload day and logging back on after the kids are in bed – however many hours you spend at the office, parenting is a full-time job and there are many ways to facilitate your presence.



What are the benefits of being a working mum?


[AMS] Extra income, a chance to develop your career and also to teach your children the meaning of working hard.


[LZ] Being a working mom teaches important values to your kids. Being a mom is the best job in the world, but it’s also good for kids to know that women can contribute outside of home. Being happy with yourself sometimes means satisfaction and passion in your career as well as your home.



What do you find most challenging about being a working mum?


[AMS] I find it really hard to juggle work with the kid’s school activities such as assemblies, field trips, sports days, concerts and parent-teacher-interviews. It would be heart-breaking if I missed something that was special to them.


[LZ] Being away from my baby.



Is it challenging to have limits on what you are capable of and still stay in your employer’s good books?


[AMS] Yes, definitely. The market is competitive, so you have to perform. At work, you have to be focused and work double as hard; I work smart and use my time efficiently. I’m very lucky as my Country Manager is very understanding of my role as a mother.


[NG] I’ve been fortunate to work for employers that appreciate that their teams have different motivations. Manage their expectations, be honest about what your needs are and work with your manager to ensure there are no surprises and everyone’s happy. I’ve always been pretty up-front about having two pint-sized bosses at home and I think this has been appreciated.



It’s common for working mums to harbour feelings of guilt from not spending every minute with their children – how do you feel about this?


[LZ] It’s natural for a mother to miss her child and to want to spend every minute with him/her. We should remember that it’s the quality time that we do spend with our children that counts. Our children will remember the special moments we have spent together, the way we have made them feel, the things we have taught them. It’s better to harbor positive thoughts than feelings of guilt.


[NG] I think every parent feels this way - working or otherwise. Raising a tiny human is humbling and heartbreaking and joyous and nerve wracking, and there are some serious smells involved. Guilt is a natural part of this process; of course I’d love to spend more time with my kids but I’m not sure about every waking moment. I want to make sure I’m doing enough to lead by example, not by hovering. For us it’s quality of time over quantity.



What are some leisurely things you do to unwind when you have some time to yourself?


[LZ] To relax and unwind, I go to a yoga class, get a relaxing massage, or read.


[NG] Just like you put something away each month, I try and pay myself in time at least once a week. I spend this focusing on an interest - whether it’s running or writing, the only rule is I have to do this on my own.



How do you maintain a healthy relationship with your partner?


[LZ] My husband and I make time to catch up on each-other’s day over dinner. Once a week, we do yoga together. At least once a month, we go on a date together. It’s important to spend time together and keep the romance alive after baby is born.


[NG] Lucky for many working parents in HK, having a helper at home means little babysitting headaches. Whether its dinner, or a lunch date or a morning coffee, I think it’s important to consciously make time for each other. As silly as it sounds, something as simple as talking to each other, asking a question or an opinion makes a world of difference. I think as parents sometimes we get so good at communicating by chucking information back and forth and we need to remember to move beyond that.



Do you communicate with your kids while you’re at work, or catch up with them once you’re home?


[AMS] I don’t usually talk to the kids while I am at work. Though I do talk to my helper to make sure everything is ok. They are usually busy with school and activities.


[LZ] I try to spend as much time as I can with my son when I am back home. I can definitely see myself calling him when I am not home, when he’s older.



What are some time-saving techniques you use to organise your busy schedule?


[LZ] Put together a To-Do list before you go to bed. As you work through your day, check off each finished item.


[NG] Planning, planning, planning! We try to ensure that everyone knows what they’re wearing, what they’re eating, what they need to eat and do after school at least a day in advance. And on the days where even the best laid plans go awry, and we’re late and grumpy and probably wearing the wrong uniform, there is always time for a kiss and cuddle goodbye.



Do you have any helpful tips for fellow mums who are set to return to work soon?


[AMS] For sure - make sure you have everything organized - everything! It is also vital that you have a supportive husband and a helper you can trust and rely on.


[LZ] I believe that it's not how much time you spend with your child that counts, it is the quality that counts, especially for working moms. Spend quality time with your baby when you are not at work, turn off your mobile phone, give your baby many hugs and kisses and tell your baby how much you love him/her. When the baby is feeling loved, he/she will be confident and happy.





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