By Noor Ashikir Abdul Rahman
The New Paper
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
A frazzled dad, a tired mum and active, growing children. All this, while mum and dad juggle the demands of full-time jobs to put food on the table.
It's the reality for most families in Singapore. For Singaporean parents Christopher Pang and Julie Goh, raising a family is no walk in the park even after 14 years of marriage.
The couple, who each run a real estate business, put their family through a test in new reality TV series Mom's Time Out.
It premieres on Aug 28 at 9pm on Lifetime (StarHub TV Ch 514).
Starring two other families from Malaysia and the Philippines, Mom's Time Out treats exhausted mothers to a well-deserved break at Angsana Spa Lang Co in Vietnam for five days.
Here's the catch: No husband, no children and no contact.
Meanwhile, their husbands attempt to single-handedly juggle parenting duties at home. The show was filmed in May.
"One of our friends approached us and told us about a casting call. She was like, 'Do you want a free holiday or not?' I have never been on a holiday by myself and was all for it," Ms Goh told The New Paper yesterday.
Easy call - but hubby had reservations. "What's in it for me? Plus, I'm an extreme introvert and it certainly wasn't my cup of tea having cameras around all the time. It felt like a violation of privacy," Mr Pang said.
The couple, who are both in their 40s, have three sons - Marcus, 13, Michael, 10, and Matthew, five. They live in a three-storey terrace house at East Coast Road.
The Pangs share day-to-day tasks like cooking and household chores, having decided to do away with a maid three years ago.
Said Ms Goh: "We had help with our second and third children and they're less well-behaved compared to our first. They would run around while eating, watching TV and things like that.
"We then decided to take back the ownership of parenting. We learnt it's harder to undo wrong behaviour than to train good habits... we're still paying the price."
Asked about being part of a reality show, Ms Goh said that it was hard to separate herself from the children even while on vacation, where she enjoyed relaxing massages, spa sessions and wakeboarding.
"I kept feeling guilty and wondering what was happening at home. Would the house burn down? What about their homework?" she said.
For Mr Pang, he learnt to play both the disciplinarian and nurturer roles.
"Julie has always been one to shower them with TLC, but they now know that they can look to me for both. And I hope that is something they will continue to remember as I develop into that role," he said.
Pangs' five parenting tips
1. Get involved with the children
"You have to get involved in their world to interact with them more effectively. Trigger common interests with your child. It's not just about mummy's or daddy's. I think that helps them open up to parents a little bit more," said Mr Pang.
2. Parenting is a partnership
According to Ms Goh, working together as a team is important. "People always marvel at how we have three kids under one roof in a three-storey terrace with no maid. But Chris and I have learnt to complement each other so that there is mutual support and togetherness. It helps in cultivating a culture within the family," said Ms Goh.
3. Take care of yourself
"It's the first step to being a better mother and person. Sometimes, I struggle with juggling my roles as a wife, businesswoman and mother and realise I wasn't functioning optimally.
"I carry out the responsibility of fulfilling my duties while grumbling inside, with little patience or love. Having time for yourself gives you the chance to step back then come back to a setting where you are filled with love again, nurturing without complaining," she said.
4. Make time for yourself
"He gets his fishing trips and I get my spa... it's important to get away from the demands of the kids and family sometimes. It rejuvenates you and gives you renewed energy to go on with day-to-day tasks," said Ms Goh.
5. Recreate the spark
"For Chris and I, we have been focusing so much on the children that we don't have time for each other. I hope that changes so we have more alone time.
"Our goal would be a holiday for just the two of us. The last time was a diving trip to the Maldives before the children came along. We don't want to reach the day when the children leave the nest one by one and I turn to him, wondering, 'Who's this stranger in my bed?'," said Ms Goh.
"Chris can also afford to be more romantic!" she added, laughing.
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