In this feature interview, Michelle Ang speaks to three fathers who run their own businesses. They share their struggles and how they find time for family in the midst of their hectic schedules.
Kuah Eng Liang, 34, Principal of Heguru Education Centre @ One KM and Sengkang
Principal of Heguru Education Centre, Kuah Eng Liang was a PLE-EDB Scholar and obtained his Masters from National University of Singapore. A certified Heguru Instructor himself, Eng Liang decided to bring the Heguru Programmes to Singapore after witnessing the effectiveness of the programme and being inspired by the Hegruru founders’ passion.
Eng Liang currently oversees two Heguru Education centres – one at One KM and another at Sengkang. Married to Mrs Linda Kuah, a senior audit manager with two sons, a 3 year old and 1 year old, this father keeps a joyful outlook on life and parenting; appreciating the small pockets of time spent with his family.
A typical work day for me is…
I wake up around 6:30am, send my younger son to my parents’ place, while my wife sends my elder son to school. I usually reach office by 8:30am and knock off around 7:30pm to head home for dinner with my family. As my enrichment centres operate 7 days a week, I go to work almost every day.
I normally spend time with my children…
Each night just before they go to bed. My wife and I would try to think of different fun activities each night, such as reading storybooks with role playing, flashing cards, and playing with mega blocks to build interesting structures with their imagination. Sometimes, we would also walk our dog with the children. Spending quality time with the children not only help enrich their mind, but at the same time help take our minds off our work and de-stress!
Of course, unlike other parents whose rest days are during weekends, I will not be able to accompany the children as much on typical Saturdays and Sundays as those are the busiest days of the week for my enrichment centres. To make up for that, I would try to find time off to bring them out for meals or to explore different children-friendly attractions of Singapore during the centre term breaks. Our favourite hangout place at the moment is the Children’s Garden at Gardens by the Bay.
My greatest struggle when I first became a dad
I embarked on the path of an entrepreneur just when my first boy was born. The greatest struggle was managing the new start-up and taking on the new role of a daddy at the same time. Fortunately I had the full support of my wife and family which helped me to overcome this period.
My happiest moment as a dad
Every day is a joy! Seeing their expression of happiness when they run towards me and give me a big tight hug the moment I reach home. These little gestures make me forget the exhaustion from the day’s hectic schedule. Seeing them grow and develop day by day, saying random things just amazes me as well. Just the other day, my 3 year-old boy told me “It’s a nice day for doing nothing Daddy!”
My current challenge
My greatest challenge right now is to have manage 24 hours a day for everything: work, wife, children and ‘me’ time. I have to organize my time well enough to cater attention to all aspects to have a balanced life.
The biggest challenge I feel Singaporean fathers face today in bringing up a child
Lack of time! In Singapore, work is often stressful and hectic. Finding enough time to accompany children every day is really a challenge for most daddies, on top of the expectations from mummies on the shared duties of child-raising.
If I could share one piece of advice to parents out there, it would be…
Always make time and have one-to-one sessions with your wife and each child no matter how busy you are. It does not need to be an ‘organised’ event. A spur-of-the-moment ice-cream treat or even a car ride can be a good time to catch up with them.
This article was first published in The New Age Parents Jun / Jul 2015 e-magazine