Leading up to Mother's Day, we speak with a couple of amazing WONDERMOMS - entrepreneurs, fitness instructors, corporate warriors, and making time for their children & family. More importantly, they prioritize their own health & wellness + their family's.
"No amount of money or materialistic pleasures can buy you good health"
In conversation with the gorgeous Charisse Zee - "I am a luxury fashion buyer turned Mompreneur! I used to work in the corporate world, but after having my boy, I decided that I wanted to start a home business so that I could have more of a work-life balance. Being pregnant was life-changing for me, it made me truly realize just how amazing my body is and all the things it can do, and so I set out on my journey of wellness and happiness.
Currently, I am a spin instructor at CruCycle, avid traveller and I also run an online boutique that sells organic and eco-friendly clothes and toys for children. It gives me great flexibility in my schedule to look after my son, who is my #1 priority."
Age: Almost 30!
No. of kid(s): 1 boy, he turns 3 in August 2017.
Favourite type of workout + boutique fitness studio: What works for me = I cannot stick to one type of workout. I have to keep switching it up to shock my body or I find that I plateau rather quickly. I’m at Crucycle at least 3-4 times a week, and I usually try to hit another group class at least once a week: my current favourites are WeBarre or F45. I also slot in a couple’s workout with my husband once a week at least with our personal trainer.
Favorite healthy eats café: Grain Traders for a filling lunch, and Juice Junkie for a lovely acai bowl and a cold-pressed juice.
Go-to productivity tool: I’m pretty old school and stick to the Calendar app on my iPhone :P If it doesn’t go into my calendar, it doesn’t get done!
What is a typical day like for you?
A typical day for me starts with an espresso, smoothie and working on emails, before I drop my son off at school. He’s only there till 12noon, so I usually squeeze my workouts in before I pick him up. I get the bulk of my work done in the afternoon, it’s also when I schedule most of my meetings. Sometimes my son has afternoon playdates or afternoon classes, so I’ll have to make sure I finish off my work after he goes to sleep for the night. As a really small online retailer, I am busiest with managing my stock/inventory and always keeping an eye out for new and interesting products that my clients will like.
Did motherhood change you?
I would be lying if I said it didn’t. It changed me in so many ways I don’t even know where to begin. It’s scientifically proven that motherhood literally changes your brain and the way you process information. And of course, physically, your body has obviously changed.
Aside from the physical and mental changes, I’d say that it’s taught me some very important wisdom that I’d like to share with you all (not just moms, I think it’s also great advice for life in general) -
- Pick your battles – there are times when your kid will demand to do something his way. My son once demanded to wear 2 sets of swimming costume into the pool. I let him win, because it didn’t endanger his life in any shape or form. Was it worth a tantrum? No. Was I tired? Yes. Am I a bad mom? No! Pick your battles, because you can’t win it all when it comes to a 2 year old. The same goes for life, you can’t have everything.
- Multi tasking – I have fond memories of taking conference calls whilst breastfeeding. I also have fond memories of eating, whilst working on emails, and cooking my son’s meal at the same time. I am now a master at multi-tasking – and I have to, otherwise things can go south pretty easily and quickly. There’s no shame in multi-tasking!
- Take pleasure in the small things in life – It’s a huge victory for me if I get to take a 5min shower uninterrupted. Usually, my son will start banging on the door and it’s like a really dramatic search-and-rescue kind of situation by the 3rd minute of my shower. I don’t take anything for granted anymore and I really savour every little win, every day.
What did you find most difficult/challenging while being pregnant?
Definitely the hormones and mood swings!!! You’re going on a hormonal roller coaster. I got really moody and sometimes I found myself getting really angry really quick.
It’s going to sound silly but I ended up keeping a playlist of songs that made me happy – and every time I found myself feeling negative, I would play it really loud. It’s amazing how therapeutic music can be – I guess that’s why I love instructing indoor cycling classes so much, because music is such a big part of it.
Did you keep relatively active and healthy during your pregnancy?
It was my first pregnancy so I definitely was reserved. I balanced that out by paying more attention to my diet. Not just calorie-wise, but also to ensure that I was getting the proper nutrients and vitamins.
Was it difficult to get back into the swing of things at work?
My son was a terrible sleeper and I was trying to exclusively breastfeed him for the first few months of his life, so I was very sleep-deprived. Due to a work relocation situation on my husband’s end, I had actually resigned prior to having my son, so I was relatively lucky and wasn’t in a rush to go back to work. I was really torn and couldn’t decide between going back to corporate life or to try and start my own venture and work from home – actually, at that time, it seemed more intimidating to start an online store than it was to go back to work.
It was my super supportive husband who gave me the push I needed, and urged me to try start a business from home. He even went all the way to Europe with me to meet different suppliers and potential business partners. It was a lot of research and even more trial & error, but eventually I decided to start The Little Bao. It’s an extension of me and grew really organically as everything I sell on the website are things that I really use on myself and my family.
Was it tough to get back into an exercise routine?
I had a c-section delivery, and so my recovery took quite a while and even after the doctor gave me the green light to exercise, I was paranoid. When I eventually plucked up the courage to do so, I decided it was best to stick to what I always enjoyed and was good at, so I started going to Crucycle (I had just moved back to Singapore at that point and decided to try all the spin studios one by one).
Of course, getting back into an exercise routine was really tough – because I hadn’t worked out at that intensity for almost a year and definitely was quite out of shape. Being a new mom also meant I was constantly sleep deprived and tired, so I just didn’t have the stamina I used to have. It’s so easy to forget what your body has just done (giving life, hello!!!!) and feel defeated and upset.
It’s important to constantly remind yourself that you took 9 months off, so give yourself AT LEAST 9 months to get back into the swing of things. Slow and steady wins the race. It took me almost a year to get back to a pre-pregnancy level of fitness and physical endurance – and I’m glad to say that I’m probably in the best shape of my life now.
Do you think women and/or specifically moms, are subjected to many societal ideas on what a woman “should” be or what moms “should” do?
Oh definitely – everyone has their opinion and ideas on what an “ideal mom” should be and sometimes it’s funny, whilst at other times it can be quite infuriating. Society always imposes expectations, even on dads. Society also tries to tell you how many children you should have. I think that a lot of times people expect a woman to put their career on hold after they’ve had a child. But actually, there’s a lot of alternatives if that’s not what you want. Or maybe that is exactly what you want.
Whatever it is, I think it’s important for any and all woman to decide what is best for their family. There’s no “one size fits all” when it comes to raising a child and you should trust your instincts and do what you feel is right.
What do you think is the best gift you can give to your children? That’s easy – good health. No amount of money or materialistic pleasures can buy you good health. This is why I am such a huge advocate of healthy living, and why my online store centres around a green lifestyle.
The few biggest changes I’ve implemented in my household:
- Replacing our food to mostly organic, or hormone-free & pesticide-free. You are what you eat. Removing all chemical cleaners – we either use essential oils or natural ingredients such as baking soda and vinegar to clean. Chemical cleaners are full of poisonous ingredients that can cause an array of illnesses and long-term problems.
- I also think as an inhabitant of this planet, it’s our job to protect it and preserve it as best as we can for our future generations. We must educate our children on how we can do that, and the dangers of global warming, and to respect the ecosystem that we live in. If I can teach my child(ren) that, then I think it would be one of the greatest gift I could pass on to him as well.
What is your mantra and/or words you live by?
Everything in moderation. Never deprive yourself, but too much of a good thing can also be bad for you.
What is your top piece of advice or learning point you’d like to share with other Busy Women entrepreneurs / girlbosses who are looking to start their own families too?
Do what you love, and you’ll never feel like you’re working for the rest of your life. Base your business on something you’re truly passionate about, so that every day when you wake up, you’ll feel excited and ready.
Catch Charisse at FitnessFest on 20/21 May! Looking for a SweatBuddy?
Your journey to finding your own SweatBuddy, or a tribe of SweatBuddies starts right here - Singapore; Rest of Asia
SweatBuddy matching is useful if you're living in a city in Asia or looking to travel to a city. If you have any other questions, drop us a message! [email protected]