Not interested in portraying a picture-perfect life on social media, the mother, wife and co-founder of Teh Tarik Gelek gets real about juggling it all.
“I was pregnant with my third child when COVID first happened. Towards the end of my maternity leave, my boss called me in for a meeting. I was due to return to work the following week, so I thought he wanted to prep me; but, he actually wanted to retrench me.
Losing my job hit me hard. I felt lost, but I took it as a sign to try something else. I was in the medical industry for nine years. I had been thinking about doing something different for a long time; but, I always felt stuck in this cycle of comfort and false sense of security.
One day, I saw my husband on this design app called Canva. He was playing around with a logo that said, Teh Tarik Gelek. I thought it was so cute. My husband worked in software sales, but he shared that he wanted to do something on the side with teh tarik.
My immediate response was, ‘Let’s do it!’ I thought this could be a great side business while I looked for another job. What we didn’t expect was making enough money to sustain our family. We started in August 2020, and by 2021, we decided to do it full-time.
Gelek is to move your body from side to side, and Teh Tarik Gelek is a catering business that specialises in teh tarik or pulled milk tea. The fun part is our customers’ interpretation of gelek. Some of them gelek after they drink our teh tarik. Some get their kids to gelek.
Our biggest order to date was from Nadia Samdin who’s a Member of Parliament. She ordered teh tarik for all schools across Ang Mo Kio on Teacher’s Day. That’s for 300 plus teachers! It was the steepest learning curve in our lives because of the storage element.
I think being a parent and running a home-based business are two full-time jobs. Some days, I’ve got this. Other days, I ask myself, ‘What am I doing?’ But I think that’s the beauty of life. You have your ups and downs. Whatever the season, you just learn to embrace it.
How do I juggle everything? To be honest, I don’t do it well. My helper is a huge reason why I’ve been able to have some sanity. There was a point where she left us and we didn’t have a helper for three months. It just so happened to be a very busy period then.
I was a very angry person. I was shouting at the kids constantly. I was frazzled. I needed help with the kids, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. In fact, you need a whole village, from your helper to your mother-in-law. There’s no way you can do it on your own.
And I think that’s how I’ve evolved with social media. When I had my first child, I was guilty of portraying this image that I could handle everything on my plate. I’d get messages saying how I was so inspiring. But the truth is, there were times where I was really struggling.
After much self-reflection and questioning what value I bring, I decided to be more purposeful with social media. Now, I share more of my real, everyday struggles. I think people resonate with that, and I started getting DMs like, ‘I’m so glad to know I’m not alone.’
The biggest thing I’ve learnt on this journey is that self-care is crucial, especially in parenting. As the saying goes, ‘You can’t pour from an empty cup.’ Anything can happen with the kids, but when I become dysregulated with my emotions, that’s when things go down the drain.
I lean on my faith a lot, so the power of prayer really helps regulate my emotions. It grounds me to remember my purpose here on Earth, and what’s truly important.
One of the most powerful things I’ve heard was to be more like a thermostat instead of a thermometer. Thermometers have no self-control and go up and down the scales, according to outside temperatures. But thermostats stay constant despite everything that’s happening.
I’ve invested a lot of time and money to understand myself, my blind spots and how to get my baseline to a healthier level, especially on bad days. Now, whenever I have a bad day, I don’t stay in that negative zone for too long.
Advice for parents? I tend to hold back because my instinct is to say find time for yourself, but that comes from a place of privilege. I’m afraid not many people have that choice. I can’t imagine what it’s like for other families, because they’re in survival mode from day to night.
I know it’s tough because our days can be packed with back-to-back stuff. But if you can, try to find space and time to recalibrate and come back to your sense of self. Just remember that you have to be okay first. It all starts with you.” – Nasuhadarke
Interview by: Arman Shah
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Everyone has an incredible and inspiring story to share. These are such stories by the everyday people in Singapore. #everydaypeoplesg
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