Three Malaysian women who are wives, mothers and business owners talk about their juggling act and how they stay sane. With a nod to the upcoming Mother’s Day celebrations, we talked to three impressive mothers who are doing it all while making it look easy.

Armed with an entrepreneurial spirit, a positive attitude and a healthy dose of love for themselves and their families, these three women challenge themselves everyday to bring meaning to their busy lives.

And, these mothers somehow manage to feel and look good while achieving balance with their family lives, and running their own business in the competitive fashion and beauty industries.

Ung Yiu Lin, 38, Fashion Entrepreneur And Designer

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Ung is the founder and owner of ShoesShoesShoes, a footwear brand that evolved to accessories and clothes, and KLutched, a luxury bag brand. She has been running her business for 12 years. She’s married to former national squash athlete Mohd Azlan Iskandar and they have two daughters, four-year-old Zara Aaliya and Ava Aaliya, two.

“Being a mother is a constant journey, nothing is set in stone. I see my daughters growing up so quickly, and I’m now eight months pregnant with my third child,” says Ung.

“I’m very conscious that shaping children early in life is important and I try to lead by example. They see mummy doing things and being multifaceted with different roles. I also believe in instilling a sense of self-worth in them and hopefully leading them to the realisation that you need to be your own woman from young.”

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On a family holiday at Stirling Falls, New Zealand. Photo: Ung Yiu Lin

Ung says every mother has different challenges but managing a business can be time consuming.

“While my mum and mother-in-law get involved in caring for my children, I don’t believe that it is their responsibility. I have a good support team including two nannies. But it’s a constant juggling act and you can’t have it all.”

Something has to give, according to Ung, and she says you need to be comfortable with your decisions. “I can’t be that person who stays home and I do feel guilty because I can’t always be there for my daughters. But as mothers, we know we are giving our best and we should never beat ourselves up.”

Being in fashion, Ung says being presentable is important but she doesn’t take it so seriously, and she can be ready in five minutes by simply wearing her hair up.

“I really don’t have time for makeup, hair or even facials! When I wake up in the morning, I want to feel good, and maybe a strong lip colour or a statement piece like a kick-a** pair of shoes boosts my confidence.”

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Ung was seven months pregnant during this gym session, but she continued to work on her fitness. Photo: Ung Yiu Lin

Even in her final pregnancy trimester, Ung rarely sits down. Instead she’s moving from meetings to store visits to seeing her kids.

“Keeping active keeps me healthy, and with my third pregnancy I’m more cautious. Before my pregnancy, I was attending HIIT (high intensity interval training) classes at a fitness studio. They are very effective 45-minute sessions with multiple body workouts.

“As I get older it’s not so easy anymore, but I know my body and I’m still attending these classes weekly. I also try to balance this with yoga with a personal instructor on a weekly basis.”

Ung says she loves food and doesn’t count calories. “This baby I’m carrying seems to love Asian food! My husband and I are very conscious about the food we give our kids so I cook a lot at home.

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On a helicopter ride at Mt Cook, New Zealand. Photo: Ung Yiu Lin

“I think that mothers needn’t sacrifice their career or business, but if you decide to stay home for your children, then by all means especially if you can afford it and have your husband’s support. You will never have it all and I think women beat themselves up over this. You just have to make peace with what you have.

“We also need to give ourselves a pat on the back for all that we do, from multitasking to taking care of our family. Women are more giving and not as self-centred as men, and we’re always thinking of others.”

Being a mother has its ups and downs, Ung admits. “I do lose the plot and I do lose my cool with the kids, but at the end of the day I’m trying my best.

“I always tell my husband that a happy me is a happy everything. I believe in taking care of myself by taking breaks when I need it so I go on trips with my girlfriends. We shouldn’t put ourselves as secondary and then become bitter and unhappy,” Ung says.

Turn to Page 2 to read about how beauty entrepreneur Dahlia Nadirah Juhari manages her time as a mother, and fashion entrepreneur Siti Sarah Shah Nor’s secret to taking care of herself and her family.