Cool mums in Singapore: Artist Amanda Lapus Santos talks to us about juggling work and parenting

We've been hanging out with artist and mum, Amanda Lapus Santos, to get the lowdown on how she manages to juggle her passions while full-time parenting!

A painting by artist, Amanda Lapus Santos, is very much like her personality – vivid, full of expression and oh-so-bold. Although most of her beautiful creations are nature-inspired, her current project explores themes motivated by her life in Singapore as a full-time mother to energetic toddler, Aiden. So it comes as no surprise that one of her more recent exhibit pieces, Hyphenate, is based on the story of how mums need to balance multiple roles – something we can all relate to! We recently caught up with her for a chat about how she’s following her passions while still being a kickass mum…

What’s a typical day for you like as a mum?
A typical day primarily consists of making meals and keeping the little one entertained, as I have no helper or other family members at home. It’s all about playing with him, reading to him, singing “Wheels on the Bus” over and over until it’s bath time, followed by nap time. And nap time is my painting time. That small window of time, sadly, can easily be eaten up by other chores and before I know it, he’s awake already! We also spend fun days out on playdates, swimming, or taking a stroll around our area (usually on the pretext of a grocery run!). Life as a full-time mum is busy, which is why I usually schedule my art events on weekends, or in the evening when my husband can take over the parenting.

What’s your secret to being a successful working mum? How do you manage your time?
Honestly, I have to give a big shout-out to my husband, Evan, who is a super hands-on and supportive dad. Early on, during our pregnancy, we had a talk about the things he could take care to help ease my load, such as diaper duty, taking care of dinner, etc. And those ‘simple’ things definitely add up. So I guess, you could say, open communication with my partner is key. Even before we moved here to Singapore, Evan was fine about doing the 9-to-5 kind of work, so that I could pursue my passion for the arts. He’s fully aware that being a full-time mother is no walk in the park. So on Saturdays, I have my ‘mummy day-off‘, which is more like an afternoon for getting out of the house to unwind, solo mio. Even if it’s just a movie, or sitting in a cafe reading, or a mani-pedi, he knows that time for me is important.

I also owe a big thanks to my friends and family. They are just as supportive as Evan. Parents and siblings from both sides of the family, who are all based abroad, have flown in just to spend time with Aiden. Our friends here in Singapore volunteer their time and care too. If Evan and I ever have an emergency, or simply need a date night, we have good friends we can call on. As for my life as an artist, the groups that I work with, Uncanned Art and Mural Lingo, are well-aware that I’m Aiden’s main caretaker, so are completely understanding when I need to bring him to meetings or have to juggle my schedule.

A typical day at the Lapus-Santos household. Photography: Amanda Lapus Santos

What does being a mum mean to you?
I can’t even begin to describe the kind of meaning it’s brought to my life. Some may roll their eyes at this, but the happiness I feel now, forming this crazy little family of ours, it’s overwhelming, but in a very warm and peaceful sort of way. I often find myself wondering what the world looks like through my son’s eyes: Everything is new. Even small things, like bubbles, can bring out the biggest, most delicious bursts of laughter.

What’s the toughest part about being a mum?
Knowing one day that my son is not going to need me so much. I mean of course, I want him to grow up and be independent, strong and self-reliant. But the way he runs into my arms, the way he asks for more tickles, the way he hugs me like a koala at times, knowing that it’s fleeting breaks my heart!

Amanda-Lapus-Santos-

Amanda painted this piece, entitled Chapter IX during the third trimester of her pregnancy.

Do you have any hobbies, and how do you find time for them?
At the moment it’s all just a juggling game. If there is a side project I want to take up, like a wood-carving, or a book I want to finish, an art flick I want to see, or an exhibit, or even an audition for an advertisement, I just try to insert it all into my daily activities. Snippets of time that I try and steal can go a long way. I actually wrote this entry down in my journal a few months back: “Motherhood means having to go to bathroom at midnight, when all the dishes are done, and all the world is quiet.”

Do you have a cool parenting hack to share with us?
Keep a small bottle of blowing bubbles in your handbag. Break them out in case of tantrum emergency!

Thanks, Amanda!

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