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Jayina and Aiman, Founders of Anya Meals

Interview with Jayina and Aiman, Founders of Anya Meals

Last Sunday, our Muslim friends celebrated Hari Raya Puasa. It was a time for feasting, festivities, and also forgiveness and reconciliation between loved ones. We thought it was timely to revisit our interview with Jayina and Aiman, where they shared with us their parenthood journey, parenting philosophy and some secrets behind their happy married life!

Jayina and Aiman's interview is also one of the many stories from our book, In Time, We Blossom. If you'd like to read more stories like this, you can download our free e-book here


His story is also as important as mine, because we are both doing this together. He’s as involved or even more involved than I am in Anya Meals, while in parenting we are about the same.

- Jayina, reflecting on her relationship with Aiman

Gillian and I first met Jayina at a baby fair. We loved the branding and concept of Anya Meals, so when the idea of the book came along, Jayina was one of the first few people we wanted to feature.  


I sat down with Jayina, her husband Aiman, and their adorable 10 month old Adam at Soup Spoon over lunch. Jayina and Aiman started Anya Meals (named after their first born daughter) in February 2017, as they realised that there was a demand for healthier home cooked baby food in Singapore. Becoming entrepreneurs was also a deliberate choice Jayina and Aiman made so that they could both spend more time with their family. They believe in being equal partners, not just in their business but also in their parenting, and relationship.

Aiman, how did you feel when you found out Jayina was pregnant?
Aiman: I was ecstatic, and excited. Happy beyond words. I have always loved kids, so when I got the news I was very happy. 

 

What was your expectation?

Aiman: I expected sleepless nights, changing diapers, and the other changes. I was not prepared for the sheer joy—nothing else in the world can bring you that much joy.

Jayina: and frustrations!

Aiman: The frustration and anger you experience as a parent is at a different level. For example, when you are doing your best, but your kid just does not listen. Or when your kid does not respond the way you expect them to. I have learned that if you remain patient or never lose your cool— you are not doing parenting right. If you are hands on, you will lose your patience. It is normal.

 

Jayina, how did you feel when you learnt you were pregnant with Anya?

Jayina: When we were pregnant with Anya, we had only been married for two months and it was a very daunting time for me. We did not have our new home yet. I worked as a cabin crew, and had to quit my job because I was pregnant. My body was not healthy—I had thalassemia (which causes anemia) which made me feel faint all the time. I was very worried, even though I was happy about the new child. In the end, I gave birth, and I had an easy baby. 

 

What was the journey like for you after giving birth to Anya?

Jayina: Being a stay at home mum gave me perspective on how mums struggle on a daily basis. Even though working mums get time away from home, they never stop thinking about their children. There is no such thing as a part-time mum or a full time mum—everyone is just a mum. You just have different sets of responsibilities to handle in a day.

That was when I decided to take it slow. I would feel so overwhelmed, even though I was just taking care of one baby. She was an easy baby, but I had breastfeeding problems and I was trying to manage my own expectations. Even though my husband did not place any expectations on me, as a mum, you place a world of expectations on yourself. When you fall short, you start to fear that you are a bad mum.

Jayina and Her Kids: Anya and Adam

Aiman did you have dad friends who you could talk to about parenting?

Aiman: Most of my dad friends are not hands on, but I have two close friends that I look up to. One of them has three kids and sometimes he can handle them all together alone. I am one of the more involved dads. I think all dads should contribute more—men can do everything but breastfeed.

Why do you think dads should do more? 

Aiman: The role of a father has changed over time. During my dad’s era, women were seen as homemakers and expected to stay at home to take care of the kids. Today, if your wife gets to stay at home, it is a blessing and a luxury. Now, roles are more fluid, and we see some dads staying at home to take care of kids while their wife goes out to work. That is fine, because parenting is a shared responsibility.

I think Dads should do more. Men can do everything but breastfeed. Parenting is a shared responsibility.

- Aiman, on the role of Dads
Jayina and Her Kids: Anya and Adam

Why do you both value equality in your relationship?

Jayina: I think new age dads are more hands on, because more mums are stepping back into the workforce and everyone is asking for equality. We also learn in our religion that it is very important for both parents to be involved. Our religion teaches us to help each other out. Finally, we both very much want to be there for our kids because we love them.

After 5 years of parenting, do you think you have blossomed as a parent?

Jayina: Not exactly, even my parents are still learning to be parents. Just when you think you have figured things out, your children will throw a new curveball at you. I do think I have learnt a lot in the process. I understand that there is never just one way of doing things.

Do you feel like you are a different person now?

Jayina: Definitely, because parenthood has taught me so much more than all my other experiences in life. My first child taught me how to be a parent, while my second child taught me humility because my second one is a wild child! There are also so many things that I learnt about myself and my husband in the process. You think you might know someone when you are dating them, but they are a different person when you get married to them. And they only show their true selves after you have both become parents. I think it has made me love myself more, it has made me love my husband more. Because we know that parenting has actually made us better people. Hopefully it will continue to be that way!

Jayina and Her Kids: Anya and Adam

What advice would you give to your younger selves?

1. Be more calm 
Aiman: Worry less, and take it as it goes. There is no point worrying about what you cannot control.

2. Don’t fight your spouse
Jayina: Both of you want the best for your child. It is always better to sit down and have a good talk about what you can do, rather than fight each other.

3.  Don't sweat the small things 
Jayina: Both of you want the best for your child. It is always better to sit down and have a good talk about what you can do, rather than fight each other.


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