by Blessed Ummi
I need to remind myself that I need to be strong. My children need me. My husband needs me. – Dina Savita, social entrepreneur and mother-of-two
In the current edition of Blessed Ummi’s Inspirational Ummi Series, we travel the waters to Indonesia to get to know social entrepreneur Dina Savita, an Indonesian mother-of-two who homeschools and co-runs an online batik clothing line for children, Sweet Batik. It is amazing to learn that wherever you go, mothers face the same challenges and have similar hopes and dreams which we all can learn from. We hear all about the rollercoaster ride that Dina has gone through and take stock of the lessons we can take away from her story.
Tell us more about yourself and what you are involved in currently!
I’m Dina Savita. I’ve been married for over 15 years and I’m currently a mum of two homeschooling children: an 8 year old girl who loves to draw and read and a 6 year old boy who loves to play LEGO and draw. I co-own a small batik business (geared towards children’s apparels) with a friend based in Indonesia. We started this business in early 2011. A lot of people are surprised when I tell them how long I’ve been married, maybe because my children are still quite young. We decided only to have children a few years after we got married because we weren’t ready to have children right away at that time.
I’ve been living in transition for the past 6 years (I moved to 2 to 3 places in a year) and currently am still living in transition. I was born and raised in Indonesia while my husband was brought up in the US. I spent most of my adulthood in the US studying and getting married, and for the past 4 years I’ve been living in Indonesia. I guess I’m currently living as a traveler, but I would really wish to settle in one place for at least a few years, mainly because I need more time to reflect on and establish an effective routine in my life and have a permanent place to call home for my children.
We are currently struggling with some immigration issues which resulted in my husband having to live separately from us for a whole year (and counting). We also had to do a lot of packing and unpacking and trying to get the family to live in one place. InshaAllah, the long wait is going to be over soon when our immigration problems will finally be resolved in a few months, and my children and I can finally join my husband over in the US.
Wow, that sounds like you have gone through a lot! Tell us how it all started out for your business.
I met my business partner through a mothers-in-business online support group. We became friends and finally decided to start a business together. At the beginning, we had no head or tail on how to run a business or decide what products to sell. What we knew was that we’d like to help spread the beauty of handmade batik fabrics around the world. We decided at the beginning to use batik made by hand because we’d like to support batik artisans in small villages here as well as to create jobs for local women where our workshop is located.
What were some of the challenges you faced initially?
There were many challenges while doing this business, but mainly time was a major factor. I’m currently facing the biggest challenge, which is changing my life direction. I may have to take a long break from my batik business because I have too many other things to focus on, mostly due to moving back to the US (packing, unpacking, currently dealing with US immigration paperwork, trying to settle in a new place again, dealing with culture shocks that my children may encounter, and so on).
We also hear that you homeschool your children. Could you share with us your journey so far?
I have always wanted to homeschool my children, mainly because I believe that children at a younger age need to be around their parents more and as a mother I feel responsible for their education. I’ve been reading a few stories and seeking advice especially from two friends who have been homeschooling their children for much longer than I have. Sometimes I wonder how I am doing and ask myself questions such as: “Am I doing too little? Am I doing too much?” I don’t really like the idea of comparing one child to another and seeing if my children reach similar milestones at the same age. I believe that every child is gifted and unique. And as parents, we need to help discover their talents and support them. I just want our children to be better parents than my husband and I and be better individuals who are useful for a lot of people and of course be a better person in the eyes of Allah, our Creator.
Our children are only two years apart. They like to play together. In fact, our son is sad when his big sister is not around to play with him. They both like to play imagination games together. Even with no toys around (sometimes I forget to pack a toy or drawing book when travelling), they will use their fingers for their imaginative play, which mostly developing characters that could be persons or animals. I try to limit TV viewing since they were very little because I wanted them to use more of their imagination which is something that I see missing too soon in children now days.
I have so many ideas on how I’d like to homeschool my children. With most of my supplies mostly packed in boxes (in fact most of our things have been packed in boxes for the past two years now), and with no printer to print out lessons from the Internet, I’m currently surviving on books that have pretty complete lessons for the grades that my children are currently studying. Since the schooling part of my day only takes a few hours, I provide my children with manipulatives that they can play with like LEGO, Playdough and craft materials for drawing and painting that they can interact with throughout the day. When I have extra time, I will do simple science and craft projects together with them. When I’m busy yet they want to do a science project, they will chose one from a book and figure it out themselves and will come to me if they need assistance. I read somewhere that by teaching the oldest child the basic cores needed to learn, eventually the oldest can be a teacher for the younger siblings. And I can see my daughter is doing that right now, and it’s really a big help for me.
I like to involve my children in the day-to-day activities from washing and cutting vegetables for meals, measuring and mixing baking goods, hanging the wet clothes onto the drying rack, and so on. It’s a way of teaching them life skills and responsibility. I also try to always mention Allah and incorporate Islamic principles while we go about our activities throughout the day. I think it’s very important to put the foundation that Islam is a way of life, not just ritual elements, at an early age, too. Watching my children reciting the du’a (prayer) before eating and going the bathroom without me telling them really makes my day. When they were younger, I do have to constantly remind them to do it a lot, but I think it’s worth it. My children speak both English and Indonesia fluently, because I used to talk to them in both languages at the same moment. Right now I just do it once in a while in both languages.
How do you juggle maintaining a household, homeschooling and running a business?
I mainly did it while the children are sleeping or even during the day as well. I must admit that sometimes the business will take over most of my days. Once in a while it’s okay, but when it starts to consume more, I feel bad for my family. I have also been thinking about how am I going to be useful towards others, something bigger than just being useful to my family but also to the community. I’m currently working towards that and this also takes up the time that I have. I am gearing myself to make decisions about my current priorities with the limited time that I have. In the future after we are a little bit more settled, I would love to use an organizer and actually have meal plans to help me keep track and make things easier. Currently, I feel more comfortable taking things a day at a time and managing things as I go along.
Tell us what a typical day is like.
A lot of times, I follow the US time zone. I will wake up in the middle of the night. Since I like to read, I will be using this time to read in bed or work on my business. When the kids wake up to do their Fajr prayer, I will begin my routine around the house. They normally play outdoors for an hour while I settle laundry, do the dishes and neaten up the house. When my children are done playing, we will eat breakfast. Then they will take a morning shower and start their schooling routine. We used to have a set schedule, but it was too stressful for us, so right now we follow more of a routine. Sometimes, I do more household chores while they study. Since my son doesn’t know how to read yet, a lot of times I still need to assist him. As I have a lot of paperwork to deal with, sometimes I need to be outside for hours. I have so many boxes that I need to go through and I need to decide what needs to brought back with us to the US in luggages and ship the rest and also decide which things need to be given away. So when the kids are done with school, I go through the boxes. I do have to attend meetings, trade shows, taking courses once in awhile so my schedule is rather flexible and I have to adapt.
What is the one principle or belief that keeps you going, especially on difficult days?
I need to remind myself that I need to be strong. My children need me. My husband needs me.
What would you advice another mother who would want to start a business or homeschool?
Read, learn, be familiar with what you intend to do as much as you can. Find role models and don’t be hesitant to ask them questions.
Our life can change anytime. Our passions can change. We need to prepare ourselves for what’s coming as much as we can. What we have now may not last long, including your dreams. Therefore, seek knowledge as much as you can and try to implement them. Surround yourself with positive people and a supportive environment.
Thank you Sis Dina for sharing your personal story with us! We pray that Allah continue to ease her burdens and grant her and her family plenty of blessings in this world and in the Hereafter.
To honour Sis Dina, we have named our newest collection, the Dina Executive Dress, after her!
The Inspirational Ummi Project was born out of a desire to share the secret stories that mothers hold behind their everyday struggles. Mothers are known for their quiet strength, and every mother is inspirational. Blessed Ummi hopes to share more of such stories because we know that sharing makes the motherhood journey less lonely, because we know that struggle is the middle name of motherhood. Struggle can be beautiful, and struggle need not be lonely. There is much we can learn from one another. All ummis we feature will be honoured by having a collection named after her and all stories will be permanently on the web Just a little something we can do to leave behind a legacy of stories to empower current and future mothers, and to inspire all of us to live life to the fullest despite our own personal life journeys. Read about other mothers we have featured before:
- Raudah Laza – a young mother who juggles degree, a teaching career and an online educational print shop
- Ildasolha Jamari – Singapore’s first Malay boardbook for children author
- Azlina Abdul Samat – A reflective educator and mother who delved into the world of essential oils for her family and practices simplicity as her parenting principle
- Norlizan Mohidu Kunyalee – A homemaker who believes in including her children to care for their brother who is diagnosed with ASD
- Saliha A. Latif – A Singaporean mother-of-two living in Egypt and runs Embracing Autism, an Autism support FB Page
To suggest a mother you think we should mention, drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org <3