Because I’m HAPPY!

As in Pharrell’s infectious Happy song, clap along if you – like JAYMEE ONG – know what happiness is to you! The modelactress- host, whose favourite dance partners are her kids, shares her list of eight things that make her happy. BY STELLA THNG

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

As in Pharrell’s infectious Happy song, clap along if you – like JAYMEE ONG – know what happiness is to you! The modelactress- host, whose favourite dance partners are her kids, shares her list of eight things that make her happy. BY STELLA THNG

My Reading Room

Jaymee Ong knows the importance of being happy. The leggy modelhost- actress was hit by severe post-partum depression just days after delivering her son Harrison in September last year. But she refused to wallow in tears and fears. “I wanted to treat it as soon as possible. I’m not one to pretend I’m not going through it and just hope that it will go away,” says the second-time mum, who had mild baby blues after giving birth to daughter Juliet, now six. After seeing a psychiatrist and taking antidepressants for the past year, Jaymee has rebalanced her life and is loving being a busy mum of two. “Parenthood is the most amazing thing in the world, but it’s really difficult,” says the Australian- Chinese beauty, who is based in Singapore, where she hosts AXN’s entertainment show, eBuzz. Medical help aside, Jaymee, who turns 37 in September, believes staying positive was also key to helping her regain her footing. The battle-toughened mum shares her tips on staying happy with us.

1 Having A Healthy, Happy Family

Before Jaymee’s post-partum depression, her family was hit by a previous health crisis. In 2012, she and husband, Australian electrical engineer Matthew Heath, 37, were attending a friend’s wedding in Perth when he suffered a sudden stroke. Then a new dad, he was just 33, healthy and exercised regularly. Matthew has since made a full recovery but the episode scarred Jaymee for life. “When you’re younger and haven’t had kids, you think you’re indestructible,” she says ruefully. “But as I get older, I really, really don’t take our health for granted anymore.” She strives to lead by example. For instance, she takes Juliet grocery shopping so she can see that Mummy buys lots of fresh produce, vegetables and fruits instead of processed food. “We have veggies every single night. Any meat is usually grilled or steamed,” explains Jaymee, who adds that they indulge in the occasional snack, but Juliet doesn’t have a habit of asking for them. “She’d rather eat a punnet of strawberries than candy. She saw some kids having candy floss the other day and she told me, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s so much sugar!’” chuckles Jaymee. Amazingly, Juliet has never tasted fizzy drinks either. Jaymee once offered her some Sprite and she turned it down.

Jaymee, who likes to start her day with a 30- to 45-minute exercise routine, also inculcates the right exercise habits in Juliet by doing yoga or Tracy Anderson exercise videos in front of her. “She puts her little mat next to mine and copies my moves!” She also bikes or scoots along when Jaymee takes Harrison on walks.

“It’s such a cliche but, if you don’t have your health, you don’t have much,” says Jaymee. You see people who work themselves to the bone, but at what cost? You may be really successful at your job but there’s no point if you are miserable.”

2 Feeling Strong & Being Healthy

“Eating right, exercising, sleeping right, really taking care of my body, feeling good – that’s when I feel my best,” says Jaymee, now also the face of SOS (Science on Skin), a new skincare range produced and used by doctors that was recently launched in Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong. She swears by its Multivitamins+ serum. “It really helps with the pigmentation I developed during pregnancy.”

Unlike during her early modelling career, Jaymee now focuses less on the numbers on her weighing scale and more on being healthy. The svelte mum works out at a gym her friend runs in Tanjong Katong. She knows too, from personal experience, that physical and emotional wellness go hand in hand. “When you feel like you’re in a slump, it’s easy to laze around on the couch in pyjamas and it’s a difficult cycle to break. That’s why I like to get going first thing in the day with a workout – it lays the groundwork for the rest of the day.”

3 Getting Ready For A Good Sleep

Jaymee dreams of getting eight solid hours of sleep every night but as every parent knows, that seldom happens. “I wake up when Harrison wants a cuddle, and I can’t get back to sleep. My mind wanders and I think about the things to do the next day.

To counter that, she’s in bed by 10pm. “It’s hard but I really try not to look at my phone to check Instagram or Facebook before bed,” she says. Instead, she spends 45 minutes reading, which helps her to get tired and ready for a good sleep.

The coffee lover also avoids drinking it after 2pm, sticking to herbal tea instead. If sleep still eludes her, she counts on her breathing exercises. “Inhale for four counts, hold for eight counts, then exhale for eight counts,” shares Jaymee. “I do it four or five times. It helps!”

4 Dancing With Her Kids

Before the kids came along, she loved hitting the clubs. “I’d be the first one on the dance floor and the last one off it!” These days, she does her jiving at home. She plays anything from old-school Eurythmics to Bruno Mars and Juliet’s favourite, Katy Perry, while they prance around.

“My son loves watching us, he thinks it’s hysterical! I also pick him up and dance with him. It’s hard not to laugh and smile when you’re dancing. It’s a mood lifter.”

5 Heading For The Beach When In Australia

“It’s my happy place. There’s nothing like water, breeze and sand to make me feel alive,” says Jaymee dreamily. Whenever she goes home to Australia, she heads for the beach – even during winter. “You just don’t get that same fresh air in Singapore.”

6 Hanging Out With Her Little Sis

Although separated from each other for half their lives, Jaymee, who left Australia when she was 18, and sister Lindsay, 32, who lives in Gold Coast, remain extremely close. They Facetime twice a day and text each other all the time. And they visit each other twice a year.

Husband Matthew jokes that he cannot tell them apart when he shuts his eyes – they sound the same, talk the same way and have the same mannerisms.

“She’s one of my favourite people in the world. Nobody makes me laugh the way she does,” declares the doting big sis. “We can sit around in our pyjamas, watch bad TV, and talk and laugh all day.”

Observing that some of her friends have siblings they just tolerate, Jaymee is grateful that she has a best friend in her sister. “Do we piss each other off sometimes? Of course! But we’re not afraid to call each other out when we argue, and are willing to listen to each other and say, ‘Okay, you were right’.”

7 Getting Dressed For Date Night With Hubby

“I love getting my makeup and hair done, dressing up, having a couple of cocktails and holding hands with my hubby!” Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen every week but when they do get a night out, they make it count. It doesn’t even have to be anywhere fancy-schmancy, says Jaymee. “Just having a kiss and a cuddle – no nagging, no eye-rolling or getting on each other’s nerves. It’s important to make that effort and time. We’re due for one soon!”

8 Going Offiine & Loving It

During a recent trip to Australia, Jaymee discovered the joys of going offiine. She didn’t have access to reliable Wi-Fi so she checked in just once a day, for a few minutes, on her social media accounts. And she loved it!

She finds the current social media culture unhealthy and exhausting. “You know where everybody is all the time, what they’re wearing, eating, doing… You can’t even queue at the bank without checking in,” muses Jaymee.

She is concerned that her kids are growing up in a world where photos and status updates become measures for validation. “Your life is not defined by how many Instagram followers you have. It shouldn’t be this important. It doesn’t make you a better person.”

So she strives to model the right behaviour. For example, she avoids being on her phone too much in front of Juliet.

“It’s quite frightening that that’s the world they’ll grow up in,” says Jaymee, citing the oft-seen example of everyone at dinner scrolling through social media updates on their phones. “When I’m with them, I want to be all there, not checking Facebook! I want to set that standard for my kids.” SH