Whether you are a stay at home mum, work from home mum or a full time working mum, you must have felt that you were burning from both ends at some point or another, maybe even constantly. It’s never easy.
Before motherhood, I worked full time in an industry that demanded I be meticulous, tenacious and diplomatic all at once. I was also a part time singer at local music establishments spending some serious time on honing my craft.
Together, my work and hobby consumed me for a good decade.
Being a stay at home mum, a full time working mom and a work from home mum in Singapore
After becoming a mother, I knew that the tiny human being in my arms would become my obsession. I obsessed about her breastfeeding, weaning, feeding, discomforts and anything else you can think of while living in the haze of being severely in need of sleep during my maternity leave.
Despite losing myself entirely, I wanted to be a stay at home mum in Singapore.
Things changed when I returned to work after my maternity leave. I savoured the freedom of being free of a baby while at work, as well as the pride of being able to spend my own money. Eventually, I had to take a career break to be a stay at home mum in Singapore for many years.
Some time at the fifth year mark, I gradually connected again with my peers who were still performing and dedicated time to my hobby again. It has been three years since and I’m still working to keep this arrangement. It helps that my band mates have children as well; our children play together when we have to work on the music but all of us, including our spouses and children have had to make plenty of adjustments and sacrifices.
Currently, I am a work from home mum in Singapore pursuing my song writing/busking interests by the side, while solo parenting frequently.
Drastically different experiences as a stay at home mum and a full time working mum gave me precious insights into the kind of involvement my family requires of me, and made me understand the kind of person I am at the core.
I believe that understanding these factors will give you answers as to the best arrangement for your family.
Keeping things balance as a work from home mum in Singapore
Whatever your current arrangement is at the moment, it will be difficult to keep things balanced. As a work from home mum in Singapore who has also experienced being a full time working mum and a full time stay at home mum, these are the things that kept me sane and helped me find balance.
Setting expectations of each family members’ roles
Setting expectations of each member’s role in the family might be one of the most effective ways to keep sane. This includes taking on the responsibilities and consequences of one of you not following through with your roles.
For example, you can explain to your child/children that their role is to be a student and they have to take responsibility for their schoolwork and exams. While this generally works better with older children, know that even children of very young age will be able to understand expectations if you repeatedly demonstrate and explain things to them.
Plan for different types of work at different times of the day
If you expect to be interrupted because your children are young or because they tend to need you around, you can try to work around it by planning.
I try to do work that needs brainstorming or deep thinking when my child is either not around or asleep and keep work that can be interrupted in the day when she is around.
In terms of schoolwork, I believe that if you are able and comfortable to teach your own children, schedule time for it. However, if you are not, like me, it benefits your children more to be taught by a tuition teacher or in student care.
My daughter goes to a student care after school. Caretakers and teachers at the student care not only ensure she has her meals and completes her homework for the day, they also coach her on subjects she needs help with. By the time I pick my daughter up, we’re ready to spend time with each other, rather than tear each other’s throats out over homework.
Do Chores Together
Doing household chores on top of your work at home is inevitable. It worked for me to first inculcate gratefulness for our home from young.
For example, being thankful to have a clean floor or carpet she can play on, before portraying household chores as our way of taking care of our home and have fun doing it.
We’d do things like clean our bathroom walls and glass divider just before bathing so that we can make drawings on the surfaces with foam without a care. Keeping things fun like this gets both work and play in and keeps everyone happy.
Schedule ‘Me’ Time
It is absolutely true that you can’t pour from a cup that is empty. I go on a minimum of one trip sans kid annually and what this does is to help me remember that I am an individual instead of a worker or somebody’s wife or mother.
I always come back with the capacity to do more for my family and at work, after enough rest.
Dedicate Outdoor Time
The thing about being a work from home mum is that you may have no adult conversations for long periods of time, especially if your child goes to a student care after school like mine. This is the reason why I purposefully plan jogs, lunch dates with my friends and also at least a few hours of time a week for myself to be out and about.
The process of finding ways to maintain balance as a work from home mum in Singapore has not been easy for me personally – I’m still working on it. There are still good days and bad days but, trust me, so long as you keep working on being kind to yourself and the people around you, you’ll find your way.