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How To Balance Work, Life And Family Commitments As A Working Mum?

working parents

Much has been said in honour of women who give up flourishing careers to slog it out with diapers, dish-washing and dirty floors at home, taking on the life of a Stay At Home Mom (SAHM) full-time. But equally deserving of honour are those mothers who choose to return to the workforce – whether out of necessity or passion – and still devote themselves 100% to their family, day in and day out. These mothers at work are no less deserving of praise for the time and energy they lavish on their loved ones each day. We asked two mothers to share their journeys and tips with us while balancing work, life and family commitments.

working mother balancing work life balance

Janet Yap, 42, Senior Staff Nurse

1. What does ‘work’ look like for you?

I’m a Senior Staff Nurse by profession. My role is to cover all nursing aspects peri-operatively of my patient, and to coordinate and assist neurosurgeons using our facility for radio-surgery. Proper and careful organization of schedules with external counterparts in the team ensure treatment sessions can be performed as planned.

I work office hours, five days a week. As a nurse, I’m blessed to have such a work arrangement, as most nurses have to do shift duties. Working nine-to-five allows me to spend more time with my family.

2. Why did you choose this route?

As we have three kids, living off a single income left us with very little savings each month. With the support from my parents and sister (who stay just two floors above my unit), I decided to go back to work full-time last year to supplement the increasing financial demands on the family.

3. How do you juggle work with family life?

I try to plan the entire week’s menu for the family in advance, and do our marketing over the weekend. Having three kids with pretty huge age gaps and different needs can be challenging at times. My parents and sister have been amazing in helping us relieve some of the stress. As I have a minor heart condition, I tire out easily. I try to cat nap whenever I can, eg. on my way home in the MRT.

Of course, some compromises have had to be made. Couple time and “me-time” is often sacrificed so that we can spend more time all together as a family. Having said that, both hubby and I still try to date at least once a month, and aim to go for short trip together at least once a year. Our most recent trip to Taiwan in July was definitely a welcome break!

4. What do you enjoy about your current situation?

I have always enjoyed my job as a nurse in the past, so going back to the workforce wasn’t too bad. Knowing that I have contributed to my patients’ well being, and knowing they are on the road to recovery, makes me happy. A ‘thank you’ from them warms my heart so much. And my extra income means more savings for the family too.

5. What are some of the challenges you face?

The greatest challenge for me is physical fatigue, since I tire so easily. On the one hand, I want to spend precious moments with my kids whenever I am home with them, but on the other hand, the body screams “You need to rest!”. I feel sad that the previously frequent trips to the park to roller blade or cycle haven’t happened since I’ve gone back to work.

I also wish I could spend more time with my No. 3 during these first few years of her life. My mum and helper look after her while I’m at work, and always report about her growth and development to me – but I do feel sad sometimes that I’m not there to witness these things for myself.

6. How do you cope with these challenges?

We try not to pack the weekends too full of activities, so that I can have some rest. We have made plans to grow our finances so that we ‘retire’ in 5-7 years time, to spend time with the kids and do more outreach work and give back to society in whatever ways we can.

Related post: Think Nurses Have It Easy? Think Again

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working mother

Pang Liyee, 40, freelance editor

1. What does ‘work’ look like for you?

I work from home and do freelance proof reading and/or copy editing on a project basis. I will read through an author’s work and make corrections on typographical, grammatical errors, and if necessary, make changes to the structure and content of the work.

Currently I am usually involved towards the end of a project but depending on the stage that I am involved, I will go through the work 2-3 times or more to ensure that the corrections made are followed through in the amended copy.

There are no fixed hours but there is a deadline to meet. Deadlines can be quite tight so at times I might be spending 4-6 hours at a stretch.

2. Why did you choose this route?

I feel quite strongly about staying home to be with my kids, especially when they are still very young (one is not in school yet), and working full-time out of the house would definitely mean less time with them, especially when you factor in traveling time to and from the office. So working from home in a job that doesn’t require much meeting up or coordination with other people is really ideal. I also get to exercise my writing and thinking skills so they don’t get rusty.

3. How do you juggle work with family life?

I usually do my work at night or in the afternoon when the kids are asleep. If the deadline is tight, I cut down on outings, do only the necessary chores, and spend some weekend afternoons on my work while my husband cares for the kids.

4. What do you enjoy about your current situation?

I like that it is flexible, so I can schedule my work hours around my family’s needs.

5. What are some of the challenges you face?

If I stay up to work late, I normally end up tired and cranky the next day. That takes a toll on my relating with my kids, as I tend to give less positive attention to them. I also do less activities with them, because I’m so tired.

6. How do you cope with these challenges?

I don’t take on too many projects, especially concurrent and back to back projects, so everyone gets a breather. I aim to be more efficient and focused in my work so it gets done faster. I also try to intentionally exercise patience with my kids and myself when I’m tired, so we all stay calm.

Related post: Heading Back To Work? Who Will Care For Your Baby? School, Nanny Or Grandparents?

Get more tips on how you can balance work, life and family as a working mother.

By Dorothea Chow

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