7 ways Singapore mums achieve work-life balance

November 16, 2016
  • Balancing work and family
    1 / 8 Balancing work and family

    These days, finding that sweet spot between balancing career and family needs can seem almost impossible. Some of us have been fortunate enough to find flexible work arrangements – but for the rest who haven’t, it’s not the end of the world.

    As it turns out, finding that work-life balance may boil down to a combination of smart strategies, personal choices and how we choose to perceive things. Seven Singapore mothers share their strategies.  

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  • “When I’m with my family, I’m 100 per cent there.”
    2 / 8 “When I’m with my family, I’m 100 per cent there.”

    Chuan Hui Min is a regional marketing manager with two sons

    “My hours are pretty flexible. I’m not measured by the hours clocked but by the work delivered. This allows me to work from home when my kids need me, like when there are parent-teacher meetings or school performances. Similarly, I put in extra hours when we’re preparing for large-scale events.

    My husband and I also decided to relocate closer to the kids’ school, which has enabled us to share a wonderful morning routine. I love walking my boys to school and chit-chatting along the way. The daily 10 minutes are short, but so precious!”

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  • “I find ways to create more time in my day.”
    3 / 8 “I find ways to create more time in my day.”

    Joy Chen is a senior copywriter with one son

    “Work-life balance is about compromising and implementing smart life hacks that compress daily activities so I can create more family time. For instance, I do most of my shopping online, and buy household items at lunchtime. I also kill two birds with one stone by taking my baby along on outings with family or friends.

    We have our own place, but split the week between living with either my mum or my in-laws. This converts the time I would otherwise spend travelling to drop off or pick up my son into more family time. After work, I dedicate my time to my son. We play or read, and co-sleep, which fosters closeness.”

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  • “I slice my life into parts.”
    4 / 8 “I slice my life into parts.”

    Valerie Teo is a marketing manager with two daughters

    “My family comes first. I rely heavily on Gary Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages to hit home with the VIPs in my life instead of busying myself with things that don’t matter. For example, I don’t waste time cooking as I know my elder daughter’s love language is quality time, and what she wants is to spend time chatting with me. My younger girl communicates with both words of affirmation and quality time.

    My work comes in at a really close second. I thrive in my job and enjoy working in an organisation that supports work-life balance. I’m usually able to leave work on time and continue working late at night after the kids are in bed when I have to.”

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  • “Work-life balance boils down to prioritisation and effective time management.”
    5 / 8 “Work-life balance boils down to prioritisation and effective time management.”

    Beverly Snodgrass, is a civil servant with two sons

    “After having my firstborn, I took 10 months of no-pay leave after my maternity leave, to care for him. I returned to work when he was 14 months old, and opted for a three-day work week to spend more time with him. This January, we welcomed our second boy, and I’m currently on no-pay leave to care for both my little ones.

    It’s always a tough challenge to find that balance between career success and quality family time, so I’m grateful to have the option of taking extended time off to focus on my young family.

    At work, I strive to be effective and efficient, so I can get work done well in a shorter time. At home, I would like my kids to take comfort in the knowledge that their mum will always be with them, and make time for them.”

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  • “I focus on personal priorities when the kids are asleep.”
    6 / 8 “I focus on personal priorities when the kids are asleep.”

    Melissa Ng Twohill works in human resources and has a son and a daughter

    “I believe work-life harmony is about prioritising what’s important to you, understanding that these priorities will change over time, and accepting that there will be trade-offs as you go along.

    They say it takes a village to raise a child, so I’m very blessed to have wonderful family support. My older boy, Nate, goes to school in the mornings, while the nanny takes care of Emily during the day.

    My bosses have been extremely supportive throughout both my pregnancies, too. I’ll be switching to flexible hours when I return to work after my maternity leave. I plan to head in earlier so I can leave earlier in the evenings to pick up the kids. Plus, my office provides home access, which means I’ll be able to log back into work after the kids are asleep to tie up any loose ends.”

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  • “My husband and I balance downtime with each other.”
    7 / 8 “My husband and I balance downtime with each other.”

    Lin Yiling is an allied educator with one son 

    “I segregate my time clearly without making unnecessary sacrifices. This means not bringing work home at the expense of family time, and not allowing each area to eat into the other. Working in a school means ending work at different times every day, so I make sure I wrap up my work in time, and never leave later than 5.30pm.

    I stay in on weeknights with my husband and son. Come evening, you’ll usually find us at the playground. And, as my son still falls asleep nursing, I’m the one who puts him to bed every night.

    At weekends, my hubby and I bond over breakfast – those 20 minutes of uninterrupted talk time help us to stay connected. The rest of the time is spent as a family. I like to think of our small family as a team, working around each other’s needs so that we are not exhausted.”

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  • “My bosses trust me to complete my projects.”
    8 / 8 “My bosses trust me to complete my projects.”

    Lavinia Denise Selvakumar is a teacher with a daughter and son

    “Right after giving birth to both my kids, I took no-pay leave to care for each one, until they were six months old. This helped me to build a close rapport with them, and build on my own maternal style. Those times were the happiest moments of my life. The days may have been long but my heart was joyful. I’m back to regular school hours now.

    Work-life harmony is about being purposeful in every engagement and every activity. I am blessed to have bosses who understand the struggles of a working mum and trust in my professionalism. I believe this helped us to build a wonderful working relationship, and helped me see that being a full-time working mum was not an impossible task.” 

    Related: When parents have different parenting styles

    A version of this story first appeared in Simply Her

    (Photos: 123RF.com & SH)

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