18 March 2019, by Flora Isabelle
The ideal work-life balance was once drawn up to be: 8 hours for work, 8 hours for sleep and 8 hours to do your other necessary and leisure activities in a day. Whoever came up with that equation wasn’t a Mom cause even 24 hours a day isn’t enough for mothers, am I right? Haha. But jokes aside, I often find many of my working mom friends lamenting that they hardly have time for themselves cause all their leave is spent on their kids, especially when they fall sick. No wonder it is recently raised in Parliament that the legislated six days of paid childcare leave and unpaid infant-care leave we have in Singapore is “insufficient”.
Until major changes happen in our employment ecosystem, we have to make do unrealistic work-life balance expectations and try our best. Be an ace manager at work, and yet be sure to have dinner with your family while planning Pinterest-worthy birthday parties? You go, girl!
So how do you find some work-life balance then? Here are a few tips I got from my friends and seniors at work and hopefully they will work for you (and me!) too.
As cliche as it sounds, your mindset can affect things by a lot. If you are always moody about having “no time”, well, you’re always going to have not enough time then. Try to find joy in the little things and small pockets of time you have – sure, we might not have time to catch a movie with popcorn (I prefer sweet over salty by the way) at the cinemas but what’s stopping us from catching the latest episode of the newest Korean drama or Netflix Originals while commuting to and from work?
I know, women are natural multi-taskers and our minds are often on 289479 things at the same thing. But what I think helps to make me less frustrated is to be entirely present when performing a responsibility as an employee, mother, or wife. In an important work meeting? Don’t think about the kids. Focus on the tasks at hand and enjoy the dynamic business conversations while engaging the intellectual part of your mind. When home, put the phone (and computer) away and do not check your emails so you can be there for your kids. 30 minutes of quality Mom time beats 2 hours of “I’m there but I’m on phone so hang on a sec” Mom time I’d think. And on the rare occasion that you get to have a date night with your significant other, do not worry about the kids. Trust that the designated caregiver will be able to do a good (enough) job and if there’s really an emergency, they would call you. Otherwise, there’s no need to call and check on them every 20 minutes.
Get Good Help
Like really, really, really quality help – be it a mother-in-law, helper or infant care centre if necessary. This way, it will allow you to focus on work (and play) without that nagging feeling at the back of your mind. I do know that it’s easier said than done for this, but just keep trying!
Schedule Play Dates
This is my personal favourite. I love meeting fellow Mommies with their kids at indoor playgrounds so while all the bubs get to play (and preferably spend time with Daddy), I get to indulge in adult conversation and a slice of cake (or two).
Make Life Easier
It’s the little things that add up – prepare the kids’ lunchboxes and choose your outfit the night before so you don’t end up rushing in the morning, make sure your car key is right next to the door so you can just grab it on the way out without having to hunt for it – and will allow you to enjoy breakfast with the family (even if it’s just a few more minutes).
Also, with online shopping and other apps, you can now remove mundane activities such as grocery shopping from your everyday life. What I do is to add items to my online grocery shopping cart everytime I realise I’m out of something or as/when it comes to mind and check out whenever I hit the required minimum for free delivery. This way, I save myself about 1 to 2 hours of grocery shopping a week that can be better spent on something else – such as a manicure or a much-needed massage 😉