For the past 4 years, I was a stay-at-home-mum, and prior to that, I worked from home for a decade so that I could be around for my kids as they were growing up.
Now that #1 is turning 18 and not-so little Kate is in school for 4 hours a day, I can finally pursue my own work without feeling bad that I have left so many kids at home to be cared for by the helper and a hubs whose eyes are focused on the computer screen most of the day.
The funny thing is, the kids are so used to the hubs and I both being at home that they find it a novelty that mum goes to work!
When they see me coming down all dressed (instead of being in home attire most of the time), the teenagers will ask, “Mum, where are you going?”
“Oh wow, you have work to go to.” They are amused, and I’m sure they are (secretly) proud of me. Well, I hope.
|Our Brady bunch
So how do I juggle my days now that I am a working mum?
As my own boss of an enrichment centre, I am fortunate to have the flexibility of time and can choose to work partly from home. The flip side however, is that even when I’m home, I tend to be on the computer (there is always more to do!) and Kate has pleaded with me on several occasions, “Mummy, can you stop your computer and play with me?” I need more self-restraint to block out time meant for the kids!
My weekday schedule hasn’t changed all that much as I try to fit my work schedule around the kids’ school day. In the mornings while the kids are in school, I go to my centre for training, brainstorming sessions or to touch base with my staff. I leave at 12noon to pick Kate up and spend the afternoons with the kids as they return home from school. After the younger kids have gone to bed, I get some work done before calling it a night at 12 or 1am, although some nights I’m exhausted and fall asleep while putting Kate to bed.
My weekend. The day which has changed the most for me is Saturday. I documented our Saturday a year ago, where it was a balance between seeing to the younger and older kids’ different needs while making time for simple activities as a family.
Now, I work almost every Saturday, to personally run our weekly trial classes as our concept is new to parents and many do not understand what we do even after browsing our website. I have come to enjoy these sessions as we are on this parenting journey together, and it is always nice to get to know the parents of the kids whom we are working with.
|Our Little Executives
Saturday mornings: I take Kate along with me, and she attends her class while I speak to the parents. Some days she stays the whole day with me, and keeps herself entertained by playing with the other kids at our centre, or simply playing by herself.
Meanwhile at home, the 4 older kids sleep in on weekends to make up for the sore lack of sleep on school days. My dad has learnt to Whatsapp them directly to see who is at home, and my parents will detour to the market to buy brunch over so that our helper doesn’t have to cook.
My mum will see to the needs of the kids and ensure everything is ok. She usually spends time chatting with the teens and takes an afternoon nap in their rooms. My parents have been such a life saver for the past 18 years, and even though they are in their 70s, they enjoy their role and the company of the kids.
Afternoons: Some days, the hubs might come by to my centre with #4 and #5 to pick Kate up. He has stepped up to the plate knowing that I am busy with work. Wish I had done this earlier!
There are times when I can’t figure out what they get up to when he sends across such pictures, but I’m glad he is spending more time bonding with them. Now that I’m at home much less to supervise him, #5 spends too much time watching TV and playing on the computer, so the more time in nature, the better.
|Dad.. we are exhausted
This Saturday arrangement has been working well and occasionally, I get time in between my sessions to meet up with old friends for lunch to celebrate birthdays.
Initially, when I started to work on Saturdays, I was apprehensive about being away on a weekend when everyone else was at home, but it has turned out really well and Kate has been enjoying her Saturdays tremendously. Time alone with mummy. Fun times with daddy and siblings. Friends to play with or going out for nice meals. What more can she ask for?!
Evenings: I return home in the late afternoon or evening, depending on how many sessions I run, and the hubs would be fixing a nice dinner for the kids. We sit with them for an early dinner (around 6pm) and have a few small bites while seeing that they are all fed.
Once everything is settled, we prepare to head out to meet with friends for dinner, leaving the older girls in charge.
Although we have been going out much less as a family these past 2 months due to me working on Saturdays and preferring to stay in on Sundays to rest and recharge, the timing couldn’t be better as #4 has been busy with PSLE preparations and #2 has been spending the weekends catching up on sleep and studying for her O level exams which commences next week.
Occasionally, the hubs will cook up a storm or start a little BBQ and roast some nice meats, and my parents and brother’s family will join us for dinner or we might head out nearby to have dinner together.
|Slow roasted BBQ ribs
Night out: It’s nice to relax and unwind from a long week over a nice dinner with 1 or 2 other couples, and there’s usually some interesting event going on somewhere.
Late night: After a heavy meal, I find it hard to sleep so what’s the best thing to do when the kids are asleep and the house is dead quiet? Besides the hottest topic everyone is heated up over these past few days..
I work. My work is akin to a hobby. I turn to it every spare moment I have, and it brings me great joy and satisfaction.
If my brain cells are buzzing, I’ll put in some heavy work like reading research papers, writing up rationales of our curriculum or doing some bookkeeping. But if I’m brain-fried, I’ll do relaxing work like blogging or sorting the kids/family admin, which is another never-ending task!
|Wine pairing dinner
It may be unimaginable, but I’m happiest now than I have ever been since having kids.
I don’t know if anyone can relate to this, but there was a period of more than 5 years when I did not have time to meet with friends nor go out with the hubs. It was routine, routine, routine. So much so that now as I make time to re-connect with old friends, my kids are surprised. “Mum, we didn’t know you had so many friends!” Yup, I’m accustomed to such bluntness. Is it just my teens?
Getting the 5 young kids to eat, sleep, and bathe took up my entire day and every ounce of energy. The focus was more like 95% kids, 5% work (to hang on to my sanity), 0% me, 0% fun. I didn’t know any better, but oh well, I survived and emerged stronger.
After 18 years, I finally have balance.
Family time with the children, yet ample time away from them which is just as important.
Work which I enjoy; both meaningful and mentally stimulating, and working with passionate, like-minded educators who bring energy to my days.
Time with the hubs, good friends, and adult conversations where we chat and laugh ourselves silly, as I have almost forgotten how it feels to enjoy the company of friends without my thoughts constantly revolving around the kids.
I become more ready to take on the new week.
I am in a good place now.
For that, I am thankful.
For more glimpses into our days, this is how my week looks like. It does get pretty crazy around here! The last time I documented my weekday was 2 years ago when Kate was 2, and looking back, things have changed significantly.
Next up on this blog train is Dorothea, a mum of two boys, aged 6 and 4. She writes about life, love, parenting and faith at A Pancake Princess, and is also a regular contributor to The New Age Parents, an online magazine. These days, she also enjoys crafting customised artwork and holding watercolour / calligraphy workshops, and goes by the name of Dottishop. Meanwhile, most of her time is spent chasing make-believe dinosaurs, making messy art, breaking up fights and picking crumbs off the floor – and she wouldn’t have it any other way.
Thank you for hopping on board this blog train hosted by the inspirational Justina of Mum in the Making. Click on Day in a Life blog train to take a peek into a day in the life of other mummies!