Belynda Sim
Apr 24, 2020

WFH diary: Chinese homework, deep breaths and some much-needed wine

TBWA Singapore's strategy director straddles looking over her kids' homework and managing work calls. Fellow parents, you're not alone.

WFH diary: Chinese homework, deep breaths and some much-needed wine

The agency started working from home earlier than others. And I love working from home when we first started, it was the best quiet time any mum can ask for. Then I had to share a co-working space with the mister (when his office starting WFH too). Not as fun because we have different working styles.

And then the nightmare of all parents came true when the government announced school closures from April 8 to June 1. 

What kind of boundaries would I have in a home-work-play space? None, as I’ve discovered on my first ‘circuit breaker’ day. Here’s how it went.

7.15 am: Attempting to draw boundaries by prepping their work stations, trying to make everything as self-serve as possible. KLIPSK bed trays coming in handy.

7:30 to 8 am: Breakfast while I grade homework.

8 to 9 am: E-learning time. Getting an early start on math while dad preps for a meeting.

9 to 10.30 am: Calls, calls, calls. While the 3-year-old tries to climb onto my lap. Argh.

10:30 am to 12 pm: Briefs and emails as I coach the 8-year-old with his Chinese e-learning. Chinese was my biggest weakness as a kid, but next to the husband, I make a much better Chinese coach, so I’m now a Chinese teacher too. Double argh.

2:23 pm: Received a group text relating to Chinese homework. The moms had a collective moment of panic but decided to ‘screw it’ as it seemed to be a problem none of us could solve. At least we’re all in it together.

3:30 pm: Someone wants a nap on my lap, so I had to move my working space to the sofa.

4 to 5:30 pm: Back to calls. Yay I feel like a working adult again!

6 pm: Shut down laptop.

8 to 8:15 pm: Yoga with the kids before bed. Not sure who needed it more. Me or the kids?

My biggest lesson during this ‘circuit breaker’ experience? It’s okay to let it go. The more control you want, the more frustrated you get and the more unhappy everyone at home is.

The good thing is, everyone’s in this together. Everyone’s been super understanding. Bosses laugh when your kids make funny faces behind the screen. When you hear a screaming kid (or a barking dog) in the background, you’ll see people on the call looking over their shoulder and someone saying ‘sorry, it’s mine.’ You end client meetings with everyone’s kids waving goodbye.

So whenever I feel overwhelmed, I just have to remind myself to stay calm, I’m not alone.

*Breaks out the wine*

Belynda Sim is strategy director at TBWA Singapore.

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