Material Moms, The Mothership

[Material Moms] This Crazy Lil’ Thing Called Love – Elisa Woodward

One moment you are going, “I wish I were still single!”, the next you are going, “I love my kids to death!”. Don’t worry. You are not crazy. As Material Mom Elisa Woodward explains, these conflicting feelings are totally natural. 

elisa1Kids – one minute they are driving you up the wall with their antics, the next, they fill your heart with such intense love. Only a mother can understand that it is perfectly normal to oscillate from one to the next in the same hour.

Hands up if you have friends who openly lament the loss of freedom and personal time, and yet still continue to post up pictures of their kids coupled with public declarations of their love and adoration. Or, what about the colleague who complains how little she’s slept the previous night and proceeds to light up with joy when her kid calls her at lunch? We grumble about the mess our kids create, the toys that never get put away, and yet, the sight of them asleep in their beds makes our heart melt and all resolve to discipline them just vanish into thin air. All you want to do is hug and kiss them.

I think the love a parent has towards his/her child is indeed one of the truest loves of all, and it’s a love even my staunchest non-kids friends cannot deny.

A friend – who has made it more than clear that she doesn’t ever want kids – recently admitted that a child does give you a sense of purpose. “The child creates a purpose in life that goes beyond your career, marriage, and lifestyle. This is someone you are prepared to love unconditionally, someone you are prepared to take care of and nurture throughout his/her entire life. Even after you are gone from this world, you want to make sure they are well taken care of.”

I have no regrets about about having my kids at a young age. They bring to my life joy and completeness – although some days I need to be reminded. No matter how old they are, no matter if they are in university or are married with their own kids, your children will always be children to you.

As parents, we have such huge responsibilities because we bring children into this world not by their choice but our own. How we bring them up, how we teach them about life … everything depends on us. The years between 7 and 12 are particularly important because these years are when they formulate their thoughts and impression on love and human nature. Someone once told me that the only thing he remembers of his childhood was how it was particularly dark and unhappy, and that has somewhat coloured his views of the world and how he sees people. This is why it is crucial to make sure your kids end their day and go to bed knowing they are loved and protected.

Even when I’m miles away from my children, the thought of them brings a smile to my face. Just the thought that I have people to live for and that they are also dependent on me gives my life purpose.

And love is simply just this amazing.

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About The Author: Elisa Woodward, a career-focused wife and a mom of two active boys, is a Jack of all trades, who enjoys flummoxing people. She likes getting her hands dirty (figuratively and literally), yet enjoys dressing up just enough to “look acceptable”. She embraces wholeheartedly the concept of getting older.

 

 

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Material Moms, Small Purchase

[Material Moms] For The Love Of Crafts – Selena Quah

Love creating crafts with your kids? Read on to find out what Material Mom Selena Quah thought of the new Brother’s ScanNCut machine.

I remember cutting out ‘Happy Birthday’ alphabets for my son’s 4th birthday party and my husband rolling his eyes at me for putting in so much effort.

“Why don’t you just buy the bunting?”

“But it’s more meaningful to do it yourself. Plus, I can make my own design!”

That was just one of the many times I spent time and effort cutting things out manually with a pair of scissors. To be honest, I did wish I could magically zap it out so I could finish up and go to bed early.

Well, someone at Brother must have heard my wish, and the wish of many crafters out there I’m sure.

The Machine

The ScanNCut with the materials for making the card.

The ScanNCut with the materials for making the card.

Brother, better known for their sewing machines, has developed an innovative machine that can scan any image, whether printed or hand-­drawn, and cut out your desired pattern from paper, fabric or vinyl. I know the concept sounds simple, but if you’ve done things the manual way, you’ll understand the draw of this device.

Loading the adhesive mat with the paper to be cut into the ScanNCut

Loading the adhesive mat with the paper to be cut into the ScanNCut.

The ScanNCut looks like a small ink­jet printer and is equipped with a built-­in 300dpi (dots per inch) scanner. In place of an ink cartridge is the cutter blade. The machine has data storage so you can save scanned images and have the machine cut out those shapes on any material you feed it, up to a maximum thickness of 3mm (so even cardboard and felt is fine). If you want the same shape cut out from various types of paper or fabric, this feature is a real time saver.

The Hands-­on

I had the opportunity to try the ScanNCut with my craft­-loving eldest son to get a feel of how the machine works. We were guided through the process of creating a ‘pop­-up’ Christmas card with layers of different sized paper on the cover.

The machine proved to be fairly easy to operate. Even my five-­and-­a-­half year old understood the basic functions quite quickly, and eagerly helped some of the participants sharing the same workstation as us. You scan the pattern you want and save it into the machine’s memory, then using the adhesive mat, put the pieces of paper you want cut onto it, load the mat into the machine, click a few buttons, and voila! All the pieces are cut out for you. In all, it took less than 10 minutes to cut the pieces and assemble the card.

The ScanNCut’s blade made clean and smooth cuts. I thought it was impressive that the machine could even do more delicate work like cutting out the words ‘Merry Christmas’. All these are not impossible to do manually, but it would easily have taken three to four times the amount of time (or more) compared to using the ScanNCut.

We did find that you have to make sure the paper is stuck firmly onto the adhesive mat otherwise the paper will slide and will not be cut properly. The group I was working with encountered this problem a few times, but besides this we didn’t have any other issues.

The Good

If you like crafts, the possibilities with this machine are endless.

Close up of the finished product

Close up of the finished product.

The scalloped edges cut perfectly.

The scalloped edges cut perfectly.

It’s great for kids’ parties; you can do the bunting (without your husband rolling his eyes at you), customise the invites and decor to suit any theme you want, make all kinds of confetti (this really excites me because I love confetti!), prepare art and craft corners with themed cut-­outs, make face masks (with the ScanNCut, cutting out the holes for the eyes is a lot easier), make customised T-shirts by cutting out designs from iron­-on paper or cloth appliques, and so on.

Scrapbooking fans will love how they can create all kinds of paper and fabric embellishments. Quilters will love that the fabric pieces are cut to precision, and you can even specify the seam allowance you want when cutting the fabric. Pre­-school teachers will appreciate that the machine saves them time when preparing materials for art and craft sessions for an entire class of children.

Plus, if your kids like arts and crafts, making a card together like I did with my son is a nice time of bonding.

I really wouldn’t mind having this machine, but …

The Price

It’s touted as being the ‘world’s first home and hobby cutting machine’, but to acquire it you must have quite a lot of spare cash lying around. At $828, I feel the price is prohibitive. There’s also the other issue of replacing the adhesive mat (around $20 for the 12 x 12 low tack adhesive mat). Apparently each mat can be used up to 20 times. Even if you rotate the mat around so you use every inch of it for different projects, I figure you’ll need to make several replacements a year if you use it intensively.

I like what the ScanNCut can do, and I can see many groups of people who would like to use it and can benefit from such a machine. But until the price drops, I’ll just use my scissors.

Oh well.

Material World was invited by Brother to try the ScanNCut machine. All opinions are the author’s own. This post is neither paid for nor advised by the brand. Please read our advertising policy here.

Selena Quah with Asher Selena Quah enjoys the little things in life and hopes her children will pick up this trait from her too. She thinks kids are an excellent excuse to indulge in things she likes such as strolling through parks, doing art and craft, and baking. A dancer from young, she hopes to get back to it when the kids are older, though for now she’ll have to make do with dancing around the house while her boys wonder why Mummy is mad. You can find Selena’s blog Unlikely Lady of Leisure here. 

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Material Moms, The Mothership

[Material Moms] Review: Mums and Bubs at Breathe Pilates – Delphine Tan

For busy working mothers, being able to combine quality time with Junior along with a fitness session sounds like a win-win situation, right? Find out what Material Mom Delphine Tan has to say about Breathe Pilates’ Mums & Bubs class! 

About one or two months after baby is born, the thought that crosses my mind the most often after “I wish I could get more sleep!” is “I really should get back into shape!” It’s easier said than done, however, especially if you are nursing and can’t be away from baby (or a breast pump) for too long. One solution is an exercise class that actually encourages you to bring baby along.

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Yep! That’s a baby right there between my legs …

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Which is more fun to work out with: ball or baby?

Mums & Bubs class at Breathe Pilates is perfect if you want to ease back into exercising after delivery but need to have baby with you all the time. If you want to attend without baby in tow, you are also more than welcome to. Baby should be able to support his own neck well but should not be crawling yet.

Clear instructions that were easy to follow were given throughout the class. It was my first time doing Pilates exercises on a reformer and I appreciated that the equipment provided the support needed by a post-natal body to safely carry out the exercises. The exercises chosen were suitable for regaining core strength and flexibility after delivery and not too strenuous.

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I would have liked it more if the exercises incorporated the baby directly; most of the time, we left baby lying down while we played a sort of peekaboo while doing our Pilates exercises on the reformer. That would be okay for most babies but mine is very restless and just wanted to be carried so he started fussing.

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Overall, it was an enjoyable session as it got me moving and definitely more interested in exercising! Mums & Bubs at Breathe Pilates is conducted on Wednesdays at 11.30am.

Breathe Pilates is located at #09-33 Novena Medical Center, 10 Sinaran Drive (8 participants); and #13-02 Parkway Centre, 1 Marine Parade Central. For more information or to make an appointment, call 9835 5683, email info@breathepilates.com.sg, or visit www.breathepilates.com.sg.

Delphine and family The Author: Delphine Tan still feels like a kid but is married to Adrian and mother to Anya, Adam, and David. Since she has no artistic talent and does not know how to cook, she spends her free time reading, blogging, and collecting matryoshka. Besides being addicted to caffeine, Delphine also suffers from the compulsive need to Instagram every single plate of food that she eats. 

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Material Moms, Small Purchase

[Material Moms] Can This Relieve My Baby’s Dry Skin? – Selena Quah

Babies are so delicate, it’s no surprise mothers are particular about what goes onto their skin. Material Mom Selena Quah reviews Innisfree Pure Green Baby Line on her newest bundle of joy, her verdict, below.

I had noticed that my third baby had skin that was particularly dry and scaly. Even the pediatrician commented on her exceptionally dry skin and recommended we apply more moisturizer on her. So when Material World asked if I would like to give Innifree Pure Green Baby Line a shot, I agreed and was curious to see if its products would work on my baby.

Before: My baby's skin was dry and flaky.

Before: My baby’s skin was dry and flaky.

Its Claims
The Pure Green Baby line is aimed at addressing the growing need among parents for safe products for their children. Innisfree’s Pure Green Baby Line is formulated with organic Jeju Green Tea that has been proven to be mild and suitable even for infants. It is an ingredient that is featured in all seven of their Pure Green Baby products.

I tried the Pure Green Baby Mom’s Touch Milk Oil, Pure Green Baby Lotion, and Pure Green Baby Cream. All three moisturizing products are fall under Innisfree’s 9- or 10-Free System, which means that they are free of 1,4-doixane, animal ingredients, mineral oil, colorants, parabens, artificial fragrance, formaldehyde, benzophenone, acrylamide and silicon (with silicon being the difference between 9 and 10).

However, being an obsessive label reader, I noticed that the ingredient list contains many other synthetic substances. So it’s good to check the label first if you are particular about the ingredients used in your baby’s products. It may be touted as being a ‘safe product’ but it is not 100% natural nor completely free of synthetic substances, so if you are looking for a completely natural product, this may not be it.

Thumbs up from the baby!

Thumbs up from the baby!

Effectiveness
Of the three, my favorite product is the Pure Green Baby Mom’s Touch Milk Oil. It is recommended for use in a massage after the baby’s bath, and indeed it is perfect for that purpose. With my two older children I had tried baby oils, which I found were too oily and messy, and moisturizers, which were often too thick to be used for a massage. This is appropriately named Milk Oil because the solution is white and creamy, yet thin enough to easily be spread all over baby’s skin just like a massage oil. It is quickly absorbed by the baby’s skin and I love that it does not leave an oily feel on my hands after application. As I generally do not like baby products that have strong fragrances, I appreciate that the Milk Oil has just a mild, fresh, almost floral scent that you only catch a whiff of.

The Pure Green Baby Mom’s Touch Milk Oil has now become a part of my baby’s bath time routine, and I wish this product had been available years ago so I could have used it with my older kids when they were babies.

The Milk Oil helped moisturize her skin overall, but her legs were still scaly and needed more attention. I used the Pure Green Baby Lotion and Cream on baby’s legs to compare their effectiveness over time. Like an experiment, I put the Baby Lotion only on her right leg, and Baby Cream only on her left. I found that both worked equally well to hydrate the dry scaly skin on her legs. Only after a couple of weeks of application she now has beautifully smooth skin to show off when wearing her onesies.

Smooth, well-hydrated legs she can finally show off!

Smooth, well-hydrated legs she can finally show off!

Although the Baby Cream is supposed to be more intense and for use as deep hydration, I found the difference between the Lotion and the Cream to be minimal. Choosing which to use depends on the texture you prefer. Both the Baby Lotion and Baby Cream are much thicker in texture compared to the Milk Oil, and I find they leave a filmy layer on my hands after application. Between them, the Cream is slightly thicker than the Lotion.

Probably because our climate is humid, and as I do not switch on the air-conditioning at home, I felt that while the Baby Cream and Baby Lotion both effectively addressed the problem of baby’s dry skin, they would not be the moisturizers I would use on daily basis as they feel too rich for the baby’s skin. It would work well for spot treatment on problem dry areas, but probably not as a regular whole-body application.

Using the Pure Green Baby Mom’s Touch Milk Oil on a daily basis should be sufficient to keep your baby’s skin nicely hydrated. However, if there are some particularly dry patches, targeting the area with Pure Green Baby Lotion or Baby Cream would help to effectively moisturize your baby’s delicate skin.

And the perk of all this is that you get to moisturize your hands with each application too. Happy mummy, happy baby!

Innisfree is available at Takashimaya S.C (#B2-34) and Plaza Singapura (#01-63/64).

The 3 moisturizers I reviewed for this story.

The 3 moisturizers I reviewed for this story.

Innisfree Pure Green Baby line was given to Material World for review purposes. All opinions are the author’s own. This post is neither paid for nor advised by the brand. Please read our advertising policy here.

Selena Quah with Asher Selena Quah enjoys the little things in life and hopes her children will pick up this trait from her too. She thinks kids are an excellent excuse to indulge in things she likes such as strolling through parks, doing art and craft, and baking. A dancer from young, she hopes to get back to it when the kids are older, though for now she’ll have to make do with dancing around the house while her boys wonder why Mummy is mad. You can find Selena’s blog Unlikely Lady of Leisure here. 

 

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Material Moms, The Mothership

[Material Moms] Do You Have What It Takes To Be A Mumpreneur? – Sher-Li Torrey

It seems ideal to have a business of your own (where you can work online) as your young children play at your feet. But is that the reality of Mumpreneurship? Sher-Li Torrey, founder of Mums@Work gives a detailed breakdown on the fundamentals needed to get a Mumpreneur business going. 

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Motivation – All business owners start a venture because they are motivated by an idea, a desire to succeed, or the drive to earn more money. But in the case of most Mumpreneurs, there is the added motivation of wanting to ‘have time for my kids’. It is not unusual to find Mumpreneurs who schedule their work time around the children’s schedules. That explains why many of them are up earlier than others (or sleep later) as they work on their business during the children’s sleeping hours. This motivation is important, as it helps remind the mother why she started the business in the first place.

Unique Selling Proposition (USP) – Marketers talk about this all the time: the point of difference that can make your business stand out in a crowd. For Mumpreneurs who run small businesses, having a USP is even more essential as they try to fight competition against the ‘big boys’. Competing via price alone can only be an effective strategy for some time. As a Mumpreneur business, the USP could be the factor that determines whether your business succeeds or not.

Money – Before embarking on your business venture, make sure you have money set aside for a rainy day. Unless your business is merely a hobby, you are likely to want a business that generates income. The earlier stages of starting up will require monetary investment. Even an online store will incur basic set-up costs. Besides the start-up capital, the decision to start a business is going to put a temporary dent on the family income arrangement. It is advisable to put aside an amount of approximately 6 months of your last-drawn income (if you were previously working) for family-related emergencies. Realistically, your business will need at least half a year or more before it starts generating a healthy income stream.

One of the main reasons women choose to take up mumpreneurship is to spend more time with their children.

One of the main reasons women choose to take up Mumpreneurship is to spend more time with their children.

Prioritisation – Unlike an entrepreneur who wants to rule the world, a Mumpreneur may turn down business opportunities that have a negative impact on her other life priorities. Many Mumpreneurs will share that their journey consists of ‘constantly shifting priorities by being aware of the important people (big and little) in your life who need you.’ Your business, though important, is sometimes not the top priority, unlike a regular entrepreneur. As your priorities in life shift, the amount of time and effort your spend on your business is likely to be affected as well.

Responsibility – Most (though not all) Mumpreneur businesses start as a sole proprietorship or a partnership. Whatever the management model, one thing is certain – manpower is limited in the earlier stages of setting up. As a new business owner, you find yourself responsible for all errands, big or small. If you cannot afford to hire someone initially, you may be the only person who can reply to customers’ emails and other business matters. Running a Mumpreneur business requires a great deal of commitment. You (and sometimes only you) are responsible for the success and failure of the business.

Enthusiasm – Being a Mumpreneur means being your own cheerleader. That big, enthusiastic smile you see in the mirror will be the best lifesaver during the more challenging times of business management. When things get rough (as they often do in the business cycle), you really need to have belief in yourself and your business in order to keep going.  Besides, customers tend to gravitate towards a business manned by an owner who believes in his own products or services. The more enthusiastic you are, the easier it will be to reach out to potential customers.

Networking – A business network is obviously a must for any entrepreneur. The saying “It’s about who you know” has some truth to it. Having a strong professional network allows you to tap on expertise that may save time and money. However, as a Mumpreneur, do not underestimate the importance of a social network. Finding like-minded mothers or female entrepreneurs can often act as a support system to bounce off ideas, share frustrations or even collaborate. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for networking opportunities. You never know where it might lead you.

Education – As a small business owner, you will quickly realise the extensive amount of learning you need to do. Whether it is because of a lack of funds or a personal choice to have more control, you will find yourself picking up new skills. Not every area of your business can be outsourced. In many situations, you will also discover that having some basic knowledge (for example, website design) of various aspects is advantageous. Have a mindset of being ready to learn, unlearn and relearn. The business world is constantly evolving and those that can adapt quickly enough will find it easier to survive and thrive. Sign up for courses, read up and ask experts for advice. Keep learning.

Before embarking on your Mumpreneurship journey, be sure to have an honest discussion with your husband.

Before embarking on your Mumpreneurship journey, be sure to have an honest discussion with your husband.

Understanding – Many successful Mumpreneurs credit a supportive spouse and family for their success. The truth is, every woman’s time and energy is limited. Add on the duties of motherhood and suddenly, you are overwhelmed. Before even embarking on the entrepreneur journey, have a discussion with your partner/husband. There will be times when you need his support – physically, emotionally, psychologically and even, financially. Some businesses, including online ones, run 24/7. Emergencies may arise and the support of your family and their understanding can really help to minimise your stress.

Revamp – The beauty of running a business is the ever-changing environment –new competitors, new consumer behaviors, new product lines, and new markets. At various points in your entrepreneur journey, you are going to see a need to revamp or make adjustments. Even your role as wife, mother, and daughter will revamp from time to time.

Ultimately, not every mother who chooses to start a Mumpreneur business will succeed. But a mother who decides to take on the challenge, is bound to learn new skills, experience unique opportunities, overcome unprecedented obstacles and become better for it. Best of all, many Mumpreneurs talk about having control. You dictate your schedule, you dictate how you allocate your priorities and you choose the path you want to go down.

Mums@Work is organising the country’s very first Singapore Mumpreneur of the Year Award. It will recognise up to 6 inspiring women who have successfully started a small business and continue to be amazing mothers. Nomination for the award starts now and ends on 2 August (nomination is free). This award is for the ordinary woman, doing extraordinary things! To find out more, visit: www.singaporemumpreneur.com

sher-liAbout The Author: It is no secret that Sher-li wishes there were more than 24 hours in a day. Besides climbing Mt Fuji and publishing a book, she thinks her biggest achievements are giving birth to two kids who keep her busy with their energetic pursuits (which include ruling their mummy’s world). 

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Material Moms, The Mothership

[Material Moms] How To Negotiate For Flexi-Work – Sher-Li Torrey

So you are contemplating asking your employer for a flexible work arrangement. Before you do so, you need to ensure you’re well-prepared. Sher-Li Torrey, founder of Mums@Work, clues you in on how and what to prepare.

Increasingly, more women in Singapore are talking about Flexible Work Arrangements (FWA). Driven by a desire to balance work and family, many women consider FWA in order to look after their children or their aged parents. However, asking for FWA without a strategy is akin to running a marathon without any prior training. Here’s a checklist of what you need to prepare before stepping into your boss’s office.

material world_work from home

1. Be very clear about your objective

Know why you are asking for a flexible work-arrangement. Ensure that you have exhausted all other possibilities – and FWA is the best arrangement for your situation. Be honest in sharing with your supervisor why you want/need FWA at this current stage of your life. You will definitely be asked, so have your answer ready.

2. Define (in accurate, detailed terms) what type of Flexible Work Arrangement you want

Flexible Work Arrangements can vary from flexi-place (for example, telecommuting from home) to flexi-time (for example, working part-time). It can be a compressed-work week, job sharing (where two persons share one role) or even project-basis work. When you discuss with your boss the type of work arrangement you are looking at, define clearly what arrangement you would like to consider.

3. ‘Re-design’ your own job

You are the expert at your job, so you have to re-design your role. If you plan to work from home three days a week, segment your job into “what can be done from home”, “what must be done in the office” and “what can be outsourced to the other team mates”. This is a crucial portion of your negotiation. If you were asking for the change, it would be fair that you spend some time trying to re-design your job. That way, your supervisor will not feel like your request is giving him/her extra work.

4. Consider the impact of your new work-arrangement on your boss, co-workers (and your team)

Most jobs have a team element to them. When you choose to do FWA, there will be an impact on everyone around you. Consider the effects of your request (for example, will someone have to cover walk-in clients for you on the days that you are not physically in the office, or perhaps the weekly team meetings may need to be re-scheduled). Bear in mind that your flexible work arrangement may sometimes cause unhappiness (or feelings of unfair treatment) withing your co-workers. Discuss these issues openly with your supervisor from the beginning.

5. Analyse the impact on your career

Depending on your company, your job role and the type of arrangement you are asking for, your new work-arrangement may affect your career path. If you were working shorter hours, the most obvious change would be a decrease in salary. However, this need not always be the case. Flexi-work arrangements like a compressed work week or telecommuting should technically not affect your pay as the amount of hours put in and the amount of work stays the same. In fact, in most flexi-work negotiations, there should be NO decrease in pay if the amount of work and KPI’s have not changed.

In some firms (or specific work arrangements), you may also see a stagnation of career growth. Tough as it is, do discuss these points with your supervisor and your HR team.

6. Research your company – policies, case studies and HR rules

A fairly large group of companies in Singapore have processes for requesting for special work arrangements. In more progressive firms, the HR team may even have templates that can help you and your supervisor to implement the flexi-work change easily. In addition, there may be other employees in your firm who are currently taking up FWA. Try speaking to them about their experience (in a professional context) after taking up flexi-work. These case studies are good to bring up to your supervisor when negotiating. For example, there are many MNC banks, based in Singapore who do have FWA (on a case-by-case basis) for their employees.

7. Know your boss

Many of the successful cases for FWA that we see at Mums@Work are a result of a very professional, positive and trusting relationship between the supervisor and the flexi-worker. You should have an idea of your boss’s opinion about work-life balance, as well his/her view about flexi-work arrangements. If you work for someone who does not believe that FWA will work, then you know you are going to have a much harder time trying to convince him/her. When you have an opportunity, subtly suss out his/her opinions (without mentioning your request) to gauge his/her likely response when you do eventually request.

8. Analyse your own job history in the company and the team

Most employers want their employees to be contented and dedicated. In most cases, an employee who is perceived to value-add significantly to her team is likely to be cherished by her supervisor. Employees who have been with the company for a long time (and proven her capabilities to deliver results) will also stand in better stead than someone who has just joined the firm for three months. Your job history – including the amount of achievements and contribution to your company – is your bargaining chip. Remember: Employers want to retain talent. So ask yourself, are you really a talent?

9. Draw up your plan. (Yes, on paper, please!)

Too often, mothers who walk in without a proper plan and ask for flexible work get turned down. Putting down a proper ‘proposal’ is important. It not only shows that you are serious about your request, but it also shows your dedication (and effort) to make it work. If you can demonstrate how you can continue to be a good team player and produce results despite the change in work-arrangement, you are likely to have a better chance of getting approved.

10. Make an appointment

You’re encouraged to set up a dedicated appointment to discuss your proposal in person, as it shows your determination to make this work. Refrain from just emailing your boss and hoping he/she reads it. Remember: If you want this, show him/her that you mean business.

11. Negotiate – what can you compromise? What will you not compromise?

Like all negotiations, you have to be prepared that you may have to compromise. Sometimes, in certain situations, it is just impossible to come up with the exact arrangement you are asking for. A legal counsel (and a Mums@Work member) tried asking for a compressed-work week. She wanted to work four days, but with longer hours. However, her company was worried that her absence on Fridays would be felt as they had a very lean team. Eventually, she settled for five working days, of which two half-days she worked from home. Think though what you can and cannot compromise. But bear in mind, you want to create win-win: for you and your supervisor.

12. Don’t give up!

There are many cases where mothers ask for FWA and get turned down initially. But they re-strategised and created a new proposal. So if you don’t succeed the first time, do not rule it out as “Impossible”. Occasionally, it can also be about timing. For example, if you are the only experienced team-member working with a group of new-hires, it may not be the best time. So, just try again a few months down the road.

Flexible work arrangements are increasing in Singapore as more employers realise how effective it can be to retain talent like yourself. However, it does take a major cultural shift of perspectives for it to work. Have patience, strategise well, and give it a shot. You never know!

pic 1About The Author: It is no secret that Sher-li wishes there were more than 24 hours in a day. Besides climbing Mt Fuji and publishing a book, she thinks her biggest achievements are giving birth to two kids who keep her busy with their energetic pursuits (which include ruling their mummy’s world). 

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Child's Play, Material Moms

An Easy Bake That Kids Can Join In – Deborah Tan

Deborah Tan understands how boring cupcakes and cookies can be after a while so here’s an interesting bake that you and your child can try! It’s also healthier than fried donuts!

It’s the long weekend and parents, you’re probably wondering how to spend some time with your kids. Tired of baking cupcakes or cookies? Well, how about donut holes? This is easy to do, cooks quickly and fun to eat! Ready? Here’s a recipe that’ll be popular with both adults and children.

Cinnamon and sugar donut holes

Cinnamon and sugar donut holes

Cinnamon Sugar Donut Holes
(Makes 24 donut holes)

Ingredients

2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon powder
1 egg, beaten
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup of unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup of honey
1/3 cup of plain yoghurt
2 tablespoons of vegetable or canola oil

For the coating
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup of caster sugar
1 tablespoon of cinnamon powder

Direction

1. Preheat your over to 200 degree Celsius. Lightly butter 2 cupcake trays.

2. Have your child sift the flour, baking powder and baking soda into a large bowl. Then get her to add the salt and the cinnamon powder. Using a fork, show her how to run it through the mixture to mix everything well.

3. For you, in another bowl, mix the butter, brown sugar, egg, vanilla extract, honey, yoghurt and oil. Mix them up well.

4. Get your child to slowly pour half the dry ingredients into the wet mix. Use a spatula to fold the dry mix in. Halfway through, get him/her to pour the rest of the dry ingredients into the bowl. I used a handheld mixer, though.

5. Once you are satisfied that everything is mixed up well, hand your child a cookie scoop and get him/her to dole up a scoop of the mix into the cupcake trays.

6. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes.

7. While the donut holes are baking, melt the butter in a saucepan. Careful not to turn the heat on too high or the butter will turn brown.

8. Get your child to mix the sugar and cinnamon powder in a large plate.

9. Once the donuts are ready and cool (but still warm) to handle, take one, coat the top with the melted butter, and then the sugar mix. Shake it gently to remove excess sugar and set aside until you’re done with the rest.

10. Serve.

Try this recipe and let me know if it works! Happy baking!

About The Author: Deborah Tan is a founder of Material World. After 10 years of working in magazines Cleo and Cosmopolitan Singapore, she is now a freelance writer/editor who works on this website full-time. She likes liquid eyeliners, bright red lipsticks, tattoos, rock & roll, Mad Men, and Suits. Her honey cupcakes are quite awesome too. Follow her on Twitter @DebTanTweets.

 

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Material Moms, The Mothership

[Material Moms] It Takes A Village – Delphine Tan

As a mother of three young children, Material Mom Delphine Tan gets all sorts of unsolicited parenting advice from strangers. While she understands their good intentions, here’s what she really wants to tell them.

material world_unsolicited parenting advice

I was recently on the bus with my 2½-month-old and minding my own business when the tubby fellow decided to see if he could stuff his entire fist into his mouth. He could not. He gagged and spat up all over the front of my shirt. The lady sitting beside us clucked her tongue at me, “He’s too cold; he can’t digest his milk properly! He should be wearing a hat and something with long sleeves!” I sighed inwardly, gave a polite smile and made some non-committal noises of acknowledgement. But she wouldn’t leave it at that and suggested that I should cradle the baby in my arms instead of having him upright in the baby carrier. She tried to get me to cover his head with the sleeping hood and that just annoyed him to no end because the little busybody (my baby, not the lady) wanted to look around.

Olaf, from the movie "Frozen"

Olaf, from the movie “Frozen”

This is something I face on a daily basis – complete strangers telling me how I should take care of my baby. He’s almost always in a onesie with his thunder thighs on display, so I get a few people (mainly little old ladies) pointing out that he’s underdressed and feeling cold. This happens even when it’s a scorching hot day! Then there are those who are convinced that he’s suffocating in the carrier, making it necessary for me to lift up a corner of the sleeping hood to prove he’s merely sound asleep and facing no greater threat than the pillowy softness of my bosom. What irritates me the most is when the baby starts crying and some random stranger tells me the baby is hungry, then stares at me expectantly all Olaf-like as if to say, “Feed him. Just feed him. Why isn’t she feeding him? Do you think she knows how to feed him?”

This sort of behaviour is not unique to Singapore, of course. In Ho Chi Minh City, we were practically hunted down by concerned night-market vendors who demanded to know how old our baby was, just so they could inform us that babies cannot leave the house before they are three months old. In Taipei, plenty of people told us we should dress the baby more warmly.

Whatever “advice” we receive, I know it all stems from good intentions. Therefore I nod and smile politely, and then I continue to do whatever I want, like dress the baby in skimpy onesies and bring him out in the baby carrier. But sometimes I’m so exhausted from a night of waking up repeatedly to feed the baby and/or soothe my middle child back to sleep that I really don’t feel like smiling and I just want to scream, “I have three children! I know what I’m doing! He’s not hungry; he just needs to sleep! Leave me alooooone!”

If random strangers (or friends, or relatives) truly want to help me with my baby, I wish they would stop dishing out unsolicited advice and do the following instead – let me go ahead of them in any queue (especially at the taxi stand), give me their seat on the bus or train, refrain from gawking at me when the baby is screaming his little bald head off, offer to carry the baby for a bit so I can have two hands to eat with, hold the door for me, or anything that makes my life a bit easier for a few minutes or so.

Remember, as Plato sagely said, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

 

Delphine and familyAbout The Author: Delphine Tan still feels like a kid but is married to Adrian and mother to Anya, Adam, and David. Since she has no artistic talent and does not know how to cook, she spends her free time reading, blogging, and collecting matryoshka. Besides being addicted to caffeine, Delphine also suffers from the compulsive need to Instagram every single plate of food that she eats. 

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Money, Self-Improvement

How To Talk To Your Children About Money – Vanessa Tai

Like education, financial literacy starts at home. But what’s the best way to kickstart the money conversation with your child? 

If your parents were like most parents, the extent of your financial education probably extended to them teaching you about the importance of saving for a rainy day, and that’s it. After that, it was assumed you would pick up other financial skills along the way, whether from school or elsewhere.

Audrey and Min with some of the PlayMoolah users

Audrey and Min with some of the PlayMoolah users

According to Audrey Tan and Lee Min Xuan, co-founders of financial education platform, PlayMoolah, the main reasons parents stop the conversation at just savings are that they’re either not equipped with the financial knowledge or are unsure how to talk to their children about money. As a result, children don’t get to practice making decisions about money or they equate money with just spending, so they end up not understanding the value of money.

Both founders agree that financial education should start as early as possible – after all, it’s easier to form attitudes and habits at a young age. As soon as your child is old enough to grasp certain concepts about money, you can begin educating them.

The two founders share their tips on how to raise a financially literate child:

1. Look For Everyday Teachable Moments

“The next time your child asks, “Can I have a new _____?”, or when you’re out shopping for groceries, you can use this time to explain to him or her about savings and the importance of sticking to a budget. The value of money is best taught when your child understands the concept of “opportunity cost”. When children learn spending on one thing will affect their ability to spend on something else, it forces them to make careful decisions about how they want to spend their money.

For young children, you can start small. Saving is the foundation of financial education, budgeting comes next. When they get a bit older, we’ve found that letting children earn a discretionary allowance by working or helping the community helps them better understand the value of money and work.”

2. Help Your Child Visualise

Let your child have a tangible sense of where every dollar goes.

Let your child have a tangible sense of where every dollar goes.

“We know a parent who withdrew one month of salary in $1 coins to show his child where his monthly salary is channelled to – taxes, bills, groceries, food, and transport. That really helped his young child visualise the flow of money in a household and gave him a better appreciation of reality!

Another parent who comes from a wealthier family was shocked to discover his child’s perception of an “average salary” was much higher than the average. He then made the effort to visit the Ministry of Manpower website with his child to explain why some jobs pay better than others.”

3. Keep It Fun

“By keeping it lighthearted and treating it like an ongoing game, you’ll get your child excited about taking charge of his or her financial management. Playmoolah is an app for children aged 6 and above, and is a fun and engaging way to demonstrate the cycle of money – from earning, spending, saving, investing, and giving. Your child will be able to cultivate their own money management skills in a safe learning environment, learn how to appreciate the value of money, and how to prioritise their needs and wants.

material world_playmoolah

If you sign up for the kids’ and parents’ account, you’ll be able to monitor your child’s progress and get involved in their financial journey through MoolahVerse. You’ll also glean tips on how to use games to start helping your child understand the value of money. Bonus: you’ll get more financially empowered yourself!”

Another great aspect about PlayMoolah is the Donation function, where children have the option to choose which charities they want to support and what kind of support they want to offer – money, time or expertise. The founders believe donating is an important aspect in the cycle of money, and it helps children understand there are people less fortunate than themselves. Being able to see how small amounts of money can assist the less fortunate in fundamental ways is crucial to understanding how powerful money can be.

Material Mom Joan Leong recently tried out the PlayMoolah app with her 7-year-old daughter, Clare, and this is what she has to say:

I like the social aspect for the kids – they can visit each other’s worlds and see what their friends are up to. My daughter is at the age that she enjoys games such as Minecraft. Playmoolah takes the game one step further with the educational function – users have to “earn” money in order to build stuff.

I also like how the savings element help kids calculate the steps they need to achieve their goals. This is a fun and simple way to teach children the concept of earning money to buy stuff, which they can make use of in the real world. The parent portal is also great – you can monitor what your child is up to without being intrusive.”

Get started by registering for an account here.

About The Author: Vanessa Tai is a founder of Material World who has previously worked on magazines Simply Her and Cosmopolitan Singapore. Now a freelance writer and a full-time contributor to this website, the 26-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets

[If you like this story, you might also like]

1. Where To Go To Learn About Money
2. 3 Steps To Fix Your Relationship With Money
3. Are You Making These Money Mistakes?

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Material Moms, The Mothership, Young Minds

[Material Moms] Preparing Your Kids For A New Baby – Selena Quah

Expecting another child and unsure about how your other child(ren) will adapt? Material Mom Selena Quah shares her tips on how to seamlessly introduce the baby into the family. 

The arrival of another kid is usually met with feelings of eager anticipation and some measure of trepidation. The two main questions asked would usually be, “How will I manage?” and “Will the kids get along?”

While the final outcome is really quite out of your control since it depends on the interaction of so many factors like personality, your post-partum state, the home environment, etc., I believe there are steps you can take to pre-empt the problem and ease into the situation better.

material world_pregnant mum 2For me, my main concern was to ensure the kids got along with their soon-to-arrive sibling. If that could be managed, it would go a long way towards making life a lot easier. I was fortunate that my first child formed a relationship with his brother even before the delivery date, and the good feelings continued even after his brother arrived. Though my eldest son is generally of a fairly sweet nature, I do think some of the steps we took did help. When I got pregnant with my third child, I followed some of the things we did previously, and it seems to be working again. Both boys are positive about the prospect of having another sibling, and I do think they genuinely look forward to her arrival. Many parents have said to me how wonderful it is that my boys seem to be very affectionate towards the baby, often hugging and giving her (well, my belly) kisses.

So I thought I’d share some of the steps we’ve taken so that you can see if it works for you too. These are by no means miracle steps, and the results may vary depending on the personality of your child and your unique circumstances. Still, there’s no harm trying. Some of these steps are advocated by many parenting books and websites, but we’ve also discovered some on our own.  A few websites have a long list of do’s and don’ts, but I’ve distilled it to the four main things you need to deal with in the lead up to your baby’s arrival.

First, relationships are the key element to manage prior to baby’s arrival. If this can be handled well, I think chances are you will experience much less sibling jealousy. 

Your children and baby

I wanted very much for my children to feel like they have a bond with their baby sibling even before the birth, and I did this by doing this the best way I know how – through play!

After letting your children know you’re having a baby, encourage your children to talk to the baby regularly about anything and everything. And allow yourself to get silly and let your imagination lead the way too. Pretend to be the baby and speak to them. I use a tiny, high-pitched voice when pretending to be the baby, to the point that when I forget and speak to them in my normal voice while acting as the baby I sometimes get told, “No, Mummy, I’m talking to baby, speak in a high voice!”, or “I’m not talking to you, Mummy!” Of course they know it’s all just pretend, but it really helps with relationship building.

material world_pregnant mumSometimes we will be having dinner and one of the boys will ask, “Mei Mei (little sister in Mandarin), do you like the food?”, or if we’re outdoors, “Mei Mei, did you see the aeroplane?” These are excellent times to stretch the conversation to teach your children that babies do not know as much as they do. For example, I’ll reply, “What’s an aeroplane, Gor Gor (big brother in Mandarin)?” The boys take great pleasure in trying to explain things to baby, and it’s something you can encourage them to do after baby comes too.

Let the “baby” initiate conversation sometimes too, and always try to inject a large dose of humour and silliness.  The main thing is to have fun.  Having pretend conversations between my children and baby happens daily, and I think it is the key reason why they are so affectionate towards her.

Of course, temper this with realism as well. Your children must know that babies can’t actually speak when they are born, and will do lots of crying as it’s their only way to communicate in the initial days 

Your children and you

This relationship is very, very important as well. While ensuring that the children form a bond with the baby, you must do everything possible to make sure the bond between you and your children remains strong. This means lots of hugs, kisses, quality time, and affirmation. The children must know that your love for them will not diminish at all with baby’s arrival. You can never say, “I love you” too much.

It is also important to talk to your children about how you will inevitably be tied up caring for baby, but tell them that you did the same for them. Read some books on what life will be like after baby arrives so they know that while it won’t always be easy, at the end of the day Mummy and Daddy loves them a lot.  Make them feel important by teaching them they can contribute in meaningful ways, whether it’s getting baby a fresh diaper or giving Mummy a big loving hug.

Logistics: Before the arrival of the baby

Think ahead to identify any changes that need to be made to accommodate the baby, and implement those changes early.  For example, a change in sleeping arrangements such as having your children vacate the cot, need to be done months in advance so that the link between their shift in sleeping quarters and baby’s arrival is not so stark.  When kids are young, you can quite easily draw a smoke screen over this rather obvious fact. Make a grand affair of the move to a big bed so that your older child feels it’s his own special grown-up thing. Most kids tend to be excited about the move, or at the least can quite easily be convinced. Just be prepared for some nighttime escapes! But once that’s done with, you’re all set.

If you foresee that you’ll need more time with your newborn and need to stretch your older child’s stay in childcare from half to full day, do it early. Do not wait until the month before baby comes. It takes time for your child to adjust. Most certainly, do no wait until after baby comes as that could potentially be one big source of jealousy and anger – that Mummy doesn’t want me around now that baby is here

Any changes because of the baby that could potentially impact your children– from changing of car seats or even changing schools – should be done early!

When baby arrives

material world_siblingsYou have given thought to your birthing plan, but have you given thought to your childcare plan?  Once you’ve settled on a plan, make sure you inform your kids.  They really shouldn’t be the last to know.

Explain why you need to go to the hospital, who will be taking care of them, where they will be staying, when they will come for visits, and roughly when you will be back home again.  If they have never stayed anywhere else before, arrange several sleepovers at the alternate caregiver’s house prior to your due date so that it’s not a new experience that’s suddenly sprung onto the children.

And that’s basically it! Hopefully this will help in your own preparation for the arrival of number two, or three, or …

Even if it doesn’t work for you, just wing it!  After all, I’m sure you would have known from raising your first child, even the best laid plans can get derailed when children are involved.  Just relax, take a deep breath, and soldier on.

Selena Quah with Asher Selena Quah enjoys the little things in life and hopes her children will pick up this trait from her too. She thinks kids are an excellent excuse to indulge in things she likes such as strolling through parks, doing art and craft, and baking. A dancer from young, she hopes to get back to it when the kids are older, though for now she’ll have to make do with dancing around the house while her boys wonder why Mummy is mad. You can find Selena’s blog Unlikely Lady of Leisure here. 

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Material Moms, The Mothership, Young Minds

[Material Moms] Do Men Really Believe In Gender Equality? – Elisa Woodward

Our Material Mom Elisa Woodward says although many men don’t say it, their behavior indicates that they’d really rather women just stick to playing wives and mothers. Her piece, below.

My husband and I got into a mini-debate a couple of weeks ago – while watching Troy on TV – about whether women should just stick to looking pretty and playing supportive wives and mothers to men. Before you think I’m married to an MCP (male chauvinist pig), let me explain that my husband is anything but one. This is a man who has utmost respect for women in the workforce.

But I couldn’t stop thinking about it: Do men still think the best place for a woman is at home, playing wife and mother? Even in this age where many women are offered the same opportunity at school and at work, do our men subconsciously believe the world would be a less complicated place if women didn’t go out to work?

So I started asking the men I knew – friends, colleagues, family – if they thought women are best only as mothers and wives. And you know what? So many of them tried to get out of giving me a straight answer! Many of them simply did not want to answer my question at all.

There’s Always Something Else
I’ve also noticed something many men do. Even if they begrudgingly admit that you are good at your job, that you are talented, they always have to add a caveat like, ” … but women and their PMS” or ” … women should still not be allowed on the road”. No matter how good or how successful we may be, men always think our “womenly” qualities work against us.

A Woman = ???
Of all the identities we women struggle to assert, those of “mother” and “wife” are the ones men are least likely to contest. If we said, “I’m a good driver”, a man would definitely go, “Yeah right! You don’t check your blind spots.” But if we said, “I’m a good mother”, more often than not, men are happy to let us take that honor. No man would go, “Yeah right! Your fridge is empty!”

Bear with me here, but I’m going to make this assumption: Is it because men feel that women have the monopoly in the roles “Mother” and “Wife”?

Women are Emotional Creatures?
Another argument that has been used to death by men to disprove our capabilities is that we are “emotional”. Recently, the Japanese forerunner was criticized by women voters for saying, in an interview with a men’s magazine, that women should not be allowed to lead the country because our menstrual cycles make us irrational. “Women are not normal when they are having their period … you can’t possibly let them make critical decisions about the country [during their period],” he said.

One of the most stereotypical ways of viewing women bosses

One of the most stereotypical ways of viewing women bosses

It goes back to the tired, oft-used misconception that when we women flip out, we are being “crazy bitches”, but when a man loses his temper, he’s showing his aggression and showing who’s the boss.

Such gender stereotypes held by the men I have spoken to disappointed me because in Singapore, boys and girls are offered the same opportunity from very early on in their lives.

It’s No Point We Keep Insisting That We Are Not Inferior To Men
I think it’s time we pay more than just lip service to the issue of gender roles in today’s society. It’s no use if women keep saying we are as good, if not better, than men. It’s no use if men just silently, begrudgingly accept that they are going to have to deal with women as their bosses. People have got to want to see it happen. First, women can be good bosses, good with money, good at driving etc. Second, men can be mothers, men can be wives, men can play the role of a nurturer when it comes to bringing up the kids.

We should continue to blur the lines between what a man should do and what a woman should do. There are no fixed roles anymore. A woman can be the breadwinner while the man, a househusband. And if we want to bring up well-balanced children, it is time we accept these as the norm and not go, “Wow! That’s unheard of!” when things like this come to our attention.

Just as we women refuse to let men tell us where our business should be at, we as mothers should also try our best to not set down the boundaries of what is a “girl thing” and what is a “boy thing” on our children. If your daughter wants to be a construction worker when she grows up, don’t say, “It’s a job for the men!” If your son wants to be a ballet dancer, don’t say things like, “Real men don’t wear tights.”

And maybe, just maybe, our kids will grow up to be more enlightened than their parents are now.

About The Author: Elisa Woodward, a career-focused wife and a mom of two active boys, is a Jack of all trades, who enjoys flummoxing people. She likes getting her hands dirty (figuratively and literally), yet enjoys dressing up just enough to “look acceptable”. She embraces wholeheartedly the concept of getting older. In this post, Elisa candidly shares the fears she faces as a mother.

[If you like this story, you’ll love]

1. [Material Moms] My Untold Fears As A Mother

2. [Material Moms] What You Need To Know About Flexi-Work

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Material Moms, The Mothership

[Material Moms] What You Need To Know About Flexi-Work – Sher-Li Torrey

There’s a constant struggle that comes with being a working mother. On one hand, you really want to be with your children, but on the other, you want a fulfilling career as well. Is it possible to have it all? Sher-Li Torrey is the founder of Mums@Work, a social enterprise that supports flexi-work arrangements for mothers in Singapore. In this article, she shares the things you need to know about working on flexible time.  

It's a fine balance.

It’s a fine balance.

Like many first-time mothers, I was in for a shock when I gave birth to my first child. She was a quiet and well-behaved baby, and slept like a log through the night. However, her arrival meant my dream to rule the world was dashed.

Suddenly, 24 hours was not enough for me to play the roles of mother, employee, employer, daughter, wife, daughter-in-law, sister and friend. I had a great boss that allowed me to try out a flexible work arrangement. Despite that, I found that I needed even more flexibility.

Feeling stretched and helpless, I started looking for a job that allowed me to work from home or part-time. I soon discovered that the number of flexible roles for professionals and executives were limited. I also realised that there were many talented mothers like myself who wanted to work, but on their own terms. At the same time, there were also employers who were on the hunt for top talent.

material world_working mum

So I decided – why not create a portal for mothers like me? That was how Mums@Work became my second baby in May 2010. Now, two kids later (my son arrived in 2012), I am proud to say that Mums@Work has listed more than 1500 flexi-jobs and held more than 200 events. What started as a hobby developed into an online career portal with more than 11,500 member-mums. We also support Mumpreneurs (mothers who start a business from home), and work with employers on the implementation and managing of flexi-workers.

The greatest misconception about flexible work is that it only comprises of part-time work. Flexibility is actually, in terms of time (flexi-hours or part-time), place (work-from-home) or duration (contractual or freelance project work). While being able to work on your own terms sounds ideal, there are several factors you need to consider before approaching your boss:

PROS: 

1. Able to design your own schedule
Because you now have more opportunity to design your own schedule, you can prioritise accordingly. This generally gives a sense of control, resulting in less stress (and often less guilt) for mothers.

2. Having the best of both worlds
Although it’s not always 50-50, the division of time by a flexi-work mum is likely to be more balanced than a full-time working mother. For some individuals, this may help them to relieve some of the stress they feel trying to meet both family and work commitments.

3.  More confidence
In most cases of flexi-workers I encounter, mothers who were previously staying at home often speak of a new confidence after re-starting work. Although I personally think that all mothers (whatever their career choice) are equally amazing, there are women who prefer to peg their self-worth to both fulfilling maternal roles and establishing a small career.

4. A renewed hope
Many flexi-work mums that have come through Mums@Work’s doors often speak of flexi-work as providing them with a sense of hope. Some of these mothers had chosen to return to the workforce and were not sure if they were ready for a full load after being away for a few years. The flexi-work arrangement allowed them to work at a pace that was comfortable to them, and prepared their engines to take on full-time roles months or years later.

material world_mum working from home

CONS: 

1. Long days, Role creep
One of the greatest challenges that work-from-home employees face is role creep – an inability to distinguish between their duties. Sometimes while “at work”, they have to stop and take on mother duties. Or while watching their kids at a swimming meet, they have to answer work calls. This constant volleying between roles can often lead to long days of trying to meet all demands.

2. Misunderstood availability
Just because you work from home does not mean you have all the time in the world to cook meals, drop off parcels at the post office, run daily errands, wait for the plumber, etc. Sometimes your spouse, friends or family members may assume that your flexible work arrangement allows you all the time to do everything else. They forget that you have deadlines to meet too.

3. Financial stresses
Some flexible work arrangements may result in a decrease in household income, which can be a source of stress on both the mother and father. This is why it’s important to have heart-to-heart discussions with your spouse before you take the plunge, and to assess how your decision would impact the household income.

4. Professional image compromised
When you work from home, you may find it very difficult to take work calls with a baby crying in the background. If you run your own business from home, a home office can also be viewed as being unprofessional.

One thing I often highlight is that a flexible work arrangement is not for everyone. Some of us are Separators, with a need to compartmentalise the different areas of our lives. Separators prefer keeping work and family apart. For such individuals, working from home can be very challenging. It is therefore important to know what you want and what your personal flexi-style is, before asking for a flexible work arrangement.

pic 1About The Author: It is no secret that Sher-li wishes there were more than 24 hours in a day. Besides climbing Mt Fuji and publishing a book, she thinks her biggest achievements are giving birth to two kids who keep her busy with their energetic pursuits (which include ruling their mummy’s world). 

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