I always knew I wanted to be a working mother, not just because of the financial freedom it provides but also because I love what I do.
However, nothing could have prepared me for the craziness it entails and the feeling of always being stretched thin in different directions.
As a communications executive at a local organisation with a spirited 2 year-old toddler, I go through a whole spectrum of emotions daily.
A typical work day involves battling a screaming sleepy toddler who refuses to get dressed, juggling bags and a 12kg squirmy bundle while running after the bus.
Fighting back a wave of guilt as I bid my crying toddler a hasty goodbye at his day care, slide myself into a crowded train cabin and get hit by a sinking feeling in my stomach when the train crawls along the tracks.
It doesn’t just end there.
Lunch time rolls around way too soon and I’m sighted stuffing a sandwich at my desk as I work, simply because I need to leave when the clock strikes 6.
Oddly enough, I always feel like I’m leaving too early – but I will still be working late at home (and no one will know).
Time to brace the crowds, pack dinner, brace a snaking check-out queue with a load of groceries, and barely a minute shy of incurring a late penalty, to pick up a ‘hangry’ toddler.
Weekends are reserved for the grandparents. However, sometimes my husband and I had to skip these get-together sessions, because we are too tired to commute to our parents’ residences.
Needless to say, my child had a lot of pent up energy to burn which resulted in him getting fidgety and whiny, and us frustrated.
If we ever do make it to our parents’ place, all of us inevitably settle into a couch-potato routine in front of the television. The lack of proximity also translated to a less intimate bond between my child and his grandparents.
What Working Parents Want: Work-Life Integration
I want to grow my career, but I also want to be home for all of the milestone moments with my family.
I want to be home for my child’s bedtime, catch up with my mother over coffee and shopping, and check out the latest movie blockbuster with my husband.
I want my child to be close to his grandparents because I never had the opportunity to bond with mine who passed away shortly after I was born.
I wish I could cut down on travelling up and down, and have a convenient place where all of us have easy access to the amenities we need.
How can I save time, have a hassle-free weekday, opportunities for inter-generational bonding, even if we are not living together?
There is a place, the first-of-its-kind in Singapore, that aims to make all the above happen.
Located next to Admiralty MRT Station, Kampung Admiralty includes:
- two blocks of elderly-friendly housing
- a two-level medical centre
- a hawker centre
- rooftop gardens
- community areas
- and an active ageing hub
The active ageing hub is co-located with a childcare centre so that grandparents can help look after grandchildren while the parents are at work.
Photo: NTUC Health
Here are 5 reasons why Kampung Admiralty lets us have access to pretty much everything and how mad rushes will hopefully be a thing of the past.
1. Seamless senior healthcare services and community activities
One of my concerns when I got married and moved out was that my widowed mother may experience the “empty nest syndrome”.
Although Singapore is small enough for weekly, even daily, visits, we may not have the luxury of time to actually do so. Hence, many seniors suffer from depression and loneliness due to the lack of familial support and interaction.
NTUC Health’s Active Ageing Hub aims to support families in caring for their seniors.
Photo: NTUC Health
It is an integrated care and wellness facility that offers:
- senior day care service
- day rehabilitation service
- health self-check stations
- wellness screenings
- as well as community and volunteer activities such as:
– Health Promotion Board (HPB) and Yishun Health Campus: Senior Health Curriculum and the Share-A-Pot programme using vegetables grown by Admiralty Primary School, as well as a community nurse programme
– Woodlands Active Ageing Committee and Admiralty Medical Centre: to develop a Podiatry Day programme for seniors.
Do not be surprised the next time grandma whips up a new healthy dish for dinner or belt out a Korean pop song.
Photo: Lee Hsien Loong
2. New Kid on the Block
Located next to the Active Ageing Hub, NTUC First Campus’ My First Skool allows us working parents to conveniently drop off and pick up our kids.
Working late? Gone are the days we need to bring work home or scuttle around to make last minute arrangements.
Grandparents can now pick up the kids from childcare, and enjoy their time together. Whilst we can concentrate on work, knowing that our kid is in the safe and good hands of the grandparents.
The ample opportunities for inter-generational bonding will allow grandparents to appreciate our kid’s personality quirks and celebrate his milestones right along with us.
The constant company of the young ones will also brighten up their day.
In addition, My First Skool works together with Active Ageing Hub where the kids help to buy and deliver groceries to the mobility restricted elderly residents.
It is a wonderful way for our young to learn empathy and respect, lift up the spirits of the elderly as well as encourage volunteerism.
3. Green Thumbs Up
Does grandpa have green fingers?
The complex has a combined rooftop community park, edible garden and rainwater catchment area that spans from level 6 to 9.
Through tending to the plants daily, it encourages our seniors to step out of their homes for regular exercise, and socialise with neighbours and friends.
Photo: Straits Times
Active Ageing Hub is also working with NParks to have a community of volunteers among the residents to keep the estate vibrant and green.
4. Supermarket Perks
Bid adios to the days when it dawns on us that we are out of formula milk while our toddler wails piteously in the bedroom or screams in hunger while we battle snaking check-out queues during peak hours.
Grandma can now grocery shop on our behalf! Located at basement 1, NTUC FairPrice offers a huge range of fresh and affordable grocery products, literally at our parents’ doorstep.
The store has added senior-friendly facilities such as:
- magnifying glasses at the aisles (to read product labels with ease)
- customised shelves for easy access to products
- wheelchair-friendly shopping trolleys
- call assist buttons
- and specially trained frontline staff to better serve elderly customers.
5. Cheap and Good Eats!
When grandma’s not cooking, head to NTUC Foodfare!
Photo: My Nice Home
Located at level 2, the 900-seater hawker centre houses 43 stalls with a large variety of cuisines to fuel hungry tummies and ties.
Every stall serves up at least two budget friendly meals priced at only $2.80 or less!
NTUC Social Enterprises: Taking care of people at different life stages
Whether we are working parents because we are passionate about what we do or simply because we can’t afford not to, one thing’s for sure: our work life will never be the same again.
Together with the group of NTUC Social Enterprises, we can get relevant products and services regardless of our life stage at Kampung Admiralty.
Photo: NTUC Health
If we have more kampungs with such extended networks of services, more of us can have work-life integration.
We can pursue our career goals, provide for our family and build better relations with our parents and kids.
Our seniors have the customised services they need too, and can live in a kampung where they are happy and healthy, connected to family, friends and the community, and stay independent.
What other integrated services do you wish future kampungs will have? Share with us your thoughts and suggestions at our Facebook post here!
Written by Cheryl Sng