I am a First-time Mum trying to juggle work and family during COVID times
“You must be so happy that you get to work from home during this period”, was a phrase that I’ve heard many times from friends and family. No doubt, there are obvious benefits to working from home (WFH) as a new mum, with a baby under the age of one. There’s no need to bring whole milk expressing kit to work daily and save time on transport equals slightly more sleep for a highly sleep-deprived mum. There’s also the benefit of getting to physically be with the baby more often, which helps to keep separation anxiety at bay.
But, there are obvious and unseen challenges as well.
There are times when a scheduled work meeting ends later than planned. And the baby is crying in the background for milk but you physically can’t leave to attend to the child. All these little incidents can lead to a snowballing of stress and feelings of inadequacy in a new mum.
➡️ Related Read: Supporting Parents Who are Healthcare Workers During COVID
Conversely, when the child is prioritised and the work suffers, the new mum doesn’t feel good either. After returning to work for two months, I can relate to what my friend shared, “It is physically, emotionally and mentally stressful to return to work. Steel yourself for it.”
It takes a village to raise a child
Thankfully, the Government is actively looking to support women in the workforce and has received feedback about the struggles commonly faced by many.
During a virtual dialogue at the Conversations on Singapore Women’s Development, Minister of State for Manpower and Education Gan Siow Huang and Labour MP Yeo Wan Ling shared their views on the topic.
Minister of State Gan Siow Huang said the pandemic has given caregivers more flexibility but “at the same time, brought new pressure points. While you work from home and have access to family support – some employees have also given feedback that it’s actually quite stressful doing two things at once.”
Labour MP Yeo Wan Ling said the NTUC Women and Family Unit and U SME plan to help SMEs redesign work for women. This includes restructuring work hours so that women can manage other responsibilities and having offices in the heartlands so that women can be physically closer to their homes. Women can also reskill themselves to take up roles in fields that are usually male-dominated, such as in the logistics and audio-visual industries.
Having female MPs advocate for working mums would go a long way in shaping policies and employment practices. All this in turn will help make the workplace more conducive for more women and working mums, helping them achieve their career aspirations.
What can mums who are feeling caught in between do?
- Have a candid chat with your employers. Having a child is a life-changing event and a huge commitment. There will be significant lifestyle changes and that inevitably spills into work commitments as well.
- Take some time off work and apply for no pay leave.
- Talk to fellow mothers who are going through the same life stages. Just having an understanding ear to confide in can make a whole world of difference.
➡️ Related Read: Working Mothers: Juggling Work And Family
The old adage is true, “it takes a village to raise a child” and it definitely takes the understanding and support of various parties to help working mothers thrive in the workplace.
This article was contributed by Mindy Wong.
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