Chew – Mum blogger / Part-time Senior Executive / Freelance Business cum HR consultant / Customized Crafts Mumprenuer


 

About five years back I was a working mother in the procurement field when I was pregnant with my elder girl. It was also a time I was going through a career change (or progression perhaps), switching to management reporting and accounting. The decision to switch was because I did not want to specialize in administration (procurement) field, and yearned for the learning opportunities with the switch.

My work got busier when I was pregnant with my younger boy around three years ago. With a new manager in the department, the team’s working standards got lifted, and our hours got longer.  I loved the learning lessons, and was rather determined to learn more from the new manager. He expanded my role to include a larger scope including managing a larger team.  The hours got from bad to worse gradually over a year. From reaching home often at 10pm to 12am, and even at 5am once. Public holidays meant catching up on work in office after lunch. I could not work from home as accounting work revolves around financial systems and VPN connection to the systems from home can be rather slow.

Relationship with my husband slowly climbed the rocky mountains. He was very upset I was not picking up his calls, and that I was not home earlier than usual when the children were sick. I was frustrated he did not understand my work pressures, and blamed him for disturbing me with excessive calls during my overtime hours. Adding oil to fuel , both our children had HFMD the same week my husband was away on reservist. He kept calling home to ask about the children’s conditions but that got me frustrated. I asked him to seek permission to return home to help me, and he refused on grounds that there were four adults at home (Parents-In-Law, domestic helper and myself). I felt very hurt. When the children had fever in the past, there were also four adults at home but he had to disrupt my overtime hours, and blurted hurting words at times.

Our communication started to break down as our distance grew. Four hourly Paracetamol and six hourly Buffen for the children became the frequent topics in our conversations.  In the past, we would be closely monitoring slight changes to the children’s condition. The deteriorating communication over a period of almost six months finally took a positive break when my boy got hospitalized for chest and airway infection. It was rare for a young child to get infection in both the chest and the airway, according to the Pediatrician, and we were told to keep a close watch on his sensitive respiratory  system.

Both my husband and I felt guilty for not bringing him to Pediatrician’s attention earlier. We realized that he had wheezing cough the night before but we decided to wait another night to see if he improved. What were we thinking?. It was so unlike us to pay little attention to our sick children. Were we trying to avoid our parenting responsibilities and using our work commitments as our excuse? We felt ashamed. We didn’t talk about it.

While we accompanied our boy in the children’s hospital, I was headhunted and about the sign an employment contract with an MNC to be a Finance and Human Resource Manager. As the office was only a sale outfit with a mere 18 staff strength (compared to the existing company with over 200 employees), I jumped ship expecting a better work life balance to follow suit. The jump gave hope to my husband and me, and our communication improved. Although I was working until midnight on weekdays and at work on weekends, for the first three weeks into the post due to accounts closing and management reporting with no proper handover, my husband gave me his blessings and was supportive. Five months past, and I was knocking off around 8pm daily. The company was going through change management and the high turnover and Human Resource issues kept me busy in the day leaving only after office hours for my accounting role. Although the company was in the process of hiring an executive to help me, my mind was slowly deciding to break away for good. With my husband’s blessings, I left the job three months later. Till today, I am grateful for his support in this move of mine.

While I searched for a job with a nature that has less overtime or that allowed me to work from home efficiently, I enjoyed every day with my children. I made felt toys for my children, even sold a custom-made toy to a friend. During the last holiday season, I sold my hand-beaded Christmas Trees to friends who supported my search for a better work-life balance. With my past experience in Finance and HR, I do get occasional related one-off projects which helped me with the household income.

After three to four job interviews within two and a half months, I landed in a contract part time job through Mums@Work’s newsletter on the part time jobs available. Though I was looking for a full time job which has no frequent overtime, I was happy to try out the part time job. It has been the best work-life balance decision I have made so far.

I am now able to balance work priorities and children’s needs better, and communication with my husband has improved greatly as I have the spare mental space to understand his point of view and attempt to get a win-win discussion, rather than blindly clash in views. Although my boy has grown to be extremely sticky to me over this period, and I get emotionally drained by him almost each full day I’m at home, I feel good as I know I’m doing what a parent should do.

I also found time and energy to make Do-It-Yourself crafts and learn through play materials for my children. My latest personal project is the making of Letterland DVD where I compiled the alphabet audio CD with the images found in the Letterland ABC book I bought. It is fulfilling to make all sorts of things for my children.

I’m not sure how long I will be having the current arrangement but I’m very thankful to Sher-li from Mums@Work and Elynn from Careermums for creating the opportunities for employers and mothers desiring better work life balance to meet and create win-win engagements. I’m enjoying the work-life balance while it lasts.

Read more about Chew’s insightful family write-ups and craft journals from her blog at http://chewingonit.wordpress.com

You must be logged in to post a comment Login