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“My Toddler Had An Epic Meltdown Just Minutes Before I Hosted An Online Class”

Note: This article was first published in The Singapore Women's Weekly on June 19, 2020 with the introduction written by Elizabeth Liew.

A working mum gets real about the challenges she faced while WFH and how the pandemic has made her rethink what truly matters

by Elizabeth Liew / June 19, 2020

Like many working mothers in Singapore, mum-of-one Kris Ng had to work from home when Circuit Breaker kicked in on April 7. The 41-year-old, who owns a Pilates studio and is also a movement facilitator at BodyTree Women’s Wellness, had to shift her classes online, while juggling a full load at home as wife and mother to a three-year-old daughter, Jade.

Here, she shares with The Weekly the trials and tribulations she’s faced during this trying period, and how she is learning to adapt to the new norm.

Read her experience below:

"When I first started teaching online from home, I harboured a slight resentment for not having a dedicated space or room at home to work from, unlike my husband. In fact, I teach out of a makeshift space in my living room that was created by shoving our dining table practically right behind our main door. As a stickler for having things in their rightful place, this took some time to get used to.

I also have to limit my classes to specific time slots during the day: 7-8am before Jade wakes up in the morning; 1-2pm when she takes a nap and 5.30-6.30pm when my husband ends work and can take her out of my hair for an hour.

During Circuit Breaker, Kris had to teach online classes in her makeshift studio.

But despite my best intentions (and as most mums would agree), things don’t always go as planned with a spirited toddler around. On one occasion as I was teaching a Saturday class, Jade had an epic meltdown 15 minutes before the class began.

Apparently, nothing was 'properly'. Not her hair, her mask or her shoes. She screamed and cried at the top of her lungs and my husband managed to get her out of the door with two minutes to spare, only to return as promptly, as she had an “accident” and needed to be cleaned.

The bawling continued as my husband whisked her past me, as I mustered everything I had in me to drown out her crying and will myself to focus on the class.

I ended up teaching a great class that day but the potential drama we brace ourselves to deal with every day is not for the faint-hearted."

Taking time for myself

"Four mornings a week, when my trusty helper takes Jade out for a walk or scooter ride, I used to take this opportunity to catch up on emails and administrative work. Now, I use this time to get out for a walk or hike at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, all on my own.

For me, this alone time is sacred. It is what keeps me sane and emotionally well, while getting some exercise too. However, this also means I now do most of my non-teaching work after having dinner and spending some downtime with my husband. By the way, dinnertime for us is after Jade goes to bed at 8pm – so yes, the days are long."

Kris and Jade spending time together at home.

Focusing on what really matters

"Still, I do my best to count my blessings during this strange and unprecedented time. It has revealed what truly matters to me – my family, my mental health and the immense joy and satisfaction I get from teaching, even online.

This difficult period is making the things I’ve been wanting to shed from my life even more glaring. It is sweeping up past issues I haven’t fully processed and demanding that I confront them, namely my dad’s abrupt decline and sudden passing three years ago, which coincided with Jade’s birth."

"Multi-tasking, which certainly doesn’t deserve the glorification it gets, is another issue. Yes, I can attend a virtual meeting while having lunch and tending to my daughter at the same time. Yes, I can be involved in multiple companies and teach at the same time. But the question I ask myself is: Do I want to continue spinning so many plates?

What I find helps is to accept and embrace that I can’t have it all, to remind myself that I have a choice and it’s okay to say no.

About moving into Phase 2, I have mixed feelings. I’m not looking forward to the work commute and potentially being sucked back into the “busyness” of things. What I crave most is going out for a meal with my husband and catching up with family. I shall be taking a good hard look at how I want to live the rest of my life and not let this experience, triggered by Covid-19, go to waste."


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