Staying one step ahead of twin toddlers to get work done at home

Office manager Joyce Poh, 41, trying to work on the dining table, while her husband David Lee, 46, a private-hire driver, read to 21/2-year-old daughter Amanda, and twin Belinda was engaged in a book last Thursday. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR
Office manager Joyce Poh, 41, trying to work on the dining table, while her husband David Lee, 46, a private-hire driver, read to 21/2-year-old daughter Amanda, and twin Belinda was engaged in a book last Thursday. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

Office manager Joyce Poh and her computer seemed trapped in an endless game of hopscotch when she was working from home during the circuit breaker.

Ms Poh never left the flat but she and her work station were often on the move, as she juggled the demands of family and job commitments.

The merry-go-round began in the morning when she would start working in the bedroom.

Then it was over to the dining table, while her 21/2-year-old twin daughters took their afternoon naps, and finally back to the bedroom when they woke up.

Ms Poh, an employee of creative agency DDB Group Singapore, joked that she often felt like an "unlicensed hawker moving around".

"It's just like how people used to go to random spots to set up their stalls. I had to move whenever the kids came after me."

Ms Poh, 41, said daughters Belinda and Amanda "couldn't understand why I was home but unable to play with them, so I would try to stay in a separate room or I would never get any work done".

"My mum lives with us so she helps to watch the kids."

Ms Poh has been working from home since the circuit breaker began in April. Husband David Lee, 46, is a private-hire driver.

Now that the country is in phase two and her children are back in pre-school, Ms Poh tends to stay put in the living area throughout the work day. There are no plans to set up a separate dedicated work area.

"Anywhere with a power outlet is fine. Also, there's no space," she said of her four-room Housing Board flat.

 
 
 
 

With no clear boundaries between work and her personal life - both physically and mentally - she confessed that it occasionally felt "claustrophobic" at home.

"I love that the family can spend more time together, but I make it a habit to take the girls out for evening walks. They need to go outside and breathe too," she said.

Ms Poh also has to find time to run errands. Her 71-year-old mum used to do it, but now stays home to avoid getting sick.

One good thing about being in charge of supermarket runs is that Ms Poh can buy whatever she wants. "My mum is quite healthy, but I find myself grabbing so many snacks - ice cream, especially. During this time, we should do what makes us happy, right?" she said, with a laugh.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 17, 2020, with the headline 'Staying one step ahead of twin toddlers to get work done at home'. Subscribe