Navigating the WFH Waters: Parenthood Edition
Is WFH really all hunky-dory? Beneath the sheen of convenience & flexibility, we uncover inspiring stories of resilience & unsaid hardships.
By Pamela Chan
Meet Hapsari Muthi Amira — or Happy for short. She’s our Head of Data and Business Intelligence for GoPlay.
Happy lives with her husband and homeschooling toddler in Jakarta, Indonesia. With Gojek’s Indonesia offices closed for the next few months, she shares her experience balancing work and parenthood responsibilities under the same roof. 💻 🏠
Teamwork makes the dream work 🤝
“We don’t want screens to take care of our toddler instead of us.”
Like a tag-team, Happy coordinates with her husband to take turns looking after their toddler. “We know the first six years [of a child’s life] really matter to brain and body development,” she explains.
They conducted several iterations of staggered shifts, factoring in their meetings and heavy work schedules with household and childcare responsibilities. Once the foundation was set, they blocked their work calendars to let their colleagues know of their unavailability — slots that are specifically allocated for non-work tasks.
“It’s important to clearly set expectations to key stakeholders early on,” Happy says, “I’m not hiding the fact that I’m parenting. When these stakeholders approve, other people will do the same.”
If she experiences any push back, you best believe Happy will stand her ground. 💪
Schedules aren’t just for work 🗓
“The system doesn’t have to be ideal, but procedural/sequential enough.”
Along with adjusting her work schedule, Happy has established a well-oiled system for her non-work tasks, including meal prep, online grocery shopping, toy & book rotations, homeschooling reviews, and activity planning. With these two interlocking schedules, Happy is able to deepen and separate the boundary between work and home responsibilities.
“No matter how boring or tiring, [these tasks] need to be done as it’ll affect your work and home time if they aren’t completed.”
Know thy limits and adapt 🚧
“I’m able to set expectations and adapt accordingly.”
With her introverted personality (she scored “90% introvert” on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test), Happy finds her managerial duties and constant meetings a challenge at times. Recognizing that most of her big, more intensive meetings occur from Monday to Wednesday, she schedules her 1-on-1 meetings on Thursdays. Organizing her schedule in this order helps her understand the nature of her meetings for the day ahead, and position herself mentally as each day begins.
Balance is something you create ⚖️
“If you rest, you can work much better.”
Actively participating in hobby groups and fun discussions helps Happy stay sane. During team Zoom calls, she allocates time to catch up on non-work-related happenings with her colleagues.
“Sometimes, it’s just about new shows that are airing… it kinda gives the vibe that we’re working while chatting. Work feels so much more manageable that way.”
On a more personal front, Happy and her husband would have several date nights a week pre-COVID — a task that’s proven difficult since working from home. They make it a point to have at least an hour of uninterrupted “couple time” each day where they’ll talk about anything not related to work, big decisions, or urgent matters.
Do less with more focus 🎯
“I always try to be present in any of the small things that I do.”
Naturally, being the Head of Data and Business Intelligence for GoPlay comes with substantial responsibility. At times, Happy feels pressured to work odd hours to finish all of her tasks.
This pressure comes to a head when she notices how mindless she becomes whilst doing household or parenting chores: “Sometimes, I don’t even remember if I’ve done the entire bath sequence for my child.”
Exercising mental discipline, she’ll remind herself to focus only on the task at hand, and not on the thoughts fighting to the top of her conscience.
The reality of it all 🔬
With all that said, Happy stresses that while she may have her system down, not all days are ideal: when she or her husband falls ill, when a whole slew of time-sensitive work suddenly gets piled on her desk after hours, or when she’ll have to sacrifice some of her sleep time to get things done.
“Sometimes, I have meetings when I should be watching my son,” she points out, “He ends up having to sit with me. I’ll show my video on our Zoom calls so that people know I’m tending to my child, which may cause a delay in response.”
These scenarios reiterate the blatant truth that some things are simply out of our control. And that’s part and parcel of life. “I tell myself that, ultimately, it’s my choice how I use my time. Changing my mindset helps to remind me that I’m in charge and to not be pushed by work.”
While we can’t predict what life will throw at us, like Happy, we can better prepare ourselves to deal with what may unfold. Thank you for sharing your story, Happy. 💚
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