Is Work Life Balance Possible For Shift Workers?
In the blink of an eye, it’s Monday again. The traditional start to the work & school week and cause for many working parents to sigh collectively. For those of us who worked through the weekend, perhaps it’s just another day. One of my young residents who is struggling with getting respite from clinical work asked me about work life balance. So I thought I would share about my weekend.
Thursday 22 August
Walk Out From Work & In With New Choos
My weekend began early on Thursday. Having completed a Wednesday night shift on a Thursday morning, I was in high spirits leaving work. There’s something particularly satisfying about starting work at night and then leaving when the sun is shining and the possibilities are endless. And then I remembered that I had a meeting later that afternoon back at the hospital to discuss morbidities & mortalities. Consequently, the only sane possibility was to nap. There’s no work life balance without good sleep.
After the M&M round, I headed to a party thrown by Prestige to celebrate Jimmy Choo’s evolution. Moving with the times, the hallowed brand has put out a line with a completely new logo, simply “JC”. Cocktails served that day bore these letters brandished in froth, which I enjoyed while catching up with friends.
Friday 23 August
As I entertained at home late the evening before, waking up on Friday morning was an extraordinary struggle. What got me out of bed was the fact that I was attending an interesting course on philanthropy with like-minded friends. Although the bleak reality is that in order to make it to Singapore General Hospital that early, I wasted no time in picking out the outfit of the day. I blush slightly as I put up the photo of me, bare-faced with flat hair and yes, the same dress as the one I wore the day before.
Did I learn anything from the course? Absolutely. It was great to hear the speaker from Stanford re-frame how to approach potential benefactors. The workshop also made me reflect on why I spend time with certain charities. More importantly, I think I need to be more hygienic in separating my personal life from my fund-raising efforts. I’ll mull on this a bit more and publish a concrete example later when I am more mature about this.
Tatler’s Tag Heuer Party
Friday evening was in full swing at the Tatler party at the Tag Heuer boutique at Ion Orchard. We heard about the launch of the new Autovia and a special guest star discussed his venture in the toy design industry. Although he isn’t affiliated with Tag Heuer, it was interesting to hear his story as he epitomises the brand philosophy: Don’t crack under pressure.
Saturday 24 August
Once again, I found myself at a conference. This time I was at The Singapore Mindfulness Conference 2019 held at the University Cultural Centre: http://brahmcentre.com/smc2019/. While there were many tracks on depression and organisational resilience, the track I enjoyed the most was on education. Speakers discussed mindfulness in school education as well as parenting at home. I was delighted to meet another doctor who also shared about her initial skepticism. We have known each other since we went to Raffles Girls’ Secondary School. To hear her discuss mindful parenting amidst real struggles as a working mother, gave me hope.
What I got out of the conference is that mindful parenting and work life balance go hand in hand. It seems to me that children model themselves after their parents. Therefore before I work on my kids, I have to work on myself and be more centred. I’m going to try it and I will certainly share about my experience when I can.
The Long Bar & A Short Dinner
Saturday night was particularly special. One of my heroes in the realm of trauma science, Professor John Holcomb was in town and so we met for drinks at the Long Bar. We first met in a conference an emergency medical services conference in Texas, NAEMSP 2019 Who Said What And Who Cares. Although I had many questions for him about the evolution of trauma science particularly in the paediatric population, there was no chance to ask them because the conversation was so good. As we learnt about one another’s lives through tales of our kids and travels, I was fascinated and encouraged. This great man was able to do so much sentinel research and yet remains affable and open with great work life balance.
After drinks I had the best dinner party ever. It was just two people and we ordered ramen in and called it a night before midnight. This is in stark contrast to the old days, for anyone who’s known Grace & me for decades. But now that we are older working moms, the fact that we made time for each other made it extra special. Isn’t that part of work life balance? Having non-judgmental friends who check in on one another with no agenda but loving kindness?
Sunday 25 August
Don’t Crack Under Pressure
My Sunday evening shift ended late and then I took a few young doctors who ended at the same time, out for supper. I won’t talk about what happened during the shift but I’ll say that enjoying a spicy mala hotpot together was the perfect end to the weekend. In Emergency Medicine, some days are tough, some nights are rough. Work life balance isn’t a myth, but like mindfulness, it needs to be practised. As with any industry, it helps to build a community and check in on one another. Seek help early and don’t crack under pressure.