working form home

Tips for working from home with little kids

Due to the Movement Control Order, a lot of us have been subjected to working from home, and for those of us with families, it means working from home with kids. I have some experience in the area – I usually work from home once a week, and even when I’m at the office I’ve had either Eesa or Hudaa with me on most days. So when our social media manager asked me to share my working from home with kids tips to make into MCO content, I was more than happy to depart my wisdom *cue eyeroll*

Disclaimer – this is just what works for me, and a lot of the time, I don’t even manage to do all these. Sometimes, you just have to forego taking a shower in order to beat that deadline. Or you are so worn out from juggling so many hats that the last thing you want to do is wake up in the wee hours of the morning to get a chunk of work-time. Life goes on.


Be Flexible

The main thing I can advise people about working from home with kids is to be flexible. You will NOT get a solid 8 hours of work in like you do at the office. There is no 9-5. Of course you will try, but bear in mind that your working hours would more likely be spread out across the whole day and include so many more ‘breaks’ than you had planned. If you are working alone or are pretty independent from other departments in your company, this shouldn’t be much of a problem. However, if your work requires a lot of scheduled meetings/discussions/collaboration with others, it might be a bit harder for you. Tip 2 will address that issue.

Being flexible also means you are able to work from various locations in your house. Ideally, you would work at your dedicated workspace, whether it’s your dining table, or your home office space. But sometimes, your kids require (read: demand) your attention.

Some people may have kids who are older and understand boundaries better, but if you’re like me and have a baby, or a toddler, who have not developed enough self-restraint or comprehension of the phrase “mommy needs to do some work right now”, you will find that being flexible in the location of your workspace allows you to get more work done. Of course, this only works if you have a laptop or if you can work on your mobile phone. If your work is tethered to a PC, planning becomes even more crucial. As you go along, you can (hopefully) train your child to recognise boundaries better.

Have a plan

I find that having a plan for the day helps me arrange my schedule better. And planning doesn’t just include work – now that you’re working from home with kids, it also means planning for meals/cooking, planning for downtime with your kids, and planning for other home-related things like laundry, naptimes, cleaning, etc.

My method is quite loose (remember tip no.1!), and it involves listing down my work goals for the day or my work to-do list. Next, I identify tasks that have time constraints, namely deadlines and meetings/group discussion. Then I can make sure my day is geared towards setting myself up for as much success in achieving these highlighted tasks.

For example, if I have a conference call scheduled at 1pm, which is when we usually have lunch, I will make sure that the kids are fed and lunch is cleared up earlier, and that I spend at least 20 minutes entertaining the kids so they get their mommy time before I have to hole up in my room. The rest of the day is slipping in pockets of work in between so I can check them off the list.

Additionally, if you get derailed by the many, many breaks you are forced to take, having a plan or to-do list written down will make it easier to pick up where you left off and get right back on track as soon as your situation allows you to, instead of backtracking and wasting time gathering your work mojo.

working from home with kids

Get backup

If your spouse is also working from home, then you’re lucky, Alhamdulillah! After listing down your work tasks for the day, I will usually let Shafiq know about any uninterrupted time I might need and vice versa. This allows us to take turns in attending to the kids while we chase that deadline or attend to that meeting.

If you are alone working at home with kids (LDR couples, single mothers, HUGE salute to you!), identify an activity that your child engages most in, and save that activity for when you really need it. And of course, when all else fails, Paw Patrol is hopefully just a click away.

Everything else

While those would be my top three tips, some other tips I find useful are:

  • Getting up earlier than your kids to get solid uninterrupted work time in
  • Try to make sure you get ready for the day – getting ready physically also helps you get into the work mindset. Take a shower and put on something other than your pyjamas. Make yourself a nice mug of coffee just like you would at the office
  • If you find yourself getting distracted by your phone, social media, etc, maybe use a timer or the Pomodoro method to break your work up into smaller chunks. The timer can also help train your kids to know when it’s working time and when you are allowed to take a break.
  • Make time for your kids – there’s only so much time they can leave you alone for. And really invest in that time – enjoy connecting with them and make it quality time. It might just help you destress from work too

Although to me working from home with kids seem like second nature, I hope these tips can give the bewildered and frustrated parent who is new to working from home some tools to make it through these strange times <3

working form home


Choices 3.0

Being a mother means you are confronted with choices almost every minute of your life. Notwithstanding all the normal day-to-day ones, most of the time, its a choice between yourself and everything else.

On the rare day that I get a whole day without the kids and I am at home with all the luxury of time to do whatever I want, these choices bubble up to the surface faster than you can blink.

A whole day to yourself. You can rest. you can pamper yourself. you can do whatever your heart desires. And yet.

You walk into the kitchen to make yourself an adult breakfast that you for once, will not have to share, that you can eat while still fresh, that you won’t have to gobble down. One that you can eat in peace without getting up from the table a million times because your kid needs a tissue, or more water, or whatever else they always seem to be needing. You fix yourself breakfast. But you’re in the kitchen, you notice the fridge could use cleaning. The floor could use a good wash. The pantry could use some arranging. Counters can be wiped down. And was that smell coming from the microwave? Maybe a little scrubbing would clear that. You notice all these things because you have the time and space of mind to notice them, and now comes the choice part. Eat breakfast in peace, savouring each bite, or eat quickly because the kitchen needs some TLC?

Okay maybe just a quick wipedown and throwing out everything expired in the fridge. Yeah. That’s a good compromise, right? Good. now lets just relax and watch some Netflix! Great idea. You walk to the bathroom to freshen up and pass the laundry basket. It’s 3/4 full. Nope. Ignore it, you tell yourself. It’s Netflix time. but that small part of your brain says, just pop it in the wash, you can Netflix while it’s running! Okay fine.

But now you have to decide whether you are gonna fold that pile of laundry that’s been in the basket for 2 weeks, because when else are you gonna have the free time, the hands free from carrying babies or toys or everything else, the house free from toddlers running around and knocking your folded laundry pile into the ground because he’s pretending to be a roaring dinosaur

Quick lunch break and you’re feeling tired from all that decision making, but here comes another choice. You could take a nap you so desperately crave, but there are toys randomly wedged in between the couch. Bits of cereal left under the table from God knows when. The front cabinet is strewn with receipts and old bills and random bits of pocket fluff. The sheets haven’t been changed in a while – they are starting to get musty. What about that plan you had of sorting out the kids clothes that they outgrew? Or filtering your closet to sell/donate the clothes you rarely ever wear? And while you’re at it, all that baby equipment you’ve been keeping in storage which you said you wanted to photograph and put up on those preloved pages? What about everything on your home to-do list that you put on the back burner, parked in the sidelines, or just completely stuffed in the deepest part of your closet because you haven’t had the time and energy and freedom to properly give them attention?

Well you have time now, right?

But what about time for yourself? Time to recharge? To rest? To NOT think about the million and one things that need doing, because that list just keeps getting longer and longer.

Nap, or tidy up the house?

Read a book, or start dinner prep?

Write, or do something more productive?

Obviously these choice have to be made by everyone, all the time. But somehow, as a mom, the urgency is more and you have much more at stake (i.e, your sanity) Maybe some moms/wives manage to find time to do it all, but me? Not one of those superwomen. What do you do when both choices bring you satisfaction? Choose yourself, or choose everything else?


2nd Pregnancy Labour Story

My due date was on May 13, 2018, which would fall on a Sunday, right before the start of Ramadhan. This meant that my last trimester pretty much coincided with the busiest work period of the year for us. There was a photoshoot with Farah Lee where I basically blacked out on her sofa, and a fashion show where I was again in charge of backstage and dressing the models, not to mention the work leading up to the event with all the planning and coordination. Oh, and the elections too! Interesting times.

I decided that Thursday the 10th would be my last day at work before the maternity leave. I wanted to have Friday off for last minute packing and cleaning the house, since Shafiq would be off at a photoshoot that day. Or so I thought anyway.

I woke up for subuh and noticed I had a bit of discharge, so I changed and prayed subuh. But after solat, I felt weird, like there was more discharge coming out. But I just dismissed it as my body reacting to being tired. But after a while it just felt even more weird so I went to the bathroom to check, and noticed the tiniest bit of blood. Waitaminute. Did my water just break??

Woke Shafiq up and told him..and for a while we were just blur. Shafiq called backup to cover his shoot, and we called Abah and asked if he could take care of Eesa for the day (Thankfully I think it was nearing the sem break) and then packed our stuff and drove to the hospital. We got there at around 8.30, and I was ushered into the examination area. They ruptured my membrane to make sure that there was no meconium aspiration. They also checked my dilation, which was just around 2cm.

The wards were all full so we had to just wait in the lobby. Asked the nurse if I was allowed to go out to eat or anything but she said since we already checked I couldn’t leave, as they would be monitoring me every couple of hours. Hmm. Thankfully I brought a book along, and had my phone. Shafiq went out to get some food for breakfast and lunch, even though the hospital provided plenty of meals and snacks throughout the day for patients. I remember it was Friday because shafiq went for Friday prayers.

At around 4.30, the nurse informed us that there was a bed available for me in the ward, so we moved there. I was still only a few cm dilated so it was mostly just waiting around. But in the late afternoon I started getting contractions – and this was the first time I was actually aware of the feeling. They were mild at first, and after the nurse came by and checked she said I was just at 5-6 cm. She also told me that if they got stronger she could give me painkillers.

Since it was a general ward, Shafiq could only stay until 7pm, so at around 7ish he left the ward. But by the time 7pm rolled around, the contractions were getting much much much stronger. I was alone and in a heck of a lot of pain. I remember making some monstrous sounds trying to call the nurses over without being able to get up as the contractions were now just minutes apart. My ward neighbours were kind enough to ask me if I was ok and i think I must’ve said no because they thankfully called the nurses over. The nurse checked me and I told them that I definitely wanted those painkillers but they said I was already 8cm dilated so it was too late, and promptly wheeled my bed out of the ward to the labour room. Tak sempat capai tudung pun. Managed to hold on to my phone and message Shafiq though, who Alhamdulillah was just at the hospital surau and he joined me in the labour room. The nurses kept telling me to ‘tahan, jangan teran dulu ye puan!’ all the way to the LR.

Got changed into labour room clothes (don’t know why I had to do this when I was already in hospital clothes anyway) and lay down while the nurses busied themselves with attaching me to the monitors. A few minutes later they finished and were basically just standing around talking, while I was deliriously in pain and feeling like I needed to push. So I asked them ‘dah boleh teran ke??’ to which they said, ‘eh, teran la puan! nak tunggu apa lagi?’ Haih.

I don’t remember how many times I pushed but I do remember yelling ‘Awak buat ape tu? Sakit tau tak!’ at one of the nurses who was pushing down on my tummy while it also felt like she was prying me open. Not my coolest moment but she really was causing me a lot of discomfort. I had mentioned to Shafiq to tell them ‘tak nak potong’ meaning I didn’t want an episiotomy but I guess he forgot to pass on the message because I did get snipped. It was kind of all a hurried shamble because I forgot all my breathing exercises and birth plan too. Alhamdulillah it didn’t last long though, the whole thing was over in about 10 minutes, and I got to hug my beautiful little girl for the first time.


Hudaa Shafiq, born 11 May 2018, 2 days ahead of schedule, at 7.45pm


The 4th trimester


You know before I gave birth I always used to hear people say ‘selamat berpantang’. I never really understood why they said that. I assumed they meant something like happy holidays..boy was I wrong. Pantang or confinement was sort of horrible.

Post delivery

After giving birth I was allowed to rest for a short while in the labour room. I immediately fell asleep from exhaustion. The nurse came in and told me I could move to the ward, but I really didn’t feel like moving. Not that I had a choice. My pelvis was still in a funk so I really couldn’t move and it took me all of 15 minutes just to get out of the bed. and then just standing up to get to the wheelchair i almost passed out, my head was spinning and i was seeing blurry and blacking out. Probably my low blood pressure or something. They gave me some Milo and I asked for more. Milo always makes it a lil bit better. I was too weak too hold Eesa, so the nurse wheeled him in his cot alongside my wheelchair to the ward.

Coming to the hospital I wanted to be placed in the first class ward, because I wanted Shafiq with me. But the ward was full, and so we went to the regular ward. the whole day i was sleepy and sore all over. I still couldn’t move so it was heartbreaking when Eesa cried and i couldn’t even move to pick him up. Shafiq couldn’t be int the ward with me to help. I felt utterly alone and helpless and scared. The nurse came by and rattled on about changing the baby’s diaper and i was suddenly so overwhelmed and distraught i burst into tears.

It was like all of a sudden, all this new stuff, these new responsibilities were dumped on me. Not to say I dint know what i was getting into, but i thought at the beginning that i’d have some kind of guide or help to get me going, not all of a sudden be expected to know everything. I guess i was in shock or something. Being a mom is all kinds of terrifying.

Alhamdulillah that night we were able to move to the first class ward and Shafiq could stay with me. Alhamdulillah alhamdulillah alhmadulillah! i don’t know how i would have survived that night all by myself, with the baby crying and me not being able to move. We were held overnight because I still wasn’t able to pee, so we couldn’t be discharged. the whole day went by and i still hadn’t been able to go to the bathroom even though my bladder was really full. they had to do an in out procedure to empty it out. The next day was the same, except this time, every time i tried to stand up to try and force myself to pee, my bladder sphincter muscles would just give way. Zero bladder control. In the end the hospital decided to hook me up with a catheter and sent me home on day 3.


Confinement blues

Ummi never did any kind of pantang since she gave birth in Canada, and mostly alone. So my pantang period was pretty loose too. I couldn’t handle wearing socks (panas gila tau tak) and i ate almost everything.

Honestly I don’t know how people manage doing the whole pantang shebang. Where do they find the time? maybe their babies sleep more, unlike Eesa who refused to nap in the day at all. I mean, I could barely find time to eat, let along tangas tungku urut pilis mandi herba etc2. The only good thing about my catheter is that i didn’t need as many potty breaks.

The thing that was hardest to deal with in the beginning was breastfeeding. Eesa cried and cried and didn’t want to sleep even after nursing all day. It doesn’t help when the people around you keep saying you’re not producing enough milk and therefore force you to eat 24/7. my appetite was really low..i even vomited several times after forcing myself to eat eat eat. I grew pretty tired of everyone forcing food down my throat too. Another thing they kept saying  was “you have to be happy, stay positive” which is absolutely hard when you’re overwhelmed and terrified and suffering postnatal blues. I did end up supplementing Eesa with some milk from Munira..It’s the only time I ever saw Eesa have a milk coma. Sad that it couldn’t be from me, but as long as Eesa is happy and healthy i guess.


The second hardest thing to deal with was missing my husband. We used to spend most of our time together, and suddenly it all evaporated with me being preoccupied with the baby. No more spontaneous dates, hanging out, cuddling etc.

I spent the first 2 weeks basically in tears. Overwhelmed with everything. To make things worse, Shafiq came down with a really bad flu a week in so he had to stay far away from me and the baby. I’ve never felt so alone in my whole life. Support and even just the physical presence of your loved ones around you are so important in these times. Hats off to all the single mothers out in the world

But in between the loooooong hours, of course, there were precious moments, gems and heart melting smiles with my lil boy.





My labour story

My EDD was 3rd of February, but because of my gestational diabetes, if I hadn’t given birth by the 2nd, I’d have to be admitted for induced labor on the 2nd of fib. So the days were going by and I didn’t feel any signs of giving birth. We decided to go to the bird park on the 1st to get a good walk in, which is supposed to help with labor. The day before I had attempted to do some squats, which weren’t that successful since I only managed a few before my knees started shaking lol.

The morning of the 1st I woke up feeling a bit sore in the pelvis. Must be those squats. Got ready and headed to the was really nice! About halfway through though, I started feeling pan in y pelvis and it got harder and harder o walk. It got so bad that at one point I couldn’t move at all. Standing still was fine but any kind of pelvic movement was close to impossible. It felt like I had dislocated my whole groin/hip.  I was close to tears at that point, because I felt so helpless. Anyway, we had to get back to the car so I leaned on Shafiq and slowwwwly hobbled back through the park.

It was already lunchtime and we hadn’t really had anything to eat the whole day, so we decided to get lunch otw back. Grabbed Burger King at Masjid Jamek and then I felt like having some coffee, so we decided to drive to TTDI. On the way we stopped by a gas station to pray but I couldn’t make it out of the car! lol. So we just went home. Shafiq asked if I wanted to go to the hospital to check but I knew these weren’t contractions. First of all the pain was constant and not every few minutes, and second, it was all in my pelvis, not my uterus. I said I didn’t want to go to the hospital and just be told to go back home, so we headed straight home.

Later that night the pain was still unbearable, and Salman and Munira urged me to just go and check. So after dinner, Shafiq loaded our hospital bags and scooped me up, off to the delivery wing. After arriving in the wheelchair, the nurse told Shafiq to wait outside in the waiting area and told me to lie down on one of the beds. I almost broke down again because I really couldn’t walk without support. Somehow I managed though, groping at walls. It took me a good 15 minutes just to get on to the bed. They strapped me up with some monitoring devices, and the nurses weren’t too happy with my readings.i didn’t understand what they were sayig but basically they meant the graph seemed to be upside down? After half an hour they said I could get down from the bed and wait for the doctor. So another agonizing time getting down, only after to finally make it to the chair, the doctor came and asked me to get back into bed for more checks.

The doctor asked me some questions (are you sure you don’t feel any contractions? no.) and told me that my baby’s heartbeat was quite fast. She then ruptured by membrane to check if the baby had passed stool inside the womb, which he didn’t. Then the doctor asked the nurses if there were any beds available. At that time I thought to myself, ok well at least they’re not sending me home, at least masuk ward for one night. The nurse came back and said bed 2 was empty. Then the doctor told me I was actually already 2cm dilated and since the heartbeat was fast, they were putting me straight into the labor room.


I totally did not expect that. I was terrified! So not emotionally and mentally ready to give birth that night! They wheeled me out into the waiting room and I broke down in tears when Shafiq came to me. I was so so scared.

The labor room was right next door, and they told me to go to the bathroom, and change into the hospital gowns. I lay on the bed kind of in a daze, trying to remember everything I had read and prepared. I still felt no contractions at all, only pelvic pain. It was 11.30ish. I couldn’t see the clock but a few hours later the nurse came and checked me again, still only 2-3cm. so she said they would give me some medication to speed up the contractions. I don’t know what it was but it was administered via IV drip. (Dah Google. I think it was Pitocin)

Oh boy did that medicine work. I contractions came and went. In the beginning they were manageable-ish, I remember asking Shafiq if we should time them. But soon they started to get reaaaally strong. I tried breathing through them but I guess I failed. At one point I remember a nurse coming in and asking if I wanted pain medication, to which I said YESS and waited for her to come back, but when she did she said they couldn’t give me any because I was already 9cm open. Good news I guess, meaning I was able to go thru (relatively) drug free. The contractions felt like…bowling balls growing and rolling inside me. For some reason every contraction came and felt like different colors. I don’t know how to describe it. Overall the most colors were purple and orange. The last contraction was definitely yellowish orange, I remember thinking ‘mcm nangka’ and “shaped’ like an inflated rounded rectangle (kinda like durian crepe?) I guess mild synesthesia hit me or something.

The pushing part was kind of a chaotic blur. First only 2 nurses attended to me, but later I think there were 3 nurses pushing and prodding my belly, 2 more standing at the foot of the bed waiting to receive, and one more doctors looking on. Everyone was telling me to do different things, lift chin, push more, tahan nafas, lagi, lagi! I don’t remember actually feeling the “ring of fire” moment when the baby’s head emerged. They did pull my hand down to feel his head almost there. /I do remember feeling angry; I wished everyone would just shut up and let me focus lol! I definitely shushed Shafiq once when he was urging me to lift my chin.

Alhamdulillah after about half an hour, baby Eesa came into the world. They placed him on my chest and I couldn’t stop saying AllahuAkbar..This is my baby!