Being a father and managing a career can be a challenging task, but Anton Widodo, a dedicated father of two boys aged 1 and 2, has found ways to navigate this journey while maintaining a healthy work-life balance. In this article, Anton shares his experiences, reflections, and strategies for achieving harmony between his parental responsibilities and professional pursuits.
Reflecting on the joy of becoming a father, Anton expresses both excitement and relief when his wife conceived their first child after several months of trying. The news brought a renewed sense of purpose and reflection on the kind of future he desired for his child. He hoped that his child would encounter respectful, kind, and gracious individuals along their life journey.
Anton became increasingly fascinated by their capacity to learn and absorb new information. “I brought my eldest to a department store and when the cashier asked for my mobile, he was the one who told her my number. It shocked my wife and me because we never told him my mobile numbers — he just remembers them. He knew where we were going to have dinner as soon as he stepped into a mall without us even telling him.” he recalls. These instances have filled him with pride, but also the worry that he would not be able to provide his son with the necessary environment to continuously nurture his gift.
Becoming a father has boosted Anton’s empathy and provided him with a unique lens through which he interacts with others. He sees each person as someone’s son or daughter. “I will treat him/her just like how I want my children to be treated by others.”, he shares.
This heightened sense of empathy has deepened his connections with fellow parents and others, enriching his perspective on relationships and human interactions.
Managing the demands of parenting alongside a career is undoubtedly challenging, but Anton approaches it with a “One Day at a Time” mindset. He is trying his best to help with household chores and be around the house as much as possible.
The experience of having children during the pandemic presented unique challenges for Anton and his wife. With no external help available during their eldest child’s first month and no confinement lady or helper, they had to navigate the responsibilities on their own. While it strengthened their bond as a couple, it was also overwhelming at times. Anton learned to let go of perfectionism and avoid being too hard on himself when tasks weren’t completed as efficiently as he hoped.
One of the most challenging periods for Anton was when his wife’s second pregnancy required her to be on bed rest due to a high risk of premature delivery. Balancing work, taking care of his pregnant wife, and caring for their 13-month-old toddler at home proved to be a tremendous undertaking. Despite their parents’ support, it was a time that tested their faith.
“It was a roller coaster adventure not knowing if the baby will be born safe and healthy,” Anton tells us. “On the 34th week, I remember how I admitted my wife to the hospital, come back home and settle the toddler, put him to bed, rush back to the hospital again at midnight, and come back at 5 am before he woke up.”
In his journey of parenthood, Anton has discovered the importance of slowing down and adjusting his pace. Embracing a slower tempo helps manage expectations and minimizes disappointment. Living in a fast-paced city like Singapore, he acknowledges that children cannot be rushed, and it’s essential to refrain from treating them as mere items on a checklist.
Anton also recognizes the value of seeking support when needed. The arrival of Aunty, a helpful app connecting parents with babysitters, provided him and his wife with a “much-needed lifeline”. Having been accustomed to doing everything by themselves, the app’s periodic support became invaluable, especially as Anton’s busy working schedule fluctuates.
Anton’s journey as a working parent is a testament to the possibility of finding balance and fulfilment in both family life and professional pursuits. Through embracing a “One Day at a Time” mindset, nurturing empathy, and seeking support when necessary, he has managed to navigate the challenges of parenthood while maintaining his career.
His story serves as an inspiration to other working parents, reminding them to slow down, let go of perfectionism, and prioritize what truly matters—the well-being and happiness of their children.