TIME TO BREATHE

If you feel in a rut at work, a sab­bat­i­cal might help you to get un­stuck. CH­ERYL LEONG talks to women who braved a no-pay break from the of­fice.

Simply Her (Singapore) - - Beauty News -

As­ab­bat­i­cal – ex­tended leave of two months or more – can be just the thing if you’re feel­ing drained at work, or have been yearn­ing to spend more time on your­self and your fam­ily. Or, you may sim­ply want to strike a few to-dos off your bucket list. Wong Kar Lai, head of group HR at Jobstreet.com, says a sab­bat­i­cal can give you time to re­fo­cus and clear your head – women jug­gle so many roles th­ese days that they need to take a break. And em­ploy­ers are be­gin­ning to recog­nise this. “They are start­ing to ap­pre­ci­ate that when they take care of their em­ploy­ees’ well-be­ing, they’re hap­pier at work and more will­ing to re­new their com­mit­ment to their jobs.”

Some sab­bat­i­cals can be paid for by your em­ploy­ers, such as when the com­pany sends you for per­sonal or ca­reer de­vel­op­ment cour­ses. But for the most part, you have to take no-pay leave, and be­ing away from the of­fice for an ex­tended pe­riod has its risks. “Be­sides not draw­ing a salary, you may be at risk of be­ing per­ceived as re­dun­dant if your col­league does your job well in your ab­sence,” says Kar Lai. Still, it hasn’t stopped th­ese women from tak­ing the plunge.

>> Stella Lee, 38

Teacher “My daugh­ter Ella, now five, has se­vere eczema which can be trig­gered by dust, wash­ing de­ter­gent or food. When she was about two, I took no-pay leave for a month to care for her and no­ticed that her skin im­proved dras­ti­cally – she had fewer open wounds from scratch­ing her­self.

I fig­ured it was be­cause I was there to keep her dis­tracted from the itch­ing. In March 2011, I de­cided to take a two-year sab­bat­i­cal. I had to cut down on my spend­ing and draw on my sav­ings, but I felt it was worth it.

I didn’t want to put Ella in preschool un­til I was sure her eczema was un­der con­trol. So for the two years that I was home with her, I home­schooled her.

Now that she’s in her first year of kinder­garten, her teach­ers say she’s adapt­ing well and can even at­tempt maths one grade above her level. Her skin has im­proved dra­mat­i­cally too – her hands and legs aren’t raw from scratch­ing – and she’s less ir­ri­ta­ble as she’s not al­ways itch­ing.

Dur­ing my sab­bat­i­cal, I also went back to com­pet­i­tive run­ning, mostly as a way to bond with my hus­band, whom I’d met in a run­ning club. I joined my first over­seas race in Syd­ney in Septem­ber 2011. In 2013, I took part in the Hong Kong Marathon, the Great East­ern Women’s Run, and the Stan­dard Char­tered Marathon in De­cem­ber.

I re­turned to teach­ing in March this year. At first, I was anx­ious about go­ing back af­ter be­ing away for two years. But the break helped me re­alise how much I’d missed teach­ing and al­lowed me to re­flect on what kind of teacher I wanted to be.

Spend­ing time with my daugh­ter and home­school­ing her has taught me to be more pa­tient and helped me un­der­stand that all kids are dif­fer­ent. Pre­vi­ously, I was more rigid. I’ve learnt to com­mu­ni­cate more with my stu­dents and this helps me build bet­ter re­la­tion­ships with them too.”

“I had to cut down on my spend­ing and draw on my sav­ings, but I felt it was worth it.”

Just another reg­u­lar train­ing day!

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