Everyone needs an escape from work every once in a while, and working mums are definitely no exception.
But while “work-life balance” is on everyone’s lips, the sisters and co-founders behind startup Ohmyhome, Race and Rhonda Wong, aren’t aiming for the work-life balance that many people are intent on achieving.
Launched in September 2016, Ohmyhome simplifies property transactions by offering both home owners and seekers a platform to directly sell, rent, or buy houses with or without an agent.
In two and a half years, Ohmyhome has facilitated a total of 4,500 online and offline transactions. In September last year, its Series A funding led by Golden Equator’s Capital saw S$4 million raised by angel, corporate and institutional investors.
Race, 36, told Business Insider in an interview that the company has been “constantly evolving”, but its core vision has been constant throughout the changes.
“The vision to be a global transaction platform has never changed,” Rhonda, who is three years younger, added.
Embracing work as part of their lives
Apart from being entrepreneurs, Rhonda and Race are also mums to their children, two-and-a-half-year-old Ashton and two-year-old Cara.
As expected, being the co-founders of a growing company means that they aren’t able to devote all their time to their children.
“We only have one-and-a-half hours with our kids every day, and those are on our lucky days,” Rhonda said.
She admits she doesn’t quite understand the concept of a work-life balance and wonders why people are made to feel like their work is not a part of their life.
When told that Singaporeans love going on vacations to get away from work she wonders: “Why do people keep wanting to get away?”
And her sister agrees.
“We need to embrace that work is our life,” Race said, explaining that almost 80 per cent of people’s lives are spent working.
So instead of trying to achieve the elusive perfect work-life balance, Race believes that she should work harder while she’s young so that she can truly relax during her retirement.
“We have to cherish this opportunity. When we can do something, we should give it our best shot,” she said.
But the sisters are also aware that being able to treat work as a full-time commitment is a luxury not everyone has access to. Their unique take on work-life balance comes with the privilege of having great support systems that include their husbands, parents, and trustworthy nannies.
Mumtrepreneurs who want to devote more time to work will need what Race calls “a complete ecosystem”, which means having a supportive partner and a caretaker who can ensure that their children will be well taken care of while they are busy at work.
At the end of the day, family always comes first even for busy working mums like the Wong sisters. “To get your family settled first is the most important thing,” Race said.
Time is precious, but being there at the right moment is enough
Like all working mums, Rhonda and Race have had to make painful sacrifices for the company they built with their bare hands.
“Time is the most precious thing in the world,” Race said, referring to missing her child’s growth and major milestones.
Her younger sister also recalled a time when she was told that Ashton was pretending to talk to her on the phone when she was out of town for work. While she was moved that her son was thinking of her, she also felt guilty for not being with him at the same time.
The sisters told Business Insider that they too grew up being cared for by a guardian.
Up until she was four-years-old, Rhonda had been cared for by a guardian, while Race was taken care of by her oldest sister, Rosanne. Their parents were away most of the time, working to support the family.
Despite living apart from their parents, the sisters believe that their parents were able to make a living because their guardians had taken great care of them.
Because of their own experiences, the sisters feel assured that while they cannot be there for Ashton and Cara all the time, knowing that they are in good hands while they are at work is enough.
Rhonda said: “We don’t have to be there all the time. We just have to be there for them at the right moments.”
The simplest rewards
For Rhonda and Race, who have grown their team to around 50 people in two years, the best things in life are also the simplest.
When Business Insider asked when the pair felt most proud of as mothers, Rhonda said it was knowing her son is polite and healthy. Similarly, Race found the health and happiness of her child the most rewarding.
As business owners, the Wong sisters say that they get the most fulfillment from various aspects, including getting to know their staff and meeting satisfied customers.
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