MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: Making WORK+PLAY work with twins – Nicole Huang

This post first appeared in Nicole’s blog: http://whitericeculture.com/journal/trehaus-co-work-where-work-meets-play and is reposted with permission.

All text and photos: Nicole Huang.

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It took a while before we decided to try out Trehaus – a co-working space with child-minding facilities. Back in March last year, I had just started freelancing and got to hear of it. Naturally, it piqued my interest and I thought it was a brilliant concept (still do). However, there were many considerations – including additional financial overheads to pay for the co-working space and the playgroup space, as well as the whole lot of logistics of getting there with two babies given we live an hour away by bus, so the idea was moot.

Later in the year, we got a car, A&S became more active, I’m clearer in the direction of my freelance work, and we thought it’s timely to check Trehaus out. Now 2-3 months in, seeing how the kids are settling and growing in to the space and routines there,  I thought I’ll share my perspectives on why I appreciate having a place like Trehaus:

The Trehaus Team
As with most places, it’s the people who make or break an experience. Over time, we developed an affinity for the team whom we see every time we go in, knowing that the kids are in good hands and that at its core, they built this space to support parents who want to be present for their little ones, yet get work done in a conducive environment. Piloting a new concept like this especially when it involves kids (AND parents) isn’t easy and usually subject to lots of scrutiny, but the Trehaus team always do so with much patience and care as they help to ease everyone into the environment.

The community
I love this article “It Takes A Village” written by Liz, these quotes summed it up well:

The village today is no longer bound by ancestry or physical locations. The community that is invaluable for our children to thrive in with added guidance, support and care is what we make for ourselves.

The children that are at our Trehaus Kids Atelier now have new aunties and uncles (fellow co-workers who are members in our space) – a community that showers them with affection and love, and are involved in raising them indirectly.

That’s our village right here at where we work and our children play. There’s so much support everyone gives and receives here in our co-working space which makes the parenting journey more worthwhile than if we were all to do it on our own.

Karyn, Trehaus' Community Manager and Logan

Karyn, Trehaus’ Community Manager and Logan

The Flexibility
We only go in 8x a month (approximately 2x/week), and are free to choose the dates as it suits us. This really comes in handy when the kids are sick, which I guess is a rite of passage when they start going to play schools. With twins, when a virus hits one after the other, usually we’ll be out for 7-10 days, and I’m glad that in a way, I’m not paying for a full month of fees and only going in for half.

The Space
The main co-working space has a calm, pleasant vibe and it’s nice to have direct access to the spacious outdoor terrace that doubles up as an alternative work/play area. Over at the kids atelier, it’s refreshing to have a play space designed for kids that’s not screaming in colours, plus an abundance of natural light makes it a very welcoming spot for both the little ones and the adults alike.

Trehaus accepts kids from 6-months to 6-years of age, and given the open layout at the Kids Atelier, the kids generally end up hanging out in the same space (with various activity corners). I personally like the fact that they don’t intentionally segregate kids of different ages for the entire day and instead let them play (roam) around freely regardless of age groups.

Is Trehaus the right space for you and your kid? With different expectations and needs, the best way to find out is to try it out and see how it fits into you and your baby’s routines. If you’re considering, here’s a few things to note, if it helps:

  • How far away do you live and will your commute and logistics of getting to Trehaus be manageable and worth the while for you? (Both time and money?)
  • How old is your kid? While Trehaus accepts kids up to 6-years old, I find that the sweet spot for the Kids Atelier is perhaps 6/9-months – 2/3 years old.
  • How will your kid adjust to napping in a different environment? Initially, this was the toughest for us, but they now sleep longer at Trehaus than at home, so I’ll say ride it out and trust that your kid will adjust.
  • Outdoor/garden play – There’s a lovely terrace where there’s the occasional outdoor play, but if you’re looking for a space with direct access to a garden and lots of outdoor activity, this might be fairly limited. That’s something I wish is available, but can’t have everything – something’s gotta give!
  • Parents have to bring their own food for the kids (they don’t operate like a childcare), so BYO all meals.
  • Finally, be realistic about the actual amount of hours you spend on work, especially in the initial weeks/months when both you and your kid(s) are getting used to the environment and routines – it takes a while to settle into a productive rhythm. Even then, you are likely not able to spend 100% of your time here on work, but frankly sometimes, it is quite nice to slip into the atelier for 15-min or so, sit back and watch the kids explore and play.

As childcare needs and work needs evolve,  this will not be a permanent arrangement for us, but at this current phase, it works and I hope the business model remains sustainable in order to benefit many more parents in future.

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MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: Parenting twins & making work + play work - Nicole Huang 1

Nicole is a digital media specialist turned freelance family photographer who is also a happy mum of a pair of beautiful twin girls. Photography as a visual language is what she is passionate about and believe in, and she enjoys leveraging this craft to document family life, with intention and honesty. Her photography showcase, WHITERICECULTURE, is also a lifestyle journal with a focus on parenthood and travel, as well as a series of curated City Guides – with a couple more to be released later this year.