These days, we hear the sound of squeaky shoes as a 18-month-old toddler patters her way to Trehaus. Trailing behind her is her daddy, who’s asking her to wait up. This coming from a dad who has never missed a single milestone, and who’s watched his little girl transit from crawling to cruising and walking since March, all while he’s at work.
Meet the adorable Maya and her daddy, Ong Chao Hong, also known by all of us at Trehaus as Chao. Chao is the new generation of daddykins who is affectionately present and involved in their child’s formative growing years while juggling his pursuit in entrepreneurship. A typical day for Maya and Chao at Trehaus would see Chao changing Maya’s diapers, feeding her lunch prepared at home and cooing her to sleep in a baby carrier. And when it’s time for Maya to play at the Atelier, Chao heads to the Commons to get a few hours of full concentration for his film and video production projects.
We caught up with Chao this month to share what it’s like being at Trehaus, being productive (pun intended!) in production projects and what it means to be bringing Maya to work.
Questions for Chao
How did you hear of Trehaus?
My wife Bonnie and I attended a talk by Chapter Zero at Trehaus earlier this year and we put Maya (who was around 11 months old back then) in the Kid’s Atelier to play while we listened to the talk. We felt that Maya enjoyed the experience and signed up for a trial membership right away.
Was working from home an option? Why did you choose to work in Trehaus?
I do work from home most days of the week, but find it impossible to do anything that requires deep concentration, like script writing, while looking after Maya at the same time. I signed up for the WORK + PLAY Flexi Co Work Lite membership, which allows me to work at Trehaus 8 days a month, or two days a week. This is perfect for me as I can do simpler tasks like replying emails and taking calls on days when I work from home, and really concentrate on script writing when I’m at Trehaus.
How has your experience at Trehaus been so far?
I love it and I think Maya loves it even more.
Why did you decide to bring Maya to work with you?
We want to be actively involved in Maya’s early learning experiences and didn’t want to send her to full-time daycare until she’s older. We also want her to learn to socialise with other kids and be more comfortable and confident with other adults.
What’s your typical day like coming to work with Maya?
My wife and I have breakfast with Maya in the morning, then we share an Uber car, first dropping off my wife at her office before arriving at Trehaus. I’ll put Maya down at the Kids Atelier, get a couple hours of work done before coming back to feed Maya her lunch. Then I go for my own lunch nearby. If she is tired, I’ll put her on the carrier and walk her to sleep and continue working with her sleeping on me. Once she’s up again, she’s usually eager to play for a couple more hours. I like to go into the Atelier myself too and play with her for a bit before I take her home!
Have you seen any changes in Maya over the past few months, in terms of her growth and development?
When we first joined back in March, Maya was very clingy and would cry for long periods when I left her at the Kids Atelier. Now she’s completely comfortable with the space and always looks forward to going there. Kids learn by imitation and watching other kids play and learn probably inspires her to try doing the same herself. I believe she learns faster at Trehaus than if she were to play on her own at home.
Has being in this space as a coworker done anything for your business and career?
It has improved my work efficiency dramatically! I have learnt to concentrate better while I’m at work and get more done in a shorter time. Being centrally located, it’s convenient for my producer to drop by occasionally for discussions or even for my wife to come by and see us during her lunch hour.
What do you enjoy most about being in this space?
I like being around other working parents and am inspired by how they manage to balance work and parenting. I also learn a lot about being a parent by observing how they interact with their kids.
Any words of advice for a dad like you who would like to bring an active toddler to work?
It takes time for both you and your child to settle into any new routine, so if at first it doesn’t seem to work well, keep trying. Maya now looks forward to visiting Trehaus every time, but she’s also always glad to see me again when it’s time to go home. I think we have both grown to be very comfortable with this routine.
Chao started Daoyu Pictures as a home-based business back in 2011 and have produced videos for many well-known brands such as P&G, Earth Hour, Pantene and SK-II as well as for smaller businesses such as art galleries and education centres. Daoyu Pictures produces mainly corporate videos, including event videos, branding and promotional videos as well as training and educational videos, for both broadcast and web use, and is also currently developing their first feature film.