During the circuit breaker last year in 2020, FFL Volunteer Jessica Zhuo suddenly found herself becoming an educator, cook and babysitter every day. In the mornings, she would spend an hour helping her then six-year-old son Joachim with his kindergarten lessons. The afternoons and evenings saw her preparing meals for the family, even though she hardly cooked before the pandemic. In between, she also had to keep a constant eye on her two children while balancing her day job as a secretary at a multi-national corporation. It was relentless.

Photo credit: Jessica Zhuo


“I just had so much to juggle,” said the 40-year-old.

Despite the daily challenges, having the family at home all the time turned out to be a blessing in disguise as it has brought them closer. Daily gaming and reading sessions became bonding activities and helped them cope with the pandemic.

“We figured out how to survive together,” she said. “I think we’re closer now.”

A Family that Plays Together, Stays Together

Come evening time during the circuit breaker, the Zhuos’ living room would turn into a game arcade. Shouts and cheers would fill the room as Joachim and older brother Joash, would engage their father Zuriel in thrilling Mario Kart races on their Nintendo Switch. The family even bought the console’s exercise accessory kit to release some steam through workouts.

“It’s actually nice for them to play together and argue together over the games. They apologise if they’re rude and then carry on – I think they grow through all of this,” said Jessica.

Preferring more relaxing activities, she bonded with her children over board games and reading sessions. For instance, she conducted her work meetings while playing Scrabble with Joash.

Photo credit: Jessica Zhuo


This also doubled up as an educational tool too, as it helped her elder son hone his spelling and recognise words. The whole family also committed to reading together for at least 15 minutes a day.

Photo credit: Jessica Zhuo


Family First

But it was not all fun and games. As a parent, Jessica also had to help her two young children understand the pandemic and its impact. “I never tell them that Mummy knows everything,” she said. “I just tell them: ‘Things can’t go your way all the time, so we’ll just figure out what’s the best way around it.’.”

One way was to have better communication and be more considerate to one another at home. For instance, whenever her husband Zuriel had to attend online classes for work, the whole family would lower the volume of their tablets or computers.

“It takes a lot of communication and a lot of fights,” shared Jessica. “You figure out each other’s skillsets and strengths, then figure out how to synergise it all.”

“It’s part of growing up and learning to live in community with others.”