The peculiar work-life imbalance of a tutor (that non-tutors won’t understand)

When I started in the tutoring industry, for quite a few years, this was what my typical schedule look like:

  • Monday: Teach from 4pm-5.30pm
  • Tuesday-Friday: Teach from 4pm-7.30pm with 30 mins dinner break
  • Saturday: Teach from 10am-4pm with 1 hour lunch break
  • Sunday: Rest

Not bad, eh? I only taught less than 20 hours a week. Yet this kind of schedule caused some serious work-life imbalance problems to my family.

For one, I had little time for my wife, who worked regular office hours. When I was free in the morning, she would be working. When she knocked off, I would be in the thick of my work. Family dinners during weekdays were virtually impossible.

I would reach home at close to 8.30pm. Sometimes if students’ parents wanted to talk to me, or some students stayed back a little longer to ask more questions, I would reach home even later.

That was when we had no kids.

After my daughters arrived, my evening schedule started to become an explosive topic. I started to become a cause of inconvenience to my family – my kids would get cranky in the evening, and my wife, exhausted from a day’s work, had to manage them. Around 8pm every night, after dinner, they would all wait for me at my in law’s place to go home together. Teaching evening classes means I was not there to help with the kids.

Whenever I had evening classes ending at 7.30pm or so, and my students’ parents came up to me to talk about their children’s progress, I would be feeling terribly conflicted. On one hand, I wanted to make good use of these face-to-face opportunity to really talk about how we can help their children better together. At the same time, I would be filled with a foreboding of the tension that would surely arise when I reached home later. To save time, I would sometimes talk to the parents while closing the centre. I was lucky that none of the parents took offence in that.

Often, I would feel like a victor after talking to the parents who appreciated my effort. However when I reached my in-law’s place, I would feel like an inconsiderate jerk, who had just caused some misery to everyone just because of my teaching schedule. Sometimes I had to wolf down my dinner in less than five minutes so that we could quickly fetch the kids home.

It was a bitter pill to swallow, when I only wanted to do a good job as a tutor. I felted wronged and misunderstood. I could not find a way out. The only solutions seemed to be either to let go of my tutoring career, or to demand that my family accept my work hours. It’s a fight or flight situation.

A new hope:

At about the same time, I started to know more about the feasibility of online tutoring. Chiew, the founder of, very patiently and very determinedly showed me how some tutors already were working more efficiently with their virtual classroom technology.

I experimented with and with online tutoring. Eventually, after two years, I found the way to convert all my tutoring classes to online. That means no more commuting for me. I can now better work around my family’s time, which I could not do before.

  • If my family needs me urgently for whatever reason, I can pause my lesson for 15 minutes, handle what needs to be handled, and continue with the lesson after that.
  • I can teach right up till 7.30pm at my in-law’s place, have dinner there, and bring my kids home at 8pm.
  • I can meet my students online after my kids are asleep.
  • I can catch up with parents easily, right after their kids’ lessons. No more closing shop while struggling to chat with them.
  • Occasionally, during public holidays or weekends, I can teach at a shopping mall when my wife and my kids are having fun somewhere. All I need is my laptop, my Wacom tablet, my earphone, a power socket and a stable wifi connection. With a bit of luck, both the power socket and the stable wifi connection can be found at Starbucks or Old Town White Coffee. I don’t have to leave my family there for 3 hours while I go off to teach at my student’s house.

I still feel hard pressed for time every now and then, but things are getting so much better. I cannot remember the last time I had to wolf down my dinner after my classes. That is a vast improvement.

That is why I am devoting two hours per week to share how I solved my work-life imbalance problem through online tutoring technology. You can find out more about the FREE online workshop here.

I hope that more tutors can find solutions to the work-life imbalance problem caused by our peculiar schedule through using technology like Then we will be able to say proudly, “Work-life, I’m balance.”

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