Thursday, January 31, 2013

We'll Just Have Two, Thanks

Everyone's talking about the new childcare subsides. I foresee that it's going to be the top topic of this year's Chinese New Year visits.

So we all know I'm not very good with numbers (apart from being able to calculate discounted sale prices rather quickly) so I won't bore anyone with details they already know. Basically, the new subsidies will allow lower-middle income families to place their children in childcare at a fraction of what they pay now, enabling mothers to go back to the workforce.

Now let's have a thought about this. I know of many women who have chosen to stay home to take care of their kids. And some of these women left reasonably high paying well-respected jobs. They left their jobs by choice, rather than the lack of. They chose to stay home with their kids to offer guidance in their early years, and to watch them grow.

I chose to leave my job that I loved so much, to care for Poppy because we knew from the start that infant care was not ever going to be an option for us. The idea of our 3 month-old being cared for by a stranger (sure, a qualified, medically trained one) who incidentally also needs to watch over 2-3 other babies, was not our idea of an ideal situation. We were hoping for a babysitter cos at least that was a one-on-one option but that didn't work out, so instead of rushing to infant care or get domestic help, I became it.

Now, looking back, Max and I agree it was the best parenting decision we made. I'm in full control of what the kids do at home, what they eat, what time they go to bed, what they play with, and what they are taught. Most importantly, all of that is done with love, love, love, and a dash of scolding or spanking.

No increase of subsidy will ever be able to convince me to put both kids in childcare because of this reason.

Not to say that we wouldn't appreciate some subsidies. We made the choice to spend time with the kids instead of at work. So Max has chosen contract assignments instead of a full-time jobs that will take him away until 7pm everyday. We both do freelance assignments, but all that is paid on local (ie non expat ie non obscenely high) rates. Plus, that means we do not have any medical benefits that come together with a full time job.

I refuse to admit that we are "poor" because we have a home and food at every meal, but it seems that by local standards, we just might be classified as a "low income family". Which is quite sad for a couple who jointly hold one MBA, one double-degree and several professional certificates in sought-after fields of expertise.

Surely there must be folks out there like us. Well, maybe not. Maybe despite all that studying, we have proven that we aren't very smart after all.

I think some people don't see the other factors that come into play when more children are added to the mix. And here, I'm not saying that more kids = not good. I'm simply saying we also need to consider other daily things if we want to go from 2 to 3:

Space. We are stuck in our beloved but tiny 3-roomed flat because we simply can't afford a bigger place. How can we have one more child in a place so small? Yes I know, folks in the 60s managed with 6 or more in the same space, but we're talking 2013 now.

Transport. Taxis are made for 4. Yes, 2 adults + 3 children are allowed but there are only 4 passenger safety belts. Say for instance we'd prefer to get a car. A normal little hatchback wouldn't do because we won't be able to squeeze 3 car seats behind. So we'd have to go for a big-a** MPV. Which incidentally we do not have the money for.

Seating. Most things are made for even numbers. Seats on buses are for pairs, which means that one would be left out. And unless you opt for a round table at restaurants, one is going to be facing a chair full of bags throughout the meal. Though I wouldn't mind for that person to be me if it means I get to eat my meal with 2 hands.

Hands. Ok. This is perhaps the biggest argument for me. I have two hands. I have two kids. It makes sense. I can hold one in each hand. It's simple. The kids have two parents. They can each be looked after by a respective parent at all times and nobody has to feel left out.

My brother is 6 years younger than I am, and my sister came a year after him. For the longest time, I was the odd ball having to entertain myself while my parents spent lots of time watching the younger two. In most cases, when there are 3, the youngest has to be watched, and the oldest gets attention too because of parental guilt. It's the middle child that loses out on one-on-one time. I simply cannot do that to Calla.

I know of folks who will benefit greatly from these subsidies and applaud them for taking the plunge in expanding their families. But for us, subsidies? Nah. We'll just have two, thanks.

Disclaimer:
Really, two is more than I can handle but you go ahead and have as many as you want. I'm looking forward to full nights of sleep which are likely to come in 2 or so years. I can't wait.

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13 comments:

  1. My dear, your house is not small. Really. If you ever get to check out the pigeon hole houses in Toa Payoh, your house will look positively huge...

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    Replies
    1. True, it ain't small but it ain't a mansion either. Hardly enough room for 2 kids.

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    2. For me, it's not the space of the house but the space in my room that's killing me. 4 in 1 room - I kinda dread to find out how I'm going to cope keeping their stuff!

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  2. I know there is a reason why I keep on coming back to read your posts ;)

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  3. Adora, you forgot. Adding 1 more means you'd have to wait again for your anticipated me time when Poppy and Calla goes to school. :p

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  4. I actually want 3 but it's really really hard to keep up with rising costs... so unfortunately, no choice. We'll see if I manage to have baby #2 first then we talk.. hahah

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  5. Am thinking you could still make use of the subsidies under half-day childcare? For both kids, and whichever age u feel comfortable sending them to school...

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    Replies
    1. Hi! Actually my 4 year old goes to kindy so I get a break there. Phew. The baby will go to school at 3 as well. We did try out childcare but it didn't work. The English teacher's English was so bad it gave me goose pimples!

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  6. Nice! :) Even though I got the verbal version of this post already, I really enjoyed reading tihs post. And I respect you guys for making this decision. Better than those who can't afford to have many kids but go ahead and have them anyway! That's bad, in my opinion!

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  7. Great post, Adora! Love the two hands part too! Nonetheless, I might still go for my #3 but in at least a few years' time. And incentives were never in the equation, it was always about desire and love, which no amount of money can buy. And a 3-room flat is not bad, I lived in one for over 20 years of my life and now I live in the new BTO 4-room flat (just an inch larger than my old 3-room flat) and I have 6 people under one roof (my in laws, me, hub, and the two princesses) which essentially means everything is a squeeze from the bedroom to kitchen to storeroom. Anyway, I am totally glad I ditched my job to be a SAHM too, not that I was earning much despite holding an MBA degree. Grrrr. I still love my no pay job as a mum. Let's count our blessings together! =)

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  8. No one should ever question your decision and I think you laid out your card pretty well. Good for you for knowing what you want for your family and yourself and sticking to it... but you sure you wouldn't miss that baby smell? I missed it so much when I played with Calla the last time.

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