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.
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.