I had this conversation with my colleagues over lunch yesterday about what determines the number of kids we want to have. Is it a personal preference, our financial status or how much time we have to spend with those kids?
In recent news, NTUC has proposed that the maternity leave for mothers be increased to six months, to encourage birth rate. That is of course good news for many people who plan to have more kids, but really, will a six-month maternity leave really make that BIG a difference?
The truth, at least for me personally, is that even though I may be able to spend the first six months of my baby's life bonding with him/her, it does not guarantee that I am able to provide a lifestyle of an acceptable quality for the child thereafter. I admit that baby bonuses help in some ways, but what is that sum of money in the whole spectrum of things? We are talking about a financial commitment for everything a child needs until he can earn his own keeps, and that is quite an astronomical figure in case you still do not know.
What about couples who do not have the help of grandparents to take care of their kids when they are young? If both parents want to continue working to maintain their household incomes, the only way is to either place the kids in an infant care, childcare/student care or to employ a maid and leave the kids with the maid at home the whole day. I don't know which is the lesser evil. By the way, infant care is extremely expensive. If you have twins or triplets, all the best.
Raising a kid in Singapore is an expensive affair, everyone knows that. And that is the main reason why I am keeping to two. Yes I admit I complain now and then about how high up the walls my kids drive me to, and how my sanity is often compromised, but the truth is I do love kids and watching my own ones grow up day-by-day has been one of my greatest joys in life. Still, if I want to maintain a certain quality of lifestyle that I would feel happy with, two kids is definitely enough for me at this moment.
Money aside, I really think it's quite a stretch to have to divide time equally among the kids. As a full-time working mum, I already have so little time with my two kids, and I still need to squeeze in couple-time and me-time amidst everything. With a limited amount of time I have everyday, the amount of time I can give to an individual child is also limited. The more kids I have, the more thinly my time is divided. Of course, that is only me. If you are great with planning your time and can devote quality time to your kids, by all means have more! =)
By the way, I really love Singapore as a country and there is no where else I want to live in. But this part about Singapore drives me nut sometimes. Isn't it rather ridiculous that registration for Primary School education (which is compulsory by the way) is done in phases, and those who put in hours to 'serve' the schools get priority entry into the school for their kids??? But of course, rationally speaking, the system had become like that because of kiasu parents who want to place their kids in the best school possible, to give their kids a good head start in life. When some schools are more popular than others, some kind of system has to be developed to decide who gets to go in. This might never change in a thousand years. But seriously, it's so not healthy! Why must parents be subjected to such stress??!
So what are some of your considerations when deciding how many kids to have? Is it the more the merrier for you? Or is it keep it few and maintain the quality? :)
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