I was very honored to be interviewed by Talking Point team on “How family-friendly is Singapore?“
Although the team is very friendly, but I can’t help feeling stress, partly is because my English is not super fantastic. The lady in charge keep assuring me that I’m doing fine, I hope so, otherwise Hubby is going to laugh his head off!
Below is some of the topic we touch on, and will input my point here again, just in case I missed out during the interview, or I didn’t explain myself well, or they decided to cut away some part because of my broken English or Singlish.
1. Child-care leave
Definitely not enough. Even though we do have annual leave, besides the 6 days child care leave, unless govt is trying to tell us not to go for holiday or even a short gateway, I don’t think is enough.
Just an example, baby vaccination, I choose polyclinic for baby vaccination or even some private sector only operate on office hour timing, so which means we have to apply leave for vaccination. From the day I went back to work in Nov, I have applied 2 childcare leave, coming up 1 more in 3 months time, which means I left with 3 days.
Since I put my girl in infant care, and under MOE (or not sure which govt body/dept), the child care have to close for 5-1/2 days in a year for staff training or cleaning purpose. So that goes the last 3 days of childcare leave.
Not to mention when you have 2 or more kids, especially when they are in different school, so different closure timing.
I haven’t even add in when child fall sick!! This is obvious that I shouldn’t explain more right? Father child care leave also not enough to use.
2. Maternity Leave
If comparing countries like Taiwan, Malaysia, our 4 months seems sufficient, but if you are comparing with countries like Italy (5 months, 80% wages paid), UK (10 months, 90% first 6 weeks), Brazil (120 days, 100% paid) we are definitely not so good. (source from “Paid Parental Leave“)
Especially when our govt encourage/promote breast-feeding till 6 months, of course 6 months maternity will be good. Because most mothers start to experience drop in supply after they went back to work.
Don’t talk about Paternity leave, so little and certain days is shared with maternity leave.
3. Breastfeeding / Nursing Room
Whether is Singapore a breastfeeding friendly country, I should say depends on personal encounter and how you see it. For me I’m used to nursing in public and even pump in public (obviously in nursing cover lah), so it’s not a very big issue to me if I can’t find a nursing room to nurse my baby or pump in nursing room.
But what disguise me is obviously IS a Nursing Room, but some how it become a pantry room (end up having cockroaches running around) or even sleeping room for some?? That’s the reason why I rather pump and nurse in public, but some parents can’t. Some mother are not comfortable with nursing/pumping in public, some baby get so distracted easily whether nusing or bottle feed, so definitely they have to use nursing room.
Shopping center so budget that they can’t effort to have small pantry for staff? Or the company is so poor that they can’t even install hotwater/water dispenser in the staff room?
4. Stroller friendly
For me still ok, I take MRT since our current place is near MRT, but previously was a headache when hubby’s house is not near any MRT.
Here’s one of SMRT reply: (taken from TRS, not talking about the case, more on SBS reply.)
My quires in bold and italic.
“For safety reasons, we do not allow open prams on board our buses. This is because in an emergency braking situation, an open pram/stroller can be thrown about, causing injuries to the child. I also wonder why is bus wheelchair friendly but not stroller friendly, since both have brakes, and stroller comes with harness, wheelchair don’t? Fellow passengers on board can also get hurt by the hurtling pram/stroller in such a situation. Furthermore, an unfolded pram/stroller obstructs the movement of passengers on board which makes it harder for boarding and alighting passengers. This will hold back the journey for all passengers. In an emergency, an open pram/stroller will also pose a safety hazard as it restricts the movement of passengers.” Stroller obstruct walkway, wheelchair don’t? There is a space allocated for wheelchair which can fit in at least 2 prams (depends on the size of the pram), so I don’t really get it?
Please enlighten me…
5. Infant care / Childcare
I think this topic will make most parents blood boil including myself. If you decided to put your child in infant care, register your child when you are 3 months pregnant or when you are pregnant if you are not pan tang. I’M NOT JOKING, and I’m not even talking about popular school hor! Same for childcare, once your child is born, make sure you start applying for nursery (18 months and above).
Best part ~ register early doesn’t guarantee a space.
Xin He almost couldn’t get a space, if not because the school screwed up, I asked the principle to settle for me, otherwise I can only go back to work 6-8 months later, still not confirm also.
Even though my supervisor is nice but that doesn’t mean all mothers in Singapore will have such lucky boss/supervisor. But location wise is about 5-6 bus stops away from my place and Yi He childcare. So imagine i have to fetch both kids, I have to rush like mad, as I finish work at 530pm and the childcare close at 7pm?
Not forgetting how expensive is the childcare, even with subsidy. Easily hit 1k. Most Singaporean family income in general is $4-5k, if 2 kids means $2k gone, another $2 for living expenses etc. Govt stop saying can buy hdb with $2k, unless you want to cut your salary and show me how?
Just one simple calculation for you (govt):
work to and fro give $1.20 (on average) for 1 month excluding weekend = S$1.50 x 22 (working days) x 2(to and fro)
Lunch average = $4 (if don’t buy drink, don’t buy fruits, don’ buy snacks, as an average) x 22 = S$88
Utilities Bill: average $200
So S$2k – S$66 – S$88 – S$200 = S$1646
I haven’t include in kids expenses (diapers, school necessity, education course etc), breakfast & dinner if eat at home, HDB monthly payment and medical bills (touch wood).
Like that continue counting become RED liao.
Have childcare topic obviously will have maid topic. Hire maid. That’s what most people have or will suggest. If you have trust issues how are you going to hire maid. Not possible.
Even if I hire maid, it’s not cheap at all even with all the subsidy. Not mentioning that nowadays the maid is unlike last time. I don’t want to count my blessing. Only if I’m a SAHM or WAHM, yes I will consider a maid because at least some one is around to ensure our kids safety.
Some of the behind scene. 🙂
Please don’t eat when you watch, I scared during my scene, you want to laugh at me and got choke.. 😥