So the government unveiled a $2 billion package to boost our country’s low fertility rate. The latest measures are the third round of enhancements to the Marriage and Parenthood Package, covering areas such as assisted reproduction, healthcare, priority in housing, more childcare subsidies for the middle-income and paternity leave. The Baby Bonus cash gift is now up by S$2,000 per birth, up to the fourth child and every newborn will have a CPF Medisave account with a grant of S$3,000 to support healthcare costs.
Image from straitstimes.com
When I went, “Dang! Baby Nat missed the extra 2,000 bucks, and that money can get me a truckload of diapers man!”, people around me started telling me I should go have another baby.
They did the math for me. “You see, very good leh, $8,000 cash, plus Medisave grant of 3k to support healthcare costs and one week of paid paternity leave for daddy. Go for number four lah! You already have three, might as well, right?”
If it wasn’t too socially embarrassing to roll on the floor laughing, I would.
In my mind, I’m thinking, “Siao ah!” [Loosely translated: Are you crazy? Get out of here!] Do you seriously think that for 8k I would want to go through pregnancy (and delivery) for the fourth time?
It costs about 2k to deliver a baby naturally and 4k by caesarean. It costs about 90 bucks per visit to the gynae for prenatal checkups.
It costs about $80 on the average for a visit to the pediatrician.
It costs about $600 to 1k to send one child to full-day childcare.
1 tin of formula milk costs about $30 for 900g and 1 pack of diapers costs $16 on the average. Multiply that by the number of children and the number of milk feeds and diaper changes each kid needs and you’ll get about $200 a month for a family with three kids like mine.
And if the kid wants to pick up a musical instrument, learn a sport, wear leotards and tutus, that’s gonna set you back by another 250 to 600 bucks a month.
Yes, it’s true we don’t have to send the kids for extra programmes. We can search for cheaper childcare alternatives. They don’t have to drink the expensive brands of formula milk. You might as well say the kiddo should be toilet trained from Day 1 so that completely eliminates the need to buy diapers.
But we all have hopes and dreams. We want to give our children the quality of life that will allow them to have a meaningful childhood, and not be caught in the rut of the humdrums and doldrums of life, so we will surely say yes to music, dance, drama and sports. We don’t want to queue up with over eighty sickly others in a polyclinic and waste two hours of our precious time when it can be better spent recuperating at home, so we go to a private doctor. We think the childcare we send them to is doing a great job and that we’re getting our money’s worth in terms of programmes, so there isn’t a need to pull our kids out and have them go through another round of adjustment at a cheaper alternative. In short, we want to have kids and still live comfortably.
But it’s not ALL about the money, really. If you’re a fly on my wall, you’ll see that my three very young children need a lot of love, attention and affirmation ALL THE TIME. They need my energy. They need my time. They need my presence. They need me. As it is, I live with mommy guilt most of the time. I wished I had more energy to understand my middle child. I wished I had more time with Ben to read him stories and then enter his world of vivid imagination and dwell there a little longer than I can. I wished I was the one feeding the baby his porridge at dinner time instead of the maid, but it’s just impossible every evening because I need to be with the older kids.
That is why I’ve made the decision to stay home, just so I can reduce the number of episodes of mommy guilt recurring and give them the best of my time and energy. They won’t be getting leftovers from Mama anymore. I am looking forward to having better work-life balance come next month, work now being taking care of the kids and teaching them at home.
I’m sure the enhanced Marriage and Parenthood Package will benefit many couples and families out there, and I hope that we can quickly and steadily increase our birth rates. I wished there could be more support for mothers that have decided to stay home though, or at least help the dual middle income families that fall through the cracks and consider them on a case-by-case basis. As for the Kaos, we ain’t getting any of the benefits this time round and I certainly will not go have another baby just so I can get those benefits. Well, if ever 8k allows me to duplicate myself, hmm, that may be a different story.