Some people have commented that our government would be happy with us for having three kids. It’s really a personal choice, and it’s heartening to see more and more larger families.
Having been both a FTWM for two years to one child, and now a WAHM to three, encouraging Singaporean couples to have more children is one of my keen interest topics. Our government prefers for mothers to be in the workforce, but at the same time keeps calling for more babies. Wah lao eh, want more babies, want mothers to work long hours, everything also want. The only thing they don’t want, is to support stay home mothers. How can like that? In my mind it’s very clear that stay home mothers are worth more than our government believes. Their role at home is invaluable, irreplaceable, and well, if we want more babies their role is crucial. With more support, or at least less disfavor for stay at home mums (SAHMs), we will be able to see a trend of happier, and ultimately larger families in our country. Families happy, government happy. Win-win, what! And here’s why I think so.
Being a FTWM is not easy, they have the stress of bring a mother and that from their work. With the constraints of time and energy, mixed in with a whole lot of mummy guilt, is it little wonder many women dare not even contemplate having more than one or are declaring factory closure after having two? I’m fortunate that after our second child I’m now able to work from home, and for us, my availability to the kids was definitely a major factor for us to try for our third child. If I was a FTWM already stretched by work and running after one or two kids with limited energy, I would definitely think twice or three times about adding another baby to the mix.
More women are marrying and having children later, so biologically they should ideally be having children as soon as possible, which might mean smaller age gaps between children. If you have any children you’ll know that raising toddlers is no easy task. So even if mothers are able to stay home, sometimes it is a good option to have the elder child or children in child care. It doesn’t make sense to discriminate against SAHMs when it comes to child care subsidies. If mothers are unable to receive the support they require, say if the child care option is too expensive, then they will have to reconsider having more children. Anyone who thinks otherwise should be made to look after three children below the age of 5 for 5 days, without any help. Of course it also goes without saying that child care facilities need to be adequate in terms of availability and quality, and reasonably priced too. In my block alone there are FIVE mothers at home (including myself) who have three kids.
Some mothers are super mums and can manage two and more children without any assistance. Some mothers even manage without any hired help AND run businesses! Not all mothers are as capable though (myself included), so why should there be a distinction between the foreign worker levy for working and non working mothers? More children = more work, whether or not the mothers are working. Anyone who thinks otherwise should be made to join my previously mentioned 5 day initiation programme.
There are many more areas in which our government can improve on, but encouraging this family model and providing support for SAHMs is a much more efficient and cost effective way (since I know our government are all about ROI and KPIs) of increasing our total fertility rate than the current policies which favor mothers going back to work, then throwing money at the problem created by these same policies.
And why is it so important that Singaporean mothers are needed in the workforce anyway? Are we at war or something? Don’t we need to create jobs for our 6.9 million population to come? It defies common sense to say that it’s better for society to have mothers going back to work and leaving their children in the care of foreigners or third parties. I’m not saying that ALL mothers should stay at home with their children, I’m just saying that families should have the choice and there should NOT be the distinction between the mothers who decide differently.
Having mothers in the workforce is not just about the economy or the GDP of our country. Having mothers absent from the home has long term social implications and I’ve always said – you can replace me in the workforce but you can’t replace me in the home. Mothers at home are worth supporting, and I hope the men in white can come to realise this sooner rather than later.
Check out what some other mummies have to say about what they think is their worth as mothers by clicking on the link above.
P.s. I’ve also written a piece on how strongly I felt about “educated” mothers choosing to stay home with their children.