updated 28 May 2011, 08:22
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Sun, Jan 16, 2011
The New Paper
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Mummies, would you have a second baby?

There are more one-child and childless families in Singapore. What would make S’poreans
have more children?

Five first-time mums from The New Paper give their wishlist...

1) Jeanmarie Tan, 33, assistant editor (Show)

FAMILY: Husband, 33, entrepreneur, and son Jordan, two

HOME: HDB five-room flat

CHILDCARE: Full-day childcare centre ($1,100 a month after subsidy). When we work late, my parents help to fetch him. They live a five-minute drive away. We have a maid who helps in caregiving.

WHY YES: Because I want to have a girl.

2) Joanne Soh, 36, entertainment reporter

FAMILY: Husband, 33, engineer, and son Elliott, five

HOME: HDB four-room flat

CHILDCARE: Kindergarten ($600 a term), 8.30am-11.30am. We pick him up at lunch and send him to mother's. We take him home at around 8.30pm.

WHY NO: We're not planning to have another child.

3) Tay Shi'an, 29, news reporter

FAMILY: Husband, 29, teacher, and daughter Rae, seven months

HOME: HDB five-room flat

CHILDCARE: In-laws' place, 9am to 8pm. They live five minutes' drive away.

WHY YES: My parents-in-law, who both retired to help take care of the baby.

Their support makes me believe we can manage a second child and our jobs.

4) Kwok Kar Peng, 33, entertainment reporter

FAMILY: Husband, 35, who works in the Police Coast Guard, and son Zhi Le, two

HOME: HDB five-room flat

CHILDCARE: Childcare centre ($700 monthly after subsidy). My mother takes Zhi Le home from school if we work late.

WHY NO: We want to but are currently unable to support another child.

5) Seto Nu-Wen, 34, assistant editor (Weekend)

FAMILY: Husband, 39, TNP correspondent and son Dani, one

HOME: HDB executive maisonette

CHILDCARE: In-laws' place, 10am to 9pm. They live five minutes' drive away. On weekends, if we work night shifts, baby will sleep over at my in-law's place.

WHY YES: I've always planned to have two kids.


KAR PENG: Higher childcare subsidies for second and subsequent child. Also, more affordable centres. It would help, too, if centres can open past 7pm.

Seriously, are there working parents who can knock off at 6pm, zip through the rush-hour traffic and get to the centre before 7pm?

JEANMARIE: If we want to have more than one child, we should extend the incentives for children beyond the infant stage.

Can the $300 subsidy for children 18months and above be bumped up to $600, which is the current subsidy for infants below 18 months old?

SETO: It would help if large companies, particularly those where the employees work odd hours or night shifts, have childcare centres.

Also, make enrolment for childcare centres easier.

We've just applied for half-day childcare to start in May at a centre near our home. Even though the centre doesn't even open till March, it is already fully booked!

Surely there can be a simpler and more streamlined system for childcare enrolment? How about a centralised database that allocates according to demand for a childcare centre that is nearest the parents' or the grandparents' homes?


SHI'AN: "Lights out" time at work. My bosses have been incredibly supportive in deflecting late assignments from me, but there are times when there's no choice because information or events for stories I'm working on come in late.

On such days, the 11/2 hours in the morning before I drop baby off becomes the only time I see her. If I have so little time to devote to one child, how can I devote my attention with two?

SETO: More companies to have flexi-work hours, where mothers can do some of their work from home, say, two or three days a week. Some ministries have started implementing it, which is a good thing.

But if companies decide they want to do this, it should be fair - mothers should be paid only for the actual work they do.


JEANMARIE: To ease the burden of mums during maternity leave, dads should be given more paternity leave, like a month.

And instead of giving six days of childcare leave regardless of how many children one has, it will really be a carrot for single-child families if the number of days of childcare leave increases accordingly with the number of children one has.

JOANNE: Supportive bosses. Understanding bosses are very important, especially if you're the designated soccer mum! Thank goodness I have bosses who are mothers themselves!

SHI'AN: "Breast is best", but do offices provide enough support for working mums to express breast milk?

I'm lucky - Singapore Press Holdings provides a nice nursing room with two cubicles, comfy chairs, a dedicated fridge for breast milk and even cute baby posters!


SETO: More subsidies for young couples to live near their parents. Currently, there is an income cap. How about doing away with it totally?


JEANMARIE: My motto, though not a very practical one, is "don't think, just do".

Even though I already find it exhausting to take care of one toddler, I always tell myself everything will sort itself in the end.

Perhaps it's because I receive tremendous help from my hands-on and capable husband, parents and maid, which relieves the pressure and allows me to focus on my job.

JOANNE: Nothing is impossible - with help, that is.

Never be shy to ask for help when situation calls for it.

Also, better time management. As we don't have any help with housework, my husband and I split household chores on Saturdays and try to get everything done when Elliott has his afternoon naps.

SETO: More baby-friendly places / changing areas.

Things have improved, but I think it's still not enough. While most malls have baby changing facilities, they are often very out of the way (useless in a diaper emergency), poorly maintained or, even worse, inside a toilet cubicle.

Many malls or landscaping for some mall entrances also do not factor in prams.

A more patient mindset from others. A one-year-old will scream and cry in public. He just doesn't know any better and as much as I believe I am a strict parent, scolding him won't make a difference.

So if I'm seated next to you at a restaurant and my son squeals, he's merely excited about his food. No need to stare daggers.

This article was first published in The New Paper.

readers' comments

I think you're the one who is mistaken here. "Mummy" is the British variant of "Mommy". The latter is used mainly by Americans, a child's word to refer to mother. Both, in fact, are variations of spelling, referring to the same, which is "Mother".

But yes, "Mummy" can refer to an embalmed body too, in the manner which you speak of. How the word is used will be dependent on the context in which it is used.

The English language can be very challenging. Perhaps you'll find out more by revisiting your dictionary again.
Posted by lightasacloud on Mon, 17 Jan 2011 at 18:05 PM
Mummy: a body embalmed or treated for burial with preservatives in the manner of the ancient Egyptians

Mommy: Mom, Mother.

No wonder Singaporeans have such flawed English skills. garbage in garbage out
Posted by PervertoSan on Mon, 17 Jan 2011 at 14:18 PM

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