How We Handle Two Careers and a Toddler

I have been a Full Time Working Mom (FTWM) since J was about 4 months old, immediately after my 4 month maternity leave. It was difficult initially because for 2 months I was working from home full time while watching Baby J by myself, or usually with my mom’s help in the afternoons. This was because the infant that we had registered Baby J for did not have an opening until he was about 6 months old.

For those unfamiliar with how Infant cares work in Singapore:

`Infants can be enrolled from 2 – 18 months;

`FTWM and Part time working moms are entitled to subsidies of either 600/300 SGD, with low income families getting more subsidies;

`School Fees can be paid with the Child Development Account;

`Demand for most Infant Cares seem to be super high. Make sure to register months in advance if not you might not get your desired one;

`Quality of infant cares differ as does cost. I’ve heard it range anywhere from 1000 – 2200 SGD before subsidy.

What I’ve learnt about Infant care centres, after talking to other FTWM who send their kids in as well, is that standard of care and facilities can differ greatly. Make sure to check out the school before hand. And the Infant Care Teachers usually encourage parents to stay at least for some time on the first few days till the babies become more used to the unfamiliar environment.

I think we were very lucky to find an Infant Care Centre very near my work (less than 5 mins walk) that we felt suitable and with a manageable wait list. For the first 2 months or so, we would leave Baby J in for the afternoon half of the day while either H or I worked from home in the morning. Once he became more used to the place, we placed him in full time.

While it is definitely difficult to place your baby in someone elses care for the best part of the day, I think we were very assured by the teachers in J’s Infant Care Centre because they seemed to genuinely like what they do, and the children under their care. Also the facility while not big is well cartered to the needs of the little ones.

Another important lesson is that while it is important to communicate with the teachers and clearly indicate if you prefer things to be done in a certain (and they will try their best to cater to each child), the teachers are not infallible. They look after close to 3 or 4 babies per adult. Just imagine the crying and mess sometimes. They will make mistakes. It is inevitable, just like you and I. Its about learning, communicating and accepting when mistakes happen and move on. For example, Baby J was bitten not once but twice in school. While it is not the teachers fault for this, I do wish they were paying closer attention and stopped it from happening the second time. At the same time I acknowledge that babies bite, its just what they do, and sometimes it happens without you being able to stop it. Its not totally the teacher’s fault. Let go and move on.

Also. They are going to fall sick. 12 babies in close proximity, what did you think was going to happen. He’s suffered everything from a mild cough/flu to HFMD. Its no ones fault, and its going to happen. Just think of it as immunity building.

I hope that people especially the older generation will become more accepting of Infant Care in general. I’ve encountered many a case where people would ask “huh, so young so poor thing.” They question the decision and recommend either a helper (which comes with its own set of challenges) or grandparents, or a combination, which was what my MIL initially wanted.

As parents, we made the ultimate decision that and Infant Care near my office would be the best option for us as a family, and our families will just have to learn to accept it, esp my MIL. I think in time she has, particularly because he clearly enjoys school. He’s happy, loves to dance and sing (because they do all these things in school) and is fairly independent.

At the end of the day there is no one size fits all for parents. Each situation is different and I just wish people will accept that before judging.