Childcare Options A Personal Choice



Being a person who does not like to leave things to chance, once i knew I was pregnant last year in December, i ran through the various child care options in my mind and sought the advice of many friends. Some people will say "船到桥头自然直"  ..nay, i see the need to research really carefully and make the best decision for my family.


I was contemplating between,


1) infant care

2) helper

3) in-laws.


For infant care, i thought it sounded alright, with professionally trained caregivers looking after my baby in a safe environment with many watchful eyes. So one day i popped into a child care centre and by a stroke of bad luck (or good?) it was closed and there were only staff and no kids. The principal was kind enough to let me see the premises. Upon seeing about 8 empty standing bouncers clustered together at one corner, and 8 cots placed in 1 room, tears welled up my eyes.  Perhaps because there are no babies that particular day, the cots and bouncers look so cold to me. Is it the preggy hormones?I'm not sure but i was in a fairly good mood throughout my pregnancy despite the physical ailments. The principal explained to me that the staff to baby ratio is currently about 1:3, which sounds pretty good compared to the 'national' standard. However i struck infant care off my list as the image of many babies crying in their cots without being attended to promptly was just too much to bear. It almost felt like i was abandoning my own baby to leave him in an orphanage. Yes, it actually felt that awful to me. (apologies to mummies who send their babies to infant care, i think it is totally fine as i'm just being over protective..!)


My friend 'M' caved in to getting a helper after 9 months of taking care of her baby alone with her mother's help at times. She told me she was initially very much adament not to get a helper and tried to do everything herself, leading to much exhaustion and strained relationship with her husband regarding the distribution of household chores and baby care chores. She says i will need 'all the help i can get' when baby arrives and that i can always terminate help anytime if i find that it is not necessary for me(well it makes sense). She told me about an instance when her son was potty training and started crawling/walking away from the potty leaving a trail of poop on the floor and crying. With her helper, thank goodness, she could deal with her son while the helper help with the mess. Sounds pretty good to say the least. I'm not totally convinced yet though.

On another occasion i popped by my neighbour's to buy a stroller from her. I also chatted with her.I cant remember how we got there (well, with women you just talk about anything) and she recommended a one woman maid agency 'J' to me. 'J' was recommended by her husband colleagues and so far the reviews are good. When she felt that helper's cooking was not on par, 'J' came over to teach her how to cook. What good post-sales service i thought...! Better get her number and keep it handy when I've decided.


However i'm somewhat apprensive about getting a helper thanks to the media's articles about helpers abusing babies. So i thought why not combine option 2)helper and 3)in-laws. Though my in-laws said they are ok to come over in the day time to take care of baby, i feel paiseh as my mother-in-law is afterall in her 60s and it might be very tiring for her (didn't everyone say taking care of an infant is tough..? Perhaps except for my sister who says the baby will just sleep alot, there's no need for a helper as my mum can manage. I guess my sis is lucky in that sense). I'll probably ask my in-laws to come in the day to 'eye-power' the helper. Sounds like a plan! I'll have a clean house, home cooked food and not feel paiseh with my in-laws as they only need to be physically present and can play with their grandson whenever they want to. Compared to infant care, i can probably even go for my evening swims as i dont have to fetch baby by 7pm (well, unfortunately it didn't materialize due to evening marathons feeds).


My helper came during the last week of my confinement and my confinement lady was kind enough to teach her how to take care of the baby and cook some dishes. I must say, it is really a period of adjustment for both of us. I'm not used to telling people to do things for me and especially when i need to tell them i prefer something done in a particular way(with the exception of my husband heh heh. We must always be upfront with our husbands.). I'd never knew i have so many preferences and quirks until my helper came(haha). For every mistake she makes i try to justify to myself that perhaps she has forgotten or didn't hear it due to our different accent and possibly too many instructions at one time. For every preference that i have (eg food is too bland/chicken is too burnt) i try to put it across as tactful as i can (ie "this is delicious and it can be even better if you add abit of sesame oil"you get my drift) to not hury her feelings. I see that she tries to cook new dishes and i believe it would help to be appreciative and encouraging. Of course, i experience very exasperated moments when i asked her to do a particular thing in a certain manner many times and it was still done wrongly. During times like this, i cope by leaving the house with baby and I'll come home a happy mum who has forgotten her frustrations (ok perhaps not the best strategy heh) and deal with in a cool collected manner on another day. I'm also pretty self-conscious when i sing for my baby or do any silly antics. Initially, i went out alot as i felt odd being 'watched' in my own house. However, it is improving with time as i get more comfortable with her presence after getting to know her better. We do chat quite often and it is great to know more about her and her  and their culture. As she has a 3 year old son, i notice her tearing and crying at times as she misses home. I thought the least i could do is to be kind to her and let her use her hp to communicate with her family often. I've stayed overseas before and i know how homesick one can feel. So far, my baby son takes to her well and i sense that she really likes him too as she'll talk to him, sing to him, read to him and teach him how to 'walk'. So much so that i'm ok to leave the house for a while for some baby-free me-time.


I suppose, if i did not get a helper or if she wasn't good with my son i might have taken no pay leave to take care of him. With her around i feel too 'paiseh' to take no-pay-leave. Ah well. I hope i've made the best decision(since there's no right decision). The relief from housework(especially when i have 2 perpetually shedding dogs), relief from my son(to bath/eat/do work etc) and having home cooked food everyday is pretty awesome. When i go back to work, i can bond with my son when I'm home without worrying about other stuff. I count my blessings to have this option of getting a helper, which will not be possible if I'm staying in countries like US, down under or Europe.


Getting a helper is working out well for me (for now) and i hope it continues to be the case after my maternity leave ends in a month.


Written By: Rui

From: The Mother’s Panel


* Required Fields