Many couples in Singapore today feel that they need to delay having children in order to establish themselves securely enough to support a family. Bobby Tan and his wife Amelia, both thought that they would need to put having a family on hold for at least 3 years after getting married but after exploring family friendly work options, they found that this need not be the case. Read on to see what Bobby and Amelia have to say about what they have learned.
Concerned About Finances
When Bobby Tan tied the knot with Amelia, his girlfriend of four years in 2012, he expected to wait at least three years before trying for a kid. Amelia however was concerned as she would be 32 by the time they planned on having children and she was worried that being older would make it more challenging to have a family. Bobby nevertheless felt that the decision hinged on whether they were financially ready.
Bobby felt that having a child would be a costly affair, a sentiment shared by many other parents-in-planning. “Add a mortgage, student loan repayment as well as other expenses and our finances become a little difficult to juggle if there’s a kid on the way” he said.
Additionally, the couple had borrowed a five-digit sum from their parents to renovate their new flat, which they intended to return before starting their own family.
Finding the Right Work Environment
Bobby and Amelia found that sometimes with a little bit of help, you don’t need to decide between your career and a family. Amelia was fortunate enough to find that there are working environments that encourage and support mothers and fathers. After a few years working in the private sector, she joined the civil service to expand her portfolio. A few months on, she realized that her new job had plenty of family-friendly workplace policies.
“There are various schemes available such as the flexible-hour scheme, which allows me to work from home or to work part-time for certain days. I found that really useful, as I do not intend to give up my day-job even if I were to become a mother,” she said.
A Supportive Family
The challenges of parenthood can also be alleviated with a little help from the previous generation—your parents.
Bobby and Amelia have decided, two years ahead of schedule, to try for a child. According to Amelia, while it is important to have people she can trust to help care for her child while she’s at work, she hopes that Bobby will always be willing to help out.
Family Friendly Work Policies
As for making both their work schedules family-friendly, Amelia admits it is down to the policies at their workplace.
“Look out for a workplace that understands the demands of juggling family along with career, and is open to making adjustments in your responsibilities or hours if needed,” she said.
Bobby is also looking to a career that is more supportive of his family goals and he has plans to switch to becoming a freelance financial consultant in a few years.
“When my child is a little older, I think it would help if I could keep my own hours. It’s not impossible in my line of work- many of my colleagues have gone freelance in order to make their family the priority, and I plan to do so as well,” he said.
A Quick Guide to Family Friendly Policies
|Enhanced Leave Benefits
|Broadly covers marriage, paternity, eldercare, compassionate leave
|Flexible Work Arrangements
|Flexi-time; Part-Time; Telecommuting; Compressed work schedules
|Employee Support Schemes (ESS)
|Educational and financial assistance initiatives that help employees manage work-family responsibilities
You can find out more on the family-friendly policies at Ministry of Manpower.