Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Incentives!

As usual I was listening to the radio while driving to work the other day and the topic of the day that the DJs were discussing was what incentives should the Government give to encourage Singaporeans to give birth to more babies.

Many people responded, from the ridiculous to those that are still very bitter about the implementation of more ERP gantries to some very nice suggestions.

While I was never a believer of offering cash to encourage more births but I have to admit the money will come in handy for settling the hospital bills. However I feel that perhaps the money should be given out straightaway upon discharged or used to offset the hospital bills directly instead of giving back bit by bit over 18 months.

Isaac has already turned 6 months and I have just received the 2nd cash gift of $750 making a grand total of S$1,500. I wonder when will the 3rd installment be paid.

I believe that if any couple feel that they want children then with or without incentives from the Government they will still have their children. If they are those that prefer not to have then I guess no amount of money will move them, I know I won’t.

In any case the incentives offered are insignificant when you look at the total cost of raising a child. I may be wrong here but there was a calculation done and it estimated that it will take about $700,000 to raise a child right up to the University. Even if this figure is exaggerated the few thousand offered is still a tiny drop in the grand scale of things.

In my opinion, besides having the money (termed Baby Bonus) paid out in a lump sum upon discharging from the hospital, a lot has to be done with the mindset of the employers here too.

Most of the companies here are not family oriented to begin with and some will even frown upon their female employee taking maternity leave. Others may not hire when they know that this applicant is planning to start a family soon.

Both Mike and Kat work in the Banking industry and you cannot imagine the Maternity and Paternity leave that some of these banks are offering. Try 5 months for Maternity and 1 week for Paternity leave. Needless to say they are all fully paid of course.

My company won’t even give me half a day off let alone 1 week when Isaac was born and when I asked them innocently if our company practice giving out paternity leave, their answer was they are merely following the Ministry of Manpower’s guideline. I interpret it as “Since the government is not enforcing then we, the private sector won’t even have to consider offering”.

So if the Government is really thinking of ways to boast the birth rate here then the one thing I feel they should start looking into is definitely offering dads Paternity Leave. Hopefully this will take away some pressure that the ladies are facing when they want to start a family. Besides that, hands-on fathers will also be able to help out at home while the wives are nursing themselves back to health. There is also a need for the fathers to bond with their children.

Maybe I am being greedy here but frankly 1 week is really not enough. This is especially the case if couples are not engaging the confinement lady. Speaking from experience, I thoroughly enjoyed the 1st month that I stayed at home although I had to take half day leave throughout.

Whatever the Government is planning to implement we can be sure that it will be better than what we already have now. My only wish is for them to announce fast as we all know it will usually take a while for new implementations to take effect.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Swimming

Took Isaac to Godma's house to swim with her girls last Sunday and this time it was a success. Isaac was in the pool for almost an hour although he had his mood swings, from afraid and crying in the beginning to curious and later enjoy and relax towards the end.

It took us a few tries but we finally got the formula. First of all it had to be in the middle of the day when the water is not cold. Secondly I had to go in with him by holding him close to me and lastly it had to be done slowly by introducing him to the water little by little.

I have the below pictures and videos for your viewing pleasure.


This is before he swims but wanted to show you all his 'big' arms.

He has lost a little weight due to him growing taller. What do you think?


"It sure is a tight fit!"


"You want me to do what Coach?!?!?"


"Phew! I thought you said double somersaults!"


"Mummy, where is my pebble?"


"Yummy! They sure make float tasty these days!"



No more B-Cup right?



"Let's go home mummy."


video

video

video

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Ani

I realised sometime back, when a reader checked with me on my maid situation, that I had not updated you all on the new maid in my household. Those of you who followed my blog will probably remember that I had sent the last one packing because she went MIA on us one day when we were out.

Ani, the new maid has been with us for slightly over 2 months now and I wouldn’t go to the extend to say that she is a God sent but I have to give her credit because she has done a damn good job so far.

She worked 5 years in Hong Kong before she came into our lives and naturally she speaks relatively good Cantonese. She worked 4 years straight with her first employer there before opting to change to another employer where she had to look after an elderly. However this elderly passed away and Ani had to go on home.

Well, someone else’s lost is our gain.

To me her most important attribute is her attitude. She has initiative, hardworking and polite.

I am so relieved now because with the previous one, the Mrs would rather stay at home than to go out with her during the weekends. More often than not I was the one who dealt with her. This time round it’s different. Not only does the Mrs not mind going out with Ani in tow, she actually bought her stuffs on a few occasions. This is a stark contrast when compared with the previous one.

I guess this goes to show how much we appreciate her and her work in our family.

She has never shied from work even though we’re at someone’s home. Whenever we’re at Godma or my In-Law’s home and when the Mrs and I are taking of Isaac, she will automatically walk into the kitchen and assist the resident maid with her work such as preparing the meal or washing the dishes. If help is not required in the kitchen she will care for the other babies or standing in one corner and be ever ready should we require her help with Isaac.

She is not without her shortcomings too because according to my Dad and the Mrs, she is not as clean or as thorough as the previous maid but we are all willing to overlook that for all the other “rights” that she has been doing. Anyway she has only been with us for 2 months so we have plenty of time to “train" to clean to our standard. With her good attitude I do not think this will be a problem at all.

Her main chore is really to help look after Isaac and so far she has been doing a good job. Instructions that we had left for her, she will carry them out to the T. Sad to say this but her memory is actually better than mine so there are times I rely on her to remind me things especially when it is related to Isaac.

In our family we do not discriminate maids and you can tell from how we have dinner. She eats at the same table, has the same food and at the same time as us.

However when we are eating with people that prefer for the maids to eat at a different table or order different food for them she will also know her place and eat quietly with the other maids. After dinner, the Mrs and I will always make it a point to check with her if her dinner was sufficient and if we need to buy her anything else.

To our friends who had had dinner with us including Ani, I would like to thank you for not discriminating against her and allowing her to join us. I know how some people prefer not to eat at the same table but these friends actually enjoyed a good meal of steamboat with us. Although I have to add that during steamboat the Mrs will be the one scooping up the cooked food and piling the plate for Ani.

Ani also proves to be a good conversation piece too whenever we’re out because most people cannot believe what they’re hearing. “Cantonese?!?! Is that Cantonese that she is speaking?” they will ask. Most people are amused once they hear our conversations.

So with Ani and Isaac around, we are always making heads turn.